Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week the challenge is to create a list of the books that were my favorite before I was a blogger.  Since I’ve actually only been blogging for a couple of months most of my favorites are from before I was a blogger, and I’ve already talked about most of them in other top 10 posts.  So I decided to change it up a little bit and make it a list of some of my favorites from before I was a blogger that I haven’t already mentioned in some other top 10 list.

  1. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye by Rachel Joyce – Harold is recently retired and living in a small English village with his cranky wife when he gets a letter from an old friend who is dying of cancer.  Instead of stopping at the post office to send his response he keeps walking, deciding to walk across the country to deliver it personally.  I found the book to be humorous, poignant, and charming.
  2. Good American by Alex George – Frederick and Jette travel to America in 1904 and what follows is the story of their lives, and the lives of their descendants, as told by their grandson.  I loved the story of this immigrant family against the backdrop of the history of our country.
  3. Abundance of Katherines by John Green – I have admitted to a love for John Green and this is one of my favorites.  Colin, a former child prodigy, has only dated girls named Katherine (and always with a “K”, never a “C”), and has been dumped by all of them, nineteen times.  He takes off on a road trip with his best friend in search of a provable Katherine Theorem.  What follows is funny and insightful, a story of friendship, love, and figuring out who you are.
  4. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall – I’m not a runner – I wish that I was – but that is not something my orthopedic surgeon would recommend.  But you don’t need to be a runner to love this book.  McDougall provides an engrossing story about ultra-runners, from scientific research to the Tarahumara Indians in an isolated part of Mexico that run hundreds of miles, to a race between those very natives and the world’s best ultra-distance runners.  Makes me sometimes think that even I could be a runner…
  5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – I had to add this one – my favorite from the time when I was a little kid – one that I tried to re-read at least once a year while I was growing up.  I always wanted to be Jo!
  6. The Messenger by Markus Zusak – I have to give a shout out to my favorite author, even if I have stopped myself from carrying on again about my absolute favorite book (The Book Thief – in case you forgot).  When Ed mistakenly stops a bank robber he receives his first playing card in the mail with an anonymous message – more will follow – a great adventure into the why and how and who… and does he change the lives of others or of himself?
  7. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – Artermis Fowl is a brilliant and evil criminal mastermind, and he is twelve.  The first in this series is certainly the best as Artemis embarks on a plan to rob the fairies of their gold, combining fantasty, myth, adventure, and technology along with a good dose of humor this was a great read from beginning to end.
  8. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz – Odd Thomas is a 20-year old fry cook who can see the dead.  Throughout the series, Odd Thomas will try to stop a number of disasters and resolve a number of mysteries, but what is greatest about these books is Odd himself, a humble and courageous character, and the humor that is combined with the grotesque.
  9. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss – Probably my favorite Dr. Seuss book, and certainly one of my favorites to read-aloud (although they are all great for reading aloud!).  “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
  10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – How can this not be on everyone’s list??  Of all the series, the first is still probably my favorite since it was what introduced me to the world of Harry Potter, a world I so desperately wanted to be real and wanted to live in.  My eleven year old daughter has been reading the series for the first time and she wept when the first book was over and she realized that the world J.K. Rowling had created would never be real for her…

Kids’ Books About Books!

I love to read to kids, particularly my own, but I also love the opportunity to read to the kids that come into the library.  I try (with varying success in the middle of drama rehearsals, karate classes, piano lessons, etc) to read to my kids every night.  It doesn’t matter that they are 11 and 16 and perfectly able to read by themselves, there is something about sharing a story aloud and sharing it as a family.  Sometimes it’s a picture book, sometimes a classic, sometimes a new juvenile or young adult chapter book that has appeared on the library shelves, but we all enjoy the time in the evening, curled up on the couch, sharing a story.

Children’s books are no less engrossing than those written for adults.  Whether they are teaching a moral lesson, taking you on an adventure, or just plain silly, these books really can be enjoyed by people of any age, and are always best when they are shared.

I have a special affinity for picture books.  I can get lost in the illustrations which can add so much to a story, taking you to different times and places, making you laugh, or just awing you with the works of art contained within the pages of a children’s book.  As a self-admitted bibliophile, what could be better than picture books about books?  Below are some of my favorites.  No matter your age, if you love books, they are worth a look, and the illustrations alone make them worth owning.

