Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Books That Stick

One thing I've noticed since entering the blog world is that people read - a lot. I have never been an avid reader, especially in my childhood. It is a chore for me to pick up a book. But often, when I force my greater self to practice the positive habit of stimulating my mind, my brain and my head (as Jack Black would say) I find myself lost in other worlds and often not wanting to return to my own reality (especially when reading Jane Austen).
There are some books that stick with me, books that have shaped my ethos, sparked my dreams and imagination-books that have made me a better person (I hope):

#1 What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. The #1 book that changed my life. I read this while Dave was studying at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. Those were magical years for us. We loved the student life, loved Vancouver, loved our church, loved our kids (still do, of course). This book brought Christ's amazing redemptive love into flesh for me. Every page was a WOW moment.
#2 Helter Skelter by Vincent Buglioso. My older sister and I read this while camping near San Luis Obispo in 1974. She was checking out colleges (Cal Poly) and wanted me to come along for the company (despite her earlier efforts to ditch me when I was 5). We couldn't afford a hotel so we camped. At night, by the firelight we read this horrendous tome to each other. If you don't know, it's about the Charles Mason murders. Now growing up in Southern California, these murders happened miles from where we lived so the details were fresh in our young minds. Why we chose to read this while camping is beyond me. But the images from that book still haunt me today.
#3 Forever Amber by Kathleen Windsor and Barbara Taylor Bradford. Okay, true confessions here. I went through a time during my adolescence when I read trashy romance novels. These were not tame Harlequin romances - they were fleshy, earthy and raw. I admit it! My high school friends and I would ride the bus from South Pasadena down to Venice Beach during summer vacation. The ride was over an hour long. I had to do something and hey, everybody else was reading them too! And yeah, those images have stuck with me through the years. I'm so glad I'm married!
#4 The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. I HATED this book when I was a kid. Hated, hated, hated and I think that tainted my desire to read and I'll tell you why (and this will let you in, maybe too deeply, to my psyche)...the cat made a huge mess in their house and that mess, for most of the book was playing with my emotions, aggravating me, like nails on a chalkboard. It was just sitting there. The cat was not being responsible and cleaning up HIS mess. He calls up thing one and thing two to clean up. I despised that cat. He got away with it, that's what made me so mad. So there you have it, the book that has plagued me for decades, causing me the shun the written word. A curse on you Dr. Seuss!
#5 The Giver by Lois Lowry. I read this while at Regent College. I took a class called Children, Books and God. Fantastic! This book made me cry, I think the first time I cried while reading. The images haunt me, not like Helter Skelter (s-c-a-r-y) but with sadness. I have since then picked up other Lois Lowry books. She is Emma's favorite author too (I think after J.K. Rowling)
#6 The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. I never finished this book. I brought it home to read on the recommendation of some forgotten friend. My father saw the book and threw it out. This was the only book that was banned in our house. I don't know why. I never searched for it through the trash. All I remember was the intensity of my father saying, "You are not reading that book!" I often had a hard time obeying my parent's words. I didn't with this. Something about that incident birthed a new respect for my father.

I could go on but I think it's important to note (or is it reveal?) that the Bible-as a whole- hasn't made my list. Yeah, I could pull out Hebrews, Genesis or Amos as favorites books but the Bible as a whole has been difficult for me. There are passages that have, most earnestly and sincerely, moved my heart and soul (and that's for another post), but picking the book up and simply reading has been an exercise for me (I'm going to blame Dr. Seuss for this one!). Dave preached this past Sunday on Hebrews 5:11-14. Picking up the scriptures daily and digesting the words is a meaty thing. I am lazy and perhaps the Bible is the most intimidating of books to digest because, when fully consumed it will change you. So I nibble-eating it verse by verse, chapter by chapter and hopefully, at the end of my life, having consumed it entirely, I will be changed.

1 comment:

Marti Smith said...

I love how you built your list, Barb! Most people think through what books they want to recommend or are proud to associate themselves with, and would not make a list of books that have plagued them as well!