What’s in Bahar’s Book Bag? 

The following is a non-comprehensive list of all the novels I keep nearby to satisfy whatever I may be feeling at any given moment. If anyone’s interested (I’d certainly be curious to see who), I have a similar list for 90’s music (insert “Stacy’s Mom” for every category) and mafia movies. And food.

If I’m feeling homesick: The Harry Potter novels (from the Goblet of Fire and onwards) by J.K. Rowling.

These books make me overwhelmingly nostalgic. I’m often reminded of all the breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and baths I took with Harry as my companion (oh don’t I wish) as well as all the screaming matches I had with my mother, threatening to pull a Tiannmen’s square if she didn’t hand over my hidden books. I all but jumped off a cliff when my letter from Hogwarts never came. My e-mail at one point was Quidditch_champ_me_seeker@thisemailshouldbeillegal.com. Yup, it’s a bunch of words that won’t make a sentence no matter how you slice it.

Favourite Quote: “NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU BITCH!”

If I’m feeling uninspired: The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss.

It’s lovely and moving and hopeful and hopeless and leaves me with a so-beautiful-it-hurts gnawing ache somewhere deep inside. It’s so intricately woven that I discover something new and special with each read.

Favourite Quote: “When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?”

If I want to see what all the fuss is about and/or I’m feeling turned on (kidding): Fifty Shades of Grey, by: E.L. James.

I’ve never actually felt especially compelled to read this novel, but every once in a while I’m curious enough to want to flip it open to a random page to allow the words to taint my pure and innocent mind. One time I even tried to find the e-book but it proved difficult so I opted for porn instead. Kidding again.

Favourite quote: A good friend of mine: “I was so secretive about reading it on the subway on the way to class…until I realized every other person around me was reading it.”

If I’m actually feeling turned on: Everybody Poops, by Minna Unchi

Favourite Quote: “An elephant makes a big poop – a mouse makes a tiny poop.”

If I’m feeling nostalgic about my trip to Europe: A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemmingway

I read this novel during stolen moments this past summer just before I went to bed after a day in Lyon or London or Geneva and I finally finished it on my three-hour train ride to Paris. I would recommend this novel to anyone who finds writers pretentious but doesn’t always mind, someone who wants to go to My Dog Joe and order a pumpkin spice latte and read something that might make you feel like even more of a dreamer, or someone who likes to underline words when they sound take-a-deep-breath-wonderful together.

Favourite Quote: “You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”

If I actually want to do my school reading: The Odyssey, by: Homer

Favourite Quote: Beats me. Ask me again in a few weeks.

If I’m feeling Midnight-in-Paris and want to live in another time period: Anna Karenina, by: Leo Tolstoy.

I don’t know what it is exactly that makes me want to live in Anna’s time. Maybe it’s her repressive, conservative, slightly misogynistic society. Or the incredibly tumultuous Russian political climate in which she lives. No – it’s definitely the fact that her story’s frighteningly, heart-wrenchingly sad. Either way, for at least the first half of the novel, I find myself longing to be Anna in that voluptuous black dress and matching black gloves, seducing Vronsky and all of Russia with a single dance.

Favourite Quote: “All the girls in the world were divided into two classes: one class included all the girls in the world except her, and they had all the usual human feelings and were very ordinary girls; while the other class – herself alone – had no weaknesses and was superior to all humanity.”

If I want to scratch that itch and finish an unfinished childhood series: Princess Diaries: Forever Princess. ‘Nuff said.

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