Top Ten Tuesday: Books with sensory memories

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme was submitted by Jessica at A Cocoon of Books. It’s an interesting and unique theme: books with sensory reading memories (where I was, what time of year it was, who I was with, what I was eating, etc.) At first, I thought I’d have trouble with this theme, but then the memories just started rolling in.

  • Honestly, I remember little to nothing about What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones. I read it in the summer after seventh grade (2003) and Far Away by Staind was super popular. I remember that it came on the radio while I was reading and now every time I hear that song, I think about this book.
  • I remember that it was hot as all heck when I read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
  • I read Room by Emma Donoghue in an airport when I arrived five hours early for my flight because I am an anxious person and for some reason, I was just convinced that the plane was going to leave without me.
  • I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett in an airport amid a blizzard as my flight was delayed one hour… then two hours… then three hours… then four hours…
  • Some backstory: back in 2013, I lived in a more or less abandoned area of town in a huge house that had been converted into multiple apartments. The house was actually pretty nice but it had five doors. As I mentioned, I am an incredibly anxious person and was therefore always checking to make sure all five doors were locked. It didn’t help that this apartment was like a quarter mile from this super seedy motel where actual murders had happened. My boyfriend had to go to New Mexico for like two months for work and I made the brilliant decision to read Gone Girl while alone in the house.
  • I read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher on the last shift of my last college job. RIP jobs that paid me to read. I did not take advantage of it nearly enough.
  • I read Lovers Like Us by Krista & Becca Ritchie in the guest room of my mom’s house and felt suuuuper awkward about it.
  • I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green right after my boyfriend moved halfway across the country. Honestly, it was probably not the ideal time to read a sad book like that because I remember sobbing like crazy. I don’t usually cry when reading!
  • In 2011, I had a job that I absolutely loved tutoring high school kids after school. I made a lot of really great friends and I hope that I made a difference in those kids’ lives. I was in my senior year of college and it was our spring break when I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy over the course of a weekend (plus Monday morning). I wasn’t really paying attention to the fact that it was not actually the kids’ spring break, so I went to the high school a total zombie. I told all my kids to read it.
  • I was so excited when Infini by Krista & Becca Ritchie finally came out. It’s probably my favorite book that they’ve ever written and Luka is one of my all-time favorite characters. I was anticipating it so much that I considered taking a day off work to read it. I ended up not doing that because I couldn’t justify it, but then I woke up with a horrible cold the morning after it came out. I never get sick! I ended up taking a sick day and reading most of the book while trying (and generally failing) to breathe.

Honestly, I could keep going! I have sensory memories about so many books, but I’ll stop here. Do you ever get transported right back to where you were, what was going on in your life, or the people you were with when you read a particular book?

Let’s talk about: The first book of the year

Have you ever thought about the first book you read each year? Do you think that it sets the tone for the rest of the year, or is it totally unrelated? I sat down and clicked through Goodreads (and other sites I used to use to track my reading, like listography) to find out the first book I read in the last twelve Januaries. The results were pretty interesting for some years! (For other years, absolutely meaningless.)

2007: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Sadly, in 2007, I didn’t read a ton of books. I was much more focused on living my life as a newly licensed driver. I went to a lot of movies (and parties, since I used to have an actual social life) with my friends that year and did not often hit up the library. This book was assigned in my English class.

2008: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. 2008 was another year that I didn’t do a whole ton of reading. It was my last year of high school and I read this in an elective literature class that I absolutely loved.  (I didn’t love this particular book that much, but that’s okay.)

2009: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. 2009 marked the first time that my first book of the year was in a foreign language! I remember reading this in a stuffy Spanish class during a bitterly cold Wisconsin winter. It was like -12 degrees all winter (or so it seemed) and the class was held in this suffocatingly small, suffocatingly hot classroom. The professor (not my favorite) kept making us analyze the heck out of every page, like what exactly does it mean that Don Quixote is jousting with windmills?

2010: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. The interesting thing about this book is that I very vividly remember reading it on the couch in my mom’s living room while I was home on winter break, but I remember absolutely nothing about the plot.

2011: Cecilia Valdes by Cirilo Villaverde. Ah, starting off another year with a Spanish novel. I adored this professor. He was tough but fair and he had the best Argentinian accent.  (He was also super attractive.)  This book actually introduced me to Audible when one of my classmates told me about how much easier the audiobook was to understand.

2012: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Did I really read this book six years ago?! I remember starting this series when I was working at a high school tutoring job. I think I devoured the first and second books in one day and then I stayed up all night to read Mockingjay. I remember talking about it with my kids (while half asleep) and encouraging them to read it. I feel really old now because I’ve just realized that those 14- to 18-year-old kids I was tutoring are now 20-24. Yikes. But anyway, it makes total sense that 2012 was the year I got back into reading if it’s the year that I read an entire trilogy in two days.

2013: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. In 2013, I lived with my boyfriend in an apartment that was sort of in the middle of nowhere. It was right off a major road, but far enough down that there really wasn’t anything nearby except for the Sleepy Hollow Motel, where people actually got murdered sometimes. (We didn’t live in that house for long.) 2013 was also the year that my boyfriend went all around the world for work and I was largely by myself. Our house was only six rooms but it had SIX DOORS to the outside and I was always paranoid that I’d leave one unlocked and the Sleepy Hollow Murderer (not a real thing) would kill me in my sleep. That January, I made the amazing life decision to read books like Gone Girl while home alone in that scary house. Awesome.

2014: 8-Bit Christmas by Kevin Jakubowski. Ah, the year of ARCs. I had a few in 2013, but I really started gunning for them in 2014. It makes sense that my first book of the year was an ARC because this is the year that I really started taking reviewing seriously.

2015: Rule Breaker by Haper Kincaid. The setting: New Years Day 2015. I am sick in bed with a terrible cold. We were supposed to travel to meet up with family but didn’t because I was so sick. Instead, I spent the day in bed marathoning this book, redesigning my blog, and writing (probably nonsensical) blog posts. This book perfectly illustrates most of what I read in 2015: contemporary romance.

2016: City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare. Ah, a valiant effort to reduce my TBR pile. I purchased the first five books of The Mortal Instruments series in 2013 and quickly read the first three. The fourth was awful(!) and so I waited three years before starting the fifth. I still haven’t read the sixth, but that’s okay. I don’t really feel a need to now. But this book is actually pretty illustrative of 2016 because I read quite a bit of YA fantasy that year.

2017: Double Team by Sabrina Paige. Oh, 2017, we could call you the year of Kindle Unlimited and the year of erotica. What better way to start the year than with an erotic novel from Kindle Unlimited? I didn’t love this book, but 2017 actually turned out to be one of the best reading years on record.

2018: Saving Sara by Nicola Marsh. It’s hard to say if this book will accurately represent 2018 as a whole, but I am planning on reading more of what I own (and I had this book for a year and a half before finally picking it up). Hopefully, though, I’ll enjoy the other books more than I enjoyed this one.

If you’ve been keeping track, what were some of your first books of the year?