What early book(s) impacted your life?

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What early book(s) impacted your life?

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abr. 18, 2009, 8:54pm

We're of an age where we have had many, many positive influences in our lives. I thought it might be interesting to reflect on and share what book(s) impacted our lives.

For me, I think it was Why Am I Afraid to Love by John Powell. It was an assigned book for a college class and was my introduction to self-help literature. That class and his book opened my eyes to the possibility of growth through reflection, and changed what I read. My library is now full of such books.

abr. 18, 2009, 10:53pm

Actually I don't know the name of the book, but it was about the life of Carol Burnett. Like her I also had an alcoholic parent. But what the book really did for me was help me learn to read. I had just taken a reading level test the day before, I read at a 7th grade level with a 70% comprehension. I was a high school sophomore at the time. While reading the Carol Burnett book I could actually picture her in my head , it was just like watching her on TV. I had stopped reading the words and started reading the story. The following week I tested again and was at a College sophomore level with a 80% comprehension. I had read all my life but I was slow and sometimes found it frustrating. For the first time I felt I understood the concept of reading, have enjoyed it ever since. Now I have to go find that book again.

abr. 20, 2009, 11:29pm

Thanks for sharing! That is exactly the kind of story I hoped this thread would provoke.

Editat: abr. 21, 2009, 11:55am

I'd have to say it was Rosemary's Baby. Not that it was such a great book, but I remember reading it on summer vacation at my Grandma's. She didn't care what I read, but my auntie was scandalized.

"That's a terrible book!" she said.

"Really?" I asked. "Have you read it?"

"Of course not!" she said.

"Then how do you know it's terrible?" I asked.

I got in trouble for smart-mouthing, but like to think that summer I was 14 was when I started defending free speech against the uninformed.

Editat: abr. 26, 2009, 5:09pm

Very interesting experiences. I especially like the Carol Burnett book story. Sometimes it does take some kind of special moment to kick start one into the world of reading.

For me the act of reading changed from work to one of playful exploration and wonder in my early teenage years. At that time I read Issac Asimov's short story Nightfall in Nightfall and other stories.

The story creates a world of multiple suns where it is always day and where the population has never seen the stars. The issue at hand in the story is that the plant is about to experience multiple eclipses that only happen once in 10,000 years. When this happens the background stars will be reveled.

This opened me to the possibilities and wonder of the world around us. My reading has expanded over the years to include more more genres.

abr. 26, 2009, 5:12pm

I remember reading the works of Doreen Tovey when I was nine or ten. They were (and still are) a delight. I didn't understand many of the references at the time, but was entranced by the humour.
I cleaned up 'Gone With the Wind' in about three days when I was twelve - under the bedclothes at night with a torch, as it was a Strictly Forbidden volume.
H. Rider Haggard was another author who contributed to my misspent youth, as mathematics classes were devoted to reading his books, under the desk.
Regardless of the plot, novelists who have attracted me have all possesed a sure touch, and an ear for language.

abr. 26, 2009, 6:20pm

My two great juvenile reading influences were, oddly enough, Louisa May Alcott and Theodore Sturgeon. I read and re-read The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Edward Eager and Madeline L'Engle, but the first two had a formative influence. Then right after college I came across the Wizard of Earthsea trilogy and that had a big impact, what with the embedded Taoism and all.

abr. 27, 2009, 8:48am

#7, I discovered LeGuin in college, too. Loved her, and am now sharing her books with my son. We also went through all of Edgar Eager, and I've packed away our copies for future grandchildren or grand-nieces and nephews.

I also still have my beat-up college copy of Hell's Angels and Fear and Loathing in Las vegas. Loved Thompson not just for being an iconoclast, but for being such a great writer.

Later in grad school I did a paper on Thompson's and Hemingway's "reportorial eye" that affected both their styles. I hadn't really realized how deadpan funny Hemingway could be at times until I saw him in light of Thompson.

abr. 27, 2009, 12:12pm

I was a "reading under the covers with a flashlight" (U.S. version of "torch" ) person, and my mother always complained that if I had "my nose in a book" she had to stand over me and yell in order to get my attention. That being said, however, I cannot say that there was any one book that had an impact on me. And, as a child, I certainly did not read anything profound.

In grammar school, I remember being impressed by a book of Greek Mythology. I still love mythology, and perhaps have a broader appreciation now:-).

Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden were my heroines at that time, too. I still love good mystery stories.

