Posts tagged #lists

THE list (one year later.)

Last year, I posted this list of the top 100 books according to NPR. Those I read I crossed out - I decided to revisit the list and see how I'm doing with twelve months in between this post and last post. (I highlighted the recent changes in red) 1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling 2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee 3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini 4. Bridget Jones's Diary, by Helen Fielding 5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen 6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells 7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald 8. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams 9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg 10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

11. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger 12. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel 13. The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan 14. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien 15. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger 16. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell 17. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett 18. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien 19. Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides 20. Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

21. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain 22. The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver 23. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith 24. The World According to Garp, by John Irving 25. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller 26. The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy 27. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel 28. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman 29. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler 30. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer (really? top 100? hmm.)

31. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole 32. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck 33. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant 34. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy 35. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 36. Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier 37. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card 38. Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry 39. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough 40. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon

41. Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett 42. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy 43. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice 44. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier 45. Empire Falls, by Richard Russo 46. Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes 47. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas 48. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins 49. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb 50. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie

51. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott 52. The Stand, by Stephen King 53. She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb 54. Dune, by Frank Herbert 55. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 56. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 57. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll 58. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov 59. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo 60. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

61. Animal Dreams, by Barbara Kingsolver 62. Jaws, by Peter Benchley 63. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner 64. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner 65. Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson 66. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway 67. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand 68. Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut 69. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut 70. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler

71. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway 72. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy 73. Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns 74. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding 74. Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe [tie] 76. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte 77. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon 78. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher 79. Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver 80. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett

81. Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck 81. The Pilot's Wife, by Anita Shreve [tie] 83. All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy 84. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson 85. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery 86. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy 87. One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich 88. Shogun, by James Clavell 89. Dracula, by Bram Stoker 90. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera

91. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow 92. Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger 93. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt 94. Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris 95. Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume 96. The Shining, by Stephen King 97. How Stella Got Her Groove Back, by Terry McMillan 98. Lamb, by Christopher Moore 99. Sick Puppy, by Carl Hiaasen 100. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

A grand total of 25 books already read on this list. How much different is this number from last year? FOUR BOOKS. I know I have read about 100 books in my life time - the sheer volume of our home library is a testament to the truth that Russ & I love our books. And, although some of these books are absolutely stellar, some titles which made it to this top 100 list have surprised me. I mean, I know I've read more than four books this past year.

Over the next four days I'll take four of my favorites from this list and write about what makes me love them oh-so much. I may even do a follow up series of books I despise. Sounds favorable. (And probably much, much easier to explain why I hate Billy Budd so much as opposed to why The Stand had me reeling for weeks on end.)

Where do you stand? How many of these books have you read? Which one is your favorite?

Posted on August 30, 2010 .

A Life Well Lived

Every one has a story. I was reminded of this a couple months when I opened up my e-mail and saw a message from one of my favorite professors – a man I deeply respect for his authenticity. He opened the e-mail with a simple phrase – “a writer must know things” and challenged us to consider what we know from what we have read and what we have done. He suggested creating an inventory of these things – a detailed list, a mental note, something. At first, it seemed a bit like the typical brainstorming exercise. But then I read his list. Short in length, weighted with emotion, his list mentioned simple things –

- slept on the grass of Central park

- ate a steak in Chicago

- bought a mum for a girl in high school

His list mentioned heavy things –

- sat in typing class and listened to the announcement that Kennedy had been shot

- stood in formation on the grinder in the early morning darkness during boot camp

- walked across the University of Maryland campus while it was being occupied with armed soldiers

His list mentioned all of these moments that belonged to him alone – until he shared them. Isn’t this the life of an artist? Virginia Woolf speaks of the writer as someone who is free to think and feel and do. Writers typically don’t mind the status quo, but we notice the importance of moments. We know that although it seems silly, we can’t help but watch the young boy falling asleep in the pew in front of us, or the man stopping cold in his tracks when high heels crash against the concrete floor of a garage, or the way the sun splits the morning sky in a vibrant show of color. We notice these things. Most importantly, we remember these things.

I’ve always wondered why. I think I am beginning to understand - people need their story told.

