The Facebook Book Meme: My Annotated Edition

The rules: List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be the “right” books, or great works of literature — just ones that have affected you in some way.

I broke the rules (you are not surprised). I spent more than just a “few minutes” and there may or may not have been a bit of obsessing and waffling and mind-changing. Because, duh, you can’t just fluff off a list of BOOKS.

And 10? TEN? Yeah, right.

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls WilderShe thought to herself, “This is now.” She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

It’s a family thing — I’m related to half the town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

The books are still in my mom’s basement because my sisters threatened vile things if I “stole” them (their words, hmpf). Every book (except On the Shores of Silver Lake — does anyone really like that one?) is worn to shreds and much loved.

There’s a Little House festival in Walnut Grove every summer, and my cousin Lynn and I desperately wanted to be in the pageant. We argued incessantly over who got to be the Laura and who had to be the Mary. Lynn is nine months older than me, so obviously she had to be the Mary. Duh. Indisputable. I’M THE LAURA. End of discussion.

Anne Frank: The DIary of a Young GirlAnne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

I saw the original diary at a traveling exhibit. It was open to the page with that quote.

The Outsiders by S.E. HindtonThe Outsiders by SE Hinton

 “Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold.”

Pass the tissues, please.

No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin

NoOrdinaryTimeBut for Eleanor, a path had opened, a possibility of standing apart from Franklin. No longer did she need to define herself solely in terms of his wants and his needs…. [S]he was free to define a new and different partnership with her husband, free to seek new avenues of fulfillment. It was a gradual process, a gradual casting away, a gradual gaining of confidence — and it was by no means complete — but the fifty-six-year-old woman who was being feted in New York was a different person from the shy, betrayed wife of 1918.

Eleanor Roosevelt is at the top of my “Kick-Ass Women” list and my “Fantasy Dinner Party Invitation” list. And pretty much every other list.

People of the Book by Geraldine BrooksPeople of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

“A book is more than the sum of its materials. It is an artifact of the human mind and hand.”

There are at least a dozen ways to geek out over this book.

Katherine by Anya SetonKatherine by Anya Seton

“I only know that from wherever it is that we’re going there can be no turning back.”

There was no turning back from the British history and historical romance obsession.

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

AsherLev…for all these I created this painting — an observant Jew working on a crucifixion because there was no aesthetic mold in his own religious tradition into which he could pour a painting of ultimate anguish and torment.

As soon as I typed this in my FB post, I had to go to Amazon and spend $10 on the ebook because my highlighted and dog-eared paperback might fall apart if I touch it.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don’t realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world.

Well, remember what you said, because in a day or two, I’ll have a witty and blistering retort! You’ll be devastated THEN!

CalvinIt’s not summer if your tongue isn’t purple.

A little rudeness and disrespect can elevate a meaningless interaction to a battle of wills and add drama to an otherwise dull day.

Shock and titillate me! I’ve got money!

You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.

Calvin: You know, sometimes the world seems like a pretty mean place.
Hobbes: That’s why animals are so soft and huggy.

Box sets totally count as one book. And I never said this was going to be a One-Quote Review. Also, I tried to get my little sister to name her kid Calvin.

BandPlayedOnAnd the Band Played On by Randy Shilts

The light at the end of the tunnel was an oncoming train.

This book opened my sheltered Midwestern middle-class straight white girl mind. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things, and compelled me to change my major to journalism. A masterpiece.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK RowlingHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

“Harry Potter has kindly joined us for my rebirthing party. One might go so far as to call him my guest of honor.”

The priori incantatem scene in the graveyard = OH MY GOD ENTHRALLING TOTAL BOOK TRANCE.

ScruplesScruples by Judith Krantz

Her fingers expertly searched out the outline of his penis.

A PENIS. In the FIRST CHAPTER. My innocent childhood ended right there.

Helen Keller's Teacher by Margaret DavidsonHelen Keller’s Teacher by Margaret Davidson

Couldn’t find any quotes, but: multiple eye operations, kid brother with a dodgy hip who died in the poorhouse, the police carriage called the “Black Mariah,” and Helen having an uber-tantrum when Anne arrives as her teacher.

Follow My Leader by James B.  GarfieldHonorable Mention:

Vintage book from the parents’ basement that should be on the list but I can’t remember the title: A kid played with firecrackers and one blew up in his face and he lost both eyes and part of one hand and this is why I hate fireworks. (But he got a guide dog so it had a happy ending.)

[ETA: Found it! Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield]


  • Catcher in the RyeCatcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

My beloved high school English teacher Mr. Harmon would be greatly disappointed at seeing Gatsby on this list, but he hated On the Road and Lord of the Flies even more than we did.

4 thoughts on “The Facebook Book Meme: My Annotated Edition

  1. I haven’t read all of the books you enjoyed listed here. But I certainly agree with the 10 you despise! Me too! And I’m an English major who subs in high schools. I tell the kids that just because something is considered a “classic” doesn’t mean it’s a good book. It might be well-written, but boring as hell. Or it might be tawdry and hackneyed and you wonder what anyone ever saw in it. I like to ask them which books they enjoy might be better for the “classics” list, that everyone should read…they I ask them why.

      • I love to teach Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”, but don’t get to do that one much. I’ve taught “Romeo and Juliet” in many different ways, and each time the students seem to enjoy it more…especially when I connect it with “Warm Bodies”, that adorable zombie movie that is a retelling of the story. But what surprised me the most was teaching “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo. Students complained every day about how hard it was to read, how much work they had to do to understand it, etc. But as we finished the last page and the book was done, quite a few told me it was the best book they’d ever read, and they were glad they did, despite how difficult it was. Kids can really be surprising!

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