Wrinkle in Time was a favorite, but I did not even know the other books about the Murrays existed until about fifteen years ago.

In junior high (late 60's) Stranger in a Strange Land was a bit of a cult book, but I never went on to other Heinlein or other science fiction.

Somehow, my reading diversified in spite of my limited youthful reading. Now I am allowed to stay up with a real light to read, if I want to.

abr. 27, 2009, 5:28pm

I never could get enough of books and once I could read on my own, I was always looking for more. I was often caught reading long after my light was supposed to be out, even going so far as to turn it back on and read if I woke up in the night. Sharing with my little sister kind of cramped my style in some of the places we lived. I loved my basement bedroom because I didn't get caught quite so often down there! I remember thinking the first Nancy Drew I read was fascinating and when I realized there was a whole series, there began a love of the continuing story.

A teacher in Grade 5 introduced me to Science Fiction, Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein for one, and the simple fact that there were other genres out there, ie The Black Stallion for two. What to read?! About the same time I remember reading a book about cats, Egypt, and code writing.

A couple of years later I got stuck in Harlequin world for awhile, but then discovered Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

The next turning point for me was a required read in high school with The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn. The same teacher also introduced me to Richard Bach and Biplane and for a long while it was a done deal if the book had planes in the title, or even the cover art. The genre didn't matter, just the plane! What can I say? I also love planes! Another high school teacher forced a poetry assignment on us and that's where I discovered Leonard Cohen, both his poetry and his music.

I never totally write a book off, although I have a few that have been waiting a long time for me to finish them. I've managed to slog my way through a few real clunkers but for the most part I enjoy discovering new books and new authors. The book just has to be well-written and able to draw me in to the author's world, or perspective.

abr. 28, 2009, 4:50pm

#7, I enjoyed Theodore Sturgeon too. Did you ever read his short story: "Microcosmic God" which can be found in Microcosmic God: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon. I think the reading of that got me into ant farms at the time. B-)

Another event (in addition to #5) that shaped my love the book (we might expand the conversation into that area), was the working with my Dad at his second job (in the evening). He was the janitor of the Huntington Public Library in Long Island in the early 1970's. I got to spend about four hours with him there. He let me vacuum the big downstairs rug, which took about an hour. Then the library was all mine. I enjoyed looking at very old Life magazines in the basement periodical area and got to use old cartridge type move cameras to view documentaries and newsreels from times past. It was wonderful and got a dollar for my vacuuming efforts too.

abr. 29, 2009, 1:21pm

Microcosmic God is not one I remember well, although I do think I have that volume. I am trying to collect the Complete Stories at a reasonable price. I did buy some, but not all, when initially released. I have seen some astounding prices for them, given that they are reprints and not originals. I remember More Than Human, Dreaming Jewels and Killdozer, among others. I do not expect to re-read Killdozer in life. I was sufficiently alarmed the first time!

When I was 13, we moved into a house that had a spare bedroom that we used as a guest room, TV room and book repository combined. We grandly called it The Library and it was always the warmest room in the house during the winter, so everyone other than my post-Brit-hardy Dad would spend much of our time there. I now have most of my parents' books. Mostly uncataloged, as yet.

Editat: maig 8, 2009, 6:31am

Joan d'Arc ( not sure which version) and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The first made me aware that girls could be strong and brave. I admired Joan and rather romanticized her death.. but mostly longed for her strength and courage. I tried to emulate her in my own way..

Francie was an avid reader... and she faced a lot of difficulties in life.
It made me feel less alone in my own difficult life...I feel that they helped me get through~We were very poor after my dad left... sometimes hungry poor... my mom and I had issues.. it was often pretty hard..

maig 9, 2009, 4:25pm

Thanks, Mckait. I remember being impressed by Joan d'Arc as a girl also--I think it was an Illustrated Classics comic book. What I took from it was that one should act on one's convictions, regardless of whether others agreed with you and no matter the cost. I probably identified with her because I so frequently felt like such a loner and, not in a good way, a martyr. In a different way than yours, my childhood was hard too. I don't know how I would have made it through without the respite of books!

maig 9, 2009, 11:17pm

first, probably a wrinkle in time ~ 11 yrs old; then, a few years later, a book on Buddhism by Christmas Humprhreys - though i don't remember the title.

maig 10, 2009, 8:37am

As I moved from an all-boys, mostly white high school to a much more diverse university (Wesleyan), I was greatly affected by books such as Ellison's Invisible Man, and Plath's The Bell Jar, which expanded my world view. As we all know, that was a turbulent time in America, one that's hard to describe to my kids now.

