I’ve been blogging for such a long time that it’s tempting to feel as if my blog is a sort of living record of my reading history. But the truth is that I’ve only been blogging for about seven years, on and off, so there’s a lot of my life prior to blogging when I was reading without any kind of record. There are also some books I didn’t review, others that I read when I was on blog hiatus. So it’s an interesting exercise to look back over those sometimes, and think about which really stand out.
Lately I’ve been realizing that there are a lot of books I read a long time ago that I know had a huge impact on me, but that I can’t really remember very clearly. It’s been making me think about the possibility of re-reading some of these, and wondering what I would find in them now vs. when I was 16 or 20 or 25. I don’t know when I actually will get around to it, but it’s fun to sit down and consider which books are at the top of my re-read list. Here are my top ten!
These three are all books I read when I was very young. I think I was about twelve when I read The Diary of a Young Girl, fourteen or fifteen when I read Jane Eyre and sixteen when I read A Prayer for Owen Meany. Because of my age, these were books that ushered me into new ideas or types of reading. Anne Frank taught me about a time in history that completely shook my worldview – and was the first book that led me down a rabbit hole of related reading. Jane Eyre was the first classic I read and thoroughly enjoyed – it was the first time in my life (though definitely not the last) that I stayed up reading all night because I just couldn’t put the book down. Owen Meany was a hard book for me to read – I had read a lot of adult literary fiction before, but this one was challenging to get through. But it was also one of the most rewarding reading experiences of my life, and I went on to devour all the other John Irving books in the school library and that I could find at second hand book stores.
The first two are not the first book I read by their authors, so it surprised me when I realized the first books weren’t the ones I wanted to re-read the most (or it would have been Jitterbug Perfume and Eva Luna). I want to re-visit Fierce Invalids because I actually started it a couple of years ago before the whole baby thing happened, but never finished it. I was enjoying it, though, and want to go back to it. Its a book that was much more entertaining and magical than I expected, and the imagery of it has stuck with me (see my review here). Of Love and Shadows I remember being a darker story than a lot of Allende’s other books I’ve read – more realistic, and therefore more emotional. I don’t remember much of the story, which bothers me because I think it was an important one, so I would like to remind myself. But the feeling of it has stuck with me. Travels is an autobiographical book by Michael Crichton, and it covers his years as a medical student and several adventures and trips he went on. It isn’t at all what you’d expect based on the big Crichton books like Jurassic Park, it’s actually one that I think has much more grown up appeal and is extremely well written. I did actually review this on the blog, so you can find out more here.
I love armchair traveling. I particularly love it when it’s entertaining, funny or really makes me feel like I’ve been transported to somewhere I want to go. I love England. It’s my ancestral home, and somewhere I’ve spent most of my life wishing I could live. So I adored Bryson’s account of his walking journey around the country – even more so because I discovered it thanks to my grandmother (who also introduced me to books by Nick Hornby and James Herriot) when I was visiting her in England. I particularly want to re-read this before reading the second volume (The Road to Little Dribbling) in which Bryson undertook the same journey, twenty years later. Under the Tuscan Sun was, as with many people who read it, the reason I began dreaming of Italy. It made me feel like I was there, and I just loved the atmosphere of it. I still haven’t been, but it’s top of my travel wish list.
I don’t even know where I found The Naked Civil Servant. I had a battered second-hand copy of it on my shelves for years before finally reading it, and that battered copy soon became a favourite as I read. It’s the autobiography of a British civil servant who came out as a homosexual man in England in 1931 – when it was still illegal. His story was an important one, both for me personally and in a larger sense. News of a Kidnapping is actually a non-fiction book by the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, about the kidnapping of ten journalists in Columbia by Pablo Escobar. (I talked about both of these books along with Of Love and Shadows in a previous Top Ten Tuesday list here.)
There are so many other books I want to re-read, of course, but these are some that have repeatedly come to mind lately as ones I need to re-visit.
What about you guys? Have you read any of these? Which books would you like to find time to double back to?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly link-up feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week TTT has a different topic, and everyone who links up has to create a link of ten items that fit that topic. To see past and upcoming topics, go here.