This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted as usual by The Broke and the Bookish is ‘Books I would Recommend to X’, where bloggers can decide what the X is. And I think I will go with the Top Ten Books I would Recommend to My 18 Year Old Self. Why, you ask. Well, the 18 year old me was caught in a stage where I had just graduated from a terrifying course in Science to one in Arts – an area of study that I was convinced I wanted to pursue because I was sure I was destined to be a journalist.
Because of this, at 18, I was bullish on reading books that would make me take myself seriously. Which books, you ask. That’s a list for another day, I say. Complicating matters was the fact that I was drawn into an English-Journalism-Psychology course combo that was quite consuming, with its mandatory reading – books that have only added to my love for reading. However, in all of this, at 18, I got quite lost in this push and pull of what I had to read and what I thought I had to read. Thanks to this, I lost out on figuring out what would really interest me at that age.
Am I any wiser now? Nope. Let me be honest. But I think I have a slightly better idea of what I might have enjoyed at that age. These are books that, after having read them over the past couple of years, had me thinking, well, I wish I would have read at 18. That’s simply because I think these books would have in some way, shape or form have gone on to influence the decade that’s since passed. That said, let me get started with my list:
1. Margaret Atwood’s Negotiating with the Dead: One of the very very few books that has impacted me as a writer (not my style or form of writing) is this book. It has gone to tell me that it’s okay to feel what you feel as a writer. That while there is no formula for being a writer, there is still a certain whim that only fellow writers can understand. This book has spoken to me on so many levels, it’s hard to describe. Someday I hope to do justice to this book, with an honest review or impression of it. If I would have read this book as an 18 year old, I would have perhaps been more confident to start my journey into writing.
2. L M Montgomery’s Anne of the Green Gables: What can I say about this book. It’s book packed with feelings, warm fuzzies, and stolen smiles. It’s a heart warming story about a young girl who finds joy in the simplest of things and takes nothing for granted. While it sounds like a book that I should have read as a kid, I think if I would have read it at 18 I would have had the sensibility to appreciate the joy this book brings and not as one that’s been recommended to me to for the ‘lessons’ I am supposed to gain from it.
3. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind: I don’t remember the exact age at which I ended up reading Gone with the Wind, but I am quite sure it was before I was 18. And I remember being annoyed at the way the story shaped up. It was clearly my naïveté. I am sure that if I would have read this as an 18 old, I would have been able to appreciate the complexities of Scarlet O’Hara and her circumstances, the way it was intended. And that is something that I believe is true not just for Gone with the Wind, but also for all of Jane Austen’s books – Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice.
5. Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus: 18 was an age when I was quite curious to find some really good books that brought fantasy and feelings together without it being all about romance. And this was one book that did exactly that. There was a fantastic amalgamation of magic, mystery and emotions that really appealed Tommie when I read it recently. And by the end of the book, I remember thinking “I wish there were books like this when I was looking for them.”
6. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: One of the books with so much heart and honesty that I still look back on it fondly. My first read of this book was when I was in middle school and while it certainly had a huge impact on me at that age, it was the abridged version that I had managed to read. Just a little later, when I found the unabridged version of the book, it had me in its grips. Yet, when I look back, I can’t help but think that I would have got the most out of this book if I had perhaps found it at and age when I could have truly appreciated all that the book had to give me.
Honesty, there are a lot more books like Jean Sasson’s Mayada and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline that I would have loved to add to this list. But those are books that would have made a mark on me anyway, irrespective of age. So, here’s to the books that have made us the kind of readers and writers that we are today. Here’s to the books that will come our way.