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list 12: on my bookshelf

April 17, 2010

Here we are at list 12 with 40 left to go and I am already feeling creatively challenged so I’m being a copy cat this week and following Hula’s footsteps in listing books that I’ve read over and over… dog-eared, watermarked (I’ve fallen asleep in the bathtub with a book in hand more times than I can count), grapefruit splashed, wine stained, dusty, yellowed books that sit on my shelves. I personally enjoy a book that looks like it has been read a thousand times.  And I particularly like used books because they smell like the house my mother grew up in on Karl Street in Detroit, which reminds me of summer vacation.

Truth be told, I am a poseur, really. I love to collect books. I love the way they look on my bookshelf. I love that at any moment I can pick them up, smell their pages and dive into another world. But the thing is, they usually sit there, neglected, their pages unread. I am certainly not what you would call an avid reader. I haven’t read many of the great classics and I’ve only recently picked up Hemingway on my brother-in-law’s insistence (he’s right, the man is a genius). I have friends that read every chance they get and I admire them for it, however I have a hard time getting through a book a month.  And I know that one of the best ways to become a better writer is to read more, but I suppose that when I have a spare moment, I reach for my camera or running shoes instead. Or perhaps my internet addiction is getting in the way of me and a good book and it’s time to do a digital detox. Hmm.

Still, I have been known to read many a book pre-internet and some, I have read more often than others.

  1. 3191 – A Year of Mornings by Maria Alexandra Vettese & Stephanie Congdon Barnes. My coffee table book. My resource for visual inspiration. My photography aspiration. Every page is like uncovering a treasure. I can’t wait to pick up A Year of Evenings next.
  2. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. My go-to book for inspiration on writing. That, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.
  3. Stuart Little by E. B. White. My childhood favorite. I have a thing for miniature worlds.
  4. Anything by Tom Robbins. I began reading Robbins during my hippie years in Nelson, BC and have since purchased most of his books. His quirky writing style appeals to me. My favorite is probably Jitterbug Perfume, the back of which reads: Jitterbug Perfume is an epic, which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn’t conclude until nine o’clock tonight (Paris time). Sold.
  5. Same with David Sedaris. I saw him at a book reading last year and the man cracks me up. My first introduction to Sedaris was Me Talk Pretty One Day and I haven’t stopped reading him since. This snippet gives you an idea of his dry sarcastic humor, which frankly, I can’t get enough of. “For the first twenty years of my life, I rocked myself to sleep. It was a harmless enough hobby, but eventually, I had to give it up. Throughout the next twenty-two years I lay still and discovered that after a few minutes I could drop off with no problem. Follow seven beers with a couple of scotches and a thimble of good marijuana, and it’s funny how sleep just sort of comes on its own. Often I never even made it to the bed. I’d squat down to pet the cat and wake up on the floor eight hours later, having lost a perfectly good excuse to change my clothes. I’m now told that this is not called “going to sleep” but rather “passing out,” a phrase that carries a distinct hint of judgment.
  6. Into the Wild (pre-movie) and Into thin Air by Jon Krakauer. True accounts, adventure, suspense, the human spirit pushed to its limit.
  7. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. You either love it or hate it. This book came my way at a pivotal time in my life, which is probably why I grabbed onto it and didn’t let go until the last page.
  8. Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. We all have one of those spiritual guru self-help crap books on our shelves. Or maybe we hide it in our closet. But I read this one in university and have since picked it up many times and lent it to a million people claiming it would change their life. I remember once being in seminar class in school and my friend Camille was about to present and she was all nervous and I said… Don’t worry dude… we’re all just atoms and molecules. Atoms and molecules. She looked at me like I had two heads and each had downed a bottle of JD.
  9. Speaking of JD… J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Teenage angst and rebellion at its best.
  10. Vonnegut. I love him so. Slaughterhouse-Five was my first. You never forget your first Vonnegut. It appears I have a thing for the absurd, a love for satire and black comedy.
  11. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. You know when it feels like an author is stealing the words strait from your mouth? Like he really gets you, like he is narrating your very own stream of consciousness? That’s how I felt the first time I read this book. Mind you, I believe I was on a road trip of my own at the time, so perhaps that had something to do with it.
  12. Books of poetry by Mary Oliver and Charles Bukowski. I don’t own any but each time I stumble across one, I pick it up, choose a page at random, read it and melt.

