This book list first grew teeny, tiny book list feet back in March 2011.
I have reason to believe that is the best book list out there on the market currently (sorry, Oprah) only because it is a direct product of laughter, community and new friendships. & anything that is created out of laughter, community and new friendships is strong to the core from the very beginning.
It began around a winding table in the Bronx, New York, between a scattered group of priests, college grads and a volunteer group from Merrimack College who were dedicating their spring break to helping out my roommates and I in the preschools and life centers in the Bronx. One night, we all began dropping names on the table-- Jodi Picoult, Toni Morrison, Janet Evanovich-- and a book list was born.
The book list you see here has been passed & passed to many behind the veils of emails and Facebook messages but it has never seen the light of the public world. Like the day you ever stumble upon an original Van Gogh in your garage or one of the only three pairs of the red ruby slippers that ever kissed the heels of Judy Garland's feet in a decrepit Payless shoebox-- you should treasure it, hold it and pass it with care.
**These books are listed in no particular order as to not hurt feelings and make one book feel more superior to the other. Books are catty like that.
Also known as "The book that won't stir you until page 50 but don't give up on it yet." I'll admit that I stumbled and stammered and almost put the book down but that everything changed when I reached the 50-page mark. You go from barely holding up the book to gripping it tightly, sucking the oxygen from the teeny tiny pages. Twisted plotline. Twisted perspective. So delightfully gripping.
I told my mother I was coming up with a book list and she nearly fell into a fit of rage jumping up and down with fists clenched screaming, "LITTLEEEEE BEEEEEEEEE.RARRRRRRRRRRRRR." That is complete fiction. She did nothing of the sort but I know she is reading this right now and it will be funny that I wrote this later. But no, seriously, you need to go read this book and then decide which room in your house you want to redecorate. Next week on the blog I will post a tutorial on how to turn Christopher Cleeve's book pages into wallpaper so that you can drool over it while cooking pasta in the kitchen or brushing your teeth in the bathroom. Naturally, the tutorial will get pinned a couple hundred times and this book list will go wildly viral. Duh.
Where the Heart Waits
Not to be confused with "Where the Heart Is" about the girl who gets pregnant and delivers a baby in Wal-Mart. I am a mega fan over any ink that Sue Monk Kidd places down on a page. This book is designated for anyone going with a dark period with God. Sue spins webs out her barren periods with the Lord and challenges any holder of the book to dig deeper into their own mess to uncover pearls from the mud pit.
Finally, someone thought to write my love story down. A restless young woman searching for more finds herself in the arms of a Channing Tatum-esque man who just so happens to own an orphanage in El Salvador. This novel will punch you in the face with romance I know you have thought about but in a totally tasteful non-50 Shades of Vomit kind of way.
You should probably read this book before all your views of the Amish get absolutely wrecked by the new TLC show. I've never used the phrase "the junk" but I guess it is the saying for something that is really, really good? So Urban Dictionary declares? But Jodi Picoult is the junk of fiction. She does it all right & in an effortless kind of way like, "Oh, I just made your head fall off and your brains gush out with my ridiculous plot lines. Want another?" So read Plain Truth and then go build a bunker in your local library and camp out with all the books she's ever written. And when the security guards come to remove you, scream that you've caught the Jodi and you are absolutely incurable. They'll be sympathetic. I'm sure.
Blue Like Jazz
I am still quite certain that there will come a day when Don Miller and I are sipping sweet tea out at the front of a wraparound porch. The man is genius. I've never had a single tempting to get a tattoo but some of his sentences are just so sticky that I think I want to ink them on my body in a forever sort of way. For instance: It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out. I want to repeat one word for you: Leave. Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn't it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don't worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.” Wanna hit up the tatty parlor with me later?
(Side noter: All of Don's stuff is pure goodness. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is another one I highly recommend, especially if you are beginning to wonder the purpose within your little bones.)
