For many of us, the exceptional reading experience is kind of like knowing a person in the biblical sense. You could also say it’s like seeing a person, the way they do in the (fantastic) movie Avatar. Or like namaste, meaning several things but here meaning, I honour the Spirit in you which is also in me. Something like that. If we’re paying attention, we become one with a very good book, which is perhaps partly why we feel reluctant to finish or part with it, why we sometimes feel we have to catch our breath or remember to breathe, why we sense a communion and understanding, even or often with the author, or simply clutch a book to our chests. It’s heartfelt, what we feel. It deep and profound.
In my opinion, we don’t get to experience this enough, but I can say I’ve read at least 37 books that I’ve known and loved enough to feel a sense of familiarity and affection when I see them on my shelves. Like coming home, it is, when you open the book you’ve loved, again. This is because certain books cause reading to be a memorable experience we fondly recall and not just because of the story. It’s just like that first sweet kiss (and I put first before sweet on purpose. My first kiss, although memorable, was not sweet but messy).
I wish I could give you a list of one favourite book for every year of my life I’ve put behind me, not least because I think it would be interesting. What was my favourite book when I was 4, 12, 17, 26, 32? Unfortunately, I haven’t documented this, and I’m also the kind of person who has many favourites. Everything is my favourite, according to some of my friends. That’s not totally true, but I do get pretty enthusiastic about many books.
To commemorate my birthday on Sunday (er, I had started this on the 20th but this has been a lot of work, which is why there are no images) and on noting that the one thing about me that has remained unchanged for 37 years is my love of books, here is a list of 37 books that have affected me in different but profound ways and that stay with me for that very reason. I’m pulling these from my shelves and am posting them in no particular order. There are many more I’ve bonded with, of course; this is only a small sample. I apologize that I have not linked to the publishers of these books: for convenience and to save time, I used Amazon.ca.
Okay. In the words of my favourite Disney read-along-books, when I was a kid: let’s begin now.
1. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I bought this book, which took Kostova 10 years to write, on impulse at Nicholas Hoare in Ottawa by the Market. It took me less than a minute to decide. Opening to the first page alone seemed a transcendent experience somehow, let alone reading it. It’s one of the richest novels I’ve ever read, so detailed (not in the annoying, tedious Franzen way or even in a Dickensian fashion) and compelling that you have to take a moment to repatriate yourself each time you put it down. Always wanted to visit Eastern Europe? Kostova takes you there. You feel like a character alongside the ones in her story, a voyeur, an adventurer. It’s multi-layered, well researched and well written, atmospheric and historical, deliciously dark yet not lacking light (a perfect blend of writerly chiaroscuro), epistolary in parts and bibliophilic. When I turned the last page, I felt I could begin again at once. I don’t remember ever feeling that way before. Instead, I put down the book and did more research myself on Vlad Ţepeş and his time (this stuff has always fascinated me anyway). I wanted to go back to school, to become a historian, to get lost in libraries and archives, to handle ancient tomes, to speak several languages, to travel. Needless to say, I felt inspired. I also thought that Kostova owed me absolutely nothing; I got everything, and more, a reader deserves. Years later, I’m reading the book in its entirety aloud to my husband.
2. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz-Zafon. Another atmospheric novel that transports you from wherever it is you sit. And another impulse buy. I’d never heard of it when I first saw it but the cover grabbed me. Afterward, I had that funny, awful feeling that I wouldn’t find another book like it and I would be doomed to spend the rest of my life saying, Yeah, but it’s not Shadow of the Wind…and often I and my sisters have said that very thing.
3. Chocolat by Joanne Harris. This is the book that’s caused me to stock every single Joanne Harris novel on my shelves, that caused me to take a three-hour train to Ottawa to meet her last year, that inspired this post. Chocolat is sensory, beautiful, imaginative, enchanting. It’s another atmospheric novel, and it made me miss France (I lived there for a year, in Paris). I related well to Vianne, I relished the abandon or rebelliousness of the characters, I was fascinated by the special brand of white magic, I deeply understood the power of chocolate. My favourite is dark with chili, and that’s one of Vianne’s specialties. The movie is also one of my favourites, and it’s the supper en plain air that inspired my idea for my grand opening of my bookshop tearoom Biblio, which will likely never happen but which is a lovely dream nonetheless.
4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I can tell you with certainty that this was my absolute favourite book the year I was in grade three. I went to a Catholic school once run by nuns, beside a large church and cemetery. It was in this cemetery, under an old, giant tree, who for all I know might have been a lost Ent, that my grade three teacher read us The Hobbit. She read from a huge, hardcover copy, illustrated with images from the 1977 animated film, and covered in plastic. Years and years later, I inherited that very copy (my mom brought it home for me when it was discarded at the library where she worked; it was stamped with the dates from when my teacher had borrowed it!) and then tragically lost it at a friend’s house (there were nine kids, that’s how). Were I to have a Dr. Tom, I’d go back in time and find it. But as fate would have it, years and years after that, I met my husband, and when we amalgamated our books, didn’t he have the same illustrated edition, only softcover! But that’s just about the physical book. As for the story, well, it hardly needs any introduction, does it? I have read it almost every single year, and last year I read it aloud to the hubby. If there’s anyone I could go back in time and meet, it would be Tolkien. He’s one of the greatest authors ever to have lived. And not just because of The Hobbit.
5. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I doubt I need say much here. This too is something I have read multiple times. Rich in language, history, imagination, atmosphere, metaphor, mythology, landscape, a certain nostalgia or romanticism, and magic, LOTR is a masterpiece, whether or not you happen to like fantasy literature. I pick up something new every time I read it. C and I have watched the extended movies a gazillion times, too. I have to say, of all pieces of literature, this is the one I reference most.
6. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. My friend Marie introduced me to this book and according to Amazon, I purchased it October 24, 2005 (just an interesting fact). Easily the best book of that year for me. It won the 1928 Nobel Prize for literature, and is actually a trilogy made up of three books: The Bridal Wreath, The Mistress of Husaby, and The Cross. Set in 14th-century Norway, KL is the saga of a passionate, strong-willed woman, one of the greatest classic literary figures to ever exist. The book has never gone out of print since it was published in 1927, and is translated from Norwegian, and if you ever fancy a copy, I strongly suggest Penguin’s edition in one volume, wonderfully translated by the renowned Tiina Nunnally. Settle for no other translator. Also, that edition is gorgeous, with deckle edge pages and a beautiful cover. This was such a memorable read for me, made more memorable by the Inuit tea I drank while reading it, Cloudberry and Crowberry in particular (which Marie also introduced me to), the packages of which, like flattened leaves, still mark pages in my book.
7. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Like The Historian, this book inspired me to want to change careers. In another life I’d be a rare book expert. To that end, I actually looked up book making and repair courses, but haven’t followed through. In any case, this story traces the history of a unique 500-year-old haggadah, a Jewish prayer book. You’ll never think of books the same way after reading this one, trust me. It’s rich with history and drama and beauty, and it is our best-selling book at the store, because there isn’t a staff member who doesn’t plug it every chance they get.
8. Annabel by Kathleen Winter. There are many good reasons this book made this list and is taking the literary and award world by storm. Here is my review.
9. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. Here’s one for Freedom to Read week (this week!). Banned for its anti-Christian (particularly anti-Catholic) content, Pullman’s work (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) is nothing short of genius, in my mind. It’s shelved as YA but it so complex and imaginative, and obviously containing adult material, that it’s perfectly appropriate for adults. Humorous, magical, thought-provoking, and challenging, this trilogy is like nothing you’ve ever read, I promise. I read it aloud (after having read it alone), all 944 pages, to C, and the experience was truly remarkable. We never wanted to put it down. Again, one of those we felt we’d never find an equal to. PS. Important: do not go by the movie to form your impression of this book. The movie barely scratches the surface of the story, let alone reaches anything close to the potential the book offers. This would be a fantastic book club choice (I suppose just the first one), or a perfect trilogy to study and discuss in a university class.
10. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Okay, for me, this was definitely one of my best reading experiences ever. It was exactly what I needed to read at the time, and one that I’m sure I’ll need to read repeatedly. I’m quite tired of having to defend it, and Elizabeth Gilbert, though, from those who insist it’s self-indulgent, selfish, and whiny. I never got any of that, and besides, it’s a memoir, for God’s sake. You know what people respond when I say that? That I loved it because I don’t have kids and can’t understand what it’s like not to be selfish and think of others first, basically. Yup. Anyway. I personally had a near-God experience reading it, so intimately connecting with Gilbert I felt she was part of me and I her (here’s where that namaste thing come in! Plus I have a huge crush on her), and so admiring her writing. I bought and read her other books (love Pilgrims, especially), and if there’s anyone I wish I could write like, it’s her. She’s just so damn good.
11. One Bird’s Choice by Iain Reid. Speaking of memoirs, here’s another, and you can read what I thought of it here. I bought Iain’s book at Word on the Street Toronto at the Anansi booth, having first read about it on their website. It’s one of my favourites because I related well to Iain but also because it inspired me to remember certain goals and to want to write again. I haven’t started because if there’s one thing I’m famous for, you may already have guessed, it’s my lack of follow-through. Sigh. Anyway, after reading his humorous, thought-provoking book, I invited Iain to read at the store, which he did with great success, and we still email now and again. Books that spark relationships are priceless.
12. Sandra Beck by John Lavery. This book is a favourite because never have I met such a lover of the possibilities of the English language. John Lavery is today’s Shakespeare. You can read what I thought of this book here.
13. Room by Emma Donoghue. The majority of you already know this book. It’s hard to recommend at the store without having someone interrupt me to say that it’s disturbing or too depressing or whatever. That annoys me. Yes, the subject matter is daunting. But the book is also heartwarming and full of hope and provocative, in the sense that you feel very emotionally charged reading it, possibly enough to want to make a difference in the world. I found it incredibly powerful in terms of inviting me to think outside my own experience to the reality of others who are not as fortunate. You can read my experience of this book here.
14. Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra. The male author, Algerian army officer Mohammed Moulessehoul, took on the female nom de plume to avoid having to submit his manuscripts for military approval. Being a forceful examination of the situation of Afghan people under Taliban rule, obviously, this wouldn’t have made it past the censors. I found myself quite angry much of the time while I read this book. But it’s also beautifully, poetically written and an observant, sharp inside look at lives so foreign, so different from mine. One of the years my parents visited (they live in Malta), my mom spent most of her time devouring this book. It’s not long but it really packs a punch. If you liked The Kite Runner, try this one. But be warned, it’s not the same. For me, this was far more emotionally charged.
15. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I picked up this book several times because I like post-apocalyptic literature, and I tried to read past the first paragraph but couldn’t because I was too annoyed by such experimental writing. McCarthy’s style takes some getting used to. But something about the story wouldn’t let me go, and I finally picked it up again and then almost swallowed it whole (got used to the style very quickly that time!). Admittedly, I struggled to keep going because the situation is relentless and I could see no hope. I didn’t want it to end on a depressing note. But the story itself, the journey of man and boy, like Donoghue’s mother and son, was so powerfully wrought, it was also difficult not to continue. I’m glad I did; it was quite the experience. I was working at the library at the time and consequently ordered several copies. Later, the book won the Pulitzer Prize and I bought the really excellent Border Trilogy, years after one of my English profs had recommended it and I’d then dismissed it as man’s lit (even though I love Hemingway, also described as man’s lit). That too I remember very well, and will likely read again. In fact, it should be in included on this list. Consider this a double entry. Also, the film adaptation of The Road is incredible (how could it not be with Viggo Mortensen) but one I can watch only once. It’s very powerful, just like the book.
16. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Since these are classics and there are few left on this planet who haven’t experienced them, I doubt they need any explanation. I’m glad I first read them when Christian allegory, as obvious as it is now, was beyond me. I have a gorgeous hardcover illustrated volume of all seven books, and a fully dramatized set of 19 CDs. We listened to The Horse and His Boy
while we painted the living room over the last few weeks. Timeless, these, are, for adults and little ones. Full of humor as well as worldly adventure, morals, and enchantment, Narnia has affected the way I see certain snow, Turkish delight, a walk through the woods, a wardrobe. When Lewis breathed life into those books, he sparked a magic that lives on in us even as adults.
17. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I never wanted to be like any other character more than I wanted to be like Anne Shirley. I can’t tell you how many times I read Anne of Green Gables as a young girl, how I’d put down the book and fairly float about afterward, and dream of having someone like Gilbert Blythe. This book sparked my young, amorous heart more times than I care to remember it being broken. It caused me to be made fun of, but it spoke to my passionate self the way no other book did at the time. I also had a huge crush on Megan Follows after watching the movies. Even as a teen I wished I was Anne Shirley, but looking back I see I was more like her than I realized. Now that I’m older and somewhat cynical I’m afraid that if I read Anne of Green Gables again I’ll ruin the exhilarating experience and romance of reading it that I once had.
18. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. My sister gave me the copy she bought in the airport in England, so I have a really lovely edition. And this is a book like no other, narrated by Death. Set during WWII it tells the story of a young girl, Liesel, a lover of words and books, who steals volumes to save them from the Nazi book burnings. Liesel encounters Death three times, and is the third time when he comes across the book she’s writing of her own life. This is a wonderful story but given the time period, you can guess something terrible happens. I cried. But it is nevertheless nothing to be afraid of: it’s worth the read. Definitely my favourite book of that year.
19. The Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke. Another fantasy I became entirely engrossed in, so much so that even more than a year later I’m still thinking about it. Meg’s father, a bookbinder, reads so lyrically that the characters in the books he reads from come to life and are brought into our world. Unfortunately, this time bad people come out, and at the same time Meg’s mother disappears into the book world. Courage, loyalty, love, imagination, determination, and magic make this trilogy unforgettable.
20. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Really. Need I say anything about this series? Perhaps, since not everyone is convinced? Here’s a post I wrote on the books; it did get Reeder to start them!
21. Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard. If you’ve never read anything by American writer Annie Dillard, start with Holy the Firm. At less than 80 pages, it’s a personal mediation mainly on the natural world, written by Dillard while she lived in a cabin on Puget Sound. Dillard’s poetic and beautifully honest writing is thought-provoking and simple yet probing. Holy the Firm inspired me to write a poem called “Sour Grapes,” and also to read other of her books (the only one I didn’t like was her novel, The Maytrees). She is another example of someone I’d like to emulate as a writer.
22. Little Bee by Chris Cleave. While this wasn’t particularly strong writing in my opinion, at least not consistently, the reactions I had to it were quite intense. The moment I had in the shower bawling for the atrocities some people experience is one I’ll never forget. You can read my thoughts here and here.
23. Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley. I read this for my postmodern English class in university many moons ago. It was one of my favourite books of that year, and it’s definitely my favourite Findley novel. I’ve read it twice, actually, once in class, and once to compare (on my own, for fun) to David Maine’s The Preservationist, which I bought on impulse years ago while shopping for groceries, and which I also recommend. Both are classic deconstructions of a Christian master-narrative, a retelling of Noah’s Ark, both pointed and humorous. Findley’s is especially brilliantly executed and more literary and purposeful, I think, than Maine’s book.
24. Small Ceremonies by Carol Shields. Carol Shields was my favourite author for years; there was no other. Now I find it difficult to say who’s my favourite, but I reserve a very special place for her in my heart. She influenced me like no other author thus far, even Elizabeth Gilbert, both in terms of my writing and how I think in general. I’ve written numerous papers on her works, and an essay on finding the sacred in the ordinary, inspired by her. The Stone Diaries popped my Shields cherry, and I hated it the first time I read it. But one day I was ready for it, I guess, and I loved it. But it was Small Ceremonies, her first novel, that really began my love affair with Shields and I remember going out and buying everything she’d published at the time, all at once, back when I was in university and reading it all, plays, bad poetry, everything. I loved the way she wrote about women, about love, about the craft, about life. I deeply admired her relationship with her husband John. And I cried on the couch, sobbing into Kleenex, watching a CBC bio of her, when she died. Never have I felt so bereft at an author’s passing. The fact that I will never read another book by her still punches me in the gut. I take criticism of her writing quite personally, I admit, and struggle to separate myself from it. It was her book I thought deserved to win Canada Reads this year, if I’m honest, because I thought it was best written.
