Five books

I read voraciously.  With a speed and appetite that has kept me up far too late on far too many evenings.  To the amusement of my friends and family when I drop out of the room, the conversation, the space I seem to be inhabiting, with nothing more than the turn of the page…

So WordPress challenges me to list the five most important books I’ve ever read.   And then tell you why. It is a challenge I cannot resist.  Here goes:

One of my freshman-year roommates lent me this; told me I had to read it.  She was right.  Ostensibly a parable about an Andalusian shepherd, it’s actually a love story to the challenge we all face to live our dreams.  It’s kept me going when I’ve felt lost.  It’s reassured me, showing up again and again – when I’ve traveled, when I’ve killed time in a train station – reminding me to keep living the way I should.  And I think, maybe, it broke my heart.  It started on a cool September evening when I lent it to a boy  who saw what I saw in its words, and I didn’t even notice my heart slide away from me. 

The book that made moving home from Scotland bearable.   Ever read something or had someone say something, that makes you realize that those words are EXACTLY the shape and sound of the indescribable feelings just out of reach, buzzing around your brain?  The relief of naming those feelings is palpable.   

Proof that “importance” doesn’t guarantee “enjoyment.”   Read it for my high school AP English class.  Had to try to draw a plot diagram, amongst other projects …  Painful.   I thought I hated this book.  Because at 16, I still believed lives and minds were linear.  The truth of adulthood is something else.  So it goes…

Perry makes me think.  And helps reconcile the intellectual and the “simpler” pieces of myself.   He made me feel better about love, when I didn’t really think I liked it anymore.   And, explained in a mere paragraph exactly why I work on my car with my brother.

Can I explain this book?  Vicky is me.  There.  That comes close. 

Five books that have been utterly important to me.  Some for the time in which I read them.  Some for the timelessness of the story, the message to be imparted.  And, some for helping me learn about myself by holding up a character to be my mirror.   Yet this list doesn’t touch some of my favorite books: things by Neil Gaiman, or Robin McKinley, or Jane Austen, or Margaret Atwood.  

The lesson to be learned from that contradiction is a thought I’m still trying to find the right words to wrap around…


About bethanyrgrimm

Traveler. Coffee addict. Nerd. Fashionista. Baseball aficionado. Bethany Grimm (née Rein) is a twenty-something professional living in sunny and warm St Paul. She drinks too much coffee and reads too many books. But in her defense, she can explain the in-field fly rule and change her own oil, so at least she's a well-rounded nerd. An avid runner, Bethany also plays recreational sports with more enthusiasm than skill. You may find her telling the men in her life to put on a tie already.
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3 Responses to Five books

  1. Your #1 is also one of my top 5. It’s a truly beautiful and meaningful book.

    The other books on your list seem very interesting, so I may have to add them to my reading wish list. 🙂

  2. Adam says:

    The five most important books you’ve ever read? That’s a odd question. How do you determine the 5 most important, on their value to you, their value to society as a whole, the success of the book overall, what criteria do you use? I’m going to spend a couple minutes perusing my bookshelf while I look for a few books.

    OK, I’ve got a couple books now, although I’m sure they’re my five most important for very different reasons.

    59 Seconds – by Richard Wiseman – This book is a collection of various psychological research that is set up to be applicable to everyday life. I’m currently using some of the ideas from this book to help me in my goal to lose some weight. Psychology can be a dry subject, but this book shows you how to apply it to your life.

    Requiem for a Dream – by Hubert Selby Jr. – Not that I’ve ever really considered doing any hard drugs, but this book will scare you away from even considering it, and it’s an excellent book as well.

    The Eye of the World – by Robert Jordan – It’s an odd circumstance that led me to put this book on the list. I started reading this series (the Wheel of Time) years ago, and was greatly upset when Robert Jordan died. Once I heard that Brandon Sanderson was finishing the series for Jordan, I immediately checked out Sanderson’s books. After reading all of Sanderson’s books and checking out the Writing Excuses podcast that he is part of I greatly expanded my reading to check out a lot more books. Overall this series of events caused me to change how I live, instead of playing video games and watching tv and movies a lot, I read books and have given some thought to writing here and there. This series and the unique circumstances about its writing has changed my life.

    There’s 3, not 5, I’d have to think a lot longer to try and come up with 2 more, and maybe I’ll give some thought to it and consider doing a full post about it.

  3. Pingback: A post directly from Bethany’s “irrelevant, senatorial level of consciousness” | Fueled by coffee

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