See, this is where the rubber meets the road. I have a B.A. in English Lit, so these better be good. Talk about pressure…
A Tangent (Did you expect anything less from me?): I’m not listing the Bible here. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I read the Bible. Yes, it is a central force in my life. But I’m focusing on other books for this particular post.
1. The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson – This isn’t the exact one I read for two of my college English courses, but it’s a good place to start. Ol’ Ralph really, really stuck with me when I first was assigned to read “Self-Reliance” and “The Oversoul” back in ’03/’04 upper level English courses. When I look back, a lot of pretty big things began to change in my view of myself and the world around me after I read his work. He makes these powerful, confident statements, and yet so much of what he says is very simple, organic, and basic. It’s the common sense we forget so easily, in some cases. His work is filled with such obvious things, but things we so easily overlook in the pressures and pace of the world we live in.
2. The Help – I know, I know, it’s so expected and totally unoriginal! But seriously: this is an amazing, amazing book. Definitely one of my favorite things I’ve read in recent memory.
3. Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman – Everybody knows a mean girl (or worse, WAS a mean girl), and everybody has wondered why we do this to one another. This book explains why, or at the very least, makes you think “Well, at least [nasty person you’re dealing with/have dealt with] didn’t do something like THAT!” Either way, I wish I’d read it in 6th or 7th grade. Maybe I wouldn’t have taken everything so personally then?
4. Flannery O’Connor: The Complete Stories – This is another one that isn’t exactly like my college texbook version, but contains the majority of her best work. Flannery O’Connor just makes Southern Literature richer for having been with us for her short lifetime. She’s so not the typical Southern woman of her era, which I adore about her. The gothic, dark humor, the symbols and parallels pointing toward us Southerners and our beloved religion, etc…good God, she’s just amazing. And Manley Pointer? Come on! That is brilliant.
Since I only have four spots to fill, this is a pretty disjointed list. I just sort of grabbed whatever popped into my head. But other authors/titles I like, in case you care (which, you probably don’t):
“Bossy Pants,” Tina Fey
Anything Carson McCullers
“Pride and Prejudice,” *ONLY the book by Jane Austen or the movie adaptation with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier*
“The Abstinence Teacher,” Tom Perotta (“Little Children” is another good one of his)
Anything David Sedaris
Hmm…there’s a lot more. Probably why I’m drawing a blank.