Saturday, 22 January 2011

Discussion: The Special Books

We all have those books.

The books that make us think. The books that changed our lives, or less dramatically our reading habits. The books that are special to us. 
Recently, I began thinking how I could separate my "special" books from my favorites and my not so favorites and everything else. Because they're *that* important to me. I can even think of why they're so important without trying.

My special books?

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
This trilogy was my introduction to The Divine Miss Bray. Her wit and sarcasm immediately hooked me in, and her amazing plot twists and dramatic writing made me addicted. I became a follower of her blog and her twitter. I found the Gemma Doyle IMDb board because at the time it was still up to be a movie and I started talking to the SheBAMS. Libba Bray became one of my first auto-buy authors (right after Meg Cabot, but none of her books are THAT special to me. She just wins at life.).

But more importantly, this book was my introduction to historical fiction and my fascination with history. Before reading this book, I refused to touch historical fiction. I'd started to pick this book up dozens of times in the store before buying, it's cover and magical elements drawing me in, but I didn't want to read it because it was historical fiction. 

Can you imagine a world where I didn't read historical fiction? Where I didn't love history enough to research it for fun? Where I wasn't a source of information for my friends? It's not a world I can, or want to, think about but without this series, it might've been.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This epic love story is one paralleled in thousands and millions of books. I have this theory that all romances can be broken down to a Romeo and Juliet kind of love or a Pride and Prejudice kind of love. But Romeo and Juliet does not make this list because OMG THOSE TWO PISSED ME OFF. 

But anyway. Pride and Prejudice introduced me to the world of Jane Austen. I have yet to love another of her books the way I love Pride and Prejudice, but I don't regret reading them. Because it also meant that I actually wanted to read other classics. Classics had always scared me as a Little Julie, even the first time I read this book I only made it 50 pages before giving up. But then Little Julie (and by Little I mean...12 year old...which was 4 years ago...) made it through. And fell in love.

Pride and Prejudice was also the first book I ever reread (except Harry Potter, but I only reread those to prepare for the next book or that book's movie). I always hated rereading things, figuring that it would be stupid to read a book I'd already read. I knew what happened so surely the thrill would be gone, that thrill of finding something new on every page. But Little Julie was, again, wrong. I had just been rereading the wrong books. When you reread the right books, the magic and the thrill is still there on every page, and a lot of the time you'll find something new you missed the first or second or third time.

And it's the first books I needed to have two copies of. Yeah, that's right. My first copy, a little mass market paperback I bought because it was pretty, is almost too worn to read. It won't make it much longer. So I got a pretty, sturdy hardcover that looks like it could eat my little paperback. They would BOTH need to be on the special shelf.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Why the hell do I have ANOTHER adult book on my list? Aren't I a YA reader? Well sure...but Little Julie (yeah, that 12-year-old brat) wanted to be sophisticated and read a bunch of classics and adult books after conquering Pride and Prejudice.

This was the first book to make Little Julie really think. Sure, that book about eating disorders stuck with me (I'm looking at YOU The Best Little Girl in the World) and yeah, Harry Potter fo' life. But this one made me think. About my life and the people I meet. About the people I never say a word to but the impact I may have on them. The people I'll probably never see but have impacted, a thought that became even more surreal when I started writing this post and realized that kind of includes every person that reads this, assuming I've impacted them. 

I still think about that book a lot. It's such a small, little book, but it did so much for me and how I think of people. Need to reread that one soon...

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
You may think "How the hell do these two fit together? And HARRY POTTER changed your life?" Hear me out. For these two, it wasn't just the book that made them important, but the situations surrounding the book.

I was seven when my sister left for college. Littler Julie admired her sister to no end and couldn't stand the idea of her leaving. 16-year-old Julie has a similar feeling every time her sister visits. But Littler Julie's sister is good with the presents, especially bookish ones. So, at some point while I was still a Littler Julie, my sister left me a copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends. But this wasn't just ANY copy, this was a copy that my sister had marked. When I say marked, I don't mean with a pen or pencil - nobody in my family is good at defiling books that way - but she marked off her favorite poems. They were the first ones I read then and every time I pick up the book now, I still flip to them first. When I'm reading it myself, when I'm reorganizing, or when I'm trying to make someone else read it. That book is forever tied to my sister and that's why it'll always be special.

Harry Potter was another gift to Littler Julie from her sister. I think it was the first Christmas after she left. Littler Julie and her mom read together every night and sister thought it'd be a good choice since it was so popular. Littler Julie and her mom let it sit for almost a year, not picking it up until around the time the first movie came out on DVD.

I remember we read up to the part with Harry's first quidditch match before buying the movie. We said we'd just watch until that scene, but we knew we were kidding ourselves. From then on, we were hooked. We bought the next four books and read them together, reading out loud to each other. By time the fifth book came out, my mom had Boy and we no longer read together. I was 9. So, our solution was to buy 2 copies of the book, read at our own pace, and discuss after. Which means there are two copies of the last 3 Harry Potter books in my house.

But it's not the fact we both loved the series and by time the last part comes out, we'll have had 10 years with it. It's that we fell in love TOGETHER. This is a bond I'll always have with my mom. We'll always be saying
"Scared Potter?"
"You. Wish."
Always. And that's why it's so special.

I could keep going. Talk about Twilight and The Clique and how they actually are special, even though I'd never read them now and talk about other books I can't think of off the top of my head but probably could list if I was in my room, staring at them. But um...this post already seems obnoxiously long.

So, I guess I'm asking two things:
What are your "special" books?
Do you treat them differently or have them in a special (pun not there a way I can phrase this better?) area?



  1. What a great list you have here!
    The Gemma Doyle trilogy -- I've been thinking about that a lot the last week or two. I've been hungry to read something similar, and yes, I can't deny it, bitterly disappointed that Ms. Bray has chosen to be all versatile and write in other genres and styles than the Gemma Doyle books.

    In fact, I'd say I love all the books on your list so much except for The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I hated that book! I thought it was so schmaltzy and fake-sentimental.

    If I was going to add something to this list, it would definitely have to be The Hobbit, since Tolkien is the granddaddy of all modern fantasy. And Wheel of Time. You know, I'd probably have to throw in the Narnia and Oz books too.

  2. Ohhhh good question! Well when I was younger my grandma would read to my sister and me from The Chronicles of Narnia everytime we stayed over at her house so that series is pretty special to me.

    When I was younger my favorite book series was The Boxcar Children. Me and my 3 siblings used to pretend we were the boxcar children in our backyard! So that series is definitely pretty special to me.

    I also absolutely ADORE The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I've read it 6 times now! That series has impacted my life so much.

    And the one that I recently discovered that I absolutely LOVE The Hunger Games Trilogy. Its just so phenomenal and I was able to connect with the story so much easier then probably any other book or series that I've ever read. Just amazing books. :)

  3. I don't know if I treat them differently but I *am* considering differentiating between "favorite" and "special" on my GR shelves. However, the two overlap so often for me.

    Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
    All Alone in the Universe by Lynne Rae Perkins
    Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins...
    ... you're actually making me want to do a whole "personal" post on this. Is that okay?

  4. Jordyn: Go ahead! Would love to see more on this.



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