Three Defining Books

Lianne at over at Caffeinated Life wrote an interesting post the other day inspired by an NPR tweet that asked what three books would their followers. Like Lianne, I wasn't completely sure how to interpret this- did this mean the plot and characters? The title? The reading process? Given the fact that it was obviously open to interpretation I used a combination, after ruling a few out:

Me Before You
The Pregnant Widow
Everything's Perfect When You're a Liar
The Antagonist
Born to Run
The Devil in Silver
The Woman Who Walked Into Doors
Naked Lunch
More Baths Less Talking

The final three: 

Underworld by Don Delillo (the process)

This was one I chose based on the reading process. I started reading it well over a decade ago and just couldn't get too far into it with the constraints of college and work. I picked it up one or two more times and just couldn't get myself to persevere. But eventually, two or so years ago, I decided it was time. I was going to finish the book, no more excuses. And so I did. The timing was right and I had fully committed. I think that's how I tend to live my life, most of the time. Generally, when I say I'm going to do something on the "bigger" side, I do. I ran (run?) half marathons, I climbed Half Dome (twice), I got my English and biology teaching credentials so my job would be more secure, I've gone to Italy. When something is important enough to me it gets done. And when I commit I stick with it until the end.

Spark: The Evolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey (content)

I firmly believe that many of life's woes and ailments can be solved by exercise. I know this isn't completely true, but exercise, whether a half hour of walking a day or Crossfit four times a week, really can change your life. It improves your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, strengthens your mental abilities, calms your stress, balances out hormones, and makes you look better. Ratey's book focuses on the brain part, citing studies that shows how much exercise can improve your cognition now and in the future. I made exercise a part of my daily routine my freshman year in college- I was horribly homesick and was finding myself very lonely and depressed at night (I really, really don't do well with free time). I started hitting the stationary bike and eventually found out that I loved the elliptical. Within a week I was feeling much more positive. To this day I have to get in probably somewhere around 180-200 minutes of movement a week to keep my sanity. I'll never be a hardcore fitness guru, but working out will be a part of my life, to some degree, forever.

Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith (title)

I change my mind- a lot. Sometimes over small things, like where we should go to dinner. Sometimes at work, like how I want students to complete an assignment. Sometimes with big life things, like what my career plans should be or where I'd like to live. My preferences change as well, whether we're talking music, toe nail color, men, or religion. I like having options and the freedom of not signing up for something permanently. I hate change, but I also hate the idea of commitment- quite the conundrum. When I look back at what I thought I wanted when I was in college I'd be a doctor by now, living somewhere entirely different. My hair would probably be a different color. I more than likely wouldn't have this blog. The option to change is good.

What three books would define you?


  1. Okay, my comment disappeared. So annoying...

    To summarize: I use exercise for anxiety and depression. It works really well for me, as I don't want to use any medication. Plus my body likes to gain weight and I don't. And let's face it, my life would be over if my thighs touched.

    My three books, which I want to do a post on at some point: Jane Eyre, Empire Falls, and White Oleander.

  2. Fantastic post! I haven't read any of those but they sound like you. I'll do a post like this too, at some point! Have to figure out which books first, though.

  3. Hmmm, I have a hard time thinking of my three...but now I really want to read Spark :)

  4. Great choices, I enjoyed reading your explanations to each of the books :) I think I have a Don Delillo book on my want-to-read list but I'm not sure which one, lol. Heard good things about his books though, I should bump him up on my list...

  5. What a great question! I know that I've read books before that when I finished, I said out loud, "This book is my life!" but not I'm drawing a blank. I used to have a song picked out. (You know, the song that is the soundtrack for your life.) It was "Happy Girl" by Martina McBride. I feel like I've outgrown that one, though. Back to the drawing board, I guess.

  6. Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information which I found very interesting to read.