25. The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. Elizabeth Berg is a bit similar to Shields, but not as strong a writer. She’s classified as women’s fiction, I’d say, but there was a time when I was very much into those stories that detailed the lives of girls and women, particularly around love and loss. The Year of Pleasures tells the story of a women in her fifties or so whose husband dies. Later, she discovers gifts he’s left for her to find, and realizing he’d like her to move on and be happy, she sells their beloved brownstone and goes off to find another town in which to live, wherever the roads take her. It’s the story of a woman who in the year following such a loss begins to find herself and her capability to still be happy. There’s a palpable sense of newfound independence and tentative confidence. I list this book here because the concept is important to me, but also because even after all these years of reading it, I can’t stop thinking about it.
26. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I doubt I need to say much about this classic romance. Aside from being such an effective novel in terms of themes (think Mad Woman in the Attic, for one), this was for me one of the greatest romances I’ve ever read. I wish I could say more but it’s been too long since I last read it. Still, I remember the atmosphere, and that I felt deeply, yearned as much as Jane did.
27. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. To be honest, I don’t remember this book much, except that it was one of my favourite Dickens’s stories, because I couldn’t put it down. What I do remember was where I was when I read it: in Switzerland at Le Châtelard, a private school for girls. I wasn’t attending but was there on a trip from Paris, where I was living for a year. It was February, and I was hiding from everyone, as I liked to do, to be left alone. I was supposed to be working on life-sized paintings of biblical figures, which I was, but I also found an old orange Penguin copy of DC, presumably in their library, and once I’d started I couldn’t put it down. I spent my days ensconced under the eaves on one of the top unused floors, devouring Dickens’s book. It was like something out of a book. I’m only slightly ashamed to say I kept it; I simply couldn’t part with it. I have it to this day, next to an antique copy of the same title.
28. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve never read anything by Hemingway I didn’t love and this one is my favourite of his. Hemingway’s style is inimitable, sparse and clean yet so evocative. I love the time period, the way the characters spoke, the group of expats themselves. And the atmosphere, ah, Spain.
29. The Incident Report by Martha Baillie. I used to work in a library, so Baillie’s story about a library worker in Toronto really hit home. Stuff that may seem unlikely in this book? Although it’s been criticized as “absurdly normalized mania,” I insist it’s all possible. This shit really does happen, these character types really do exist, and much worse, too, which is ultimately why I quit. But aside from totally relating to the character’s job, there was a vulnerability, a rawness to her and the book that made me slightly uncomfortable yet compelled to keep reading. This is life, this is possibly any woman’s life who passes you by on the city street. And then there’s a twist that wrenches your heart and leaves you staring in disbelief until you pull yourself together and finish the book, a bit shakily in my case. The Incident Report is a very cool way of telling a story but it’s also beautiful in it’s transparency and simplicity, and poignant. Not a book you’ll soon forget.
30. Belonging by Isabel Huggan. Belonging is something I’ve needed to explore because I don’t feel I belong in Canada, let alone in general. My parents live in Malta, though we four girls were born here (my parents moved back to Malta after living here about 24 years); one sister, who married an Englishman, lives in England, one is in Toronto, and one in Barrie. I didn’t choose Belleville, I followed my then boyfriend now husband here. My own roots reach for some inexplicable reason to England, particularly the north. In any case, Huggan, who’s lived in many places, including Belleville, coincidentally (I read this book before I moved here), explores the concept of home, and writes with clarity and honesty and insight. This book really spoke to me and I’ve considered her a favourite author since reading this book and her other two; she’s someone I’ve wanted to meet. Someone once said that when you find a writer like Elizabeth Huggan you don’t want her to stop. It’s true.
31. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. One of the most beautiful children’s books I’ve ever seen. The illustrations are breathtaking, and combine in a cinematic way with the magical story of a clock repairer boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. This is a gorgeous, brilliant example of storytelling at its best and thus I chose it to “sell” on The Advent Book Blog.
