As I was feeding my Facebook habit this morning, I saw this challenge:
“Here's what you do: In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just ones that affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends, including me so I can see your list.”
OK. Back to the challenge. So I didn’t listen to the rules. I indeed put a lot of thought into the books I chose. So much thought, in fact, that it became this blog. I simply love books too much to not put a lot of thought into such a list. I don’t know what the “right” book is supposed to be, nor do I really care. I just know what is right for me. When it comes to our relationship with books, it’s really rather personal anyway, right?
So, here is my list of 10 books and how they affected me. Don’t expect to find a synopsis of the books. I am focusing purely on the emotional effects the books had on me. On that note, without further ado and in no particular order…
1. The Borrowers by Mary Norton. This was my favorite book as a child. I loved that there were little people living in the walls and under the floors of a house. It was a wonderful perspective of life that just delighted me as a child…and still does. I used to pretend that those big piles of snow/ice at the end of driveways in the winter were entire villages of people. My friend Kathy and I would scoop them up and put them through a “machine” that would transform the little villagers into Dawn dolls. Oh, the fun we had playing with our new friends, once we could see them in a recognizable form! I will treasure those memories all my life. This book (and I can’t remember if I read it before or after those days) was naturally connected to that imaginary journey with my friend.
3. Harry Potter by JK Rowling (entire series). My daughter Vashti grew up with this series. I took her to the opening day showing of the first two movies and to the 3rd and 4th movies as well. I had never read any of the books that affected my eldest so. She eventually challenged me to read the books before I saw another movie. (She actually forbade me to see another movie until I did so. Ya. My children are so timid. Ha!) I am so glad she did that. Not only do the books live up to all the hype, but it was a wonderful way to connect with my daughter (actually both of them) on a whole new level.
4. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Don’t laugh, but this book showed me that best sellers can actually interest me. Ha! I love fantasy books and those books didn’t tend to be on the best seller lists (until Harry Potter). I read this with an ad hoc book club at the office where I worked throughout the 90s. Another example of how books can help people connect. We all loved the book.
5. Down at the Golden Coin by Kim Strickland. This book changed my life. It was the first book for which I designed the cover. I realized then that book covers are the area in which I want to specialize as a graphic designer. I did actually read the book and the message of the book hit me in a very profound way. I recommend it highly!
6. Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin. These were the first fantasy books I read, when I realized Fantasy is actually a literary genre. What can I say? I was in high school and well, sometimes it takes a while for the bricks to fall. I started purposely looking for more fantasy books after I read these and it quickly became my favorite genre!
7. Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I actually read this book after seeing the musical - which was rather different than the book. The musical was very inspirational to me. (Defying Gravity became rather a theme song of mine for quite some time. I still love the song and the message.) I read somewhere that Maguire once remarked that he did not mind the changes the producers of the musical interpretation made to his book, since he had done the same with the original Oz story. I thought that was a really great response.
8. Pendragon Series (Taliesin, Merlin & Arthur) by Steven Lawhead. I read this series while I was still commuting to the city with my eldest daughter. I loved the books so much that I would actually read them while waiting at stoplights. I taught Vashti to watch for when the light on the cross street would turn yellow and then tell me when that happened. That was my cue to close the book and be ready to go. Vashti requested that I read the books to her. Even at 4 years old, she was curious about these books that had me so enthralled I had to read them at the stoplights. (I promise, I NEVER read while actually driving the car.)
9. Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. My 6th grade teacher read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to us. First, I thought it was unusual…and cool…that she actually read aloud to us. In my sixth grade mind, that was for babies. However, I loved the story, so I got over it. I was intrigued enough to pick up the next book in the series and I continued even into junior high. I read with the radio on, so to this day, the songs I heard are tied to the books. Queen’s We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions will always remind me of Prince Caspian. Sail Away by Styx will forever be connected to Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I bought the series and read, well, most of them, to my daughters.
10. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. I had to see what the hubbub was all about. People. It’s actually a really great story. Hmmm….perhaps this book should not be judged by its cover?? I did read the whole series - and yes, I am excited to see the movie.
There are a plethora of other books I could list. Here I will mention Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice and the Dead Zone by Steven King. These books created quite a quandary for me when it comes to deciding if I want to read a book before or after I see the movie. (Of course, sometimes, there’s no choice. I’ve read many books that became movies years later.) It’s when I have not read a book that is being made into a movie that my literary dilemma begins. Do I read it before and get frustrated by the changes? Or do I wait until the movie comes out and then get frustrated by what was left out - as I did when I read The Dead Zone after seeing the movie and realized they cut the entire first part of the book out?? Ah no matter. I’m going to read books because I love to read books.