I'm going to go with ten books I'm thankful for.
1. The Wizard of Earthsea--my introduction to Ursula Le Guin, a lifelong favorite author.
2. A Pattern Language--dense, expensive, with tiny type and terrible black and white photos, and rocking a late sixties vibe, this book about architectural concepts is unbelievably insightful and fascinating. I bought it when we were planning on building a house. We never did, but I still flip through the pages from time to time.
3. Blueberries for Sal--I remember my mom and my sisters reading this to me, and it was one of the first books my kids and I bonded over. "Plink, plank, plonk."
4. The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to your Adoptive Family--warm, practical, and illuminating.
5. How To Cook Everything. A wedding gift from my former boss, who owns a B&B, it's starting to get grubby and loose paged after nearly fifteen years--just like my mom's best cookbooks were. It doesn't have EVERYTHING, but I learned how to make risotto, lentils with bacon, and chocolate truffles from this cookbook.
6. Reading in the Wild. It's no secret that I'm completely inspired by Donalyn Miller's work. What is almost as important is that she inspired my entire department, so I don't feel quite so lone-wolfish about trying to find the right book for the right kid instead of focusing on whole class novels and Serious Literature.
7. Hiking the Columbia River Gorge. A 30th birthday gift from my parents, at a time I was settling back into living in Oregon. One of the only books I write in, noting each hike's date, discoveries, and companions, it's become a chronicle of some of my best times.
8. Elephant and Piggie series. The first book my kids introduced me to, instead of the other way around, or simultaneous discovery. Mr. B. read it in my daughter's kindergarten class, and she insisted we look for Mo Willems the next time we went to the library. I thought she had the name wrong, but she was exactly right, and we've enjoyed many a good laugh with Elephant and Piggie since then--and gotten lots of painless reading practice in as well.
9. The River Why. A case of right book, right reader, right time. I found this at Annie Bloom's Books when I was in high school, and I read it repeatedly throughout my teens and twenties. The humor, the philosphy, the Oregon setting, and the deeply flawed and deeply loving family all spoke to me. I can even admit that the author's The Brother's K is an even better book, but The River Why will always hold a piece of my heart.
10. Little House in the Big Woods. The first chapter book I read to myself, this launched not only a lifetime of reading, but a childhood of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder, of playing pioneer, of dressing up like a pioneer, of reading other books with similar settings...I attempted to read them to my daughter and she was BORED STIFF. I got to read a few chapters to a friend's daughter when we were camping, and there was blackface involved, and I freaked out. Still, it meant a lot to my reading life.
I was also appalled when I re-read C. S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, which is horrendously offensive to Middle Easterners. My friends explained to me that when they're reading classics to their daughter and hit the racist bits, they point them out and talk about why they don't believe that or act like that, and why the author thought it was okay at the time. Part of me is all, "Oh it's white privilege to remember these books fondly and make excuses for the racism," and part of me is all, "It doesn't do any good to pretend racism does not exist; it's better to be honest with kids about our history with it." What are your thoughts? Given the racial baggage of U.S. Thanksgiving, this is kind of a timely question.
I'm also noticing my list skews towards children's books and at-home reference material, even though those aren't the genres I'd immediately list as my favorites. Interesting.