Most years, I don't make much fuss about my birthday. Not infrequently, I'll forget it's coming and only remember when thoughtful friends and family start asking me about presents.
But not this year! This year, I decided to treat myself to a birthday extravaganza. And when I realized I'd have a blog post due around the time my birthday hits, I was full of ideas to tie the wondrous fact of my birth into the LPL blog. Maybe I'd do a post about birthday-themed books! Or one about gift books! Or one about cake! Probably definitely one about cake!
Then I decided, no. Great topics all, but not enough about - what's the word I'm looking for - me. And then it hit me: I would write a blog post listing one book I love for every birthday I've had. I could talk about why those books were meaningful to me. I could spread some love for books both new and old, popular and unknown, silly and serious. Since few things bring me as much joy as evangelizing about books I love, this blog would be my own gift to myself - after all, if people decided to read any of these books, then we'd be able to talk about them together! Another gift from me to me! And I wasn't stressed about being a year older - because that just meant I could talk about more books!
Well, as it turns out, my age in years now vastly exceeds the number of books I really and truly love. Try as I might, I couldn't break the "it's so good, but is it really in my top [number redacted] books?" barrier for more than 16 books. (Spoiler alert: I am more than 16 years old.)
So instead of a sharing a book for every birthday, I'm offering just this: a short list of books, in no particular order, that I genuinely love and the reasons I love them. Happy birthday to me!
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell - Because this book got me back into reading fiction for pleasure after years in which I barely touched a book that wasn't assigned for course credit.
Ravishing the Heiress, Sherry Thomas - Because this book was the first romance novel I read as an adult, introducing me to a genre I now love deeply.
Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin - Because this book inspired me to make huge changes in my life, and I've been much happier for them.
Giovanni's Room, James Baldwin - Because this book contains, among its many beauties, the line "The great difficulty is to say Yes to life," which I love so much I got a tattoo of it.
The Good Nurse, Charles Graeber - Because this book reminds me that sometimes, no matter how much I learn about the "what" and the "how," I'll never know the "why."
Public Relations, Katie Heaney & Arianna Rebolini - Because this book manages to be a great, fun romance that captures how adults in their twenties actually talk to one another.
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine - Because this book is rich in loving but complicated relationships among women - one of my favorite things in the world.
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen - Because this book reminds me of a professor I adored who once said that he thought if Jane Austen were still writing, I would make a perfect model for a heroine.
A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson - Because this book helped give me a baseline knowledge of how the natural world works - and how we came to have that knowledge.
Here, Richard McGuire - Because this book is one of the most unexpectedly moving read experiences I ever had.
You Need a Budget, Jesse Meacham - Because this book is the only personal finance book I've read where I genuinely didn't feel like the author was judging the things I want to spend money on! (He bought a Tesla; I have a special savings account I set up in the event of a One Direction reunion. We all have our priorities.)
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast - Because this book helped me keep perspective on a tremendously difficult time in my family's life.
His Majesty's Dragon - Because this book brought my years-long reading refrain of "No dragons!" to a screeching halt.
Beloved, Toni Morrison - Because this book is simply the finest work of American fiction - and how lucky we are to be able to read it.
Exit West, Mohsin Hamid - Because this book introduced me to Mohsin Hamid, my favorite author currently writing, and allowed me the joy of anticipating all his other books and books-to-come.
This is Where You Belong, Melody Warnick - Because this book reminds me how fortunate I am to live in Lawrence: an imperfect place, absolutely, but the place I'd pick over anywhere else.
- Meredith Wiggins is a Readers Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.
Photo Credits: Dog Photo via BarrieFlynn on Flickr; used in accordance with Creative Commons license. Cat Photo via Sensual Sensations Photography on Flickr; used in accordance with Creative Commons license.