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BBAW 2016: Five Books that Represent Me

bbaw 2016

Hooray, today is the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week! Although I’m probably not going to be able to participate to the extent that I originally hoped, I still managed to have a few posts drafted before life got complicated last week. And today’s topic is such a good one:

Day 1: Introduce yourself by telling us about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.

When I sat down to start working on this topic, I assumed it was going to be pretty simple. Pick five books, write about them a little bit, call it a day. But then as I started to ponder what it means to have books represent you as a person or your life… I got all tangled up and had massive writer’s block. So this is my best attempt to pick five books that give a sense of me and what I love.

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – I’ve written about how part of the reason the Harry Potter series has resonated with me is because of age. I grew up alongside Harry, Ron and Hermoine and saw myself reflected in their struggles and their challenges. The Magicians is another favorite series for the same reason. I picked those books up just out of college and got to struggle with Big Life Questions right along with the characters in a book.
  2. Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President by Eli Saslow – By day, I’m the editor of a small town community newspaper. One of the things I love about my job is finding unexpected stories in my community. Eli Saslow takes this idea to the next level in 10 Letters, using President Obama’s tradition of reading 10 letters from citizens each day to find some hidden stories about what it means to be an American. It’s a touching, lovely book.
  3. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed – This book is a collection of advice columns novelist/essayist Cheryl Strayed wrote at The Rumpus under the persona of Sugar. I don’t think they’re great when read straight through – some of it starts to feel a little repetitive – but they’re perfect to dip in and out of when you need a little bit of kick-in-the-pants empathy. If you need a preview, check out two of my favorites: The Baby Bird and Write Like a Motherfucker.
  4. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman – This book is one of my favorite pieces of narrative nonfiction of all time. It’s a beautifully written story about the cultural differences between a Hmong family and the doctors caring for their daughter who suffered from debilitating seizures. It’s one I often recommend to people who are nervous about trying narrative nonfiction for the first time, similar to a more recent book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
  5. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood – Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors, and it’s hard to pick just one of her books. For whatever reason, The Blind Assassin holds a special place in my heart even though I know it’s one of her more divisive books. I think I love it because it represents the kind of literary, strange, genre-bending fiction that has become a staple of my reading life.

So there you have it… after much hemming and hawing and debating, five books that I think represent me as a reader and a person.

If you were doing this exercise, what five books would you choose?

Book Blogger Appreciation Week is being hosted at The Estella Society by Ana (Things Mean A Lot), Jenny (Reading the End), Heather (Capricious Reader), and Andi (Estella’s Revenge). Visit the website for more information about this awesome community event! 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.
{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Lory @ Emerald City Book Review February 15, 2016, 6:21 am

    Wonderful list — I read The Spirit Catches You… before I was much into reading nonfiction at all, and was so enthralled by it. Ten Letters sounds marvelous too. Have a great BBAW!

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:46 pm

      Enthralled is the perfect word for that book, I think. It’s just gripping and sad and thoughtful from the very first page.

  • Shannon @ River City Reading February 15, 2016, 6:42 am

    Tiny Beautiful Things is totally on my list, too. That book is just everything I need in so many situations!

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:46 pm

      I love it for little snippets of wisdom and kicks in the pants. I find it really comforting in that respect.

  • Beth F February 15, 2016, 7:55 am

    I need to delve into Ten Letters. I don’t know why I’m not at all taken with Strayed; I’m probably in a crowd of one.

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:44 pm

      No, I’ve seen a few other people (privately, quietly) mention they don’t love her. I get that too. I think your first experience, and that context, really marks how her writing will land going forward.

  • Care February 15, 2016, 8:20 am

    I so loved The Blind Assassin, too! I remember reading your review of Ten Letters and thinking it sounds so good.

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:44 pm

      It’s so good, just this perfect little snippet of what it means to be American at this particular moment with this particular president.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) February 15, 2016, 8:27 am

    I’m much more into narrative nonfiction than I used to be because of you.

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:43 pm

      That is a thing I love to hear!

