Tag Archives: books

The Books That Changed my Life

Internet, as a blogger who is also an English major, I’m something of an authority on books, right?

…Right?

[insert raucous laughter]

Ok, fine. But your lack of respect won’t stop me from telling you about some of the books that have been most important to me throughout my life. Some of them have affected me for the better, some for the worse, but here they are. The books that changed my life.

1) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by the illustrious J.K. Rowling

Picture this, if you will. The year is 2000. I’m 7 years old, at the mall bookstore when malls still had bookstores. My father picks up a copy of Harry Potter for me. That night, he reads the first chapter or so to me as a bedtime story. Mind you, this is before any of the movies came out, so I genuinely had no idea what would happen in the fresh chapter he read to me each night. Things continued that way through the first three books. When we got to the fourth, I was just old enough to read it on my own, and I was off- away from the world of bedtime stories and on my way to being an adult in the world of books. Also, a childhood full of reading led me to score perfect on the Critical Reading section of the SAT… and the ACT. Twice. Not to brag.

2) Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

A brilliant apologetic work I stumbled across when I needed it most. Since then, I’ve become a huge Lewis fan, from Narnia to The Screwtape Letters, but I owe the most to Mere Christianity.

3)Night by Elie Wiesel

A true account of Wiesel’s survival of the Holocaust, we had to do a huge project on it in 8th grade. I was scarred for life by the Nazi atrocities, but the flame of humanitarianism was lit in me and has not been extinguished. If at all possible I intend to spend time volunteering with the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders (Surprise! I want to go to medical school. Didn’t see that one coming, did ya’?).

And finally…

4) Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

During a summer which will live in infamy, this book was assigned reading before my freshman year of high school. Basically, it makes the point that salt is the driving force behind… um… everything.

The Civil War? Salt.

The Silk Road? Salt.

CHINA?!? Salt.

I wish I were kidding.

I include this book not because it changed my life for the better, but because to this day looking at salt reminds me of that book. Oh, the horror.

It is worth noting that this same author also wrote an entire book on cod.

So, that’s my list. But the people want to know- has a book ever changed your life?

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Honest Work and Burning Plastic

“Hey there Internet. I would apologize for my lack of posting, but I have a pretty good excuse. You see, since it’s finals and all, I thought that this would be the perfect time to get a job. My logic is impeccable. Also, a combination of stress and being sick of campus food has dramatically decreased my food intake. I’m pretty much running on fumes at the moment.”

The above was written several days ago while I was still at college. Now I have returned home, to a magical land where there’s food in the pantry and the heating works. Actually, I’ll be here until mid-January, so I’ll probably be going bonkers by the time I’ve got to return to school. But until then, it’s good to be home. Plus, I got that “A” in College Algebra. Ha! Permission to laugh and point revoked.

But let me tell you about my new job.

So after a semester at college, my savings account was running too low for comfort. I knew there were only two solutions. But the first one was illegal and involved armed robbery, so I went with solution number 2: get a job. And just my luck, as I was walking through the Student Union one fine November day, I happened to notice a sign outside the campus bookstore. The very best kind of sign for a bum like me. A “hiring” sign.

So I applied. Two weeks later, I was in the library working desperately to finish a huge project for my writing class (I got it done in time, by the way. And the fact that I got an “A” in that class as well did nothing to deter future procrastination. Oh well.) when, of course, my phone rang. Because I’m a loose cannon, I ignored the social conventions of quiet in the library and had as quiet a conversation as possible with the woman on the other end of the line. I would have gone in the stairwell, but it smelled like asbestos and I was kind of afraid the door would lock behind me, leaving me trapped there forever.

Anyway, the phone call was to inform me that I’d gotten the job. Yay for gainful employment!

I showed up the first day to discover that I’d taken a job at Book-stacking store. I have never known the alphabet so well as I do now. That happens when you alphabetize approximately 17,000 books. But I won’t complain, because they are paying me.

Technically I’m supposed to be a cashier, but it wasn’t until day 4 that I actually got to perform cashier-like duties. On day 2, I had to shrink-wrap.

Let me tell you, Internet, that you should really appreciate shrink wrapping. Because the thin sheets of plastic you so carelessly fling aside were probably put in place by me, or someone like me, in the backroom of some store or factory, desperately trying to get two sheets of plastic to melt together in exactly the right way.

After a couple of hours, this song got stuck in my head. See all those stacks of paper in the picture below? Yeah. I had to shrink wrap all of them.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m really grateful for the job. Turns out you need money to live- who’d have thunk it? And for the most part I managed to stave off the rats. I just wish the plastic hadn’t smoked as I melted it. Cancer, here I come!

P.S. Some changes to the look of this blog will be coming in the next few days, so don’t freak out if it suddenly looks completely different.

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The Tale of the Wall Goblins

Internet, I procrastinate. Shocking, I know, but true. Being in college, of course, provides me with the opportunity to take my procrastination to a whole new level, but since I am going to graduate with honors or die trying, I always end up getting my work done, even if it is at the last minute. Recently, this has led to long stints in the library atoning for my sins.

A few days ago, I headed to the library and, needing to concentrate, I abandoned the main floor (home of study groups and computer users) and retreated into the stacks. The third level of stacks, to be precise. The books up there are arranged so that they take up the middle of the floor, and are surrounded on three sides by study carrels, all with locked doors.

I was roaming around the floor hoping to find a table when, tucked in an out-of-the-way corner, I found a miracle. It was a study carrel like all the others, except that it was missing a door. On the wall next to it, a sign that looked like it was made in about 1960 read “Open Study Carrel.” Magic, I tell you.

Naturally, I abandoned my search for a table and sat down in that little nook. No sooner had I started on my homework, however, than I heard a series of coughs from the wall to my right. This is only unnerving in retrospect, as I now realize that I’m not sure there is anything on the other side of the wall except air. Still, at the time I assumed there was another room over there, probably another study carrel. So naturally, I knocked out S.O.S. (the only morse code I know)  on the wall. I thought maybe the person coughing would knock back, and it would be funny.

Unfortunately, I got a little more than I bargained for. I received a series of answering knocks, but not in any pattern. I knocked three times and received a series of disjointed knocks, seemingly random. (I think now would be a good time to mention that no one was around me in the library, so I was not inflicting my crazy on anybody except the mysterious person knocking back.) Then, more knockers joined in, coming from above and below. None of them every knocked in any pattern. They just knocked. In fact, at one point I considered the possibility that the library just had some very loud pipes, but I discounted that theory as I had not heard any such noise prior to the first time I knocked. Eventually, I was forced to conclude that I had awakened something very old and possibly evil that had likely lain dormant in the wall for years. There was just no other explanation.

Now, most people, when confronted with mythical evil, will just go and study somewhere else, but not me. I liked that study carrel too much, and I had to finish my homework. So I stuck it out, and for four hours I heard intermittent tapping. According to the intelligentsia, it was definitely goblins. I’ll tell you one thing- they are very persistent. The trick is to not knock on the wall like some kind of lunatic- then they won’t know you’re there. I know, because I went back the next day to do more homework, and heard nothing but the air conditioner… dun dun DUN.

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