Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Buckets full

I read an article recently about something called the "Book Bucket Challenge."  Essentially, it challenges people to list the 10 books that have most influenced them or left the greatest impression on them.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big reader, but I'm having a lot of trouble with this concept.  Not that anyone nominated me for the challenge, but it got me thinking anyway.  The problem may be that I read too much, and I generally find something worth taking out of everything I read.  Not necessarily on purpose, but some piece of something always sticks.

Having said that, I do have books that I love to read, that keep me reading when I don't feel like it, and that I always come back to.  And they don't necessarily have anything important or highly insightful to offer, but I love them all the same.  Strangely, the majority of them are series, meaning they contained a lot of words to read within them, but they managed to keep me captivated straight to the end.

There wouldn't be much on my list that would be considered classic literature by most people, but there are things that have kept me (and a large number of other people) reading and really, that's the true, simple purpose of any book.  If you asked me in a month, I'm sure there are parts of the list that would have changed.  I could probably tell you some small thing that has changed something about my life or the way I think, about nearly every book on my (rather numerous) bookshelves.  Maybe they've just given me an idea or a goal to mull over.  Or even an inspiration to continue my own writing.

The problem, for me, with this challenge comes down to the fact that I don't really like to discuss (read: overanalyze) books.  I like them, or I don't.  The characters are well-written, or they're not.  I don't really want to dig down into the deeper meanings and motivations, or figure out what they writer may have meant to say.  The story will either stir some emotion or thoughts in me, or it won't.  I just want to enjoy the story.  And feel a connection to it, and to the character, or to the people the author has created.  Because even in non-fiction, the author has to recreate a life-like scene or scenario on the page.  I want to feel like I'm part of the story.  I may be only the silent observer, but I'm still a part of it in some way. I'm drawn to stories where characterization is key.  I can read any plot, if the characters are well-written (and assuming the plot isn't completely incongruous with the characters as created.)

Having said that, I could probably list well over a hundred books, if given the opportunity.  But I did try to limit it to 10 for right now. As I said, the list will always evolve, as different books touch different things in my current life, or as I read things that create a current connection.  But the list as of now would be (in no particular order):

  • Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
  • Harry Potter - entire series (JK Rowling)
  • The Mortal Instruments series (Cassandra Clare)
  • Outlander - entire series (Diana Gabaldon)
  • Dragon Prince & Dragon Star - 2 series as one (Melanie Rawn)
  • Women of the Otherworld (Kelley Armstrong)
  • Emily of New Moon (LM Montgomery)
  • Life's That Way (Jim Beaver)
  • On Writing (Stephen King)
  • Hunger Games - entire series (Suzanne Collins)
There's also the possibility that creating an actual bucket list of books, books that I haven't read but still want to, would completely change this list as well.  And that list would be infinite, as there are constantly new things coming out, and old books that are new to my experience.  I would probably have to live well past my life expectancy in order to even come close to finishing that list.  

I think that potentially the worst thing that could happen to in my life would be unable to read.  It is my job, my escape, my solace, even amid the drama, heartbreak and pain of  the story.

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