I have always loved to read. And so I often don't participate in crazy chain things, when a friend tagged me in a post on Facebook and asked me to list the 10 books that have stuck with me the most, I had to accept the challenge. And it really was a challenge. Trying to pick only 10 books? Are you crazy? I tried to pick a variety: fiction and non-fiction, books from my childhood and college. I might have cheated a little bit by listing two series/groups. Oops.
Obviously, I could recommend many, many more books. And you know, I'm not necessarily sure that these are my all-time favorite books. But they are books who have drastically shaped who I am today, perhaps the books who have stuck with me the most. (Yes, I realized that I just used "who" in referring to books. It wasn't on purpose, but it fits. Freudian slip?) So here's my list. I highly recommend every single one of these books; if you haven't read them....well, you should.
- The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. -- Does this one need to be explained? Let me just say this: I can't remember exactly how many times I have read the first book. It's at least 30.
- Middlemarch by George Eliot -- I don't remember much of it, which I am ashamed to admit, but I do remember coming out of it a changed person, especially in my interactions with others.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy -- BRILLIANT. This book is one of my absolute favorites. It's Russian, it's beautiful, it is so real and raw, and Tolstoy did not waste a single word (which is saying a lot). There is a reason this book is consistently at the top of multiple "Best Novels in the World" lists
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbury -- This book is beautiful, both in prose and message. When I finished, I almost turned around and started it over again. The words are lovely, the characters lovely, and it leaves you with such a love for life and all people.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte -- Although I don't identify completely with Jane, I see a lot of myself in her. This has been one of my favorites since the first time I read it back in junior high.
- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare -- No, I couldn't pick just one play. And yes, Shakespeare is phenomenal. There is a reason he has lasted so long.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -- One of my favorite books when I was young, I just adore the characters and the story. The first time I read it, I identified most with Beth, but at different times in my life I have connected with each of the sisters. Laurie might have been my very first literary crush, and the story is one that just remains a part of you forever.
- The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter-and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Dr. Meg Jay -- Although I'm still figuring out my life, this book helped put me on a course to start and really motivated me in ways I didn't know I needed. It simultaneously helped me feel much better about where I was in life, while showing me how far I still need to go in the next few years--and showing me how to get there.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak -- Much like the Elegance of the Hedgehog, this book has beautiful prose and beautiful people and beauty beauty beauty. Tears all around.
- Pythagoras's Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender Wars by Margaret Wertheim -- I'm not exactly sure when or how I became a feminist. I know it was before this book, but this book has a beautiful narrative, is engaging, and made me wish in many ways that I had gone into a STEM field.
Runners-Up: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg