Top 5 Wednesdays – Books from before

Welcome back to Top 5 Wednesday.  This is a meme started in November of 2013 and is still going strong! If you’re interested in being a part of it please see the group on Goodreads.

This week’s topic is Books from before you joined _______.

I’m going to take that to mean from before I joined Goodreads. I joined back in 2010, so it’s not that long ago. However, my reading habits were drastically different at that time. So this is a marked change.

Back then, I was still a Jehovah’s Witness and honestly, reading secular literature is heavily frowned on in the religion. For the most part I had to keep my bookish obsessions secret. My secret got out, and as a result I had quite the reputation among the congregation as being too “independent minded”. First of all, in their eyes I had way too many books. My two bookshelves full of books was a big no-no. Those shelves  were also double stacked, with the more egregious titles hidden behind the harmless ones in front.

Not only was reading bad, but the subject matter was also strictly policed. I had to hide my Lord of the Rings books, and Harry Potter was definitely demonic. No fantasy, no magic, no violence, no cussing, no love scenes. Believe me, that really limits your scope. For many years I would only read books written before the 1920’s because I knew social conventions of the time would have kept them really clean. This gave me a good knowledge of the classics (which I’m not sorry about at all), but now that I’ve separated myself from that controlling part of my life, I’m free to read all the fantasy, dystopian, feminist, and diverse books my little heart desires. So happy!!!

At least I was able to find some good books even in the midst of all that self-censoring, so this list is dedicated to those books. A drink from the shallow little cup of water I was allowed. Here’s to books from the front of the shelf!

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eyre affair

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

I’ve been a Jane Eyre fan since high school. Imagine being able to jump inside the book and hang out with Jane, Rochester and Bertha! Ok, maybe not Bertha, but this book let me touch on a little bit of fantasy without getting in too deep. Plus, I could explain it as Classic Book adjacent! Tricksy girl.

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High Tide in Tuscon by Barbara Kingsolver

Unsurprisingly, I suffered from major depression for many years while I was living in the cult. This book helped me feel a little hope. It is a series of essays by the author of The Poisonwood Bible. It’s been years since I’ve read it. I should revisit the book.


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The Moon by Whale Light by Diane Ackerman

Ms. Ackerman has lived a very interesting life. She has travelled to so many interesting place, among interesting people and returns to write a book about endangered animal life. Science in the language of poetry. Another book I haven’t picked up in ages, but it was fascinating to me then.

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Another one by Ms. Kingsolver. She really is a terrific writer! This story about an evengelical preacher and his children is epic. It is a Pulitzer winner and for good reason. It is a not so flattering look at religion and evangelism, so it was a big no-no if the people in the congregation knew the content. As it was, the title gave it a place on the back shelf. That’s ok, I wasn’t going to stop reading it, that’s for sure!

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Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons

This was a real favorite. A family of strong, independent women appealed to me. They were healers, so it was probably not completely kosher, I think this was a back shelf book. I loved it though, I guess I’ve always been a closet feminist. ha!


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Well that’s it. It’s fun to look back at old favorites. As always, thankful for the respite and escape that all good books provide.

Credit: Antique bookshelf image – Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash


4 thoughts on “Top 5 Wednesdays – Books from before

  1. This is the most interesting Top 5 Wednesday post I’ve reads in a long time, Crystal! Thank you, as always, for sharing your story! It’s such a shame that you had to read selectively and hide so many great books.The only book on this list I know is The Poisonwood Bible — one of my book clubs read it once, but I couldn’t make the meeting, so I never read it. Looks like I should get around to it!

      1. Exactly. Don’t be afraid to tell your story! It’s the silence which is dangerous– if we are silent about the horrors in our lives no one will ever learn from our experiences. It might be difficult to talk about, but I appreciate it. And I respect the strength it requires!

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