10 Books That Stayed With Me (in adulthood)

the-golem-and-the-jinniNaomi Kritzer tagged me for the book game with the following instructions: In your status, 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 do not have to be in “right” or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.

I’ve done this before, using books from childhood. These are from relatively recent adulthood, and I ruled out books written by friends:

1. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger. Just gorgeous. She danced the line between creepy and not really well, too. And such a beautiful hideous love story.

2. Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem. Everyone told me to read it because the protag has Tourette’s as do two of my favorite people. They should have told me to read it because it is a wrenchingly beautiful portrait of all of the best humanity has to offer, cheek by jowl with the worst.

3. Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni. We are Facebook friends but I only friended her because I loved the book. It spoke to me. It was deep and strong and REAL. It was about things that mattered. The people were real, the world was vivid, the voice was like a deep, clear well.

4. Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, who recommended The Golem and the Jinni on NPR which is why I looked it up. It’s a children’s book but I read it as an adult. It is a story of vanquishing depression, in my mind. Of being disillusioned but remaining true to yourself anyway. Of realizing your unrealistic hopes for the future were not going to happen, and of being very happy with what DOES happen, anyway. I wept and wept at this beautiful, beautiful book.

5.  Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein. It is a wonderful, kind, human, deeply useful book.

6. The Year in Ireland, Kevin Danaher. A wonderful bit of folkloric history that has changed the way I live my life and relate to my culture.

7.  Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. I learned so much. I learned that I have so much to learn.

8. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Beautiful. Brilliant. The fae were scary-ass fuckers as they should be. The English were racist and class-bound (ditto). The characters were REAL PEOPLE. The plot was unexpected but felt perfectly natural. The feeling of it lingered for weeks. I was so so so sad as the book thinned and I knew the end was coming. “No,” I found myself whispering. “No. Don’t be over.”

9. Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head by Jen Larsen. This may seem like cheating on my rule of no friends, but she’s another one I befriended because of her book. Smart. Funny. A wild honest true true heartwrenching hopeful beautiful book that made me want to send her a long tear-stained email. So I did.

10. The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, by Michael Chabon. Just fucking BEAUTIFUL. Unexpected. Hilarious. Moving.  Thoughtful and imaginative and irritating and beautiful beautiful beautiful.

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