I was tagged on facebook to list ten books that have affected me. I have cheated and listed more than ten here. I have a feeling of déjà vu, as if I have already posted about this, in which case forgive me. But I can’t find anything in my blog archives.
You can play along too, if you want, by listing one or more influential books in the comments or on your own blog.
Here goes. In no particular order:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I first read this in high school and loved it. I can’t really say why, which makes me a bad student. Maybe it’s because in the end, Reader, she married him. (Cue happy tears.) It’s been several years since I re-read it.
Genesis (first book of the Bible)
This is where it all starts. A group of people trying to become a nation needs a back story, and here it is. But more than that, this book dares to say, against all the odds and all the evidence, that the creation we are living in is good. The whole first chapter is just beautiful poetry and deep truth. Plus it’s got some rip-roaring great stories. Not for children.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
When I first read it as a teen, this book reinforced my idealism about the world. When I read it the second time, I realized how ridiculous the plot twists were. While being chased by his sworn enemy, suddenly Jean Valjean jumps the wall and finds himself in the protected sanctuary of a nunnery with a gardener who owes him a favor. Really?! And Hugo can go on for pages about obscure 19th century French political and social figures. But he created enduring characters and scenes. And then, the musical came along. Do you hear the people sing?!
Go, Dog. Go! By P.D. Eastman
I still quote this book regularly, mostly when stopped at a traffic light, or when wearing an unusual hat, or when it is hot here under the sun. Note that this book is not by Dr Seuss. “Go, Dogs. Go! The light is green now.”
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
I just loved reading this book to my kids. It has a certain poetry to it. I love the geese’s speech pattern.
Down with Skool! by Geoffrey Willans
My father spent many of his childhood years at a boarding school in British India. He related directly to much of the stuff in this book, which is about Nigel Molesworth, as any fule kno. This book is marked by its atrocious spelling, dreadful punctuation, and the narrator’s marked dislike and disregard for the skool authoriteez. It is from this book that I gleaned such gems as this French lesson:
Je suis – I am
A pot of jam.
Tu es – thou art
A jelly tart.
Yeah. Pretty high-brow stuff.
The Presbyterian Hymnal
When I was a teenager I spent hours at the piano just playing through the hymnbook.
In particular, the dictionary I won by coming in second in the county spelling bee in Columbus, MS when I was in sixth grade. I think it might have been the American Heritage Dictionary, but I am not sure. I was SO much happier winning that dictionary than I would have if I had won the spelling bee and had had to go on to the next level of competition. (I also won a gallon of chocolate ice cream.) I was that kid who enjoyed just reading the dictionary, especially the word origins. I loved my prize dictionary so much that it became tattered and the front cover fell off. At some point my husband threw it away. I have almost forgiven him.
Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr Seuss
Another childhood favorite, often quoted by me and my siblings.
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
My college Russian professor mentioned this book, in relation to what, I can’t remember. I didn’t read it until after college, though. It’s outrageous. The narrator plays tricks on the reader and the book is one huge joke. If you are going to read this book, I recommend reading it in actual book format, not on an e-reader, because the layout and typography matter a great deal.
Whatever book I am reading now
Not everyone in the world can obtain books with ease. It is truly a privilege and a blessing to have books available. What I am reading at the moment happens to be:
a) Lawrence in Arabia, by Scott Anderson. It’s about the machinations of four individuals during the first World War and how they shaped the Middle East situation we have today: British Lawrence of Arabia (T.E. Lawrence), Zionist Aaron Aaronsohn, American William Yale, and German Curt Prufer.
b) The Blue Virgin, by M.K. Graff.
c) The Grapes of Math, by Alex Bellos
d) The Bible. I’m skipping around in it, these days, with little focus. Recent personal events have brought me back to the Psalms.
There are so many more books I could list, but now it’s your turn. What book has influenced you?
|Here are some Also-Ran influential books that|
I just pulled off the shelves.
|Recent and future reads: Books in and near my nightstand.|
See why I am not allowed to acquire new books?
The shelves are overflowing.