Friday, December 24, 2010

My Spiritual Book Bag

I feel very fortunate this year - my son is healthy (and, Yay!, since he's sixteen, he's still at home); my husband and I are healthy (as far as we know); and both our parents are healthy (as far as we know). These are the things I cherish the most.

Last year, on December 17, my sister-in-law got hit by car as she was riding her bicycle. She broke her hips into pieces and was down for a few months. Miracle of miracles, she's fine now - walking and back to riding her bike. That terrible event made me appreciate everything so much more.

So, it is my wish that you are blessed with good health and loving family this holiday season. Also, good memories of those who have passed on.

I only knew one set of grandparents. My dad's parents died when he was a kid. My maternal grandmother died when I was nine and my maternal grandfather died when I was sixteen. They were young by today's standards -- only in their sixties -- and losing them was horrible. When my grandfather died, I started a tradition for myself, though, and it has continued to this day. Of course, reading has always been a huge part of my life. I always loved books and then talking about what I'd read with anyone who would listen. Fortunately, my grandparents were good listeners. Well, my grandfather couldn't hear very well, but he always acted like he was listening. Anyway, after my grandfather died and I became very lonely for them during the holiday season, I decided to create something I could share with them, if only in my imagination. I created a spiritual book bag - books that I have a special love for and would love to tell them about. Over the years, it's turned a symbol - symbolizing books that changed my life; changed the way I think about the world or think about writing. I still imagine talking to them and I still imagine their responses - this process has given me many smiles - but what I really enjoy is taking out that list each year and hopefully adding to it. I love lots of books, but it takes something pretty special to get a spot in my spiritual book bag. The good news is that I did add to the list this year.

Here's the list as it stands today:
Charlotte's Web
Are You There God, It's Me Margaret (Judy Blume)
All Nancy Drew
All "Littles" books
All "Borrowers" books
Little Women (Although I read this one again a few years ago and found that I didn't enjoy either the writing or the story, go figure. But it stays on the list because when I was eleven, it rocked my world)
Jo's Boys
All Laura Ingalls Wilder (took a Laura trip a few years back - best vacation ever)
Every single book that Phyllis A. Whitney wrote.
Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean Auel)
Flowers In the Attic (V.C. Andrews - I think an Amazon review describes this as the 'best trashy novel ever written.' I smile when I think about my grandmother's reaction over my love for this book)
Song of Solomen (Toni Morrison)
The Ghosts (Antonia Barber)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen - honestly, I'm not a huge Austen fan except for this book. I love everything about it, everything)
A is for Alibi (Sue Grafton - fan of the whole series, but this one was very special to me)
The Boyfriend Club (Sarah Bird)
Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton)
Outlander (Diana Gabaldon - a copy of this book sits on my desk. I'll frequently open it and just read a paragraph or two)
Dead Until Dark (Charlaine Harris - I love the whole series, but this was the first one and it truly changed the way I thought about fiction)
Kill and Tell (Linda Howard)
The Electric Church (Jeff Somers)
All Harry Potter books - yep, every single one.
The Hunger Games

And this year's addition:
The Help (Kathryn Stockett). The imaginary conversation I had with my grandmother about this book was amazing.

This isn't a list of books I think are good or great -- that list would go on forever. Every book in my spiritual book bag is there for a different specific reason, but each one caused some major shift for me, a shift in my own spirit. I love it when a book does that. Some are classics, some have sold millions of copies, but some are truly trashy and you might not have even heard of a few. I'm not even sure I can "recommend" them because their meanings are so personal to me.

So, along with good health and loving family, I must wish for you books that you can put in your own spiritual book bag; books that change you, maybe fill up something in you that was empty before, maybe something that inspires you.

There's just nothing like a book that touches your heart or your soul.

Merry Christmas, friends. Happiest holiday wishes.

Much love,

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad to be in the same family as you. Merry Christmas Paige. Give Charlie, Tyler and Gizmo all my love.