The Books That Touch Us

16 December 2013
10:30 pm

T. —

I am in the mood for puppets today. Well, I am in the mood for The Weepies, and I watched an episode of Glee that used puppets for the main characters, and I kind of loved it at the time, so when I just saw a music video of the Weepies with puppets: SOLD.

Hehe, it makes me giggle.

Coming off of a week of headaches, I’ll take whatever smiles I can get. Tonight at kickboxing class, I felt my back pinch, and part of me thought Jesus, not again, I’m not into all of this illness and invalid stuff but then, walking home, carrying a bag full of three wonderful books, I just adjusted my pace, and sent compassion to my skeleton, and sent gratitude to the books for balancing me, and for supporting me, and felt thankful for being lucky enough to take home great books and great knowledge and great art and great company. In light of that, a pinch in my back will go away with rest and care. It just also served to remind me that I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I want to help encourage my muscles to be more supportive of my body, and I’m the only one who can change that. How simultaneously uplifting and challenging.

There’s a great post circulating around Facebook. It’s one of the few reasons why I appreciate Facebook these days: for what goodness can be shared. Anyway, here’s the prompt:

“Rules: In your status line, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be “right” or “great” books, just the ones that have touched you. Tag 10+ friends, including me, so I’ll see your list. “

Yeah, I changed the rules. I had to. See evidence: “(*For my own sanity, I’m keeping this list to the most influential books that I’ve read in 2013*)”

And then to my list:

1. “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead” by Brene Brown
2. “Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems” by Mary Oliver
3. “A Walk Between Heaven and Earth: A Personal Journal on Writing and the Creative Process” by Burghild Nina Holzer
4. “Love, an Index” by Rebecca Lindenberg
5. “State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett
6. “The Faraway Nearby” by Rebecca Solnit
7. “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan
8. “The Flinch” by Julien Smith
9. “Mr g” by Alan Lightman
10. “Dancer” by Colum McCann

You can’t stop me at 10.

11. “World Enough and Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down” by Christian McEwan
12. “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed
13. “A Way of Being Free” by Ben Okri
14. “Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell”
15. “Peace Is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hahn


What I like most after that is the thread of comments. Here are a few:

R: “Emma have you read Walden? Judging by this I’m sure you have.”

KK: “For you, Emma, I will do this here, but books that have stayed for decades. A wrinkle in time, jane eyre, rilke’s sonnets to Orpheus, dune, Louise bourgeois’ drawings and observations, nijinsky’s unexpurgated diary, Goedel Escher Bach, fires by marguerite yourcenar, to the lighthouse, almanac of the dead.”

B: “Emma, did i ever tell you that i saw Thich Nhat Hanh speak live at his monastery in escondido, CA? I also have three of his calligraphies tattooed on my arms! He is brilliant  Great list you have there, too!!”

J (my brother): “Here’s mine: 1. Native Son – Richard Wright. (The gateway to my social justice world. It started right here. Race, Gender, Masculinity. It’s all there.)
2. A Hope in The Unseen – Ross Suskind. (My understanding about inequalities in education were sewn through the seeds of this book.)
3. Manchild in the Promised Land – Claude Brown. (Incredible memoir about growing up in Harlem in the 40’s and 50’s as a black man.)
4. Forever – Pete Hamill. (Made me think about the power of words as story.)
5. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho. (For obvious reasons, this book is about finding your personal journey.)
6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon. (Incredibly interesting book written from the perspective of an autistic boy.)
7. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens. (Probably the only “classic” that I’ve ever really enjoyed.)
8. Open – Andre Agassi. (Incredible memoir, unflinchingly honest.)
9. White Like Me – Tim Wise. (Gives voice to many of the things I feel on a daily basis as a white person.)
10. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom. (Given to me by a very special person, read at a time when I really needed to understand the teachings within it.)”

MG: “#7 is currently sitting on my “to read” pile. Perhaps I’ll bump it higher!”



What would your list be? You can limit it to your childhood, or to 2013, or to your actual top ten, or to your top ten of most-read books. I think I might do that one next, actually.



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