  • Kay February 15, 2016, 8:49 am

    Harry Potter is popular today and well deserved for sure. How funny that you mentioned The Spirit Catches You…I’m featuring it on my next Bookish Nostalgia in March. I read it 15 years ago and loved it. And I don’t love much non-fiction. Ah, The Blind Assassin – a book I’ve meant to read. Picked it up over and over. After I read Alias Grace, I told myself to read more Atwood, but I haven’t really followed up on that. I’ll be thinking of you guys this week. 🙂

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:42 pm

      Yay, The Spirit Catches You…! I forgot how much I loved that book until I saw it sitting on my shelf and realized it was the perfect title to include on this list for a whole bunch of reasons.

  • Laurie C February 15, 2016, 10:00 am

    Scheduling posts? What’s that? 😉 My introductory post says a great deal about me in that it was done all in a rush this morning. (My habit of procrastination is deeply ingrained.) Your list strikes me as a very thoughtful representation of you! I actually puzzled for a while to figure out to represent myself through the books I read and kind of gave up and just wrote about some of my lifetime faves.

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:41 pm

      I’m not great at blogging on the fly… never have been. I like having a post ready the night before if I’m going to put something up. I was doing a good job writing every morning in January, which is when I got these posts drafted up 🙂

  • Katie @ Words for Worms February 15, 2016, 10:04 am

    HP is amazing for tackling the Big Life Questions, I feel you there! I also adore Tiny Beautiful Things. I love Atwood, but not The Blind Assassin, though I respect your choice to put it on your list. Excellent getting to know you (again, and more and all that.)

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:40 pm

      It’s totally a divisive book. I was just at a party over the weekend where someone said it was her least favorite Atwood. The horror! 🙂

  • Emily February 15, 2016, 10:35 am

    What a great list!

    The Blind Assassin was my second Atwood, and I loved it so much. It’s been so long since I’ve read it though, I think I’m due for a re-read.

    Happy BBAW! 😀

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:39 pm

      I could use a reread on that one too, it’s been quite awhile. I think I read it during one of my first years as a book blogger. But then there are so many great Atwood books I haven’t read it — Alias Grace is top of my list — that I’m not sure where to start.

  • Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf February 15, 2016, 10:46 am

    Wonderful list. Good see Harry appearing on so many lists today! 🙂

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:38 pm

      Everyone loves Harry Potter 🙂

  • Heather @ Capricious Reader February 15, 2016, 11:20 am

    This is a great list! I see a couple I need to go look up. I’m really loving today’s prompt.

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:37 pm

      It was a fun one! I can’t wait to start reading through some random posts now that I’m off work and at home for the evening.

  • Athira February 15, 2016, 11:55 am

    These are some great books! I have Blind Assassin and Tiny Beautiful Things on my list so hope to get to them soon. Ten Letters sounds so good – so I will check that out.

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:37 pm

      10 Letters was the most unexpected delight. I can’t even remember how I found it, but I thought it was so, so interesting and well done.

  • Kailana February 15, 2016, 1:25 pm

    For some reason Margaret Atwood is one author I am so hit or miss with. One day I must read more by her!

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:36 pm

      I think she takes some risks in her fiction, which means some of them won’t land with every reading — The Blind Assassin is a perfect example of that. I think you just have to find the flavor of Atwood you like then deep dive from there.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End February 15, 2016, 1:30 pm

    I love that the nonfiction books you’ve chosen to include are all so different. It says a lot about you as a reader — plus, of course, you’ve included Harry Potter, which invariably makes me clasp my hands to my heart in joy. THOSE BOOKS. MY CHILDHOOD. 😀

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:35 pm

      SO MANY CHILDHOODS. I love that I had the experience of growing up with those books. It was so, so fun.

  • Shelley February 15, 2016, 1:35 pm

    I just added a couple of these to my TBR list. I love Margaret Atwood.

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:35 pm

      She’s so great! Every time I need something that I know is going to be awesome, I turn to Margaret Atwood. I’ve got a lot of her backlist to dive into still.

