I posted this on Facebook after being “tagged” by at least 3 people to post a list of ten books that somehow influenced me. Mali suggested I post this on my blog. As I said on Facebook, I think the main connecting theme of my list is that I have vivid memories of reading each of them — and images in my mind of the characters, settings and plots. I can even feel the emotion I felt when reading each of the books.
1. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn — this book opened my eyes to the civil rights movement. Many of the characters still live with me to this day.
2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote — I read this in middle school. The images it evoked are still etched in my mind.
3. Dracula by Bram Stoker — the first non-young adult novel I ever read (in 7th grade). I adored stories about vampires and this was a classic.
4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (she also wrote 101 Dalmatians) — “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink” is one of my favorite opening lines.
5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Yes I know this is 7 books, but I consider it one large book) — I loved these books which I read in my teens, although my teacher read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to us in 6th grade. I’ve re-read several of the books since my first reading and shared them with my students and children.
6. Billy Brown the Babysitter by Tamara Kitt — the first book I ever read on my own. I remember suddenly being able to read and just read it.
7. My Bookhouse Books edited by Olive Beaupre Miller — another set of books, but each one was extremely important to me. These books made me a reader. I learned so much about literature from this set. The very best gift my parents ever gave me was this anthology set of 12 books (which seems to be available for purchase again! I wonder if it has been updated for political correctness.)
8. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu — I received this book to review for a website before it was published. I didn’t have high hopes since it was written by a — then — unknown author, but absolutely loved it. I rarely re-read books, but have read this one a few times. I wrote the first Amazon review about this book. The next day I got to meet Mr. Mengestu. When I told him my name so he could sign my copy he recognized it and thanked me for the review.
9. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters — a well-written ghost story in which a house is a main character.
10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson — I’d never read anything by Shirley Jackson except The Lottery but I liked the Gothic-like look of the cover of this book so bought it and read it. It is another book in which a house is a main character. Very well written and another book I re-read.