With that goal in mind, I'd like to share with you a few of my favorite books.
My favorite childhood book was a Spanish translation of Through the Looking Glass. I did not read Alice in Wonderland until I was older. I had seen the Disney movie, and so I knew there was some sort of connection between the movie and the book I would reread often.
I also loved reading Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. I had a beautiful, Spanish-language illustrated edition. My favorite story was "The Snow Queen". To this day, it is still one of my favorite stories.
My third favorite book as a child was called Corazón, by Edmondo di Amicis (titled Cuore in the original Italian). This is such a wonderful and beautiful book, and I wish I could find it in English so Paula could read it. But it seems there isn't an English translation of it.
El Principito (The Little Prince or Le Petit Prince) was another book that I reread often as a child.
Last, but not least, I had a child-appropriate version of 1001 Arabian Nights. Boy, I loved that book so much! It was so worn down and parts of it had come apart from so much reading, but I loved it.
Finally, the other books I would read often were Spanish translations of Agatha Christie's novels. I loved Poirot and Miss Marple, I thought they were so smart. As a grown up I read the books in their original English, and at first I found myself thinking something was off, that I did not like them as much as my Spanish translations. Funny.
As a grown up, I mostly read memoirs, non-fiction or history books and novels/short stories.
Here are some of my favorite memoirs. All of these books, in a way, are about the search for an identity. I guess all memoirs are efforts by the authors to map themselves, so to speak. (Did that sound too pretentious?)
Running With Scissors
You Are Here
More, Now, Again
An Unquiet Mind
Here are some of my favorite Non-fiction/History books. It seems most of the books that make the biggest impact on me have to do with man's hubris, man's struggle against each other and/or against Nature, sometimes with catastrophic results.
Into Thin Air
Ghosts of Cape Sabine
In the Heart of the Sea
I love humor. It can't be all doom and gloom, right? While I mostly get my humor from watching stand-up comics, I like to read books from acerbic, sarcastic people like Joe Queenan:
If You're Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be in Trouble
Confessions Of A Cineplex Heckler
Red Lobster, White Trash and The Blue Lagoon
I went through a phase several years ago where I was crazy about The Straight Dope books. In the same period, I read several books by Jan Brunvand about Urban Legends. I was fascinated.
As for fiction, where do I start? There's so many books I have loved, so many that I am sure I have forgotten many. Here's a few I remember:
Cat's Eye - I love Margaret Atwood. This is one of my favorite books, period. It resonates with me a lot. I also liked Alias Grace very much.
In the Time of the Butterflies, based on real-life people and events duringthe last days of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic.
Wide Sargasso Sea and Good Morning Midnight, by Jean Rhys are also two of my favorite books. They are either "haunting" or "downers", depending on how you want to look at them.
More on fiction later. This is getting way too long.