5.  One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty:  I read this book my senior year of high school for my A.P Language class.  In Welty, I found a kindered spirit.  A quiet child more interested in a book than much else.  She talked of confluence and memory and all of things resonated in a way I didn’t quite understand until I took a creative nonfiction class three years later.  It was yet another book that affirmed to me that I could be a writer.

4.  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell:  This book is really one of the most influential books in my writing life.  I read the 1,000+ pages of Gone With the Wind enthralled.  I think it took me a week tops to read this book.  At the end, I had two warring thoughts.  The first was Rhett’s little soliloquy about something being broken never being put back together again, and sometimes it is better than way–because the “fixed” pieces can’t ever stand up to the memory of the whole.  The second thought was how a woman could write 1000+ pages of interesting, descriptive, fascinating text.  This huge volume of work held me from beginning to end and when I was done I wanted to write (maybe not 1000 pages).

3.  Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver:  This book of essays was so much about… peace and gentleness.  The first time I read it I didn’t care so much about the political aspects of it all.  However, when I reread it this summer–putting a few years of growing up in there–I became so attached to it.  I hate pieces of art (books, movies, whatever) that are completely dark and negative.  The world is hell and it’s only going to get worse.  The world is a scary place, terriying and hurtful at times, but I have to believe that there is good in this world and the hope of this good and living in that hope is what Kingsolver talks about in her essays.  And to me, there is very little more profound than hope.

2.  The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger:  This is the type of book that you cry through.  It’s the type of book that’s emotionally exhausting and there’s none of the happy ending that I’m usually drawn to.  But, despite it’s fantastical elements, it was so real.  It was all about the real, cruel aspects of love and life.  But there was hope behind it–that love is real and that it is right to fight for it, even if it is fleeting.  This book made me realize what I had and gave me an insight into what love truly was–not perfect and pretty, but hard and gritty and still worth it.

1.Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver:  I read this book my sophomore year of college.  I can vividly remember laying on my lofted bed in this small, smelly(thanks to roommate) room poring over her words and crying.  The underlying theme of Prodigal Summer is all about solitude and loneliness and finding love–and not necessarily romantic love, just love.  It was a time I felt completely alone.  I was away from my family and felt like I was not a part of their lives.  My small little group of friends had a habit of manipulation and an inability to really let it go and be friends at that time.  We were a bunch of goody-goodies going through our high school clique phase trying to figure out who we were and where we belonged and there were definitely times when we were not kind to each other.  This book, at its very core, made me realize that I could feel alone–but I wasn’t actually alone.  That solitude WAS merely a “human presumption” and that there is a connection that binds us all.  That was a turning point in my life.  I began to rely less on everyone else, less on what other people thought–and worried about making myself the person I wanted to be, because I wasn’t alone.

NaNoWriMo Update:  If you really want to finish NaNoWriMo, I don’t recommend getting engaged.  I’ve written maybe 100 words in the past three days.  I’m going to try to make up this deficit this weekend, but we’ll see how it goes.