Last Tuesday I briefly mentioned that I have books that I return to again and again like a child who has a favorite blankie or stuffed animal growing up. For me, I have books that I will also return to and never tire of. I covered most of these in one of my very first posts here.
For someone who loves to explore new places and read new books, I’m a creature of habit when I’m overwhelmed or mentally exhausted. I retreat into myself and into the books that grew me as a reader.
This Top Ten Tuesday covers those much beloved books, the superstars of my bookcase.
(In no particular order)
East by Edith Pattou: I’ve lost track of how often I’ve covered this book in my blog. It’s sincerely one of my favorites. She’s such a strong female character and she resonates so strongly with me because I have the same yearning ache to travel, see the world, and immerse myself into cultures that are different from my own. I can’t remember ever not wanting to see the world, but I think this was the first time that a book made me understand what the longing was. Wanderlust.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: Another book that has been mentioned endlessly here. Ella is so spunky and entirely her own person (as much as one can be with a curse that sentences her to fulfill everyone’s every demand of her) and I feel like I can attribute a lot of my own personal stubbornness to her. In her, I saw that it was okay to not give in to what people thought I should be. I’ve lost this and come back to it many time over my lifetime (as most people figuring themselves out do) but ultimately I know my own self worth is worth more than making people who don’t even care that much about me happy. If I ever submit my writing to be published, my very first dedication will be to the fifth grade teacher, Mrs Marshall, who saw the potential a mousey and introverted little girl had and passed her copy of Ella Enchanted to her.
Lowlands of Scotland series by Liz Curtis Higgs: I don’t address my beliefs very much on my blog because rarely do my beliefs and my reading material cross into each other. I’m a Christ follower and I do have some favorite christian authors. Liz Curtis Higgs is one of the top three (and I cover one of the other favorites in this list as well) but I find it hard to find christian fiction that I truly enjoy. One of my main gripes is that Christians tend to have all the same issues as anyone else but christian novels don’t give women these issues very often. Oftentimes the women have to be meek and humble and patient and lovely and refined. I’m none of those things and neither is main of Higgs’ characters and that’s so refreshing. Lowlands of Scotland series (Thorn in My Heart is the first) was my first Higgs series and it’s my favorite one.
The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare: As previously stated, I have issues with my opinion of Cassandra Clare. I really want to like her and I really do enjoy her inclusion of all lifestyles and cultures in her books, but I find her personally problematic with her inability to translate an openness into her personal opinions. That aside, The Mortal Instruments is one that is fantastically told and has built a really good world that I enjoy returning to.
Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling: Goodness, I love this series. When I think of my childhood, Harry Potter is featured pretty prominently throughout. Hermione was another strong heroine to look up to, and there are so many good life lessons taught. My son was gifted the illustrated version of the first book for his birthday (by my dear sister Rachel; her blog is here) and I have enjoyed watching him grow into a love of Harry Potter as well.
Mr and Mrs Bo Jo Jones by Ann Head: I read this book my freshman year of high school and it did me a world of good. I grew up fairly sheltered. My mum was a teenage parent with me and never hid the fact that she was or that it was hard, but my parents did have very strict rules in place for us kids that prohibited being physically exposed to the sorts of environments that this book addressed. It gave me a peek into a world that looked rather glamorous from the outside, but made me realize how messy and confusing and heartbreaking it can really be. That’s a lot to place on one novel, but I’m the type of girl who can learn lessons from the stories I read without needing them to play out in my real life. I don’t know this for sure, but I believe that this is one of the reasons my parents, with all their strict rules, didn’t enforce very strict reading content. As long as we asked first and made our parents aware of what we were reading, they mostly left us to it to read. I read this book four or five times back to back before having to return it to the library and I checked it out multiple times after that. It was a good kick in the shins anytime I started romanticizing any of the ideas the book addressed.
On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt: I actually have two Voigt novels in my list this week, which should show what a phenomenal author she is. This book was very important for me because I read it in eighth grade while I was struggling with feeeeelings. Feelings about boys and there was some chaos going on in my home life and I was just trying to make it out of middle school alive. Looking back, I realize that it seemed like a much bigger deal then than it does now, but I won’t discredit my feelings from then either. Some of the home life stuff I was dealing with was things I would not want any other teen, pre-teen, or child to have to deal with. Luckily I had great parents with great heads on their shoulders who loved me through the entire debacle. This book deals a lot with emotions and actions beyond our control. It also handles love and when that love is appropriate or not. Those were all good lessons to learn, but the biggest one for me was the realistic ending the book had. I won’t spoil it and say if it was happy or sad, but I was satisfied with it and it did the realistic emotional tone of the novel justice.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: **I’m reviewing this book next week in anticipation of the new movie** I read this book for the first time in sixth grade. Sixth grade was rough for me. I had a teacher who was awful. She picked clear favorites and I fell outside that circle. It actually became so bad that my father stepped in, which created conflict because he was also her colleague. He taught at the same school I attended and her criticism and methods of tearing me down affected me and my self-esteem for several years after the fact. I escaped reality more and more through books and came across the Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. All the books are great, but A Wrinkle in Time is one I still come to over and over again when I need a comfort read. Meg, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin go on an epic adventure to save their father, who had been experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel and had disappeared years before. There is a heavy science and “what if” theme that runs through all the books, and one of the best things I’ve found about it is that, as I got older, I understood more and more elements of the book, both on a scientific and mathematical note but also on an emotional note. It really is a book that can grow with you.
Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers: Francine Rivers is my number one favorite christian author. She doesn’t pull any punches. The Mark of the Lion series takes place at the height of the Roman empire and the main characters are a Jewish slave, a Roman aristocratic family, and a freed German gladiator. It deals with their lives, messy and horrific as they were back then, and is such a great historical and faith read. I adore it. It’s pretty heavy though. My mum originally owned this series and my husband surprised me with them last year for Christmas; it was one of my very favorite gifts that year.
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt: This is the other Voigt book that I love to come back to. Growing up, anytime I felt like my life wasn’t fair or was upset because my parents didn’t spoil us kids (there were four of us and they were teachers- while we did well for ourselves, we certainly weren’t spoiled with material things) I would pull this down and remind myself how much worse it could be. My parents could leave me and the kids to fend for ourselves. I learned from the life and money lessons my parents sought to teach us as kids and my husband and I live pretty comfortably and have the opportunity to spoil our kids quite a bit more than my parents had. That said, we won’t because of this series and the difference it makes in my worldview. I count my blessings and make sure my kids realize that the best things in life are things: they’re people and moments and security and love.
This post was another doozy, so thanks if you made it all the way through it! I just love these books so much. This post is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and her Top Ten Tuesdays; you should check her and them out!
Like I mentioned briefly above, I will be reviewing Wrinkle in Time next week. I plan on doing it either Friday or Saturday because I want to do a compare and contrast between the book and the movie. My husband got us tickets to see it on Thursday evening and I am so stoked! I can’t wait!
What books do you return to over and over again? Or are you more of a one and done type? Let me know in the comments below!