Top Ten Tuesday (#16): Books With Sensory Memories

2:43 PM

 Happy Tuesday, everyone!

For those of you who are new to my blog, or the book blogging community, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Artsy Reader Girl, originating over at the Broke and the Bookish, and is exactly what its title hints at. Each week we're given a topic to explore in our entries. This week's prompt was one that definitely stood out to me--Books With Sensory Memories.

Memory is a very complicated thing, which is what most intrigued me about this topic.

Do I remember the outfit I wore on my first day of Kindergarten? Yes. Do I remember what I had for lunch two days ago? Not at all. The easiest memories for me to hold onto or identify are typically one with music and literature.

If they involve one of these things, I have an easier time remembering.

Let's do this!

Like so many others my age, I remember little before Harry Potter came into my life. It was my first big love when it came to literature and it has stuck with me ever since. I remember everyone was buzzing about the release of the conclusion to the series but I was going through a rough time that particular year.

From being in an accident (I got hit by a car, peak teenage Jessica fuckery) to my beloved Grandma passing away due to cancer, I had a lot going on. My biggest bright spot emotionally was the release of Deathly Hallows. And, in a way, that was bittersweet.

I remember picking up a copy at Walmart because every place else was sold out. Then, I remember my attempts at reading it in one night. At the time, my life was going through some changes in terms of who I surrounded myself--and this book tied me to a trio of good friends, two of which are still my best-friends eleven years later.

My favourite series may have been ending, but it brought me so much in life that cannot be replaced or replicated. I think of new beginnings when I think of Deathly Hallows' release.

2. Gossip Girl: Only In Your Dreams by Cecily von Ziegesar 

Oh, yes. I went there. I can get a bit annoyed with the series' adaptation (!!! I will never get over how bad the show was at maintaining the source material, what even was that?) but there's no denying that this book series has owned me since it was first published. Yes. I know. Realistically speaking, the series is trash.

But, hear me out, it's my favourite trash in the whole world. I remember the first time I saw it, sitting out on a table at Barnes and Noble. I wasn't looking for a new book to read but the covers were super appealing to preteen me. I was hooked. From that moment on, I anticipated every release of the main series and its spin-offs, and my friends and I came up with our ideal cast when the movie was announced.

(We loathed the idea that Lindsay Lohan was rumored to play Blair Waldorf. Funnily enough, two of us were pretty consistent in saying we wanted that, and I quote, "pretty blonde girl from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to play Serena." and she did once the whole movie idea was ditched and the show was planned in its place.)

As for sensory memories, Only In Your Dreams takes the cake. A few years after starting the series, I remember thinking how sweet the cover looked for one of the final installments. My mom had a high school reunion and, because she and my dad were going to be gone until late that night, let me pick out two books to read while they were gone. It also happened to be the first night they let me stay at home without anyone watching me.

Once they left, I ate my dinner and listened to Play's Don't Stop the Music album on repeat. Decked myself out in my favourite Limited Too P.J.'s. I am pretty sure it only took a few hours for me to read this and I remember being highly scandalized and also BEYOND excited for the next book.

3. Splintered by A.G. Howard 

A.G. Howard's mind is brilliantly dark and whimsical. I knew that within the first few chapters of Splintered. At the time of its release, my friend and I had both been in a year-long reading slump. I first noticed the cover-art and thought it was breathtaking. It was one of those instant-buys based on the one thing we're told not to judge a book by.

I'm glad I did. Not only did I stay up until 8 AM reading the book on my Kindle (I bought it around 10 PM the evening before) and swooning over its darkness, it was the book that brought me back to both reading and book blogging. I felt consumed by it for the first few weeks after reading it that first time and would often bring it with me on the train into the city.

When I think of Splintered, I think of midnight and Florence + the Machine's Ceremonials record and of train rides to and through Chicago.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 

The Hunger Games is loved for so many reasons. It was another one of those books that got me out of a reading slump. I was in my last year of high school when I picked this up and had no idea what I'd be getting myself into. I knew at the time that I had never read anything quite like it and stayed up all night reading it, with my dog cuddled up to my side and my Gossip Girl DVD playing as background noise.

(The first season, aka the only one I can tolerate.)

I don't think I've ever read a new book as fast as I did this one. I even read half of Catching Fire that same night (er, morning) before caving to the need for sleep. I was so obsessed with THG; I vividly remember reading and reading it for the longest time. I loved it so much that, after my dog, Henry, died, and I adopted the two pups I have now, I wanted to honor the series and the first night I read it--and the dog who was my companion for that experience. 

So, I named one of my dogs Primrose after one of the characters in the series. 

5. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken 

This book had some serious love going on for it pretty much straightaway. A lot of my friends and followers on Tumblr read, and adored, this book. I caved pretty quickly to this series from the start and bought my copy of the book because, hello, I have taste. The Darkest Minds had a lot going on and the first time I read it was so thrilling. I am surprised it took them this long to turn it into a film because my first thought was, wow, this is so vivid I could practically feel its possible presence on screen.  

I remember making dinner and putting on some concert special/tribute to The Beatles. During one of the commercial breaks, I reached for this book and read the first chapter. That first chapter became half of the book and I only half listened to the musical acts' takes on the classic band's tunes.

But there was something unforgettable about that night. The light of the television. The artists who covered the songs. The book that captivated me pretty much instantly.

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 

Tying into the previous book, I found out about Outlander due to its popularity on Tumblr and about midway through the first season of the television adaptation. Pretty sure that Alexandra Bracken had mentioned it as well, on her social media accounts, which made me SUPER intrigued. I watched the pilot episode of the show and was hooked--the next day, I went to Costco for some grocery shopping and noticed that they had a copy of the book for a pretty decent price.

Naturally, it followed me home. While it took me a while to finish Outlander, I savored it. It was that chilly stage between winter and spring that I really got into it. I got into the habit of listening to the show while reading the book and it was just a really, really fun experience. Seeing, and hearing, it being brought to life on screen while flipping through the pages and tabbing various parts was just... indescribable fun.

7. Famous Last Words by Katie Alender 

Scholastic was kind enough to send me an ARC of this book the summer before it was released. And it came at the perfect time: a few days before I was to travel to PA to visit my best-friend and then make our way to NYC for a week long visit and a desperately needed girl's only trip. (After pretty much a year of consistently shitty health issues on my part, including some time in the hospital and a whole lot of new stomach medicine. Yuck.)

Just a few weeks before this book was sent, I had read another book by Alender that I had enjoyed immensely so without much thought I tossed Famous Last Words into my suitcase and called it a day. Originally, I hadn't planned on bringing a book with me on the trip but I knew that with my knack for being unable to sleep in my own bed there was a good chance that I would be unable to sleep at the hotel. 

I was smart to bring it. Not only because of my inability to sleep right away, but because the first two days of our trip was rainy. I literally followed the rain from IN to OH to PA and finally through the trip to NY those first few days. Famous Last Words was purely creepy, shallow fun and I will forever associate it with the view of city streets and the rain sliding down my room's window.

8. Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick 

I'll admit it, I once again found myself guilty of cover-buying Gorgeous. Or, well, actually, in this case cover requesting since this was another book Scholastic was kind enough to send my way.

Boy, I am so glad I did. I've never laughed so hard during a YA book and Gorgeous had me pretty much snorting from the first couple of pages and consistently up until the end. I loved the humor and fairy-tale feelings it gave. It was just a hilariously sweet read and I adored the way Rudnick played it all out. That year, a lot of my friends were gifted a copy of this book--including my good friend who, at the time, was busy with her newborn and in need of something light for her downtime. 

My little paperback copy of this book is falling apart after only (I think) four years of it being in my possession because I always reread it when I'm in need of a pick-me-up. When I think of Gorgeous, I think of summertime and laughter and really bad pop music blasting from 8tracks. I always feel a little goofy and lightheaded after reading it.

9. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare 

We all know damn well that The Mortal Instruments is one of my favourite series of all time. City of Heavenly Fire was one of my most anticipated releases that year. At the time, I was having some health problems that were previously, vaguely, noted, and nervous about whether or not I'd get to go travel that coming summer.

It took me a while to get through the novel. At least, a while in comparison to how fast I would have read it if I didn't have to keep sleeping off side effects of my stomach medication. While you may think I'd only have unremarkable memories of reading it, I didn't. I remember feeling crappy but still excited over the book and the poster that came with its special edition.

So, in the case of City of Heavenly Fire I associate it with simple excitement.

10. The Girl Death Left Behind by Lurlene McDaniel 

There was a time where I owned every book that Lurlene McDaniel ever published. Without a doubt, she dominated my shelves for the longest time. I even snagged my nickname out of one of her books. The Girl Death Left Behind is where it all began for me, somewhere around age 14.

One day, my then-BFF and I were at the library. It was the perfect day to spend indoors. Spring rain was pouring down and there wasn't much else to do. We spent the better part of the day talking about school and gossiping about boys. (I was going through that boy crazy stage where I had crushes on all the boys, basically.) I still hadn't come around fully to reading books that weren't Harry Potter and my friend had taken it upon herself to convince me to read her favourite author.

She checked out The Girl Death Left Behind and nearly threw it at me. Later that week, at school, I plugged my headphones into my clunky old iPod and turned on that James Blunt record everyone was currently obsessing over. When I think of Lurlene McDaniel, I think of this book, of "High" by James Blunt and the rain.

I devoured the book in virtually no time. And the rest is history.

Do you have any memories associated with literature?

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