I’ve been challenged to name ten books or poems that have stayed with me or changed my perspective.
I’m not going to tag anyone because gosh I’m having a hard time keeping track of who’s done it and who hasn’t, but if you’re reading this and you haven’t done it yet… consider this your personalized invitation!
In no order, here we go:
1) All of the Harry Potters by J.K. Rowling. Her world building is mindblowing. I reread her work often and with great vigor. What can I say about her? I remember when I first heard about Harry Potter. I was in the pool. I was in junior high. Everyone was talking about Harry and I had no idea. Boy did that change quick. One of my dearest yearnings is to go to Hogwarts.
2) The Raggamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Not only do I love the message, but the writing is clever and masterful. There’s an anecdote in chapter seven that will break your heart and ruin your life. I’ve always been of the opinion that if Christians were as loud about love as some are about condemnation, the world would be a much better place. And it wouldn’t be so hard to admit to being one.
3) Woman at the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. Read. This. Book. Now. It’s cool, sci-fi, utopian, gritty, painful, beautiful, all of the words that mean awesome. It deals with environmental concerns, homophobia, feminism, mental health, classism. Written in 1976 and it could have been written yesterday.
4) The whole New X-Men Beak run. You’ve all heard me rant about Beak. If you don’t remember my tomfoolery, scroll down on my blog. I’m always like six degrees of separation from talking about Beak.
5) The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. I think we’ve already established that I’m not an intellectual with number four, so I have no shame admitting this. I appreciate George R. R. Martin’s brutality, his unwillingness to pander, and he has a great, clever, geektastic sense of humor. He added in the Black Hood, Blue Beetle, and the Green Arrow as sigils for three houses! How awesome is that!
6) American Gods by Neil Gaiman. If you haven’t read it, do it. There are tens of other Neil Gaiman books I could mention, but American Gods is kind of making me hate myself for not being as talented as Mr. Gaiman is.
7) Watchmen. It is truly mixed media art. I connected right away to the essays written within, the newspaper articles, the files… the innovative format was a big inspiration for my novel.
8) Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, which I can’t rightly recommend to anyone because it is disgusting, but the writing is so poetic and lyrical and beautiful.
9) The Name of this Book is Secret in the Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch, which, I guess might go on the below list, but it’s so great! Yes, it’s for kids. But it’s also smart, it plays with form, it knows how to spin a narrative and draw out tension in a way most adult novels don’t master.
10) Howl by Allen Ginsberg. I read this whenever I lose steam. It’s inspiring, wild, and heartbreaking. I almost feel like Howl is a person I can go and talk to.
And five children’s books, because… what do you expect?
1) The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt is awesome. It’s about all the crayons writing letters of resignation to their owner. Blue is tired of having to color the sky and the sea… he’s worn down to a nub! Pink feels neglected. Orange and yellow are feuding over who’s really the color of the sun– and they each have proof!
2) Press Here by Hervé Tullet. It’s interactive in a way that a print book rarely is. You push the yellow dot and the rest of the book drags you along on an adventure. Turn it this way and that. Shake it and the dots go flying!
3) Keep our Secrets (to be read in a whisper) by Jordan Crane. I love this book. I’m not even sure it belongs on a children’s book list. It has heat sensitive ink, which reveals that the world around us is hardly what it appears. Read this book, and you’ll find “the accordion’s got three cats and a handful of forks in it” and “one of Mr. Vesper’s legs is a python.” It’s creepy sometimes, whimsical always, and inspiring.
4) The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone is another one of those fun interactive books. Grover from Sesame Street tries his darndest to keep you from turning the page because there’s a monster at the end of the book!
5) I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa Mccourt and Cyd Moore. It’s about a mother’s love, even if her kid were a one-eyed monster, a terrifying dinosaur, a green alien, or a skunk so smelly his name is Stinky Face.