jul. 6, 2009, 9:11pm

..."Have you read it? -- "Of course not!" -- "Then how do you know itʻs ʻterribleʻ?" --Dialogue on Rosemaryʻs Baby reported by Nohrtforme

Iʻm reminded of baseball manager Dick Williams reply when asked his opinion of a second book by Jim Bouton. (Nearly all the other managers had said they liked parts of it and dissented from other parts.) Williams said, "I didnʻt read it, and Iʻm against it." When I read that reaction, the "how do you know..." question came to mind, but I still thought his answer had a certain logic to it --though itʻs not MY logic.

Perhaps you can know in advance that youʻre "against it" without reading it. This would be just a "gut feeling" of course --based on the reputation it picked up by being so much discussed.

Editat: jul. 6, 2009, 10:13pm

I read a lot of Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden also. But for books that took me outside my own world...probably Wrinkle in Time and Gone with the Wind fairly early on (early teens).

Probably my deepest connection was with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I don't know why. My life was as different from Francie as is possible, but the book resonated deep inside. An incredible book.

jul. 6, 2009, 10:36pm

MerryMary, I think your reading habits as a youth may have been similar to mine. I nodded and smiled at EVERY book and series you mentioned in your post (Note: I read the Hardy Boys, too, because "they were there" -- my older brothers had collected them.)

Funny, I haven't listed any of those books I read as a youth in my collection of books read, yet they were probably more significant to me than a lot of the stuff I've read as an adult.

jul. 6, 2009, 10:37pm

In first grade, once I got the hang of a few words, I grabbed whatever I could to read. Miss Doran would let me read anything in the room once I'd finished the day's assignments - and every few weeks the books would rotate from room to room, so there would be a new supply roughly when I'd gone through them all. I was the youngest of three, and both my brother and my sister loved to read, plus there were plenty of books in the house. Being able to read was what Big Kids did!

When my 7th birthday came along in December, my sister gave me a Whitman colored-cover copy of "The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore". The Bobbseys go the the oceanside to visit their cousin Dorothy's family.

Cousin Dorothy was described as beautiful -- and she was firmly of the opinion that girls could do anything boys could do, and she wanted to do them *better*!

It was years before I realized what an impact that book had had on me.......

jul. 14, 2009, 11:45pm

All of Alcott (I can still quote passages of Little Women because I read that book so many times), Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeleine L'Engle. And interestingly enough My Side of the Mountain, which makes no sense to me as I would never in a zillion years want to live in a tree in the woods alone with a falcon...my idea of camping is a Motel 6 instead of a Hilton. But I loved that book and read it at least 4-5 times.

One book I loved was called Poor Felicity about a very plain and sickly girl on the frontier (Oregon I think) who becomes well and self sufficient. Also, Understood Betsy. I think I liked those books so much because I was mildly handicapped (in an age that was called "crippled")

jul. 15, 2009, 6:33am

There has been a discussion about Little Women going on in another thread somewhere... I too read it many times and loved it as much each time.

jul. 15, 2009, 2:38pm

Great discussions. B-)

One of the few books I have read multiple times is Goodbye Mr Chips. I read the book after watching the Master Piece Theater Version of the story (it's still my favorite version.) I guess it's the "teacher in me" that helps create the strong connection for the work and I love the character of Chips.

The story is also connected in my mind to a loved Twilight Zone (TZ) episode "The Changing of the Guard." Check it out on www.hulu.com Another Teacher moment.

I suspect the Chips book and the TZ episode are some of the drivers that caused me to contact many of my past teachers to convey the significance of their time and guidance to my present status and success.

This awareness of student long time success often seems to be a missing piece in a teachers life...not knowing if what they are doing is of any value and is really paying off for their students in the long run.

jul. 15, 2009, 3:01pm

naked lunch

jul. 16, 2009, 9:54am

I can't think of one book in particular that impacted my life. But books that introduced me to an author or genre do hold special places in my book hierarchy.
Books like The Green Hills of Earth by Heinlein that introduced me to science fiction. Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall and Beat to Quarters by C. S. Forester got me reading 'Age of Sail' type books.
Elmer Gantry introduced me to Sinclair Lewis, which led to Steinbeck, Hemingway etc.. And way back in the third grade buying my first books with my birthday money Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe.

jul. 19, 2009, 11:00am

>24 ilduclo: naked lunch

I hadn't heard of this book, so I looked it up. It sounds pretty out there. I'm curious to know how it impacted you, ilducio?