What is your all time favorite book? Or do you have any current suggestions? I have an 8-hour layover to look forward to next Friday (volcano Gods permitting) and will need something to keep me occupied.

Also on the subject of books, here’s a fun little project: Design your own book cover using the old school Penguin template.

Happy weekend!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2010 5:39 pm

    OK – so, I think I’m gonna love you forever simply because of #9, #10, and the Mr. Bukowski part of #12.

  2. April 18, 2010 5:33 am

    my list would be very similar to yours, though i will pretty much read anything i can get my hands on.

    try either cloud atlas or black swan green (similar to catcher in the rye) by david mitchell

    maybe something by Paulo Coelho – his books are ones i can read over and over – fiction with so much truth in them that i can identify in my own life

    and karen maezen miller’s new book hand wash cold is really kicking my butt right now and giving me a LOT to think about

    you should be fine getting to iceland (planes are still able to get in/out of there), hopefully your boy can get there too! if you are going to NY first, you should both be fine… if he’s flying from here he may not be so lucky!

    fingers crossed for you that this trip happens

  3. April 18, 2010 10:39 am

    i have a pocket edition of writing down the bones {besides the paperback on my writing desk} that i reference often. so much inspiration + encouragement.

    love your list!

    xo Alison

  4. Karen permalink
    April 18, 2010 12:49 pm

    Isn’t Elizabeth Gilbert the best! I have wanted to be best friends with her ever since I read Eat, Pray, Love…which is so great to re-read is tiny increments. I like to think that if I open the book randomly, the page I read holds a special meaning for me in this moment.
    Dan Millman is amazing, too! I have never read Way of the Peaceful Warrior, but I did read the sequel, Sacred Journey of The Peaceful Warrior. That is amazing too! I recommend it.

  5. April 18, 2010 3:38 pm

    “jitterbug perfume” is the book that inspired me to live to be at least 200 years young! there are so many things i want to do, but i want to do them at a leisurely pace. 😉 i just need to start eating more beets! “another roadside attraction” was the first book of his that i read and i’ve been sold from that moment on. 🙂

    i also loved eat, pray, love and have been thinking it might be time to read it again. i like books that inspire me to grow and learn. books that remind me of what’s true and real to me and keep me focussed on those things. it’s so easy to get sidetracked. you know, your blog does that for me too. kudos!

  6. April 18, 2010 4:39 pm

    yes, i will admit – i’ve read most of millman’s books. and yes, certain parts of them changed my life. but….people get odd looks when i tell them that.

  7. April 19, 2010 10:52 am

    I do love reading about other people’s bookish habits. And these two book photos have me swooning. When I read Hula’s list, I thought I’d steal another of her ideas. Looks like she’s our go-to girl, hunh? I am currently reading Nine Stories by Salinger. I also love Neal Cassidy, a Kerouac contemporary. But, I think he has a better way with words. As to Mary Oliver, love her! I love her prose as much as her poetry.

  8. Penning permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:05 pm

    Funny the timing of this list. This week is “Literacy Week” at our high school and, as a way of showing the students that it IS cool to read, all of us teachers have been asked to post a list of our top 5 books on our classroom doors. I spent all of last week trying to narrow down my list and finally decided to be different and go with my top 6. Here they are:

    1) The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (yep, I’m the bro-in-law in question)
    2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    3) The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman (a much-needed mellowing gift from my pretty wife)
    4) Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (read during a wonderful three-week hiking trip through the Adirondack mountains)
    5) Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
    6) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (as if my students needed more exposure to drugs and alcohol)

    Rock on, sis!

  9. April 21, 2010 12:18 pm

    Beautiful photos and some good books on your list, I’ve read most of them too. I’m rereading Goldbergs writing down the bones right now.

  10. March 19, 2012 2:53 pm

    I secretly have the way of the peaceful warrior as well. so exciting to meet another who actually gets it. I loved the book!

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