Posted by: turtlebella | 31 July 2006

A book meme for Literary Lunaday

Found this one via brownfemipower

1. One book that changed your life?

Cheating, am going to list two. I read To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) and The Color Purple (Alice Walker) within a couple months of each other when I was 10. My world view was instantly and irrevocably changed. Moreover, I understood that I lived in a country shaped by much more than what I saw in my daily life.
2. One book you have read more than once?

oy, I’ve read way too many books more than once. It’s why I still have almost every book I’ve ever read (except all my old chemistry textbooks but I’d argue those weren’t really “read,” more like d-readed). At any given moment I might decide to re-read something. There was a year in grad school when I read Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson over and over rather obsessively. Somehow it helped me to avoid feeling completely depressed all of the time. Also after reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood I immediately started reading it again.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I’ve only read parts of this book. It’s incredibly dense and endlessly interesting. It’d give me a lot to think about.

4. One book that made you laugh?
The Hills is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith. Sort of a travelogue/memoir/novel about a woman who moves to the Hebrides in the late 1940s. Her faux pas and experiences among crofters are really quite hilarious. There are language stories too. I kept the sqvirrel up at night because as I read and tried to laugh without making a sound the bed would start shaking instead. However, I love to laugh and laugh out loud a lot (it’s one of the chief joys in life, really, being able to laugh, at other things, at oneself, etc.) so maybe not everyone would think it as funny.

5. One book that made you cry?
I’m going to go way back to my childhood here and list a book I read in the middle of the night and which I cried and cried over. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. It’s certainly not the only book that ever made me cry since I cry as easily as I laugh (holding in my emotions not being an aspect of my personality). But it taught me about bittersweet love and about the evils of capitalism, in an indirect kind of way. Perhaps what makes me want to list this book is that I lost a certain kind of innocence when I read it; that part of me that still thought everything would end with love happily ever after.

6. One book you wish had been written?
The unvarnished but not depressing truth about women in academia. And which profiles women with lives outside of academia, not just women who are completely immersed in and obsessed with their careers. Maybe it would make me feel less guilty.

7. One book you wish had never had been written?
Sorry to say but, The Bible. Too much pain, war, ostracism, sexism committed in its name.


8. One book you are currently reading?
Amigas: Letters of Friendship and Exile, Margorie Agosín and Emma Sepúlveda. It consists of letters between two Chilean girls and then women, of different ethnicities and religions, following their childhoods and lives as women, writers, academics, immigrants. Just started it, but it’s wonderful so far.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I’m not really good at reading non-fiction so I’m always delaying reading this.

10. Now tag five people

ok, I’m much too shy to actually tag anyone…whoever hasn’t already done it?



  1. girl, i wanted to put the bible down, but i was thinking that if any of the whakos were reading my site i’d be blessed with an endless influx of hate mail that i didn’t feel like dealing with!!!! :-) but boy oh boy do i agree with you on that one.

    I’m also impressed that you “got” the color purple at such a young age!!! I first read it at about that age, and i just didn’t catch the significance of any of the subtext at all, so it was kinda boring for me. I re-read it when i was about 19 and of course, at that time, having experienced more of life, i sat and sobbed and sobbed….the only scene i don’t really like in that book is when they’re smoking pot at they ask, what’s that noise? and it turns out it’s the sound of the world. i think she was trying to hard to bring in the whole buddhist thing and it came off kinda corny.

    but i’m gonna have to read that tuck everlasting!!!! I never would have wanted to read it if i hadn’t seen you found it interesting!!!!

  2. Everyone should definitely read Zinn’s “A People’s History”– it’s amazing, and would probably make my list for one that changed my life, or at least my way of looking at the world.

    As for one that made me cry (and the turtle knows that doesn’t happen often)– Dee Brown, “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.”

    One I’d want on a desert island would have to be either Melville, “Moby-Dick,” or Gibbon, “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

    Unlike turtle, I very rarely read books more than once. Can’t think of the last one I read twice…

    Currently reading: “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” by Michael Pollan. It’s good and interesting..

    Oh, and one that made me laugh out loud: “Pastoralia,” by George Saunders. It’s a collection of short stories. Read the title story!

  3. Thank you for this–I always enjoy other people’s life changing books and I just put out a call in my blog.

    I too read the Color Purple and didn’t get it at that age. I will have to re-read it.

    Can definitely relate, I cry as easily as I laugh and there is some books that have left that impression on me…I was 17 years old though…couldn’t imagine that lost of innocense much younger than that. wow, turtlebella it seem like you had an old soul all through your childhood!

    Emotionally Weird sounds like a must-read..right about now.

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