Saturday, February 15, 2014


Happy birthday to me!

I've been feeling slightly overwhelmed lately. The cliched notion of so much to do, so little time seems to be constantly looming in the back of my mind. And while it applies to many aspects of my life (dishes, laundry, play-time with the boys, etc.) for me it also most particularly applies to reading.

It's estimated that there are 129 million books printed in modern history. If I live to be 100 (goal age!) I'd have to read more than 3500 books per day to get to them all. Suffice it to say, I don't think I'm going to get there.

But I can surely try to get to all the good stuff. And I like to think that I've gotten to at least some of that good stuff. Which is why I've compiled this list. Twenty-eight books. One for every year of my life. These are must reads in my opinion, spanning all ages and all genres.

Twenty + Eight Books:

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein
Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
The Giver, Lois Lowry
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Oh, The Places You'll Go! Dr. Seuss
The Awakening, Kate Chopin
Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot
Inglorious Basterds: A Screenplay, Quentin Tarantino
And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
On the Night You Were Born, Nancy Tillman
Olivia, Ian Falconer
The Bridges of Madison County, Robert James Waller
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
What Does the Fox Say? Ylvis

I cherish all of these books for one reason or another.

I remember my mom reading The Chronicles of Narnia to us. In fact, I remember so vividly how I imagined the children traveling through the wardrobe into Narnia that it may as well be a memory of an actual event.

I remember translating The Little Prince from it's original French in high school. It's magic moved me so much, that I've chosen it as the first book to read to all of my babies.

I remember how Chuck Palaniuk's writing really shocked me, initially. But then I couldn't put him down. It's like he could read my mind at moments.

And how I laughed with David Sedaris. How can the experiences of this man, who is in many ways my very opposite, resonate with me so much?

Many of these books changed my perspective. Many opened my eyes. Many took me on adventures I could never have imagined on my own. But most importantly, they allowed me to better know myself.

And it always amazes me; how can it be that an author fifty years ago, living a completely different life, in a completely different world, put into words an exact sentiment or thought I've had before? Words can really do wonders to bring us closer together as people.

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. George R.R. Martin

And I intend to do just that.

And what's more... I want thousands of wonderful adventures for everyone. Did you know that in some of the lowest-income neighborhoods in the U.S. there is only ONE book available for every 300 children? That statistic breaks my heart. 

So if you want to give me a birthday gift this year consider donating to the Laurealism Birthday Book Drive which I've organized through First Book, a great organization that provides access to new books for children in need.

Children deserve the chance to learn to love to read. So wish me a happy birthday by donating... whatever amount you can. Even a $10 donation provides four books to children who need them.

My Ideal Bookshelf

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