Book Meme

Aggh! I’ve been tagged again! This time by Pam, who’s nuts for books like I am—and we both have the ultra-geeky elementary school pictures, with our glasses and pigtails and plaid shirts and general goofy brainiac kidness, to prove it. (Seriously, you want unassailable evidence that race is an artificial construct and the time-space continuum is beyond our understanding? The proof is that Pam and I, though ostensibly split by 10 years and of different races, were clearly separated at birth. Those pictures ain’t lying!)


Off we go.

Number Of Books I Own: I have no idea! Several bookshelves full, several boxes in the office, more boxes in my parents’ attic…maybe a couple thousand?

Last Book I Bought: Freakanomics.

Last Book I Read: Worse Than Watergate.

Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me: Limited to only five again. Phew, okay. I’m just going to pick five of my earliest favorites…

#1—Beautiful Joe, by Marshall Saunders, actually Margaret Marshall Saunders, who entered (and won) a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane and Educational Society under her middle name because women authors weren’t getting published. Her winning submission, Beautiful Joe, a children’s novel narrated by an abused dog who finds a home with a caring family (based on a true story), was published in 1893. My tattered copy of the book belonged to my great-grandmother, who passed it on to my nana, who passed it on to my mom, who passed it on to me. It’s my first memory of really loving a book, and I remember my mom reading it to me each night before I fell asleep, with her fingernails drifting across my back.

#2—The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1909), which was another one my mom read to me, and I think the first novel I eventually read on my own. During that time (ages 5-10, maybe?), I also read—and adored—A Little Princess (1905) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), also by Burnett, but The Secret Garden was my favorite, and I’ve re-read it probably 10 times, most recently just a few months ago.

#3—The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White (1973). Also around this time, I got a book set of three E.B. White books which contained Trumpet, along with Stuart Little (1945), and Charlotte’s Web (1952). I have read all three of them countless times, but Trumpet, which is the story of a Trumpeter Swan in search of his voice, was my favorite; so fond am I of this story that I’m embarrassed to admit I’m getting a little teary just thinking about it, and now want to read it again.

#4—Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr (1977). I was maybe 7 or 8. The book, inspired by a real person, tells the story of a Japanese girl, just a baby when the A-bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, who later develops leukemia as a result of her exposure to the radiation. She’s told of a myth that says if she can fold a thousand paper cranes, she’ll be cured, so she sets to work… I remember pulling this book off the shelf at the school library; I even remember the simple cover and the first time I opened it and started to read it. I only read it once, because I took it out from the library (and it’s only had a new printing in the last several years), but it stays with me so powerfully. It was largely responsible for awakening my curiosity about history and, perhaps more important, the realization that my country could do things that hurt other people.

#5—Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Peterson (1977), which is about two best friends, Jess and Leslie, from very different backgrounds but end up neighbors, who create a secret kingdom in the woods called Terabithia, which can only be accessed by swinging out over a gully on a magical rope. It’s a wonderful, tragic, beautiful book, and I remember it being the first book I recommended (I was about 9 or 10), telling all my friends they should ask their parents to buy it for them, because it was so good.

I feel obligated to mention The Chronicles of Narnia, the Oz series of books (which are infinitely more strange and interesting than the single film that was made, great though it was), Garbage Delight (which perhaps only Canadians might have read), Black Beauty, Encyclopedia Brown…okay, I’m stopping now.

Tag, you’re it: Misty, Charlie, and Mike. (If you’re already done it, I’m sorry – I can never remember where I’ve seen these done already!)

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