Find your reading glasses... it's a literary Meme Monday!

A Facebook Thingy. Brought it over here for posterity. You know what I always say -- my blog, my rules.

Per my pal: this can be a quick one. Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

Per me: I've re-written the requirements.. I've listed the most important books to me and who I am -- the total is 22. Tough. Wouldn't be me without any of these. So there you are.

1. Oh! The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
Great advice for life. My go-to gift for college graduates.

2. A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith
This book scared me to death when I first read it in elementary school -- the protagonist's little friend died after an allergic reaction to a bee sting. And to this day, I am convinced I will also suffer the same fate -- have never been stung by a bee *knock on wood* so the phobia continues.

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The first book I ever really truly loved. Reading it as a young girl, it never even occurred to me that it had been written over a 100 years prior. It was simply a wonderful literary journey. Have read this many, many times since and whenever I enter the March's living room on that Christmas day, I'm transported back not only to their home, but to being a wide-eyed girl full of possibilities and wonder.

4. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
My greatest literary obsession. The book that defined me as a teenager. I lived and breathed this book. My cousin, who lives in Atlanta, nicknamed me Scarlett -- and still calls me that. Romantic and compelling and sweeping and epic -- it fit the overly dramatic nature I honed during those years. I would sit for hours and try to style my hair like Vivien Leigh's on the poster I had hanging on my bedroom wall. While my passion for this classic has waned, it still remains beloved and at the top of any list i have of favorite books and movies.

5. Around the World with Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
The first "grown-up" book I ever read. Found it in the back of a closet and "snuck" read it -- I couldn't have been more than nine or 10. Still one of the funniest books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I think it might be time for a re-read, in memory and celebration of Bea Arthur, the one and only Vera Charles.

6. Scruples by Judith Krantz
The dirty beach trash novel that started it all for me. I would slather myself with baby oil, grab my transistor radio, lounge chair and this book and head to the backyard, rolling like a chicken on a spit to get the ideal all-over tan. Good times.

7. Henry IV Part 1 by William Shakespeare
This one is special because it was the first piece of Shakespeare I ever performed. Shakespeare festival at school -- I got to play the role of Mistress Quickly in a scene with Falstaff and Prince Hal. Such fun -- even though the name of my character was a bit embarrassing to shy little me.

8. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
Wrote my senior paper in high school about this book. Taught me so much about critical thinking and literary analysis and not to be afraid of sharing one's own interpretation.

9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Poetry in prose form. I discover something new each time I read this. Which I'm about to do again -- starting today -- with two galpals. Suzi and Crystal, I'm ready -- anyone else want to join us?

10. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Mr. Kurtz. He dead. This work says so much about the human condition. And I quote it constantly. "The horror! The horror!" You wouldn't believe how often that phrase comes in handy. Or maybe you would.

11. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
I am quite the Hemingway fan -- he can say so much with so few words.

12. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A glimpse into a world I still find fascinating featuring people I'm not sure I'd want to know in real life.

13. The Bastard by John Jakes
American history with a soapy edge -- what's not to love. I have the entire series of these books, dog eared and worn, on my reading book shelf (as opposed to my research book shelf) ready for a re-read.

14. All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
True confession: I'm obsessed with the Watergate era. And investigative. Reading this book for a political science report in high school was the impetus for me wanting to major in journalism in college.

15. The Dubliners by James Joyce
Read this as a sophomore in high school. It was the first piece of "serious" literature with which I connected and just didn't rote-read. I can still picture, clear as day, the bazaar in "Araby" as I imagined it as a 15-year-old.

and six to grow on
16. The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child
Aside from genetics (thanks, Grandma!), this book -- and its author -- are why I cook.

17. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Just a great read. Picturesque and evocative.

18. The Message/modern translation of the Bible
How the Word sounds in my head when I read any translation. I love this translation.

19. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
A beautiful book with themes that speak to the essence of who I am. Whenever I read this, I'm always one pumped up liberal afterwards.

20. Man and Superman by G.B. Shaw
Brilliant as literature and as a play. Four words: Don Juan in Hell

21. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
I love John Irving and his quirky characters who live their lives in most interesting fashions. This book is perhaps my favorite of his, with Garp a close second. PS: I hated the movie.

22. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
Wrote a major paper in grad school about this piece. Carver speaks to me -- his people, ordinary, flawed, seemingly unaware folk, live those proverbial lives of quiet desperation. And he's got that minimalist style thing going. Now I'm in the mood for a re-read...

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