Every summer I have high aspirations of moving through a list of "must-read" books. Now here it is time for my summer to wind down and I gaze longingly at the basket of still unread books wishing I had just a few more weeks to immerse myself in reading. I love to read and I love a variety of books. A fascinating volume I just finished was " The Book That Changed My Life" edited by Roxanne J. Coady and Joy Johannessen. Writers wrote short essays on books that changed their lives. Some were expected and others were surprising. Here is a sample of the powerful words these writers penned about the books that changed their lives:
Jacquelyn Mitchard chose "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" by Betty Smith. " She writes," I take from this book lessons in writing, courage, and the absolutely intransigent necessity for utter honesty. Perhaps because of who I am , and from whence I came, nothing else between two covers has ever meant more to me." That makes me want to read this classic again.
A favorite title many writers chose was "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. Susan Vreeland writes," Atticus's lessons of respect for all people and his efforts to instill in Scout a sensitive awareness of others culminate when she greets Arthur Radley with the simplicity of 'Hey, Boo'. It's one of the greatest lines in literature because it acknowledges a human being naturally, on his own terms, without requiring anything of him in return, which is the highest kind of love." I related because I remember getting to that scene in the book and having tears streaming down my face as Scout first greeted Boo Radley. This book changed my life also.
A book I have always wanted to read is "I Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown . After reading what Sebastian Junger expressed in his essay about this book I am more convinced I need to add it to my list. "We wiped out 90 per cent of the native population-even using Gatling guns against Sioux and Cheyenne villages in the last years of conflict. By any modern standard, that is genocide. Dee Brown's great service was to bring that painful truth to a country he clearly loved." When I converse with elders in the community where I teach this book often comes up. The words of Dee Brown helped many of these Native Americans come to terms with the history of their people. I hope to read it soon.
A few other titles recommended in this book are:
" The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison
"Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
"The Nancy Drew Mysteries" by Carolyn Keene
"The Great Gatsby" by F.Scott Fitzgerald
"The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell
the Works of Shakespeare
"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte
For book lovers that are always looking for titles to add to a must-read list, this book is a good resource. What books would you add this list that have changed your life? Please share and I will post a book list on the blog.
The love for reading began early for my brother and I. This is a picture I treasure of our dad reading to us on our parent's bed when we were very young.