The Secret Life of Book Lists
- Bright Morning, by Margery Williams Bianco. Her 1939 YA Other People’s Houses was also good.
- Kiss the Girl, by Melissa Brayden. Also enjoyed Waiting in the Wings and Just Three Words, and successfully poked the library to acquire the next one.
- Landing, by Emma Donoghue. Audiobook.
- Earth Girl, Earth Star, and Earth Flight, by Janet Edwards.
- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. Audiobook.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han. (Sadly, the sequel had only a fraction of its charm.)
- Lulu and the Hedgehog in the Rain, by Hilary McKay. I’ve read them all (I think), but this one was special because of the community organizing!
- Stuff Matters, by Mark Miodownik. Nonfiction (materials science).
- The Turtle of Oman, by Naomi Shihab Nye.
- The Martian, by Andy Weir.
I read an interview with Meryl Streep once– I think maybe it was a Bob Greene column?– in which she said all her movies were secretly home movies. She’d watch a scene from Kramer v. Kramer and remember what her kid was up to that week, or who she’d been hanging out with, and all the things that were going on when the scene was filmed.
My book lists are like that for me. I’ll look at So You Want to Be a Wizard and remember how excited KP was to hear I was reading it, and how she visited Portland later in the year and presented me with the sequels after one of her many trips to Powell’s Books. And how Sanguinity and I went up to Olympia to dogsit for Sara and crew, and they had a copy on their shelves, so I was reading it in the backyard while Sang designated the dogs Horrible Thing One…
and Horrible Thing Two…
and gave them stern looks…
…that didn’t fool them one bit.
Or how I read Gone Crazy in Alabama in Wyoming, decompressing on a sunny morning at my friend Jenny’s house after she left for work.
Some books have webs of people associated with them– I decided to read The Martian because every single member of the Maki family liked it, and then my co-worker lent me a copy from the first meeting of her new book club, and then I gave a copy to my father-in-law that he binge-read even though he hardly ever reads fiction.
Then there are all the online discussions like the one about The Hired Girl, and audiobooks whose performances and the setting I heard them in are inextricable from the text. (Tiny Pretty Things while striding home in the dark amidst headlights and big trees and rain!)
It’s impossible to know all that’s coded into anyone’s book list but my own, but I still like reading other people’s. Here’s hoping for rich secret home movies for us all in 2016.