“Without thinking too much about it, post ten books that have stuck with you and/or influenced you and/or in some other way meant something to you. Tag ten friends, including me, so I can read your list.”
In my social media circles, the 10-book Challenge followed hot on the heels of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Given the math of it (10 people tagged) and the fantastic readers I know, it’s no wonder every day I see more great lists of books going up on facebook.
But given that each person is supposed to tag 10 to write lists, I was astonished that I didn’t get tagged until last week.
Maybe it’s that I’m constantly giving book recommendations unsolicited. Maybe it’s that my friends know I’m loathe to pass along online obligations. (I did flaunt the rules a bit– I didn’t tag anyone, but I invited anyone to share and keep the chain going.) Maybe it’s that my friends also know that despite the “without thinking too much about it” phrasing, I would think about it. A LOT.
If I chose ten books from 2014 that stick with me, there’d be a lot of current middle grade and YA books; I wanted to promote the cream of the crop of recent titles I’ve discovered buying for the store, so that seemed like a great strategy. But I also didn’t want to neglect adult books, and I just haven’t read that many of them this year (yet).
Maybe I would go with regional authors? I could easily put together 10 books by Pacific Northwest authors that I will always want on my shelves. Easy-peasy! But what about the books I read in the 22 years before I moved here? They stick with me, too.
Yes, I was clearly overthinking. I decided to focus on the influence part of the prompt. What books have I read and reread? What books helped me define who I am? Wow, that would still be hard to cut down to just 10, so I did an exercise in personal reading chronology and self-control: I would just start thinking of my reading life from childhood to now, and I would write down the books that came to mind as they came to me. I wouldn’t let myself add or substitute.
1. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
2. Mr. Tickle by Roger Hargreaves
3. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
4. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
5. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
6. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
7. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
9. Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff
10. Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos
What’s your approach to the 10-book challenge? Do you secretly hope to get tagged multiple times so you can do list after list?
Tegan Tigani is the children’s book buyer for Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle, the editor of nwbooklovers.org, and an endless font of booklists.