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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Bookprint

Victoria wrote last about her Bookprint. The books that have imprinted themselves on her life. It is a fascinating idea and got me thinking about my Bookprint as well. As she said, these are not necessarily favorites (though many of them are) but the books that have changed me - become a part of my makeup.

My Bookprint:

The Giver by Lois Lowry
I know that I have written before about the greatest reading year of my life, the fifth grade. That was the year that my brain was opened to the possibilities of books. Not just that reading was fun but that it made you feel things and experience the world differently. Studies have shown that an active reading life (especially of fiction) increases empathy - my link to that well of empathy begins here. The Giver is about a harder set of choices than I had ever to face and reading it woke me up to the world outside myself.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
Our understanding of literature both on a personal and communal basis is fluid. Interpretations change as society changes. I have always been familiar with this concept, but reading O'Brien's memoir-novel-stories-truth about his experiences in the Vietnam War taught me a deeper understanding of literature. He explains that a true war story is not about whether or not the events described actually happened - all true war stories are true. Literature is truth.

Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
I have taken so much from Kurt over the years, but he gives so freely. He offers solace, a laugh, a punch in the gut, and many buckets of cold water bringing reality back to my world view. The reason that this book has made it onto this particular list though is that it has altered the way I think. I am a full believer in thinking things through; this was another gift from Kurt Vonnegut. Thinking things through means bringing a thought to its furthest logical (and sometimes illogical) conclusion. Sure this makes me crazy neurotic, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Satire is just the literary equivalent of neurosis, but as O'Brien taught us - it is true. Taking action (or not) without thinking of not just the consequences but the full range of meaning behind that action is the greatest plague upon society. History only repeats itself because we allow it to. Most of us look neither forward nor back; we all need to learn to think things through.

The Collected Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
I inherited a collection of pulp Burroughs paperbacks from my uncle at around age 9. I read one almost every day for close to a full year. These vintage books featuring buxom beauties on the covers felt so adult, and at a difficult time in my life when so much felt out of my control I turned to them. They made me feel grown up (and grown-ups can take care of themselves) and they gave me an escape. I went on adventures with Tarzan and John Carter. I traveled to Mars and the land that time forgot. I lived in these books. And now, almost twenty years later, it is still books that I seek when I'm overwhelmed, in need of a friend or an adventure.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Definitely the most recent read on this list. I finished The Interestings very recently, but this book absolutely resonated with me. The hopes, pretensions, even the envies of the characters all so closely matched my own. And their fumbling into adult made me feel...okay. This novel gave me pause to say to myself that no one else knows what is going on either. Very few of us have it together. I may never be an Adult in the way that my siblings are, but I'm cool where I am and I am definitely not alone.

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