nov. 14, 2009, 10:19pm

Relevant to this chain, at the library today, I read nearly all of The Book that Changed My Life: 71 remarkable writers celebrate the books that matter most to them by Roxanne J. Coady. As you can imagine, I left the library with a list of even more books to look up and check out in the future--both the books the writers read and the books they wrote. At the end of the book, the editors listed all of the cited books as well as providing their own lists of recommended books. A benefit of buying the book, which I obviously did not do, is that the proceeds benefit the non-profit Books to Grow On, which gives the gift of a new book to every newborn in seven Conneticut hospitals.

nov. 15, 2009, 12:44pm

The Left Hand of Darkness which taught me to question what it really means to be male or female.

Slaughterhouse Five which taught me that we don't need nuclear weapons to kill huge numbers of people and destroy beauty.

A Canticle for Leibowitz which taught me that religion and faith can be complex things with mixed messages, some of which are amusing.

Riddley Walker which taught me that language and myth can be manipulated in astonishing ways.

Little Big which taught me that fairy tales for adults can make one cry.

The Cyberiad which taught me that robots can be funny and teach us deep things about the absurdity of being human.

Death in the Afternoon which taught me to understand, love, and feel guilty about the corrida de toros.

nov. 16, 2009, 9:21am

Alice in Wonderland opened my eyes to the possibilities of imagination, and to questioning the accepted rules and understandings.

Editat: nov. 16, 2009, 10:36am

No laughing! I grew up listening to my mom read us The Bobbsey Twin books. Every summer she would read books to all of the kids on the block from 10:00-11:00 am. The den was full of kids! She always left us hanging almost unable to stand not hearing their adventures until the next day. Also my great aunt gave me Marjorie Morningstar by Hermann Wouk. I was 14 and boy-oh-boy was I amazed! THAT kind of stuff was in books? I read everything I could get my hands on after that and never looked back. There are 18 books stacked on my night stand just waiting to be devoured!

nov. 20, 2009, 8:03am

I hope you don't mind that my memory is slightly different. The library had the most influence, not one particular book. In our town the library was an old dark mansion in the center of town. The children's department was on the top floor and the stairs were narrow and creaky. I felt as if I were in a horror story each time I went there, but it is one of my fondest memories. I actually went home and 'cataloged' my parents books, writing on the spines with magic marker. They have torn down the library and built a drive-in bank on the site. I can't go past there when I visit without remembering and getting that childlike feeling all over again.

nov. 20, 2009, 12:37pm

Our library also used to be in a "mansion in the center of town" also. When they built a new facility, they sold the old house and someone lives there now. Every time I pass, I wish it was me. Can you imagine living in a former library? I'd love it!

Editat: nov. 20, 2009, 1:30pm

to Tloeffler

I was baptised in what is now the Public library of Wilmington, MA - -a former church.

I think living in a former library would depress me. I get depressed even passing on the bus a bureaucratic building which used to be one of the libraries in which I worked for a few months, though I sometimes visit the building that replaced it as a library.

nov. 20, 2009, 1:48pm

I'd love to live in a former library, but only if they left (most of) the bookshelves behind!

nov. 20, 2009, 2:21pm

My thoughts exactly!

nov. 23, 2009, 11:53am

I just loved, loved, loved the Eloise books. I was so jealous that she had a Nanny and ran around the Plaza Hotel like the whole thing was her home. Even at an early age I understood how she loved and missed her parents and was grateful that mine were not jetsetters.

I always regretted not getting to the Plaza when I learned she had a corner dedicated to her where you could get tea. I rawther think that would have been fun! (Julie Andrews played a wonderful Nanny in the Disney versions of the books.)

Editat: des. 22, 2009, 7:05pm

LisaCurcio "I was a "reading under the covers with a flashlight" (U.S. version of "torch" ) person, and my mother always complained that if I had "my nose in a book" she had to stand over me and yell in order to get my attention."
Are we twins separated at birth? I also taped a book behind the toilet tank so I could disappear in there with the door locked.
I remember when I was in third grade, my Mom went to school to inform the library nun that she had no right to limit my reading to the books she considered "my grade level". I will always love her for that! And it probably explains why I support the ALA's Banned Books Week!
Loved The Bobsey Twins and Cherry Ames, hated Nancy Drew. But the book I still remember best is The Ship That Flew. History and fantasy - what better combination?