I was fortunate to be the youngest of five with a 15 year spread between me and my oldest brother. I sort of slipped into the world seven years after my sister who was number four in the line-up. Needless to say, I had an interesting childhood.
My brothers all left the house for college when I was learning my three Rs. They all lived overseas at some point in their college years and brought back with them authors and stories I'd never heard of. One of my favorite discoveries was my oldest brother's stack of Asterix and Obelix comics that he'd stored in the extra room after one of his trips.
Two of my brothers were big fantasy and sci-fi readers and I often took my cues from them. One of the first sets of books they got me hooked on was Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series. I read everything of hers I could get my hands on. I also went through a morbid phase reading everything by Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allan Poe and as much Frank Herbert as my teenage mind could stand. Once high school English hit, I had reading lists of authors my brothers never told me about--Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Arthur Miller--and my tastes started to shift.
If I had to narrow my list of life-changing childhood books, the Narnia series would be tops, but since Neil Gaiman already mentioned that one, I'll take it as a feeble and start with:
1) A Wrinkle in Time--Madeleine L'EngleHonorable mention to The Hundred Dresses as well. I still have my first copy. And one other book I checked out multiple times from the library, Behold Your Queen, by Gladys Malvern.
2) Fifteen--Beverly Cleary--I still have my original, beaten-up copy that I read a thousand times at least.
3) Jane Austen--okay it's sort of cheating to use an author, but pretty much anything she wrote, I read. I'll pick Pride and Prejudice if I'm pressed into it.
Now not everything I read as a youngster inspired me. In fact there are a few books I wish I could unread, mostly the ones I was required to read in my Honors English classes. Metamorphosis comes quickly to mind. As I Lay Dying flies up right behind it.
Your turn. What three books (childhood books) changed your life?
Have a great week.