I read a lot of books. I like to think that books are kind of my thing. By extension, I like to think that libraries are my thing.

Ever since I was a kid, I loved the library. I worked in my hometown public library during high school and during a few summers in college as a shelver. My job was, as the title suggests, to shelve books. I absolutely loved it. It was a great way to work with the public, learn those basic library things, get to know a wide variety of books, and I could probably recite the alphabet backwards. That doesn’t really translate well over text. I can just look at my keyboard. Not fair.

After leaving the public library, I worked a few odd jobs during college and eventually found my way to the University of Northern Iowa Rod Library and worked there for about two years. I shelved even more books and learned that Library of Congress categorization makes no sense. It was there that I met my wife and we now live in a too-small apartment full of shelves and shelves of books. We also have a super cute cat named Winifred Sanderson. I’m not even joking. She’s the cutest cat in the world.

See? Look at her, she’s adorable.

I am currently a library director in a small town in Iowa and am enjoying myself immensely. Like I said, libraries and books are my thing(s?).

Book blogging is something that I have been trying to get into for a while now. It’s one of those things I always felt I would have a knack for, but always put myself down about trying it. “Oh no one will read it. Why even bother?” Get over yourself, Zach, it’s not a big deal. I’m going to do it and no one can stop me, so there.

For my first post, I wanted to write about a few of the books that made an impact on me and changed my reading life for the better. Of course, this list is subject to change at a moments notice and is in no particular order. Oh, and Harry Potter would be on the list, but isn’t that on everyone’s list? You all know why Harry Potter was important to me, so why waste the space.

71lklmxqgjl1.) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – This book, man. I read it in a YA Lit class in college and, woof, it knocked my socks off. Set in the 1980’s, it tells the story of two misfits who fall in love despite everything working against them. It’s passionate, funny, devastating, and just overall fantastic. This book really showed me that YA is not just for teens and can offer so many diverse stories that all sorts of people can relate to. My wife and I also had a bit of this read at our wedding. Yay, love! She also has the book cover tattooed on her arm. Double yay!

517mlmz7z2l-_sx323_bo1204203200_2.) Sandman by Neil Gaiman – Whoever said that graphic novels and comics are just for kids has never read Sandman. Trying to summarize this giant story would take too long and would take several hours to read, so I’ll try to condense it. Dream of the Endless was trapped inside of an orb by some magicians trying to make a quick buck. He is eventually freed and wants to take back his kingdom by any means necessary. It’s about 12 volumes, but it is way worth the read.

51sgcg4-a0l-_sx346_bo1204203200_3.) Some Things That Meant the World to Me by Joshua Mohr – I like weird books a lot. Like, a lot a lot. And this one is so strange. It tells the story of Rhonda, a downtrodden man who may or may not be seeing his younger self running around the streets of San Francisco. This may be due to his depersonalization, or he is actually following his younger self through a trapdoor in a dumpster. Powerful and disturbing, this truly showed me what it is like to read something that is full of visceral feelings.

4.) Rant by Chuck Palahniuk – Oh, Chuck, you are an odd guy. Most people would put Fight Club on a list like this, but this book is way better. Like, I really don’t want to say much about it because I just want you to experience in yourself. The only thing you need to know is that it is an oral biography and, through this book, I discovered that oral biographies are probably my favorite way to tell a story.

thegreatgatsby_1925jacket5.) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? I read this book in 11th grade and this is where my love for books really took hold. I always loved books, but this book really made me jump off the deep end and into that sweet, sweet pool of books. I don’t know what it was that made me love this book so much, but I can honestly say that it changed my life. If you haven’t read it, do so now. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.

So, those are five books that I really love. Like, a lot. Again, not a complete list, but they are some of the best books I have ever read. If you have a suggestion based on the books I listed, let me know in the comments!