I have my feelings hurt, you all, and here’s why. I don’t live on Facebook, but I check in almost daily and I will admit to taking the odd quiz from time to time. You know the ones, those are little tests from places like Buzzfeed.com, with titles like, “How Posh is your Vocabulary?” How Many Famous Artists Can You Identify?” “Which Harry Potter./Hunger Games/Game of Thrones Character Are You?”
They are fun little diversions but I almost never post my scores, and sometimes my scores are quite noteworthy. It’s enough knowing I can identify twelve of the fifteen world capitals from a single picture.
For the past several weeks, though, there has been circulating on Facebook a challenge to “name the ten books that have had the most meaning to you”, or something like that. I don’t know the exact wording because no one has shown the slightest interest in my ten books, and therefore no one has posted this to my page.
I have friends who have posted their books and then challenged several of our other friends to list their ten books. I read their lists with interest and enjoyment and, finally, disappointment when I realize my name is not on the new challenge.
It doesn’t bother me, but my pals should know that I have 750 words, every week, right here to do with what I please.
Uh-huh. That’s right.
Here, then, in no particular order, is a list of ten books that have significance for me.
1. “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” by Joan Didion. This is a series of essays and articles she wrote during the Sixties. Every essayist should own this book. Non-fiction writers should include her in their evening prayers.
2. “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Besides sounding so cool when I say his name, it was this book and Marquez who introduced me to magical realism, and he did it so deftly that I didn’t even know what was happening until someone explained it to me.
3. Any Nancy Drew mystery. Carolyn Keene was, in fact, a pseudonym for a host of ghostwriters for the series. Nancy had it all-a roadster, freedom, talent, two pals and a sometime boyfriend to mess around with her and help her solve crime.
4. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” written by Harper Lee. I knew, even as a kid, that in this book every word worked. It was a big story, too, although when I first read it I was too young to fully appreciate that.
5. “The Secret Garden,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I read this as an adult, but loved it like a child, reading to myself but hearing my grandmother’s voice.
6. “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens. I read it almost every Christmas season. It is a joy to be able to finish one of his books in a span of less than a month.
7. “101 Famous Poems.” My mother had a slim and leather-bound copy in the living room bookcase, and I read it cover to cover and back again. I loved the poets’ pictures, set in ovals like cameos. When my siblings got on my nerves or I got on my own, I retreated to the living room and spent a quiet hour reading poems and thinking deep thoughts.
8. “The Inheritance of Loss,” by Kiran Desai won the Man Booker Prize, and I loved this book, even before I knew it won an award. I have recommended it to many friends, most of whom have tried to read it and didn’t like it at all. Which might explain why it is no longer in print. Even so, I found the story compelling, with threads of India, Great Britain, Nepal and New York City running through it, and the writing breathtaking. But that’s just my opinion. Apparently.
9.“Out of Africa,” by Isak Dinesen. It was one the few books in which I have underlined passages and I return to them again and again. Sometimes it is just a sentence. Sometimes a paragraph or more. Just stunning writing.
10.“Me Talk Pretty One Day,” by David Sedaris. Because it made me laugh, out loud, and all over the place.
That concludes my list of ten books. Let’s hope something interesting happens for me to write about before next week, because there is also a challenge circulating about one’s twenty favorite movies. I’d like to spare you that.