Have you ever read a book and it’s just stayed with you? Have you every found yourself carrying around characters, story-lines and dialogue around with you, the same way you would tangible memories you’ve made in real life?
This list of books I’ve compiled today is made up of my literary ex-lovers (read: the kind that I actually want to remember and whom I do so quite fondly). These are books that I fell in love with on first read and that have stayed with me over the years.
It was hard to narrow down the selection to just 10 books, but after many elimination rounds (a la American Idol style) these are the ones that were top of my mind and made the cut…
PS: Err it’s worth noting that books that have sequels, trilogies or multiple series were omitted from this list because it was just getting all sorts of complicated. That will be a separate list within itself.
PPS: I am craving peppermint and choc chip ice-cream…which has nothing to do with anything really, but I thought I would share that with you “just for just”, lol.
1. “The Yellow Birds” – Kevin Powers
“While I slept that summer, the war came to me in my dreams and showed me its sole purpose: to go on, only to go on.“
This book is a culmination of what happens when a creative writer (the author, Kevin Powers) enlists for the army and decides to highlight the tragedies and unspoken casualties of war. I enjoyed this book for its vulnerability, beautiful prose and heart breaking honesty. It is definitely worth reading if you ever find yourself considering a career in military service.
2. “The Shack” – W.M. Young
“Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship.”
My older sister gave me this book when I was visiting her and sniffing around her book shelf. It then proceeded to sit on my book shelf for about 3 years until a chance encounter with boredom had me lose an entire day devouring it.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this book singlehandedly revived my belief in God and helped answer some pretty tough spriitual questions during some dark days, about 2 years ago. I now try and read it once a year, to set me right.
.3. “Nervous Conditions” – Tsitsi Dangarembga
“But what I didn’t like was the way that all conflicts came back to the question of femaleness. Femaleness as opposed and inferior to maleness.”
I was a teenager when I first came across this book and it was the most amazing thing to read a book based in my home country (Zimbabwe), filled with characters I could relate to and understand.
It was also the first time in my life that I felt fully represented in literature. It was like looking into a mirror for the first time. It was wonderful.
4. “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” – Dr. Seuss
My go-to gift for recent varsity graduates. I believe that this ditty sums up the excitement of finding your way in Life without overlooking the challenges and obstacles that come with it. It’s motivational and can function as your personal cheerleader in your quest to succeed in all that you do in this life. What’s not to like?!
5. “The Poisonwood Bible” – Barbara Kingsolver
For the longest time this was the book I considered my favourite read. It perfectly articulated my frustration with the “white saviour complex” I felt many foreign aid workers and missionaries possessed (and still possess) when coming to “Africa”. It’s a story that reminds all of us that our convictions and beliefs cannot be absolute in the face of the views and beliefs of others. Understanding is the name of the game.
6. “The Bluest Eye” – Toni Morrison
I read this in varsity and understood fully the necessity for positive black female representation in film, literature, sport and business, In a world that judges beauty against a very Caucasian standard, this book highlights the dangers of such exclusivity and bias. The character Pecola, is convinced that having blue eyes would make her beautiful and lovable to those around her *sigh*.
7. “The Life of Pi” – Yann Martel
Long before the silver screen brought this tale to life, I found myself reading it and believing it was a true story *sheepish grin*. I spent a weekend holed up in my apartment gobbling up this impossible tale and marveling at how indomitable the human spirit is. This was a tale about survival and religious tolerance & appreciation.
8. “Redeeming Love” – Francine Rivers
This is a story of Love, of obedience, of faith and a truckload of patience. So much patience. I love this book for its reminder that there’s no such thing as “impossible” when it comes to God and the transformations he can perform in our lives, if we are willing. This story will speak to the brokenness inside each one of us. Goodness knows, it spoke to mine.
9. “Cutting For Stone” – Abraham Verghese
“Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted”
This is the only book that my entire book club unanimously agreed, hands down, was one of the best reads we have ever read in our 4 years together. And trust me, we don’t agree on much literature wise. I loved that this story read like a sweeping saga that took place on 3 continents and involved familial betrayal, African politics and failed Love. This is the book recommendation that NEVER fails…trust me 😉
10. “Watermelon” – Marian Keyes
“Failed relationships can be described
as so much wasted make-up.”
If ever there was an author or book that inspired me to write, it was this one. Lent to me by a friend in high school, this was honestly a very strong case of “love at first read”. I’ve still as yet to come across another author who can make me laugh out loud as much as she does and has a way of making you fall in love with all her characters. Ms. Keyes, I take my hat off to you.
Well that’s my list, as it stands today. There are still quite a few others I would love to add and include, but in the interest of not making this a rambling post I’ve been very strict with the cut-off at 10 books, lol.
If you have some downtime or are looking for some healthy form of escapism, be sure to pick a book from off this list and dig right in.
Have an awesome weekend, chickens!