Certain books mean something special. We all have our mental Most Valuable Player books, right?
It’s not always the story. Sometimes it’s the feel of the pages when you’re at a turning point in your life and you need that fragile security to hold onto. Or it could be MVP because of the essence of where you held the book. Lying in a hammock, basking in the sun. Before you knew or cared about skin cancer- alive and oblivious to danger except what was typed in the pages you turned. Or a road trip where you found a book and stayed up into the night reading by flashlight in a forgettable hotel room.
Books resonate with readers for different reasons. It can be therapeutic to consider what books mean something to you and why. I am surprised to find many of the books I love have more to do with who I was when I discovered them than the content of the pages. The perfect book at the perfect time. Or the perfect book at the worst time. Both can be powerful.
I was gifted with a special edition of Little Women. It had blue gilded pages and a super soft sheen to the cover material. This was maybe the first book I cherished. I read it in dry, clean places and worried about how to take care of it. Yes, a book. A fancy book given to a ten-year-old. Not to mention what joy and intensity reading the pages brought me. It makes me feel safe knowing it’s still on my shelf in my living room. Not just for my girls to read soon, but to stake my childhood down in a spot I can revisit.
Why can’t I give away my collection of more than 50 of her paperback mysteries? I felt safe in high school reading them. In real life, I couldn’t figure out who was popular or why. But I could pretty well figure out that Miss Marple was gonna crack the case and Hercule Poirot was going to make everyone squirm…and then crack the case.
The Sheltering Sky made me esoterically depressed about the meaning of love for the first time. The cover still brings me back to that feeling, almost to the point of a tight throat. Bowles style and humor is like Hemingway and Shakespeare combined. (To me.)
The Painted Bird, Being There, Pinball
Every book by Kosinski put in a blender and gulped down was my exact college experience. It is what I wanted, feared, and knew nothing about. His books astound me.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Her books were there for me at a time in my life when the only thing I was thinking about were my babies. My every action seemed to center around them. When the lights were out I’d read SEP romances in the few blinks my tired eyes had left. It kept that ‘me’ part of me that needed to be held tightly.
Twilight is the sort of book that captures a yearning that we all have felt at some time, in some way. Not everyone wants to acknowledge that yearning and I’m not sure if it comes from a completely organic place. But it’s there in us all. When I recognized what it was that I loved about her writing, I was inspired to write a novel. Thank you, Stephanie Meyers.
Elizabeth Strout swooped in and knocked me off my feet with her profoundly funny, deeply resonant, and honestly sad snippets of real life. In a composed way, she manages to say what ruthless thoughts many of us think and then twists the mirror back on the reader for a painful, shocking revelation.
Speak is just the kind of thing I wish I could write. It has depth and meaning on many levels and yet is funny and heartfelt. Laurie Halse Anderson captures a gut wrenching moment during a difficult time of life and painlessly teaches the reader the value of open-minded compassion. Her mastery in seamlessly combining craft, subject, and humor is something that I greatly admire.
What are the books that take you back to a distinct place and time? Which reads have touched you deeply? For whatever reason: timing, character, age when read, place you read it, who gave it to you... the list goes on and on.
Now let me ask you: What if the movies you love were remade with different actresses and sets? But the same script. Would they be the same story? A different format but the same content. Hmmm. I think it would be a different experience. The same thing in an alternate perspective. (This is me wondering if ebooks have the same sensory impact.)
The ticka ticka ticka my finger feels while running over the spines of books on my shelves makes me physically happy. Every title gives me a shiver of how I felt reading it: lonely, amazed, offended, blissed out.
Some of the books on my shelf I haven’t read yet. I bought most for a dollar at my local library. Having these future literary forays lined up on my shelf makes me feel that there is always something special at my fingertips. That unlimited possibility is why I collect books and keep them around. Even when my ipad, shelfari, and laptop could hold a wall full of books, I don’t want just that one dimensional medium for something so endlessly dimensional. I like my living space to be lined with literary wallpaper, reflecting my personal tastes and giving me a sense of calm and grounding when I sit among my old friends and meet a new one.
Books are my ultimate interior decorating theme: of my past, my present and my future. My MVPs. Books.