Friday, January 15, 2010

Life Lists

Way back when I was a Sensitive Species Biologist in Utah, I would record birds with survey transects on trails, roads, in the wildlands, the towns, cities--everywhere. I also kept up my own life list. A life list is a running total of species you've encountered your whole life. Makes perfect sense, right?
When I moved to AZ and had my second kid, I let my birding days and listing lag. Which is sad because Arizona (especially way down south of me) are Western bird Meccas. We have us some great, bright, beautiful, and rare species here.
But my life list of books--books that I read over and over again--is easier to keep. Mostly because I have them in hand (or rather on my shelf) and they give a cheery wave almost every day. Here are a few that are at the top of my life list (My Lifer Books, as I call them):
1. The Lord of the Rings
I spent a lot of years missing out on these books because I thought they were books only real, die-hard fantasy people liked. Like the girls who liked to wear their cloak and wooden sword on their hips to school. Boy was I wrong! I love these books and they appeal to so many people.
2. The Airman by Eoin Colfer
This book has all the elements I love in a good story: action, adventure, a splash of romance, and science--good, fun science. I adore this YA book.
3. The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
When I first started graduate school in 1999, I contracted mono. A really bad case. And I was too sick to do field work (or at least well) for months. Escaping into these books was the best cure for my frustration at not being able to physically do the things I wanted/needed to.
4. A Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall
Jane is one of my heroes and I love this memoir-style book. She has an amazing outlook on life and the future.
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I found Jane Austen my freshman year of high school and it's been true love ever since. It seems at least once a year this book calls to me and we become reacquainted. I love her other books as well (I admit I don't like Norhthanger Abbey, though.)
Those are just a few. What's on your life list? And how do you keep track of your list? On actual paper, a goodreads-type website, a spreadsheet, or in your head?
And speaking of animals, here's a feel good reminder that it's the simple things in life that make one happy--whether it's a book that transports you or a sprinkler run with a sibling.


  1. Eion Coffler is amazing.

    And I love my Harry Potters, too!

    Great list.


  2. Such a cute video of the Moose family! :) Thanks for the smiles.
    And I have WAY too many favorite books on my list, as you know. I feel like I re-read almost as much as I read new books. I love the familiarity of the old ones. Something you know you will enjoy if you aren't in the mood for experiencing anything new!

  3. Since I love all of these - except the Jane Goodall book which I have never read, I better read it! Great list!
    I agree, rereading books is like revisiting old frends!

  4. Hello Aurora was transformational to me as a child because the mother was a lawyer who worked out of the home, while the father raised two children while he worked in his Ph.D in philosophy. It hadn't occurred to me that mothers could work outside of the home before that.

    As a teenager, To Kill a Mockingbird introduced me to injustice.

    The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler was a big one for me as I reached adulthood. The quote that went something like, "It's not enough to love someone. It's who you are when you're with them," always stuck with me.

    Books like, Chocolat have made me think about oppressive religion can be when it becomes about denial for the sake of denial.

    I also love the Harry Potter series. JK Rowling made me want to write children's books. Since I read the first one in 2006, that's what I do.

  5. Excellent list of books. I tried Airman once and it just wasn't my thing. I need to pick it up again, since I love YA with all those things you mentioned.

    And totally unrelated, but you lived in Utah? I live there! I don't know why it always shocks me; the state does have 2 million inhabitants. ;)

  6. Shelley: I didn't like this last Artemis Fowl, though. I just couldn't get into it. Sounds like our tastes are similar, however!

    Brooke: Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever seen? It made me want to run and play in there with them. Of course, the mother would have trampled me to death, but hey! It would be fun while it lasted!

    Kristi: Books are my old friends, as you know. Except they're friends I put my name on with permanent markers, keep them on a shelf, and pack them around all the time. Huh, then it sounds like maybe I should start calling them my kids because I do all of those things to my kids!

    Theresa: I'll have to look into The Accidental Tourist and Hello Aurora because I've never read those!

    Elana: Yep! I went to BYU for eight years and then worked there as faculty for a couple more. My husband went there for 8 year too. I lived on a little U-shaped street off of State Street in a fixer-upper we loved. We used to joke that our stake was the stopping point for all of Provo. Because everyone either ended up in the cemetary or the state hospital! :)

  7. I went to BYU too. My brother-in-law just took his orals in the biology department earlier this month.

    I found The Lord of the Rings when I was about 12, and I used to read them every year in December. It's still my favorite fantasy series, although Harry Potter is a close second. And the Percy Jackson series is going to be a favorite too.

    My babies all loved Sandra Boynton's books, especially Moo, Baa, La La La. I've probably read that book more times than any other because they made me read it over and over and over (you get the point).

    I love The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. The mother/daughter dynamics hit me where it hurts every time I read it, but, it's so beautifully written, I keep going back for more.

    Oh, and The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo,
    The part where Despereaux forgives his father and the part where the princess asks Mig what she wants--those parts always make me cry.

    Thanks for sharing your books and letting us share some of ours.

  8. Myrna: Hey! BYU Mafia too! Congrats! What did you get your degree in? What's your brother's name, maybe I knew him.

    That is a great list. I admit I love all the ones you mention. I often tell people I'd settle for being Kate DiCamillio's doppelganger.