Your Smile On Fire

...from the song Xavia

on ten books that have changed/influenced me

      So I wanted to do a post on ten books that have changed my life, but the thing is... that's a really hard post to do. Like really really difficult. Darn near impossible, actually. I feel like if I went past the fifth book I could go on and on forever.

     But I went past the fifth book anyways. And here you have it: ten books that have changed/influenced my life



     Okay, yeah, it's your run-of-the-mill YA fluff. Brain candy. Not exactly TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD or anything like that. But here's the thing... brain candy books can have unexpected truths in them. And what TBL made me realize was that emotions aren't explained by logic. Just because we should feel a certain way doesn't mean we will and more often than not we shouldn't feel the way we are do. Emotion makes things messy. Feelings are awkward. But they're still real, still something we have to deal with whether we want to or not. So thank you Ruby Oliver, for showing me that.


My problem is I can think whatever I think but I still feel the way I feel.

--THE BOYFRIEND LIST (And I think I have the same problem.)



     I. Heart. This. Book. So. Freaking. Much!! Seriously, guys, this book is amazing. Every time I read it (and I've read it plenty of times) I go "woah, this book rocks!" Because it does. For really. It introduced me, for the first time, to the concept that everyone is either more or less than the sum of their parts. That everything doesn't always add up equally. And yes, it's a quirky sweet little love story (or something like that) between two eighth graders. But I love it. Ever since the first time I read it the idea of more or less than the sum of our parts has been in the back of my mind, always making me wonder about the people around me... are they more than the sum of their parts? Or less than? It's possible my idea of more or less than the sum of our parts is somehow related to Mich's half or fully baked cake idea. Maybe they're cousins. >_<


He wanted to know about the sycamore tree and seemed to understand exactly what I meant when I told about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. "It's that way with people too," he said, "only with people it's sometimes that the whole is less than the sum of the parts."




It's more than fair to say that just like FLIPPED's idea of people being more than or less than the sum of their parts, I was likewise enchanted by the way relationships are explained in this book. The dumper/dumpee curve, using math to explain love. Using math to tell a story. And that's what really got to me in this book - the way Colin tried to explain everything, to make the events and feelings in life fit and add up like a math equation. Exactly like a math equation actually. And when he had his Eureka moment and realized the future is unpredictable, it made me realize the exact same thing. When he realized that the past makes sense and can be told coherently because it is the sense of what happens, whereas the future cannot be made sense of because it hasn't happened and therefore isn't remembered yet, I realized the same thing. I think it's a concept I struggle with, the fact that the future HASN'T HAPPENED YET. It seems simple enough but, well, I'm a lot like Colin Singleton with that. I need some help.

And there are probably a million more things I could talk about that I loved in this book (Hassan being right up there at the top of the list), but... just read it for yourself, ok?


The past, like Lindsey had told him, is a logical story. It's the sense of what happened. But since it is not yet remembered, the future need not make any fugging sense at all.

--AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES (I have like a million more quotes from this book. John Green's books just happen to be very quotable.)



Just like some people come into your life at just the right time (hopefully I'll remember to do a post on that too), some books do too. This particular one I found during my first semester of school here. And it just seemed very appropriate at the time. It still does, actually. A book about moving was just what I needed and o boy did I choose the right book. Pure brain candy of course, but stupendously amazing. It's about a girl who moves to a school where every last girl is BLONDE and she is the "rebel" girl because of her brown hair. Even though she's a cheerleader. It reminded me to stay myself in a place that was new and confusing and, ultimately foreign. Looking at it it seems really stupid, I'm sure, to include this book in here. But too bad. It changed my life by helping me to, uh, not give up? Endure? Something totally hokey like that, but please, no laughing. Remember: this is MY list, not yours.


It acted as a kind of pacifier in moments like these. A reminder that wherever I went, I was still me.




To be totally honest, I didn't really fully see the beauty and brilliance of this book until the second time around. I mean the first time I read it I liked it and all but the second time... woah. It's incredible. There was so much I missed the first time around. I think maybe because after the first time I read it I read something about how John Green had thought of it as Christian Fiction, so the second time I read it I was really looking at it from that standpoint. And I saw so much more! Things about suffering and life and death and the people we are. And how you sometimes have to be okay with things even if you're really not. Ahh! But the part I loved more than anything else was something the Colonel said, and the whole reason this book is on the list in the first place;


"After all this time, it still seems to me like straight and fast is the only way out - but I choose the labyinth. The labyrinth blows but I choose it."




This book was hilarious and featured, among other things: exploding shoes, bombs to kill poodles, and a blonde Jesus. Seriously. Also a car crash and a grandma intent on teaching her granddaughter to drive. It's wonderfully funny, and I loved that about it but what really got me was the parts about Ben. About how much the main character depended on him. About how everything else was going crazy in her life, yet here was something real, something stable, and she was going to grab onto that bit of sanity and not let it escape her. There's a couple times in the book when you really understand how much she needed him and how insane everything else was, and I think this quote says it better than I ever could;


Really I think my tippy state was a sign. I was supposed to see how much I was depending on Ben. I was supposed to realize that you can't depend on another person to provide your own balance.




I can't really say exactly why this book means so much to me. I mean, I love it and all, no doubt about that. It's a great story and all but somehow... it really kind of affected me and I'm not even really sure how. It's just a really beautiful book. And I think I really loved how the narrator was kind of standing on the outside of everything. He wasn't a part of the story, of the events unfolding. That wasn't his world. He was just an innocent bystander who happened, somehow, to get sucked into the lives and worlds and realities of these people who in the end didn't matter all that much to him. Yeah, I think that's what I like about it: that he lived there and was a part of everything, but at the same time... that wasn't his world. He had his own life. You never hear about it in the book, but he did. The events of the book, colossal as they were to the people entrenched in them, were really just a blip in this guy's life.

I have no quote from this book. Haven't read it since I started the quote book and am way too lazy to get up and look for one now.



At first I didn't care much for this book. It's amazingness didn't hit me all at once, it snuck up on me quietly and stealthily. Like, after I finished the book I was like, woah that was awesome! It's about how one time in your life can become engrained in your mind as this perfect time in your life, but how nothing's really ever as perfect as it seems and memories can get distorted to make things better than they were. That we don't always know the full story of what happens in our lives.


My sister, who never undersood most of the things I wanted her to, might have been able to understand what had happened to me in this summer of endings and beginnings. And she was right. The first boy was always the hardest.




The past is the past. And that's basically what this book taught me.


10. RED.

This needs no explaining. Hopefully.



kalim said:

Looking for Alaska is fantastic. I totally agree with you there. Ive read Flipped and it was great as well. My friend is going to let me borrow An Abundance of Kathrines. And That Summer? I mean, who DOESNT like Sarah Dessen? :]

Good picks.

January 16, 2008 5:18 PM

jocelynp said:

I love a few of those as well :-) And I'm probably going to steal your post idea!

January 18, 2008 7:30 PM


Oct. 15 [going to work soon] [two school essays due; majorly nervous about both] [remember when i wrote that short story where the girl said "majorly" every other WORD practically? ha]