It would be an understatement to say that I love to read. For me, reading is a passion, as well as a means of self-improvement, solace, entertainment, and therapy. It seems to be the perfect hobby – something that one can do alone, at any time, in virtually any place, without requiring expensive accessories, and you get hours upon hours of enjoyment for every dollar (or in my case, peso) spent. I just wish I had more time to do it more often!
Especially since I moved abroad, I consider my Kindle to be (pardon the cliche, but it’s SO true), the greatest thing since sliced bread. Every once in a while, when I need a “pick me up”, I go onto Amazon.com and treat myself to a new title. Not to sound shallow, but it’s my own form of retail therapy, in the same way that some women enjoy going on the prowl for new clothes.
I’m currently reading “The Empress Has No Clothes” by Joyce Roche, which deals with people who suffer from Imposter Syndrome, something that I can undoubtedly relate to. Though I am only about a third of the way through the text, I am already highlighting notes for myself throughout the book, as it contains a great deal of wisdom.
I was read to by my mother, an equally voracious reader, before I was fully able to sit up, and In my thirty-one years thus far, I have read thousands of books. Though I occasionally pick up a bestseller or “classic,” I find satisfaction in selecting and happily finishing a relatively “unknown” book. I cannot say that I particularly liked all of the books that I’ve come across or even finished all of them, but there are certain titles that stand out in my mind for various reasons. If I had to compose a personal list of the most influential books that I have read, they would have to be (in no particular order):
“The Magic Locket” by Elizabeth Koda-Callen
Though this is a children’s book, it was an extremely beautiful story. For so long as a child, I was “the little girl who couldn’t do anything right, not that she didn’t try.” It’s never easy being a kid, and it’s all too easy to find yourself discouraged. The story was so VERY relateable!
Many years ago, my mother bought me this book and we read it together. It is an *extremely* special bond and unique memory that the two of us share. It is lovely that the book comes with its own “Magic Locket,” but even as an adult many years later, the books maintains its personal relevance and message.
Last year my mother gave me a grown-up version of the Magic Locket, heart-shaped and complete with a tiny mirror and the inscription that she ordered on the back, “I believe in me.” Despite the sweet drawings and relatively simple language, this book is NOT just for children!
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl
Frankl’s book, all of 184 pages written in all of 9 days, helped me in my darkest of hours, as a constant reminder to “say yes to life.” What the book lacks in mere page numbers, it more than makes up for in the quality of its message, that, in spite of everything, life, including suffering, has a purpose and that life is worth living. When reading it for the first time, I purposely decided to “ration” the text by reading only a few pages a day to more fully absorb its messages.
“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
I don’t think it would be very far-fetched to say that we all have known and had a “Giving Tree” at some point in our lives- Someone who does for others without hesitation and embodies personified selflessness (though perhaps to an unhealthy extent). Though it is a child’s tale, the message about unconditional love and giving is a profound one. If this story doesn’t make you cry, you have no heart and no soul.
“The Catcher in the Rye” by JD Salinger
I was fifteen years old when I happened to come across this novel, after reading an article that speculated that the author was a manic depressive, as was the protagonist. I was instantly intrigued and felt compelled to check it out for myself.
There seem to be two types of people in this world: Those who loved “The Catcher in the Rye” and those who hated it. In my case, I personally thought this antithesis of the quintessential novel was simply marvelous. To the point that I began to keep a copy of the novel with me in my purse and would read and re-read it in my spare moments… Until I later discovered that many famous assassins had the same fascination with this book. Then I gave it a bit of a rest. But still, every now and then, I am fond of flipping through its pages, just for the hell of it.
“The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker
I read this when I was 13 years old back in 1996, after seeing the author on the Oprah Winfrey Show, promoting his book. For personal reasons, the thought of the sense of fear being a gift intrigued me. Moreover, it was fascinating to learn that, especially as a woman, intuition was not something to be disregarded and treated as absurdity, but rather appreciated fully as a potentially life-saving mechanism.
To make a long story short, it wasn’t long before this book may very well have saved me from a dangerous situation. It was listening to my intuition and relying on my gut that ultimately kept me safe (though that’s a story I’d rather not get into right now).
“Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll
When reality becomes too much to bear, revisiting this classic is immensely comforting, for some strange reason. But that’s the most endearing aspect of this book- strangeness. Having the notion of a topsy-turvy world, even in a dream, where nonsense rules and oddities are the norm gives me some sort of mental sanctuary. Maybe I’m not all that weird after all, I bet I’d fit in Wonderland just fine!
This book is simply full of peculiar and precious gems, such as, “‘Speak English!’ said the Eaglet. ‘I don’t know the meaning of half of those long words, and, what’s more, I don’t believe you do either!’” and “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”
I find it interesting that I see myself in and identify much more with the works of an author who was a stammering drug addict than most anything else that I’ve ever read. Curiouser and curiouser, right?