I’m here, at last, on my new island home where orchids grow on trees, my husband makes juice from pineapple, ginger, and mint, and the toilet paper is always a little bit soggy from the ocean breeze.
Back home, my friends and family poked fun at me for my non-traditional luggage. I was allowed to check two bags, weighing up to seventy pounds, and carry on one bag, weighing up to twenty-two pounds. What that meant to me was “You can bring ninety pounds of books!” (And three pairs of linen pants). And that’s exactly what I brought: two suitcases and a carry-on bag full of books. My shoulder is still bruised from lugging that carry-on around three airports!
My pre-departure projects: a quilt for my granny, a stop-motion movie for my husband, and paperwork for my dog to come to Brazil with me!
To commemorate the big move, I thought I would share the books I brought with me to Brazil. They are some of my favorite books, but they are also, largely, books that I wanted to read to my husband. That means I left out a lot of amazing classics like Vanity Fair, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Age of Innocence, Tess of d’Urbervilles, Emma because of the language barrier.
So, here’s my list…
1. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein
You might notice that there’s a bit of a pastoral theme in the books I chose, perhaps to keep nostalgia at bay when I miss the hills and valleys of home. I love The Hobbit for its setting (the Shire, swoon!) and for the wit JRR Tolkein interjects with his omniscient narration. I thought Felipe would enjoy the adventure as well!
2. The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd
I love the quirky characters in The Secret Life of Bees, but even more than the characters, I am dazzled by Sue Monk Kidd’s similes, metaphors, and imagery. She paints incredibly clear pictures without leaning on fancy vocabulary. I can’t wait to experience the power of language with Felipe in that way!
3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
It’s so American, it might just show up on Felipe’s citizenship exam when we decide to come back to the US! I couldn’t let him go without meeting Tom and Huck.
4. The Tale of Desparaux, Kate DiCamillo
This is sometimes my answer to “what’s your favorite book?” I can’t get enough of Kate Dicamillo’s ability to create intricate characters, with secret desires and failings and shining moments, in a children’s book. There is so much purity to this story!
5. Ireland, Frank Delaney
Ireland was supposed to be my read-on-the-airplane, but I devoured it almost overnight before I could get on the plane. It’s an exquisite book. I couldn’t stop plucking sentences out of it and putting them in my journal, for later inspiration!
6. Peter Pan, JM Barrie
Another book that just might be “my favorite.”Peter Pan is witty, imaginative, and innocent. I can’t think of higher praise for a book. As I was flying over Florianopolis (called “Ilha da Magia” (Island of Magic)) by locals, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was arriving at Neverland! I can’t wait to read this book to Felipe, who helps me keep my inner child alive.
7. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
When I was little, I had a pronounced “animal book” phase. For a few years, every book I read was about (or better yet, narrated by) dogs, wolves, rodents, or horses. I chose Black Beauty as a representative of the animal genre for my city-raised husband, who has an unfortunate underexposure to the beauty of the natural world!
8. The Thief Lord, Cornelia Funke
Cornelia Funke’s books are brimming with imagination and packed with lively characters. In all honesty, my favorite books of hers are the Inkheart trilogy, but I didn’t have room to pack three books!
9. Fall Leaves, Maya, and Butterfly Park, Elly Mackay
My most exciting project for the next year is to try my hand at the illustration technique used by Elly Mackay. I’ve already blabbed about it a ton here.