The Year of Magical Thinking
Do you know how ridiculously tough it is for me to even type out that title. I get choked up. I want to retreat far, far away from this computer space to curl up in a corner with Joan Didion's book and just weep & pour over it. When I was a little girl, I visited the historical society where they taught my class and I how to use the loom. I used to think the whole process was tedious and precarious, it took so long to weave a rug back in those days! But you saw the genius outcome of it and you knew the threading--and all the nights & days of it-- was worth it. Joan Didion is the loomer or the loomstress or the seamstress (whatever you call it) to literature. She chooses her words carefully & wisely and spins you into a better person because of it.
This book was a major player in helping me find the courage and the resources to quit my day job. Jon Acuff is smart and spewing with know-how when it comes to the topic of living out your passion in a remarkable way. I would recommend this book to anyone-a-n-y-o-n-e- who is looking to be humored and inspired and challenged, all at the same time.
I don't care what a single individual says: These. Books. Are. Awesome. Sauce. Read the first one and you'll suddenly find yourself dropping off the face of the planet to read all three. They are addicting so please, only start these books on a week when you don't have engagements to attend. You'll be missing them, I am most certain. And just for the record, I am Team Peeta. Let me know if you want to put in an order for a t-shirt that reads, "Real Men Bake Cakes" from my one day, some day clothing line.
Or any Anne Lamott... She is fearless in her writing style and oozes a perspective of God that will enthrall you out the elbows. If God were to grant me a small pocket of time to be Tyra Banks and judge this book as it strutted down the runway, I'd say something so Tyra like, "Fierce. This book... all its pages and stories and plots within... all of it is FIERCE."
This book is perfection for the ones of you that feel like sitting in a pile of your own snot and tears tonight. A great story about friendship that will surely curl close the memories with your own best friends but there is just one thing I recommend: Keep your phone preset to dial 911 for the exact moment that you fall from the couch to the floor and begin choking and hyperventilating over your tears. It will be scary at first and the crying will seem uncontrollable but, if you resist from choking on the salt, you are going to be just fine. Crying for a decade? Yea. But just fine otherwise.
Start Something That Matters
For all y'all who asked me what business book I recommend. I will be honest. I don't read many... my ligaments perk up over creative nonfiction, not strategy. But Blake, the founder of the TOMS movement, tells a compelling play by play of all the nuts & bolts behind a grassroots movement turned global. I reference this little ditty often with More Love Letters and it is perfect beyond perfect for anyone that wants to dig into business but is allergic to numbers and case studies.
You is kind. You is special. You is important. Jeepers, this is just the kind of book designated for a day like today where rain is cluttering the window panes and all your body is screaming for is a hot cocoa with whipped cream on top. These are the kinds of characters you want to pile up in your minivan and drive around town with stopping at various Starbucks to show off what a groovy clan you've got. Minnie will want to sit in the front seat, or maybe even drive the minivan. Fair warning.
Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress
I read this book when I was 14-years-old or so which doesn't really make sense to me now that I fully understand what the memoir is about. But even then, the book is telling and hilarious. Susan Jane Gillman is the kind of gal you want to go traveling with. She is honest. She is brave. She. Is. Brilliant.
The Book Thief
Also known as "Literary Crack." For serious. If this book were actual crack then I would be a junkie in a heartbeat. I don't know what more to say than this book needed to be read by you yesterday. Go, child. GO.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This ain't because More Love Letters is sitting pretty at the back of the new book (wink) BUT the story in general is one that will yank you back to your high school shoes and all you ever felt about fitting in and wishing to be infinite for a little while. A real coming of age story that shakes and stirs at any age or angle.
One Thousand Gifts
If grace could grow pages and a spine, it. would. look. like. this. book. Beautiful language. And a beautiful thought process living on the page. There is no possible way that you will turn away from this book not being better or stronger in your walk with God.
This is all written & penned & pinned to say that you should never go through the process of reading a good book alone. You should, in fact, join a book club that will allow you to dissect the books bit by bit with other movers and shakers who live their lives out on Twitter & other social networking sites. YUP, YOU KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN SEARCHING THE INTERNET FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS. And you should pony up and join Sara Brink's book club with me before it launches out into the world on October 1st.
Oh, and suggest books below. I need to expand my reading window on this lovely, rainy morning.