500 Books

I’m a bit of an archivist. When I was in 10th grade, I kept track of every single outfit I wore, the entire year. It went something a bit like this:

Big Dog shirt. Giant jeans. Doc Martin Mary Janes. Repeat.

In 1993, I decided to start writing down every book I read, complete with an annotation and a little doodle. Back then, I was reading A LOT of Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, and Nancy Drew. An interesting combination, I know.

This week, I hit a HUGE milestone. 500 books tracked! Thank goodness for GoodReads, the archivist’s dream come true for book cataloging. Although, I do still record each book in my art journal, complete with a doodle and annotation.

I could list all the books here, but instead, I might include a few highlights. For a full list, head over to my GoodReads page.

  • Largest tag on my Good Reads: LADY WRITERS. Quick! List five authors, living or dead. Go ahead. Who were they? Chances are, they were mostly men. If not, kudos to you! Let me know who you thought of. I go out of my way to seek DEBUT novels and books written by WOMEN.
  • Some of my favorite Lady Writers: Shirley Jackson. Margaret Atwood. Sarah Vowell. Ruth Rendell. Adriana Trigiani. Rebecca Stead. Lee Smith. JK Rowling. Rainbow Rowell. Madeleine L’Engle. Geraldine Brooks. And, in case you missed her earlier, Margaret Atwood again.
  • In the past few years, graphic novels have been my palate cleanser, my brain teaser, my go-to pleaser. They are so good, with the unfortunate exception of Angel Catbird by my dear Ms. Atwood. A few I would recommend:
    • My Favorite Thing is Monsters – a visually and emotionally haunting coming-of-age murder mystery set in 1960s Chicago. It’s all the buzz right now, and I gobbled the 400 pages up in two sittings.
    • The Saga Series – if you’ve never read them, you’re in luck because 7 volumes are now available, as opposed to the 2 when I started. So addicting. So bizarre. It will change the way you read. With graphic novels, it satisfies the need for wanting to see your favorite book become a movie without being ruined. saga
    • Persepolis – I believe this was the first “graphic novel” I read, and it covered it all. Coming of age. History. Personal and global politics. Feminism. Plus, the movie adaptation was perfect.
    • Nathan Hale’s The Donner Dinner Party
    • March series – Powerful powerful powerful. Should be required reading for every American, and especially everyone born after 1960.march
  • I fondly remember 2007 as one of the best years for reading, because so many of the books I read also became film adaptations that we showed at The Moxie.
    • Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell (also a movie we showed at The Moxie)
    • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (also a movie we showed at The Moxie)
    • Travels with Charley
    • The Lovely Bones
    • Persepolis (also a movie we showed at The Moxie)
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
    • The Road (also a movie we showed at The Moxie)
    • Atonement
    • Interpreter of Maladies
    • The Namesake (also a Moxie movie)
    • Children of Men
    • Cold Mountain
    • Year of Wonders
    • March (by Geraldine Brooks, about Civil War, not Civil Rights Movement)
  • I love recommending books. But I also am fully aware that everyone approaches a novel or story from a different angle. So someone who might be healing from a family death may not think “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant” is as brilliant as I did. However, here are my absolute go-to favorites, that I can 100% recommend at any time, because they are perfect.
    • A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    • Matilda by Roald Dahl (or anything by him, really)
    • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (a quick, fun, epistolary novel that is just so darn charming.)                                           attachments
    • Life Among the Savages and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. She is probably one of my absolute favorite authors ever, and I wish she were around, because I would invite her over for a martini, and she wouldn’t think that was weird at all.
    • Anything…well, almost anything…by Margaret Atwood. She changed the course of my fiction reading path. She made me realize you could have it all. A thriller. A romance. A mystery. A caper. A think piece. A feminist manifesto. Sigh. She’s amazing. I’d also invite her over for a drink.
  • And, my cocktail party of authors. Living or dead. I have no idea if this would turn out to be a disaster, but why not. Kurt Vonnegut. Margaret Atwood. Shirley Jackson. Rainbow Rowell. George Saunders. David Sedaris. I would serve cheese pizza, cheap champagne, fancy chocolates, and mineral water for Mr. Sedaris. My kids would sneak out of their rooms and become fodder for a future story. My dog would most likely puke a sock out at the foot of Kurt, who would kick it away and shrug. So it goes.

Here’s to 500 more books! Leave a comment about some of your absolute favorites, or who would come to your dinner party.

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