32 Mind-Bending Books and a Troupe of Poets

“We are what we read,” wrote Alberto Manguel in A History of Reading. It’s in the nature of books and reading that what we read becomes part of us.

I think that’s exactly what happens with the majority of the books. We interiorize them. We absorb them like food. Most of the content of my shelves stays with me for a little, nourishing me with arguments, providing energy and background, assimilating into my subconscious, becoming me. Eventually, however, it’s gone, like the toast for breakfast. I don’t want to say that it gets flushed out of my system because I don’t think it does. But it does fade. At least in my case. I don’t know how many times I’ve grabbed something from my library, ashamed that I haven’t read it yet only to realize on page 50 that I actually have.

That hasn’t happened with the books in 32 Mind Benders and A Troupe of Poets. These titles have staying power. Ever since I opened their pages, they’ve been with me. Some are childhood favorites, like Montecristo or Ben Hur.  I bought those two with hard-earned babysitting money. Others started me on a lifelong reading path: Old Ballads (in Spanish, Romancero Español). Others yet became my bedrock: Don Quixote, Histories. The Bible. They are endless, magical. You can’t finish them. You have to go back again and again. I remember distinctly the afternoon, the moment, I began reading The Hour of the Star. With that novel I learned the beauty of Portuguese. And then there is Thais, the story of the hermit monk and the beautiful courtesan. I picked it up at a second-hand bookstore, a 1931 edition fantastically illustrated by Raphael Frieda. I’ve read better novels, but none that could teach me structure clearer. Every one of these titles and their authors, from Borges and Renault to Welty and Gardner, shifted and defined something for me.  Taken altogether, they are me.

At the bottom of the Mind Benders, there is poetry.  It’s impossible not to love poetry. If you think you don’t, you haven’t read enough.


Adelaida Lucena de Lower's reading list. Mind-bending books and favorite poets mind-bending books and inspirational poets.

Interesting Reading Lists:

Find here: Jorge Luis Borges, Donald Barthelme, Joan Didion, and Patti Smith. Find more book lists from a variety of sources in this BookRiot post. Goodreads compiles by genres, such as historical fiction. The Library of Congress also has lists galore, the books that shaped America among them. And, finally, because reading exclusively in one language is like observing the world through colored glasses, a post of fiction in translation from the Huffington Post.

About Adelaida

Adelaida Lucena de Lower is a writer and avid reader. She has just finished THE RED RIBBON, a novel about prejudice and love set in 15th century Spain. She is writing and researching the next. Think Moorish invasion, Goths, treason, mayhem, and brother against sister.