Monday, June 15, 2015

Three Books That Changed You

In the video above, Neil Gaiman talks about three childhood books that changed his life. I've been trying to sort out what I'd say if I had to choose three. 

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'Engle
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. 
Honorable 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.

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.


18 comments:

  1. Hmm, I'm not really sure but I own three copies of The Great Gatsby, so it's safe to say that makes my list. ;)

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  2. When I was seven years old, my heart was won by Emmy Payne's Katy No-Pocket. At about ten years old, I could not get enough of Harriet the Spy. In my early teens, I lived and breathed The Hobbit. My old book friends....I love them still.

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    1. The Hobbit is one of my all time favorites too. It's been fun listening to my husband read it to our little ones and remembering all over again how mesmerizing it was to read. Thank you for stopping by.

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  3. I love this post and how much your brothers influenced you! I'm the youngest of four but learning to read was such a huge thing for me because it meant independence and worlds being opened up that I will always be grateful for Enid Blyton for that and all her Brer Rabbit books. I was 5 or 6. Shortly after, maybe around 7 or so I read Oliver Twist and it was life-changing because it showed me social history. I've never liked history with just dates and the number of people that died in this or that war. I wanted to know the lives of people. And then when I was 12, I read Adventures in Two Worlds by AJ Cronin and I knew that's what I wanted to do with my life. Become a physician first and then after living a full life practicing medicine, I wanted to write when I'd become a grandmother. The seed was sown then. Oh, to write a life-changing book!

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    1. Charles Dickens! Another one. Although for me it was The Christmas Carol, which is still one of my favorites. I'm with you on the life-changing book. Someday. :)

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  4. Wow, that's a tough question! I'd have to think about it. But at first thought, I'd say Nancy Drew. =) My grandmother read the whole series to us, always with a bowl of apple slices in her lap.

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    1. Oh I loved Nancy Drew too! We have the old school, hard back ones still at my mom's house. I've started collecting the old ones from used book stores and yard sales for my daughters. I guess I'm a bit nostalgic for the originals.

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  5. I think the reason I write for younger readers is because that was the time books had a much greater effect on me, even the no-so terrific ones. I shy away for "best" lists, because I no longer feel on firm footing with those. But I recently re-read one of my favorites from childhood and realized it would never make it to publication today. Not because it was old fashioned, but because it was not very good. Some of the best kid-lit is being written now, which I found shocking and invigorating a realization.

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    1. Yes. Fifteen isn't exactly a masterpiece, but I LOVED it as a girl. Perhaps it's like science, we're building on what has come before and hopefully improving at least some of it.

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  6. Anne of Green Gables was always a favourite. I never read "A Hundred Dresses" as a child - but discovered it as an adult and then read it every year in my grade 3 class. Wonderful list of books.

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    1. You guys are helping me remember all these great books! I have the entire Anne of Green Gables series on my top shelf. I started reading it to my daughter, but she's not quite in to the books yet. Some day. I didn't discover Anne until I was well in to my teen years and I still loved them.

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  7. OK--this is tough, but I will have to say Little House on the Prairie (I first started reading this series in second grade and these books cemented my love of reading), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (and everything else by Judy Blume!), and Pride and Prejudice (I LOVE Austen as well). There are many, many other books that I love though!

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    1. I never read Little House on the Prairie as a kid, but my daughter and I did read the first one together. She loves them and I'm glad I finally got to them. Thanks.

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  8. I'm so happy I stumbled across your blog! This is a tough question. My very favorite book was A Little Princess, then Little Women, and I loved A Secret Garden. I would also thumb through art books and create sketch books and journals for hours!! I was most inspired by Monet as a child. I would imagine I was with him in his garden, exploring, painting, and looking out from the bridge near over his pond. I was fascinated by the masters.

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    1. I'm happy too. Thanks! Loved all those books as well.

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  9. Ditunggu update terbarunya min , Thanks atas infonya

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