The Books that Stuck

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts over on Tumblr about the 10 books that stuck with people.

So, jumping on the bandwagon, here’s the 10 books that have stuck with me and changed me in the most meaningful ways. Unsurprisingly, most are from series because series tend to stick with people more than single works.

1. Ulysses by James Joyce

Now, I’m not entirely sure if it’s Ulysses that stuck with me or if it stuck with me because I had read The Odyssey right before. But I’ve been keeping this one close to my heart since I read it a few years ago. I can only hope to someday have the abilities of pacing and setting to create a masterpiece like this one. In fact, I got the last line tattooed on my wrist.

2. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Obviously, I was part of the Harry Potter generation. There were quite a lot of us and those of us who started reading it in middle school and grew up waiting for each book will always have a warm spot for this series. I can’t stand the movies really, but I still read some of the fanfiction. Maybe it’s stuck with me because I’m too stubborn to let it go.

3. Tonguecat by Peter Verhelst

Most people haven’t even heard of this book and that is just a shame. It was recommended to me by a guy I dated in college. He told me the book had whores who were paid to tell stories about heat. And it has that and so much more. I was surprised but not disappointed. It’s one of my favorite Non-linear post-apocalyptic narratives. I’m big on post-modern literature and this one was absolutely fantastic. I wish I knew how to read dutch so I could understand this wonderful book’s undertones like the author intended.

4. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

I read this in high school because my local radio host was talking about it. Mostly because she’d read an excerpt on air. I actually couldn’t find a copy at the time cause I was 13 and our nearest bookstore was two counties away. But a friend on the internet mailed it to me and I devoured it. It’s another post-modern piece. It’s got multiple narratives and the core script actually starts to affect the narrator of the second story. It’s also a play with layout because while the black hole is eating the house it is also eating the text in the book. It’s pretty amazing.

5. In The Labyrinth by Alain Robbe-Grillet

This one was a short novella sold as a companion to a novella I was told to read in college. It ended up being my absolute favorite. It’s a soldier lost in a foreign city and slowly dying of his wounds. It’s first person, pretty must stream of consciousness. I definitely recommend it.

6. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

It took me way longer than it should have to get around to reading this series. I kept putting it on my to read list and I kept adding things in front of it. But when I finally read the first one, there was no stopping me from devouring the last four. The narrative was charming and funny and the science was mostly magic but it was thoroughly enjoyable. I loved the quirkiness and now get all kinds of references in pop culture that I didn’t get before. You know, as a bonus.

7. The Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle

There was a time in my childhood when I felt completely unloved. My parents were having issues and I needed to be strong for them but I was also being bullied for being fat and unattractive and possibly gay. I had crooked teeth and a bad haircut and I smelled like cigarettes and no one liked me. And I hated myself a good deal too. But we were required to read A Wrinkle In Time for sixth grade reading and eventually, we got to a scene where the girl in the story, ugly and dumb and feeling unloved, was being taken care of by a creature from another planet. Aunt Beast. That eyeless alien became the thing I held on to for years. I’d reread that scene anytime I felt like no one loved me. I’d pretend I was Meg and I would curl up in my fuzzy blanket and I would pretend someone cared. These books got me through so many hard times. I don’t know if I’d still be alive right now if I hadn’t had Aunt Beast on some of my worst nights.

8. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

I plowed through the first 11 books while I was in high school. I would check one out, go home and read the whole thing, and then wait for the next one to be available. Luckily, the other person reading them was a pretty fast reader so I didn’t have to wait too long. But I loved the narrator of this series so much. I got the Beatrice Letters and the Unauthorized Autobiography as well. I even picked up a few of the books written after the series ended. He had an entire generation of people before the protagonists were even born. The orphans were just a tool to tell the real story. And the literature references! I loved the literature references. It made me feel like the way I am was something good.

9. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

This is one of the books that almost didn’t make it into the list. It could have been beaten out by several others. But when I read it, it was in 2002, just shortly after the war had started. I wasn’t old enough to go into the military but I wanted to. I was angry and wanted to do something worthwhile. I thought being a soldier would do that for me. But I read this book and Gene felt the exact same way as I did. But then Leper and his situation happened and I rethought my idea of going into the military. Might be the best thing I ever did. As damaged as I am, even as I was then, the military would have been really bad for me.

10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I’m one of the many girls who felt they could relate to Jane Eyre. Being smart and bookish and quiet and the adults being displeased with her over it. Then growing up to keep everyone at arms reach. She was the person I kind of felt like I was in my early twenties. And then the adultery thing. I’d been in love with a taken man before and I knew how that felt. My Mr. Rochester never came back for me, of course. But Jane made me feel less alone and more strong. This also changed my mind about 1800s British Women’s Lit. It’s opened a whole genre of books for me.

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