  • Shantala February 15, 2016, 2:36 pm

    Love your list – we have Harry Potter in common, and though I did not go the 5 book route in my introduction thread – listing them here –
    1. Harry Potter Series by J.K.Rowling
    2. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
    3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    4. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
    5. Bossypants by Tina Fey

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:34 pm

      Good choices! I still haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, even though my sister totally loves it and we’ve watched the movies/mini-series many many times.

      • Jenny "aka sister" February 16, 2016, 8:29 am

        You better read that eventually… maybe we need a challenge of sorts where you pick a book for me to read that is one of your favorites and you read that one and than we can talk about it 🙂 Because while I own at least one Margret Atwood book (it may even be the Blind Assassin) for years I have yet to pick it up!

  • Heather @ Book Addiction February 15, 2016, 3:41 pm

    Great list! I had HP and Tiny Beautiful Things on mine as well. 🙂 I also loved Spirit Catches You and agree that it’s a great place to start for those who are worried about not liking narrative nonfiction.

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:33 pm

      Good list then! I don’t think anyone is surprised to see Harry Potter on my list 🙂

  • Lisa Sumner February 15, 2016, 6:29 pm

    I still haven’t read Blind Assassin, even though Margaret Atwood is my spirit animal. This is a really interesting list. I wish I were more of a non-fiction reader, but I’m working on it….

    • Kim February 15, 2016, 6:32 pm

      I think it takes a bit to get over the feeling that nonfiction is “work” rather than something you can read for pleasure. I think the Fadiman book is perfect in that respect, since it reads so easily and the story is so absorbing.

  • Kristen M. February 15, 2016, 6:54 pm

    I think these books make a great picture of you as a whole! Genre-bending fiction tends to be a favorite of mine too because it seems like the author tried a little harder than just churning out a story with the standard tropes. I have The Blind Assassin on my TBR shelf so I need to get to it soon. I hope I fall on the side of loving it!

  • emma February 15, 2016, 8:15 pm

    Nice to know more about you through books. My 5 titles are: http://wordsandpeace.com/2016/02/15/bbaw-2016-day-1/

  • JaneGS February 15, 2016, 8:18 pm

    I think Harry Potter will define the 20 somethings of today–I loved them, but came to them to old to have them permeate me in the way books of my youth still do.

    I’ve got Wild on my TBR shelf, and I’m reading Blind Assassin with a read-along in March.

    Great list– happy BBAW!

    • Kim February 21, 2016, 1:52 pm

      There’s definitely an age component to how those books affected you. Kids much younger than me don’t have the same experience of spreading that story out over time, and folks older didn’t quite have them permeate your reading life at an influential time.

  • Adam @ Roof Beam Reader February 16, 2016, 10:23 am

    A huge “YEAH” to Harry Potter, of course. And I really like your rationale for The Blind Assassin. I’ve owned the book for years but haven’t read it, yet. The only Atwood I have read is The Handmaid’s Tale (which I loved and found incredibly disturbing but relevant).

  • Florinda February 16, 2016, 4:38 pm

    I adore the Harry Potter books, but I think they affected me differently because I didn’t grow up with them. My favorite Atwood is probably The Robber Bride–I had a little trouble making sense of The Blind Assassin, to be honest :-).

    And you already know this, but you’re my #1 source for nonfiction recs. When people ask me for them, I send them over here to see you.

  • Sheila Book Journey February 19, 2016, 2:14 pm

    Trying to catch up on BBAW posts because I just found out about it…. today. LOL Had to comment on this one because you mentioned Harry Potter! Of course he is on my list too. And, while I own all of Atwood’s books…. I have never read her. Now I know where to start.

  • Lisa February 23, 2016, 10:58 pm

    I loaned my copy of The Blind Assassin to one of my son’s girlfriends several years ago and never got it back. And she’s long out of the picture. I really do need to get another copy!

  • Masanobu February 28, 2016, 11:15 am

    After posting my list of five books I immediately realized I had left Harry Potter out. They were also meaningful for me because I grew up with the Trio, and because I got to be part of the wonderful fandom experience that was HP while it was still an unfinished series.

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