32. The Arabian Nights (Sir Richard Burton). The concept of having to tell stories to save one’s life is fascinating to me. When I finally read The Arabian Nights, it was from an edition famously illustrated by René Bull, and I became so engrossed in the stories and pictures tthat I barely moved from my chair, devouring one story after the other. An enchanting taste of the Middle East. I must note here, Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz is also excellent. It was inspired by the original stories.
33. Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant. I don’t think I wrote a great review for this book. I might have been gushing because I thought it so wonderful, but I hadn’t ever read anything like Grant’s writing. Audrey (Oddly) Flowers offers such a different way of seeing things one can’t help but be affected, and I have to admit I related to her a little bit. And Winnifred, the tortoise, is so excellent that I had this major urge to bring home a tortoise after reading the book (I didn’t, though). Grant writes with such precision and unique use of the language that it’s difficult not to admire her skill. My review is here, my memorable meeting with Jessica here. Come, Thou Tortoise is another of our bestsellers at the store.
34. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I can’t even tell you the first time I read this book but I think I got it from the Scholastic Book Order we used to get in school. Everyone knows this is a beautiful, heartwarming story with a lesson, but mainly it changed the way I see animals. I love this book enough to have a special edition. Garth Williams’s well-known illustrations make it as memorable and special as the story itself. How long I studied them!
35. Beyond Remembering by Al Purdy. I’m an Al Purdy fan, though I’m not a huge poetry reader, and I think I might owe it not to CanLit classes but to my ex. He was so in love with Purdy’s poetry that he came on his own to this area (places I’d never heard of before and am now, weirdly, living in) for a three-day sort of literary pilgrimage (and ended up getting in some sort of brawl here on Front Street and having to have dental work. Perhaps this too was inspired by Purdy). We went to hear Purdy read twice, which was quite the (fun) experience (wish I’d had the idea to take a camera). Among other poems, he read “Concerning Ms. Atwood,” one of my favourites, and always seemed to have young women hanging off either side of him. Honest, exploratory, gutsy, insightful, and quintessentially Canadian, Purdy’s poems give as much identity to this country as the Canadian flag. I’m a supporter of the endeavour to save his A-frame, where a good deal of the forming of our esteemed authors occurred. Beyond Remembering is the collected works of Purdy, who struggled greatly as an author but finally came into his own with large impact, and after I bought it I kept it on my bedside table for almost a year, to pick up and browse through every now and then. The coolest was selling a copy to Eurithe Purdy, Al’s wife, back when I was a bookseller at Chapters. Anyway. Purdy’s poetry is accessible and true. As with Purdy himself, there is no BS, no pretentiousness.
36. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. My first introduction to Mr. Roald Dahl and the amazing Quentin Blake. I don’t even know how to express how much I loved this book, how much I dearly loved Charlie, and Dahl’s penchant for the ridiculous and hilarious and his imaginative innovation and his style of not holding back or writing polite, tame children’s books. There is no one like Roald Dahl, no one who can read aloud like him, no one who can write like he does. He played a very large part in my childhood reading experiences. This story is gloriously original and exciting and I’ve read this many times, heard it read on record, seen the Gene Wilder movie. I could read it again and again.
37. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. I read this in French (and a French edition is the only one I have) and then saw the French movie with Gérard Depardieu (which I highly recommend), while living in France in 1993–1994. I vividly recall sitting in the living room of our high-ceilinged apartment in the 17th arrondissement (Ave. de Villiers), leaning forward and completely engrossed in the story. Written as a play, this is a beautiful, tragic, romantic story of love in the form of self-sacrifice, poetry, and suffering in silence. By turns comic, Cyrano de Bergerac is also achingly bittersweet and lyrical, and though it’s also a social commentary, I can’t help love it because of where I was in my romantic life at the time. Unfortunately, I haven’t practised or spoken French in so many years that I’m no longer completely bilingual, and I can’t understand it the way I did back then. That’s actually what makes it so special for me now.
There you have it, 37 books that have touched me and which live on in my head and heart and on my shelves. There are others, too, that I’ve only started, or that have been with me for years but which I’ve never read, and yet have as much sentimental value as those I’ve known and loved. One day I’ll get to them, if I’m lucky enough to live so long.