In the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray has to live the same day over and over. What books would you pick to read over and over for the rest of your life?
What’s funny is that I don’t really need it to be Groundhog Day to keep reading the same books. My brain seems to be hardwired to love reading the same thing a few times in a row. And also a few more times. And maybe just a few more. In fact, my sister and I have some books we call ‘chocolate fiction’. This means that they’re full of cosy sweet goodness and must be returned to over and over again for full effect. Because who eats chocolate just once?
At my place, Sarah Dessen always inspires this one particular conversation. A groundhog conversation!
Scene: Josh walks in. I am curled up in a ball with a book. There is a cat purring unbelievably loudly somewhere near my feet.
Josh: Haven’t you read that book four thousand and sixty two times now?
Me: No. At least five thousand and twenty three.
Josh: Don’t you have it completely memorised by now?
Me: Yeah. *continues reading*
Josh: *is perplexed*
You know how you have that jumper, the one that joins you on all the most miserable days of winter, the woollen one with the really long sleeves that you can pull down over your hands? I can’t explain why exactly, but Sarah Dessen is that jumper for me. Her books join me on all my worst days.
Australian YA of all kinds. But especially Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta (see previous post), Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell, and pretty much anything by Jaclyn Moriarty.
It’s all the way across the Tasman, sure, but for me, Australian YA is just that much closer to home. It’s often easily as sophisticated as YA from the US, and something about the voices connects with me like nothing else. I love the quirkiness of Jaclyn Moriarty’s books, the raw but tender love story in Everything Beautiful, and I want Francesca’s friends to be my friends, dammit. There’s a lot of Australian YA out there that I’ll happily read again and again and again. And again.
There’s a lot of this, but for now I’m going to narrow it down to Kristin Cashore and Margaret Mahy. Otherwise I’m at risk of writing a novel length post. Last year I discovered Kristin Cashore, and I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve reread Graceling and Fire. Interesting magic! Strong, complex female characters! Complicated relationships! Katsa and Po! What more can I say?
And then there’s Margaret Mahy, who I’ve been in love with since I was a kid. I first read The Changeover when I was twelve, and it changed my life. I don’t think there’s any book I’ve reread more. I love Laura and her complicated but loving family, the mysterious witches, the creepy but somehow beautiful love story. I can honestly say that my writing would not be the same without this book.
My favourite Get Off Your Ass and Write Something Dammit book
Anne Lamott is kind and extremely funny, and whenever I’m convinced I can’t write, I go read a few chapters of Bird by Bird, and that usually fixes everything. It has a place in one of my bookcases, but it’s virtually never in it. It’s usually on my bedside table, because even though one of my bookcases is right next to the bed, no bookcase can be close enough given how often I read it.
What books would you read over and over? Come join in at YA Highway!