This idea of writing about books that define me and that one would need to read in order to understand me comes courtesy of the fabulous Joslyn Hamilton and her Creative Truth or Dare project. When she posted this creative dare on the project’s facebook page, I decided to join in. But I thought it would also be fun to go a little further and write about why these books mean so much to me. And because I’m such a voracious reader, I may add a few more to the list.
1. The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman
This picture book dates back to my earliest days as a reader and probably even before I learned to read. I’m pretty sure it’s one of those books that I had read to me so often that I memorized it. Looking back now on my love for it then, I think it was the whole concept of home that really resonated with me even as a child, especially as a child. I was an extremely anxious youngster but home was always safe in my mind. I connected to the story line of Mr. and Mrs. Bird looking for a new house and then realizing that their old cozy house was the best home after all.
2. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
I discovered the lovely world of Lucy Maud Montgomery as a pre-teen and I gobbled up all of her books that I could get my hands on. In Anne, I found my own “kindred spirit”: a dreamy, introverted, somewhat awkward child. I loved the poetry with which she spoke and I still have memories of sitting down with my diary and imitating her flowery language when describing my own world.
3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
I read this juvenile novel as an adult and I just fell in love. It embodies so much that I believe in: authenticity, being free-spirited, kindness, compassion and so much more. We could all learn so much from Stargirl.
4. Devil in the Details by Jennifer Traig
This book is a memoir about the author’s struggles with ocd, specifically her scrupulosity. I connected with this book so much because of my own obsessive struggles. Unlike some memoirs about ocd, Traig’s struggles were different enough from my own that while I could relate, they didn’t trigger my particular brand of anxiety. I went through a phase where I was reading every ocd memoir out there and even branching out to memoirs about those with other mental illnesses. Devil in the Details was my favourite, though.
5. Pope Joan by Diana Woolfolk Cross
A beautifully written story, Pope Joan appealed to my love of historical fiction as well as both my Catholic upbringing and feminist beliefs. Joan was a tremendously strong woman who followed her calling despite society’s and the institutional Catholic Church’s belief that her gender made her unfit to be a priestly servant of God. When I first read this book, I was in the midst of my fight to change the Catholic Church for the better and although my beliefs about religion have evolved and I no longer see merit in fighting within the Church walls, I will always support the strong women (and men) who do.
6. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
I started learning about feminist spirituality and women’s spirituality in my undergrad and Diamant’s novel, The Red Tent was a superb addition to my repertoire on the subject. To honour women’s experiences and women’s stories outside of man-made religious tradition was a new and exciting thing for me at that time. I don’t remember a lot of details about the Red Tent these days, but whenever I think of it, I recall feeling a sense of wholeness and a reminder of how amazing it is to be female.