My Top Ten Favorite Books (Okay, so more like 10 of my favorite books because 10 isn't a lot and I have lots and lots and lots of favorites, but still. And they're not even all kids books, either!)
1. A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry - This has been my favorite book since 4th grade. I LOVE IT! It's about Meg and her sister Molly, who are two very different people, and what happens when they move from their home in Boston out to the country so their dad can finish writing a book. So, the title kind of tells you that someone dies, but there's also birth and unexpected friendship and finding out who you really are and why it's so important to be you. I so relate to Meg. Quiet and unsure of herself and insecure, but also kind of confident to the outside world. To this day, I relate to Meg. Just have the tissue ready.
2. The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt - This is a newcomer. I just read it this past fall and fell in love instantly. It's about Holling Hoodhood, who is the only Protestant in his 8th grade class in Long Island. So when everyone leaves on Wednesday afternoon to go to Catechism or Hebrew school, he's the only one left. And his teacher has to figure out what to do with him. Which winds up being reading Shakespeare. And involves two rats getting loose in the school. And the New York Yankees. And the Vietnam War. And cream puffs. And yellow tights with strategically placed feathers. It's set during the 1967-68 school year. It's laugh out loud funny. It's wipe away the tears so you can keep reading touching. It might be the perfect book.
3. Walden by Henry David Thoreau - If I had been alive at the time, I'd have been Mrs. Thoreau, living in the one room cabin on the banks of Walden Pond. This book shaped much of who I am today. It's the birth of environmentalism, transcendentalism, living simply and consciously. My copy is filled with highlighted passages. It's dog eared. I read it cover to cover about once a year and refer to it much more than that. I've read it so many times, I could probably recite it right now (kind of like the "who's that little old man" scene from A Hard Days' Night). It's what I strive for and will most likely always strive for.
4. Where Is Joe Merchant? by Jimmy Buffett - It's like a kids book for grown ups. I can't even begin to explain the plot. There's a lot going on in there. But it's all fun and funny and full of adventure. Kind of like Jimmy's songs, but longer. The first time I read it, I read it cover to cover sitting in Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. But I could have sworn I was gallivanting about the Caribbean with Frank Bama and the whole quirky group. Every time I read it, it makes me want to learn to fly a seaplane. (Until I remember that I'm deathly afraid of water)
5. Get In the Van by Henry Rollins - Many people don't really know that I have this punk rock part of me. But I do. And this is one of the ways it manifests itself. To this day, I love Henry. And this is his chronicle of his time in one of the great American punk bands, Black Flag. (If you don't have Rise Above on your ipod, go download it now. I'll wait.) Brutal and brutally honest.
6. The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (It's not cheating! You have to read all four books to get the whole story) - Let me just say, I was THE FIRST person to read Twilight, like, right when it came out. And then I spent forever and a day telling everyone I encountered that they HAD to read this book. And no one did. For ages. I practically had to beg Work Friend to read it. But little by little, I got the word out. I think I should get some kind of compensation for that (call me Stephenie). If you haven't read these yet, just step away from your computer and go start reading right now. You'll want Edward to be your vampire boyfriend, too.
7. All-American Girl by Meg Cabot - Samantha Madison, the art rebel who loves Gwen Stefani and has dyed all her clothes black in protest of all kinds of things, manages to save the life of the President of the United States. And then finds out the kind of cute guy in art class who liked her combat boots with the white-out daisies painted on them is the son of the President of the United States. It's hard to pick the best Meg Cabot book, but this has to be it. I've read it as read aloud multiple times and have yet to be able to do it without laughing out loud. Samantha's press conference gets me every time. (I will say, the Queen of Babble books, which are totally grown up books, almost made the list.....)
8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares (still not cheating) - The story of four girls of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds who find a pair of pants in a thrift shop that somehow fits all of them perfectly. And those pants become the link between them as they spend their summers apart. Yet another set of books where you will laugh and cry and really, really, really relate. You are guaranteed to see yourself in a least one of these girls (Or maybe you're a blend, like me - part Carmen, part Tibby, part Lena).
9. The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian - The story of Josh Swensen, a.k.a. Larry, who posts his "sermons" about the state of the world and commercialism and lots of other things on his website (www.thegospelaccordingtolarry.com). Which sparks something of a movement. And, eventually, Bono is involved. But that's not why this is so great. Josh's hero is Thoreau. How do you not love that? Reading this book made me take another look at my life and whether I was doing enough with it. I don't think I could ever get down to just 75 possessions, but I strive nonetheless.
10. A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin - I'm a space nerd. Yes. I admit it. I've read just about every book on the early history of space flight. I can tell you all about every mission from Mercury through Apollo, and quite a few beyond. But this is the best book about such things. The perfect blend of the technical marvel and human spirit of space flight. It's what that HBO miniseries was based on. Which was an awesome miniseries, even if I don't watch much tv and had to get my mom's co-worker to tape it for me since I didn't have HBO. But the book is better.
Honorable Mention (I said, 10 is not a lot): The Schwa Was Here and Antsy Does Time by Neal Schusterman - Antsy Bonano is one of my favorite characters ever. Can't get through these without laughing out loud either. And when I had a stupid question about Antsy Does Time and emailed it to Neal Schusterman, he emailed me back. ( I needed to know why a man's tie would be over his shoulder and Hubby didn't know. Which tells you how often he wears ties. Apparently, it means the guy has been in the bathroom. Which makes me wonder how long his tie is. Among other things.)