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A few years ago, I got caught up in the decluttering style that was — and still is — all the rage. I especially got caught up in the minimalistic lifestyle after watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. I started looking at things differently. I started asking if these things “sparked joy” in me and my life. That included everything from toys to books.
I kept only the books that I have enjoyed — and still enjoy — reading. I may not have as many books as I did in the past, but that’s ok, because that makes my bookshelves clutter-free. I may not have a lot of books right now because of this, but the important thing is that I cherish every single one of them. It’s nice to be able to just look at my shelves and not have a book that I hated reading or a book that’s been on my to-be-read list for ages, and most likely won’t get to. It’s nice to be able to just have books that conjures up wonderful memories for me.
Today, I picked out the top five books that “spark joy.” Some of these books I read more often than I care to admit. Some of them, I haven’t read in a long time and yet I still think of them fondly. I will list the books below as well as an explanation on why they “spark joy” to me.
1–The Diary of a Young Girl, Definitive Edition
The first book on my list is The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank. I have had this particular copy since I was in seventh or eighth grade. It has been read so often that the binding on the paperback copy is broken. In fact, this particular copy of the book is in two pieces.
But despite this, my heart grows fondly at the thought of Anne Frank. I first read her Diary when I was in seventh grade after watching a Boy Meets World episode about Anne Frank. I was curious and intrigued so the first thing I did was go to the local library and check out this book. I read it.
From that moment on, she became my idol. I have admired her for obviously her bravery and courage in the face of intolerance and racism. I have also admired her for her steadfast optimism. The fact that she still exhibited so much hope for herself, her family, and the world, that is truly remarkable. I think this is a quality that we should all emulate.
2–Handle With Care, by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is hands down my favorite writer. I admire her ability to bring a controversial issue up for discussion. Some of the topics that she have discussed in her books include the death penalty, suicide, Asperger’s, rape, and racism. She writes with such honesty and openness, allowing the reader to see all perspectives. I feel as if she writes to bring these issues to the forefront of everyone’s minds. Because only then can we create conversation and eventually inspire change.
Handle With Care is one of my favorite books written by Picoult. It is about a girl named Willow who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which means that her bones are constantly breaking, landing her in the emergency room. To her family, she is perfect and incredibly intelligent. She is resilient and strong, just like the willow tree.
But it is expensive to care for a child with medical needs. So, Willow’s mom files a law suit against her OB-GYN, who also happens to be her very best friend. This is a book about a human’s capacity to love. This is a book about what one will do for the people that they love. It is a powerful book that should be read by anyone who has ever had to face an impossible decision.
I chose this book simply because it has been such an inspiration for me, filled with characters who are above all simply trying their best.
3–The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory
One of my favorite genres is historical fiction. I particularly like books that are set during World War II and in Tudor England. The Other Boleyn Girl is set during the reign of Henry VIII. It tells the story of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, and how they were both groomed to be Henry VIII’s lover, and perhaps wife. It is an interesting book, not so much political, told from the perspective of someone who is very much a teenager but having to do things that teenagers today don’t do.
I first read this book in high school and fell in love with it. But I didn’t own a copy until much later when I was in my mid-twenties. I don’t read this book much anymore, but I remember it fondly as a book that shows the incredible strength and endurance that can be found in young women.
4–Anne Frank: The Biography, by Melissa Muller
I mentioned above that Anne Frank is my idol, so I couldn’t resist adding another book about Anne Frank. Even though this book was not written by Anne Frank, it is about Anne Frank and her life. It is the biography of her life from the moment she was born in Frankfurt-am-Main to her death and subsequent publication of her Diary. It is a testament of courage of a young woman who had just barely started living.
I think this book is done very well and tells some of the minor details that you wouldn’t know from just reading the Diary. It gives the necessary background information to help understand Anne Frank a lot better and her motivations for some of the things that she wrote in her Diary.
5–Secrets She Left Behind, by Diane Chamberlain
Secrets She Left Behind is particularly important to me. A decade or so ago, I had gotten it for free, as a gift. In the beginning, I used to read it constantly just because the book was so good. I loved the writing style and the characters were so relatable.
This book is about a woman and a love affair that she has with a married man. She has a child with that man, who has kids and a wife. He plans to leave his family and marry the woman. But he dies, and she gets nothing. His wife and other children get everything.
This book is a testament to family. It shows that the past doesn’t matter, but rather what does matter is what kind of person that you are. It shows the ability of people to move on from a past that can be painful and forge a new beginning. It is ultimately a book of struggle, and eventually hope.
Overall, I tried to pick books from my shelves that I have loved with all my being. I picked books that have been an inspiration to me.
And you, my dear reader, comment below telling me what book “sparks joy” for you.