ImageElizabeth Brown loves books, spends all her time with books, and is always reading.

“Elizabeth Brown

Preferred a book

To going on a date.

While friends went out

And danced till dawn,

She stayed up reading late.”

Following Elizabeth from her birth through her old age this beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a true bibliophile.  When her house is so full of books that there is no longer room for her, Elizabeth donates her collection to the town to create a public library and spends her old age walking to the library each day with her friend, still enjoying her books while others do as well.

Title: The Library
Author: Sarah Stewart
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 40
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux,  April 1995

ImageMy favorite thing about this book is definitely the illustrations.  It tells the story of Peter and his cat, characters from a book themselves, on a quest for the one missing book in a library that holds all the books ever written.  The book is How to Live Forever, and in a library that comes alive at night, containing the world within its pages, they discover the Ancient Child who has the book and need to decide whether to read it.  For every bibliophile who ever dreamed of a world within books, and built of books, the beautifully detailed illustrations provide a dream come true.

Title: How to Live Forever
Author: Colin Thompson
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 32
Publication: Knopf Books for Young Readers,  April 1996

ImageThis is a book of poems, about books, written for children.  Again, the illustrations are fantastic, a little on the dark side, but definitely engrossing.  Little kids seem to love the poems – some are silly, some offer great plays on words, some are touching, and some are even a little sad.  My favorite is definitely the title poem:

“Please bury me in the library

In the clean, well-lighted stacks

Of Novels, History, Poetry,

Right next to the Paperbacks,

Where the Kids’ Books dance

With True Romance

And the Dictionary dozes.

Please bury me in the library

With a dozen long-stemmed proses.

Way back by a rack of Magazines,

I won’t be sad too often,

If the bury me in the library

With Bookworms in my coffin.”

Title: Please Bury Me in the Library
Author: J. Patrick Lewis
Genre: Children’s Poetry
Pages: 32
Publication: Harcourt Children’s Books,  April 2005

ImageThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is by far my favorite book about books.  The illustrations are truly magical, as is the story of a man who spends his life being surrounded by, caring for, and being cared for by, books.  And as his story is finished, the cycle begins anew, with the books remaining the one constant.  As much as I love the book, and I do, immensely, the short animated film that preceded the book is perhaps even more fantastic (and I NEVER say that about a film!). It won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and can be found on iTunes.  I highly recommend that any book lover own both!

Title: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Author: William Joyce
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Pages: 56
Publication: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, June 2012

And so it begins…

For awhile I’ve been contemplating of finding a way to share my thoughts on books: what I’m reading, quotes that inspire me, what’s happening in the world of libraries.  Today I woke up and decided I would try to put together this blog as a way of doing that.  I am sure it will take me a little while to work out the kinks, so please be patient and hang in there with me!

A little about me and why I am inspired to do this.  I received my BSEE from Clarkson University in 1995 and spent the next 16 years working in the engineering field.  Feeling unfulfilled by my career, in 2009 I announced to my husband that I was going to go back to school to get my degree in library science.  Why?  Definitely not for the power or the money!  😉  I have long felt that the power of the written word to entertain, inform, educate, and inspire is immeasurable.  To me, there is no greater purpose than to provide everyone with open and free access to books.  There are very few things that have the same capability to change people’s lives.  The greatest good that a community can provide for its citizens is to support a public library.

So began my journey.  For the next two years my family would provide unwavering support as I pursued my MLIS from Drexel University while continuing my engineering career.  In 2011 I received my degree and was fortunate enough to receive a position as the Director of the Sherrill-Kenwood Free Library in Sherrill, NY.  The destination was worth the journey and I now spend my days pursuing my passions.  This blog is my way of reaching out to an even wider audience, sharing what I love.

Why the name “Watching the Words”?  It is part of a quote from what is probably my most treasured book, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  For now, all I will say about the book is that if you have not read it, you should, immediately.

As for a brief summary about me personally, I live in Canastota, NY, a small town in upstate NY in an old farmhouse.  I share this life with my husband, Todd (still an engineer!), and our children William (16) and Madalyn (11).  Other members of our family include a cranky cat (Jo-Jo), our protector Nala (a German Shepherd), and our newest addition Hugo (a Pug puppy).  Our life here is chaotic, fun, and full.  We are truly blessed.