My Top 17...At This Moment

I've been tagged by several people on Facebook to list the "Top 10 Books That Have Had the Most Influence on My Life." Honestly, to hone this list into 10 stresses me out--causes me serious angst. It's like asking me to name the children I love the most. I. Just. Can't. Do. It.

The truth is that every book I read influences me in some way. It's why I read. I read for escape--to calm my anxious, constantly churning mind, but I also read to put myself in someone else's shoes--to consider things from another point of view (Thank you very much, Atticus Finch.) When I encounter real people in the real world, I can't help but think about them in terms of characters, He reminds me of Holden Caulfield...She's just like Hilly Holbrook...She could be as crazy as Amy Dunne...Because I have spent a little time inside this character's mind, it helps me be more empathetic to people. And I'm not crazy for thinking that this helps me connect to others. Studies show that people who read "literary" fiction are more empathetic. (Read this if you don't believe me.)  I am empathetic to a fault sometimes. But that's a blog post for another day...

So I am going to list the 17 Books That Have Influenced Me As of Right Now--This Moment--a Thursday night in September when my girls are tucked in their beds and I'm waiting up for my husband to come home from coaching a football game. This. Moment. Because tomorrow morning, this list could be totally different. Books are like that. They shape us in different ways for different days. And that's why I love them.

And I can't stop at 10. I have to get 7 as a bonus because I have spent my career devoted to books.

MY TOP 17--in no particular order because I draw the line at ranking them

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (ALWAYS #1 on my list. ALWAYS.)
2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
4. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
5. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
6. Beloved by Toni Morrison
7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
8. Night by Elie Wiesel
9. Wonder by RJ Palacio
10. My Antonia by Willa Cather
11. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
12. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
13. March by Geraldine Brooks
14. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
15. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
16. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
17. My Losing Season by Pat Conroy

I should feel good after making this list, but I feel guilty. There are so many others that I feel like I've let down--hurt their little book feelings. Why didn't you pick me? What about me? You told everyone to read me! 

So hard.

I'm sorry, book friends. I love you all. Thank you for leaving a mark on my heart. ALL OF YOU.


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