Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Staying Power

This week's Ten on Tuesday is a topic near and dear to my heart - 10 Books That Have Stayed With You Long After You've Read Them.  Even as an avid reader I'm not sure that my list will have ten books on it, but let's see...

1.  Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
The author tells of her life after the loss of her two sons, husband, and parents in the 2004 tsunami. Loss is a personal and often private thing, but this book provides one of the best narratives of grief I've ever read. I read this book only three weeks ago, but I've thought about it many times since then and I know it will stay with me for years. 

2.  A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
One of my absolute favorite, must-read, most interesting books of all time. I read it 10 years ago, and even though it's not really short, I've reread it several times since, and gained something more every time. 

3.  The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher 
I'll always remember the feeling that I had when I first read this book. I wanted to live like Penelope, the main character. I loved the extended family with all their accepted imperfections and the cozy, domestic descriptions. I read this almost 25 years ago and it has stayed with me throughout all those years.

4.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling 
Back in 1997, I was incredibly lucky to have a wonderful independent bookstore within walking distance. Larry, the owner, knew my reading tastes really well, and he put this book in my hands and told me I must read it. He was right, and once I had read it, I couldn't wait for the rest of the story. The first three books were published in the UK first, with a six month delay before they were published in the US, so Larry ordered CoS and PoA for me from the UK because I simply couldn't wait.

5.  'Salem's Lot by Stephen King 
I read this in 1983, but made the terrible mistake of reading it when I was home alone. By 1:00 a.m. I had tried closing all the drapes, turning on every light in the apartment, wrapping the book in an afghan and putting it in the cupboard (with some garlic!), all in a feeble attempt to stop myself from being absolutely terrified. I finally called my sister at 2:00 a.m., figuring that when the vampires came for me, at least she would know what had happened. Rationally, I knew that this was completely ridiculous, but that didn't keep me from feeling terror-stricken. I've been afraid to reread it, but it has certainly stayed with me for 31 years!

6.  The Drifters by James Michener
This book has stayed with me because it was one of the first "grown-up" books I read and got completely immersed in. I loved it, wanted to live it, and was able to get James Michener to sign my cherished copy in 1974. I'm picking up Centennial from the library this morning and I hope it stays with me as intensely as The Drifters has. 

7.  Still Alice by Lisa Genova
This beautifully written book about early-onset Alzheimer's opened my eyes. The author's biologic, neurologic, and pharmacologic descriptions are excellent, but she manages to add the even more important emotional component. This book gave me new insight and appreciation concerning dementia that I wish I had had when my mother was suffering from metastasis-induced dementia.

8.  Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I read these books often when I was growing up, and enjoyed rereading them during early morning nursing sessions with my sons. They were perfect when I was a child, and have stayed with me because now I can appreciate them from Pa and Ma Ingalls' viewpoints. I'm anxiously awaiting the publication of Pioneer Girl in November.

9.  Early Candlelight Stories by Stella C. Shetter
This book has stayed with me, literally and figuratively, longer than any other; my copy has a copyright of 1926. It's a series of stories that a visiting grandmother tells to her grandchildren about her adventures growing up. These include getting in trouble because she whistled in church, sugaring, being chased by wolves, and her first yellow gown. I remember my grandmother reading these stories to me from when I was five or six and for many years after that. My grandmother gave me her copy and I treasure it.

10. Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin 
These food memoirs are the best I've ever read and the first to show me that cooking wasn't just about following recipes in a cookbook. They've stayed with me for over 20 years because they are poignant, funny, full of good food, and love.

It's interesting for me to think about why these books have stayed with me and there are a variety of reasons. Some of them are really well-written, some taught me things and made me think, and some evoked emotions, shared experiences, and people important to me. I can't wait to read everyone else's lists!


  1. Great list and more books to be added to my TBR. Thank you.

  2. I had a similar experience with The Shining. I was reading upstairs in my bedroom late at night; had to go read the last 50 pp or so sitting on a box in my husband's basement workshop where he was working on a project. That is the only time in my life I have gotten so scared while reading a book.

  3. I haven't yet read Salem's Lot but I got that same feeling from reading IT. A book that I'll never forget but it didn't make my list. I loved the Little House on the Prairie books as well.

  4. You've got so many listed that I would like to read! Still Alice shows up on these lists often, I'm going to have to get that into my queue. And Salem's Lot...take me back! That book was so scary! ;-)

  5. What a great list, Bonny! In the 70s my high school English teacher insisted I read The Drifters, and it was such a big influence that it made my top ten in the Facebook challenge that was going around. I didn't think I'd see it on anyone else's list and here it is on yours, an autographed copy no less! I loved the Shell Seekers so much that I bought a copy for my mother to read. Little House, Harry Potter, all wonderful. I'll have to add the rest to my waiting list, except for Salem's Lot--too much of a chicken for that one. Thank you!

  6. what a thoughtful - and diverse! - list. Harry Potter is certainly on mine (for me, it's the 3rd and last books - when I discovered the story and when it finished). And the Little House on the Prairie. I loved reading Laurie's essays in Gourmet magazine (gosh, remember when there was Gourmet magazine?!) Hope you enjoy Centennial. I remember loving Space and I know I've sunk my teeth into one more of his, but I can't recall which one!

  7. I would also count the LIW books as among the most influential in my reading life, and I have already pre-ordered Pioneer Girl for my library!


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