Many months ago, I saw a meme on Facebook that went like this: “In your status line, list 10-12 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be ‘right’ or ‘great’ works, just ones that have touched you.” I’ve been thinking about it ever since and decided to write down my own list. (And I’d love to hear what you would put on yours!)
The 10 books listed below are what came to mind for me. Some of these I’ve read in the last few years, and some of them I haven’t touched since high school. Seven of the ten are non-fiction titles, which was an interesting observation for me. I probably read fiction and non-fiction at about a 50/50 ratio, but find that fiction books tend to fade from my memory after a while. It’s usually the non-fiction (i.e. real life) stories that stay in my mind even after months or years have passed.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card // I read this for the first time in college on the recommendation of a friend and loved it. I read it a few more times over the next several years but at the moment it’s probably been a decade since I picked it up. (I did see the movie when it came out.) I really should give this one a re-read sometime soon.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee // I recently read this again as part of my postal book club, after reading it for the first time as a 9th grader in 1993 and liking it then. It was even better as an adult and parent.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg // I read this when it first came out and despite a lot of negative press and backlash, I found a lot to like — I feel like I am smack in the middle of her target audience with this one. (And if you haven’t seen her updated thoughts after sadly losing her husband, that’s worth a read as well.)
Apollo 13 by James Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger // I read this in high school — a few months before the movie came out. At the time, I was basically devouring any book I could find on the space program, but this was my favorite.
An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken // I read this in August 2011 for book club…which happened to be about 3 months after I had a miscarriage. Her story really resonated with me and I cried a lot while reading it (not in a bad way, just in an emotional way).
Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson // This was the first Erik Larson book I read (I’ve read 2 others since) and found it completely fascinating. Living so close to Galveston made me even more engrossed, and I still think about this book every time the topic of hurricanes comes up — and around here, that’s a fairly frequent discussion topic.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque // I read this in 10th grade and to be honest, I don’t remember a lot about the plot, but it always pops into my mind as one of the few books I read in high school that I enjoyed. I’m adding this to my list so I can re-read it soon.
Night by Elie Wiesel // I was sad to hear that Wiesel passed away recently. I read this one in 10th grade as well and it was the first time I remember really understanding the horror of the Holocaust. (I took a combined English/History class called Humanities, and our books were synced with what we were learning in history. All Quiet on the Western Front was for WWI and this for WWII.)
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls // I read this for book club about a year and a half ago. It made me think a lot about parenting, values, and life itself and I’ve pondered some of the lessons I took from Walls’ story many times since.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell // I listened to this one as an audiobook eight years ago. There were so many interesting anecdotes and data in this book, and I still talk about the 10,000 hour rule and the effect that birth month can have on your life.
- Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin
- Tisha by Robert Specht
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- The entire Babysitter’s Club series, which I devoured as a middle schooler
- The Hunger Games trilogy, which I sped through in a matter of days