Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Books I Love The Most

There is no better day than International Book Lovers Day to share the books I love the most. These books give a great window into who I am as a reader and more importantly in life.

I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer

Here's the thing. I'm moody. I always have been, I always will be. You should especially ask anyone who has to deal with me in the morning. My family's nickname for me as a child was Andrea Crabtree because there are just times I'm "in a mood" and everyone around me will know it. This book speaks to me on that level. I read (and re-read) lots of Little Critter as a kiddo. However, this one is timeless for me. It's a great representation of those moments where you're just having that kind of day and need a minute.

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

Ramona will always and forever be my favorite. When I was in Portland in January, I even went to Beverly Cleary's neighborhood and got my picture with Ramona.

This book to me is the core of who Ramona is. Even as a kindergartner, she is so wise. I mean, y'all, I still wonder where Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom. All these years later, it remains one of life's biggest mysteries.

Speaking of bathrooms, I even repurposed a well-loved used copy of this book into some art for mine. 

Of all of these, this book is my most favorite of the favorites. I just can't get enough of it. I love Ramona's zeal for life and how she's in a hurry to have all the answers. In this way, she reminds me of me, and I love following along as she tries to figure it all out to learn and do all she can.

"'I'm not pestering,' protested Ramona, who never meant to pester.
She was not a slowpoke grown-up. She was a girl who could not wait.
Life was so interesting she had to find out what happened next."

Middlemarch by George Eliot

This is a classic that mesmerized me when I first read it for a class in college. It is the story of the residents in the town of Middlemarch, and it is just so beautifully told in its nearly 800 pages. Yes, that's right, it's almost 800 pages, but the undertaking is worth it. It also doesn't feel like it's that long as you read - well, unless you're reading a paper copy, in which case the book is quite heavy. Y'all, it's just got so many compelling characters and stories. This one is due for a re-read from me, and I'm really looking forward to stepping back in time with this one soon.

"Failure after much perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving to be good enough to be called a failure."

Girls In Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares

I love all the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. I love this book the most. This is the book I go to when I just need a heavy dose of literally all the feels. It captures Tibby, Bridget, Lena and Carmen so perfectly. Of the five books, this is one that is just perfection in its stories. Even in its heartbreak and sadness, it's exactly as it should be. I sometimes wish the was the end of the series as it's so well-told. I also first read this one at a particularly rocky time in life, so I think the places it emotionally takes me are connected at a deeper level that most other books. Also, of all the books I own, this one is easily the one where I have marked the most quotes I love.

"Her mother told her once that when you feel someone's pain and joy as
powerfully as if it were your own, the you knew you really loved them."

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

This a story told by a dog. Honestly, that sentence should tell you everything you need to know about this one. You should also know you'll fall in love with this dog and the way he loves his owner and tells their story. If I'm going to gift a book, this one is usually my go-to. It's just such a beautiful story of friendship through the eyes of the dog. That sounds odd as I write it, and I promise you it's not. Instead, it's the perfect way to tell the story about this relationship as it covers all the emotions in all of the best ways.

"'There is no dishonor in losing the race,' Don said.
'There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.'"

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

This book is hauntingly beautiful. I've actually only read it once because I'm slightly worried if I go back it won't be as amazing as I remember. The book is told from the point of view of a boy's imaginary friend. It is incredible to read how he sees the world. His creator (I'm not sure what the proper term is) finds himself in trouble, and it's so captivating to read about that experience from his imaginary friend. The way he is able to create his perception of reality is just awesome. I'm using all the adjectives I can hear because it is just that good.

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

This book was a book that resonated with me in my twenties like no other book did. I re-read it in the last few years, and I could see how the twentysomething me was so drawn to this. It was almost like a weird emotional time machine experience. This book at its core is about unrequited love and the love stories we try to will to happen. It's about a girl who wants to find love as she works through her past and current "stuff" to figure out what is. It follows her over years as relationships ebb and flow, and she tries to figure out what they all mean. I can remember reading this in my younger years and just feeling all the feels because the story was just too real. 

"I don't think that I'm wasting my time.
Perhaps this is how you know you're doing the thing you're intended to do.
No matter how slight or slow your progress, you never feel that it's a waste of time."

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

If I had to pick the book that is going to define thirtysomething me, this one would be it. This book is full of the words I need to hear. It's the messages I need to listen to, and it's the life I'm trying to create. I've written about the concept of taking down chairs before, and while I'm still working it, I think of it often. Even as I skimmed the bookmarks I had tonight, I was inspired by this one. There's such beauty in the message here. This is a book that grounds me, and it reminds me to keep pushing to build the life I want and need.

"When you say, This is what I can do; this is what I can't, you'll find such freedom in that. You'll be free to love your work, because you're not using it as a sneaky way to be loved or approved of. You'll be free to love the things you give to people, because you're giving them freely, untangled from resentments and anger."

Y'all, writing about these books make me want to go and read these all over again!