Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Playing Favorites

I am not a literary genius.  I haven’t read many of the classics, though I wish I had.  My husband and I went through a period when we thought we’d read some classics, and bought some hardbound books to begin a library of intellectual proportions unknown to us at that point.  Together, we read exactly three classics: Pride and Prejudice, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Little Women.  Those books took us so long to get through that we put them on a shelf when we finished and they collected dust until I put them in the giveaway pile.  We never made a silly pact like that again.

My taste in books can hardly be considered highbrow; I like reading novels, biographies, humor and historical fiction.  I read books that everyone was talking about three years ago.  I have a stack of magazine subscription cards scribbled with titles of books that I read about in magazines and hear about on TV that I mean to read but probably never will. 

My favorite books are varied and decidedly not intellectual, though I dream of rattling off poetry and having real discussions about literary figures, real and imagined.  In the movie Sabrina she says that her father became a chauffeur so he’d have more time to read.  That thought has never left me; what a wonderful, simple choice.  He probably read things like War and Peace and Moby Dick and others I can’t think up on the spot because I am not a literary genius.

When I was a kid I loved Judy Blume.  I read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing over and over; I truly identified with Peter, who was a serious kid and a little curmudgeonly at nine years old, just like me.  And who lived in New York City, to boot.  Then came Margaret.  Are you there God?  Good Lord, this girl had issues.  And I had every one of them too.  From questions about religion to the anticipation/terror of puberty, I read this book and saw myself on every page.

I also loved this book not on any class reading list called Anna to the Infinite Power, about a girl who finds out she is the product of a cloning experiment.

In high school I fell in love with Holden Caulfield.  The Catcher in the Rye was one book out of ten I was expected to read one summer break before hitting the ground running in an advanced placement English class.  I read and re-read Catcher, but never got around to reading the rest of the others.  I had to inform my teacher that I didn’t get the work done over the summer and started school that year in a regular English class, wistfully watching the AP kids walk into their classroom, the classics under their arms and filling their brains. 

I spent the rest of high school reading Sassy, Seventeen, and YM magazines.

During college and grad school, I rarely read anything that wasn’t assigned, though I blew off one whole day of work and office hours sobbing through The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard.  I also swiped my mom’s Rosamunde Pilchers over breaks and found a home in Coming Home.  That book is beloved and I read it at least once a year until my daughter was born.  Haven’t heard of it?  It’s because it’s not a literary masterpiece.  

These days I re-read in anticipation of a sequel or movie release, as in the case of all the Twilights and Harry Potters.  My latest re-read was Life of Pi, also one of my current favorites, and despite the many, many OBVIOUS hints I’ve dropped to my husband that I want to see this movie, I still haven’t seen it.

I also re-read Catcher recently, where I realized what a creep Holden Caulfield really is.

Atonement, The Alchemist, Water For Elephants, Ken Follett’s epics, anything by Chelsea Handler, David Sedaris or Anita Shreve; these are my favorites these days, and while they may not be classics, the more I read, the more favorites I find. 

What are your favorite books?

Help someone else find their favorites by promoting literacy.  It will cost you nothing, and you can do it right now!  All you need to do is:

  • Enter your name and email in the spaces provided. 
  • *Please mark that you got there from my blog: About 100%*

This is the best part:

An anonymous donor has agreed to contribute $1 to our YWCA’s Adult Literacy Program for every valid name and email address received.

There is no cap on the amount of money they are willing to donate.  Thank you!


  1. Oh. My. God. I loved Anna to the Infinite Power and forgot all about it until now!
    I used to read literary classics now I read magazines, mysteries that involve Victorian ladies, nuns or midwives and books about polygamists. I try to tell myself that I'll get back to books that require deeper thinking someday...

    1. No WAY! I never knew anyone else who knows about this book. I'd love to read it again just to see if it still holds my interest. Something tells me that it will not.

  2. Any reading is good reading - who cares what type? I love that you're doing this literacy promotion. I clicked. Can I do it more than once?

    Meanwhile, talk to me about Life of Pi. Why is it a favorite? I read it not long after it was published, but probably need to re-read it. Saw movie previews and the kid is interested - can't decide if that's even worth pursuing.

    1. I tend to agree that any reading is good reading, until I read something that takes me a month to get through it and after I'm done I think what a waste of time THAT was.

      Thank you so much for clicking through! I think for each valid email the donor will give $1. Duplicates might not be counted as separate emails, but it sure doesn't hurt.

      Life of Pi was one of those religious/philosophical books that I devoured in the mid-90's. I read it after it came out and loved it. I picked it up again when I saw the trailer for the movie and fell in love all over again. This time I loved it for the language and the suspense - I'm a sucker for good descriptive narratives and survival stories.

      I think the imagery in the movie will be fantastic. A boy and a tiger in a boat in the ocean? I want to see that.