It was New Year’s and I was determined this year to keep a list of the books I read. My husband suggested I develop a rating system. I resisted at first since I wasn’t looking to share my list, just keep track and try to remember a thing or two about the books I read (like maybe the name of the main character). His questions pushed me to consider what it is I like about the books I like. For me the higher ratings go to books that change my thinking or introduce a new idea. The highest rankings go to the books that touch my heart in such a way that I don’t want the book to end, and I literally turn back to the first page and start over. Nicole Krauss’ “The History of Love” was one of those.
April 14-20 is National Library Week, so it seems a good time to ask ourselves what books have touched our hearts or changed our thinking. One such book for me was “Ain’t I a Woman” by bell hooks which I read in graduate school. It exposed me to a history I had not been taught about racism, sexism and the legacies of slavery. It changed my life and set me on a different educational and professional path.
Peter Balakian’s “Black Dog of Fate” made me realize that history could define a family even when it was not spoken. Balakian came from a family of survivors of the Armenian Genocide yet he never heard of the genocide until he was a young man. Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and Rita Lurie’s “Bending Toward the Sun” about the multigenerational impact of the Holocaust further elucidates that theme. These books helped me understand how my own family’s history has shaped my identity.
So what about you? What books have opened a door, your heart, or your mind?