If you’re an active Facebook user, you’ve surely seen recent posts by your friends about “7 Books I Love,” in which people are sharing one book each day and tagging a friend to do the same in order to promote literacy. The catch? You’re not supposed to provide any explanations about why you love the books; posting the covers with no other caption except the copy and paste of what you’re doing is the standard.
The other day I was tagged on Facebook by my friend Karen Meg. I was happy to share the books I love but it occurred to me that I really didn’t want to tag people on Facebook each day since I have no idea who has already posted books. Additionally, lots of people hate being tagged on stuff because they feel pressure to follow through on something they didn’t choose to do, and I certainly don’t want people to feel icky. (When I get tagged on something I don’t want to do, I just don’t do it: easy peasy!)
I also didn’t want to do one post each day for seven days. I’m trying to streamline my Facebook page a little bit and I don’t post nearly as much as I used to. (Stop it! I do not! You should see my Facebook Memories each day: I’m deleting all kinds of dumb stuff that I can’t believe I thought post-worthy.)
I also want to tell people why I love the books I chose for my set of seven…isn’t that the other half of the equation? I mean, looking at a cover is great but getting a specific recommendation from someone is much more likely to make someone put the title on their list.
So here I am, sharing seven books I love in no particular order, all at once in this book-sized blog post, with just a little bit of information about why I, Melisa, love them.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg: This book has been on my favorite books list ever since I first read it when I was in fifth grade. Claudia Kincaid, 12, who feels very typically underappreciated as a girl her age, runs away with her younger brother Jamie. They move into New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art where they hide in the bathrooms at closing time, take coins out of the fountains to use for purchases, and hang out with touring school groups. They become fascinated with an angel statue and try to find out the story behind it, which leads them to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I read this book more times than I can count not only as a tween but also in my young adult years. While I love it because of the exciting mystery, I have to believe that, as the daughter of a hotel manager who lived on site for months at a time each time he started working at a new hotel, it’s also because I love reading about other kids who get to go “behind the scenes” of a very public place, like I did. (Another book I love which is related to this theory and won’t fit on my list today is Eloise by Kay Thompson, about a precocious little girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel in NYC.)
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire: Another treasure I found in fifth grade is this gorgeously illustrated book about Greek Mythology. My teacher kept it on her bookshelf and I spent a lot of time turning the pages and reading about Zeus, Aphrodite, Athena, and the rest. This book started a lifetime love for the stories of Greek Mythology, and about fifteen years ago I was overjoyed to find, completely by accident, a paperback copy at a used book store. My older son fell in love with it too, and a few years back I found us both hardcover copies.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: I usually say this classic is my favorite book, ever ever ever. I have read it more than twenty times, in all the stages of my life. The main character, who is also the narrator, actually is never named in the book. The story starts with this girl, who is very young and very mousy and not knowledgeable about the world at all, working as a paid companion and caretaker to an elderly woman. While on a summer getaway she meets a gentleman named Maxim de Winter in the dining room. They start (innocently) sneaking around so the elderly woman doesn’t find out they’re spending time together and they quickly fall in love, marry, and go to try and live happily ever after at a mansion called Manderley…but Max’s late wife haunts our young, insecure girl like you wouldn’t believe (with a little help from super villain, housekeeper Mrs. Danvers) and the drama unfolds from there. From the very first sentence in the book, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” I was hooked and continue to be. The twists in this book are incredible and I’m still intrigued even after so many re-reads.
Becoming by Michelle Obama: I mean, come on. Is there anyone who has read this who doesn’t love it? I thoroughly enjoyed reading about our favorite First Lady’s background, her relationship with Barack, and his political career in her words, from her perspective. Reading the details of her life trajectory further explains why she has so much passion for certain causes. She is an extraordinary woman and I felt even more grateful after reading her book that we Americans got to share her with her family for a little while.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris: I haven’t yet met a David Sedaris book or essay that I don’t like, but this collection is my very favorite, the cream of the crop in my opinion. These essays are Laugh Out Loud Funny, especially “A Shiner Like a Diamond,” which describes his (famous) sister Amy’s penchant for nearly giving their father a nervous breakdown by altering her appearance (that’s all I’m going to say) and “The Youth in Asia,” which is about the Sedaris family pets over the years and how, eventually, David’s empty nester parents “replaced” him and his sisters with a Great Dane. I love how Sedaris can write a deep and sometimes sad essay and yet insert comic relief at the exact place it’s needed. He’s a master.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: My very favorite genre is biography/memoir, and this one by “The Daily Show” host and comedian Trevor Noah did not disappoint. As the subtitle indicates, this book contains stories from Trevor’s childhood in South Africa. He was a troublemaker, that one, and many of his jokes on “The Daily Show” started to take on a deeper meaning for me after I read this completely entertaining book: suddenly I knew why he was laughing so hard at stories of theft or mayhem-causing children. Something that I thought was very special about this book was the educational aspect: in between each chapter there is a short section on something having to do with apartheid. It was fascinating to read and mostly new information to me; I appreciated the opportunity to learn so much in small, digestable bites.
The Thank-You Project: Cultivating Happiness One Letter of Gratitude at a Time by Nancy Davis Kho: While this list of seven books isn’t in any particular order, I DID feel the need to put this one at the end because while I’ve read it (holla!), it doesn’t actually come out for another four weeks! This is my friend Nancy’s book detailing how you can do a letter-writing project like she did for her fiftieth birthday. I was inspired by hers and did a project in honor of my own fiftieth last year; it truly was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. (Sample letter HERE!) Not all of the letters got mailed, but most did, and when I was done I put copies of them all into a lovely hardcover book that I can pick up off of my nightstand and read anytime for a good laugh, cry, or jolt of inspiration. Doing a deep dive into your life and figuring out who and what taught you your biggest lessons and made you the absolutely fabulous person you are today isn’t the easiest thing to do but holy cow, is it rewarding! You don’t have to do it for any specific occasion like we did, by the way: gratitude is timeless. In the book Nancy basically provides the blueprint for the project along with inspiration, ideas, and even song playlists for your listening pleasure while you work. The book can be pre-ordered on Amazon (and other places you buy books!); it’ll be released on Tuesday, December 3rd!
And there you have it! I dropped the ball on my Goodreads challenge for 2019 a couple of months ago due to life circumstances/other projects/not making the time/laziness but I think I just inspired myself to go pull a book off of my shelves and get busy reading again!