At the end of his e-mail, he told us to take part in the inventory. People immediately began sending him their lists. Within two hours I had received about three more e-mails from him of other lists – moments in time that were now shared. Some brought back tears; some brought back laughter; a few brought back pain. Today the lists are still coming, and I can’t get my mind off of the importance. I received another e-mail just now encouraging us to send more – to declare ourselves – to speak because someone is bound to listen.

I’m still not sure exactly why this has impacted me so much, outside of the simple realization that these moments are meant to be spectacular. We never know when what we do could change a life. At least, we never know if we never share our story.

My list?

  • ridden bareback in the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho with my great grandfather
  • Fallen in love with the scent of Haiti - a mix of burnt marshmellows and freshly cut grass
  • Sang in front of my nana and papa's congregation when I was little - a mixture of about ten white-haired members, mostly relatives.
  • Sang in front of my home church, a congregation of about 1,000.
  • Watched the towers fall in my dorm room of OBU, right before my first New Testament exam of the semester. I failed.
  • went stargazing in the bed of a truck in the middle of a baseball field, and actually looked at stars
  • went searching to crash a party on Frat Row in Norman, only to find no one home because of a game
  • walked across town in College Station singing at the top of my lungs and dancing with friends
  • heard my first drive-by when I was in middle school
  • Experienced the death of a close friend at 21
  • cried over someone who didn’t deserve it
  • forgave someone who didn’t deserve it
  • Had my first kiss in the back of a band bus at the age of 15
  • Stayed up until the wee hours of the morning after hearing about the Columbine shooting my junior year of high school to write a poem that was later published in the SA Express News
  • Had a Haitian women wipe tears from my cheeks
  • danced with the owner of a karaoke bar in OKC while he serenaded me “Brown Eyed Girl” (I guess he  didn’t see my eyes were blue)
  • got into said karaoke bar when I was only 19 because the owner saw my friends and I walking down the sidewalk and invited us in….not the smartest decision but certainly one of the most fun
  • read Poisonwood Bible
  • made it through my masters
  • eaten pig’s feet
  • serenaded my husband after two weeks of dating (first time to sing for just one person)
  • Was told by a student I was not only a teacher, but a mentor, a mother, a sister and a friend
  • Cried in front of students
  • felt completely naked when I shared my writing for the first time in college
  • spent the week in Wimberley with my family - got sunburnt, an in-grown toenail, and the scar on my chin but met a man from India who changed my life.
  • Wrote love on a student's arms
  • felt the chill associated with a witch doctor’s property
  • bought into the idea of the American Dream
  • realized there is so much more than the American Dream
  • married Russell
  • read Fanny and Zooey
  • Met some of the most innovative and revolutionary minds while spending a weekend in San Diego last year
  • became a history maker
  • learned early on that joy can be found in a sunrise
  • created routines with cousins and siblings to Free at Last
  • swam in the Caribbean
  • was chased by a Havelina in the jungles of Haiti
  • seen the sunset over the Pacific
  • experienced how something can ruin your life in the best possible way
  • watched Dirty Dancing five times in one week
  • read Irresistible Revolution
  • met my guardian angel
  • learned to hear what God is saying to me through nature
  • stayed at a hippie commune in Biloxi while doing relief work after Katrina
  • baked Santa cookies
  • watched Beauty and the Beast
  • watched MTV incognito with my teenage uncle (when they actually played videos-I remember Video Killed the Radio Star)
  • found my words in Brooke Fraser’s “Albertine”
  • learned how to walk like a giant
  • met a homeless man named Derrick who lost everything in Hurricane Ike & is now living under a bridge in downtown Ausitn
  • met a homeless man with no tongue named Bird whose favorite ice cream is Amy's chocolate.
  • read The Things They Carried
  • saw Slumdog Millionaire which intensified my desire to a)travel to India and b)adopt

And there’s more. I think this may be the beauty of this exercise, actually. I sent Dr. Peterson my list months ago and have been processing what I wrote and my own additions since then. I would hope that my list only grows larger, as my writer’s mind continues to pay attention to what others can’t see - the lady nervously scratching her neck during an intense conversation, the deaf couple laughing at an intimate joke, the barista greeting a familiar face with a smile and casual conversation.

There are stories to be told. People aching to be heard and seen.  Go ahead. I dare you. Think about your own list. Declare yourself, as Brady Peterson says. Someone will listen.

Posted on April 8, 2009 and filed under finding{and telling}your story.