My apologies–a draft of this post went out unfinished and unedited. I meant to hit “save” and I hit “publish”. Uggh!
A big thank you to my fellow blogger, Michele Seminara, who nominated me for this blog award. The award is in the spirit of those who love books and find themselves lost in the world of books. I just wish that someone else nominated me, because Michele would be the first person whose blog I would nominate! She has an amazing, lyrical quality in her writing, and she also has a talent for poetry. If you read one poem this year, it should be Michele’s “Perchance to Dream“, it is hauntingly beautiful. Check out her work at The Everyday Strange and Sacred.
When it comes to books, I am all about the author’s voice. Plot is important, but there are only so many stories humans can tell. It is the way they are told, the voice that an author brings to a work, that is important to me. So, rather than give my five favorite books of all time, I will share with you the particular books where I felt captivated by the author, as if the story were only being told to me.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The way this book confronts racism, hatred, shame, loneliness and the triumph of the human spirit is just stellar. I read this book on a train while travelling through Europe, and it was as if an adult Scout Finch sat next to me and shared her life story. I could while away with this book for all eternity.
2. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have taught this book to sophomores in high school, and I always ask them to promise me that they will reread it when they are thirty. By then they will have had plenty of experiences with the downside of partying and loved some of the wrong people. By then they will feel like they’ve known a Jay Gatsby or two ( and he may be the one staring back at them in the mirror some mornings).
3. The Tender Bar, by J.R. Moehringer. The beginning pages of The Tender Bar are so sad, as the young J.R. listens to his absentee father’s voice on the radio (his father was a notable disc jockey). This book exemplifies how one can overcome such a hardscrabble youth, the power of a mother’s love, and the belief that one’s role models can range in age and social status. After finding this book, I introduced it to my high school juniors. They were blown away by the candid voice Moehringer brings to the memoir–and the colorful characters he meets along his journey. It is the book they remember years later. The narrative is beautifully told. It inspired me to try my hand at writing.
4. The Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles. I LOVE THIS BOOK! What I find most shocking about The Rules of Civility is that the writer is not a full-time author but a businessman. His characters have such depth–each one could be the protagonist of his/her own novel. I loved reading this book, because it harkened back to the days of Gatsby, but had female characters that were more three-dimensional and authentic, not your stereotypical waifs-in-waiting.
5. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, by David Foster Wallace. I am not intelligent enough to fully comprehend DFW. He was a literary genius–right down to his tormented life and tragic death. But I have read his work, and this one was so refreshing in its scope and approach. The essays do not include the questions, just the answers from those who sat for each fictional interview. My favorite is the one about the bathroom attendant. I had never even considered such a character–in real life or books. After reading this, I consider these everyday people more than those we expect to see in our world–doctors, lawyers, teachers…
And the blogs that I would nominate for this award:
Cristian Mihai: This blogger is a published author and has a vast array of writing features on his site. His posts about writing are so insightful and captivating. He makes me want to be a better writer. This blog is great for anyone who wants to reflect on the writing process and how it relates to us all.
One Thousand Single Days: Vanessa Katsoolis’ blog chronicles her challenge to be celibate and date free for 1,000 days. It is a fascinating look at the priorities one has–and what happens when they shift–in our modern world. Vanessa is a spirited, enlightened young woman. Her blog will not disappoint.
Mind of Andy: This blog, by a sixteen year old from Denmark, is such a pleasure to explore. Andy is beginning a book, and these are some musings he has about life. Despite his age, Andy has wisdom beyond his years. He hasn’t posted in over a month, and I miss his youthful take on this wacky world we live in. Come back, Andy!
Talkin’ Shit: From the title alone, you can tell this blog is a bit irreverent, but I love this guy’s honesty, his rants, and the fact that he has a lot of heart. He is a hater, but he hates a lot of the right things (ignorant people, hypocrites…) He has received a great deal of attention, but what I want to know is who are his reading influences? I hope he accepts the award. This blog is not for everyone, but it is for anyone who doesn’t mind Talkin’ Shit once in a while–or blogging about it.
Bubble Wrapped Blog: Caitlin McCann is a young woman who is in the know of all things literary. Her passion for reading, her love of authors, and her relationship with characters makes me jealous, for I will never read all the amazing books she has–and she is half my age!
Each of these bloggers serves as a reminder of how connected we can be in this modern technological age. I feel lucky to have found them. Do yourself a favor, and visit their sites.