It seems that there is a trend that is making its way around Facebook at the moment. One where you list out the ten books that have influenced your life the most. Being a child (and adult) who struggled with reading comprehension, books have a weird place in my heart. At this point, I actually love reading, but I hate discussing what I read with other people and please don’t ask me to analyze, I seriously CAN’T do it unless I am just rifting off what you have already said. Thank you discussion groups for getting me through college!
For me, books end up about random details that seem to stick in my head and the general plot. Some people might say that is how it is for everyone, but when I say random details, I mean I might be able to tell you what a character was drinking in a bar, but not what they discussed, when the discussion could be some big scheme that could affect the rest of the book. Anyway, keeping that in mind, here are the 10 books that changed my life:
1. Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman
This is the first book I ever read by myself. I wasn’t exactly a late reader, but I was for my family. For the longest time, I insisted that my older sister read everything for me and I felt very incapable. This book gave me the confidence to start to try reading.
2. The Trial by Franz Kafka
This book was my favorite book when I read it and remains my favorite book. Why? Because it was the first book where my random pieces reading was to my advantage. The overarching plot is convoluted at best and it is all about what the random pieces mean. It was also the first book I was capable of analyzing on my own. It only took until the last book I ever had to read and analyze for school!! I also love how the book can become about whatever you feel its about. I think ever reader will see it differently.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Because my parents are both criminal defense attorneys, this book reflected how I sometimes felt. It is hard to explain what it is like to be the child of parents who do some of the most noble things by trying to keep everything fair, yet the way the society looks at them is always a mix of adoration and distain. The book made me feel not alone in that aspect.
4. The Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osbourne
The first four books of the series were the first books we read in the advanced readers program in 1st grade. I am not sure how I ended up in the advanced readers programs, except that there were some people who believed in me and believed that I would take the extra time to do the work. The fact that people believed in me is what created my drive to at least try.
5. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
While there is nothing about the books themselves that was particularly groundbreaking in my life, the culture surrounding the books shaped my childhood and especially my teen years. There was always another movie or book coming out that everyone was excited for. I mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e. The books shaped the imaginations of my generation whether you read the books or not.
6. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
For some reason, I decided to take this book on as part of the Accelerated Readers requirement in fifth grade. At that time, I was interested in being a vet. I wish at that time someone had told me how much I would hate biology later on, but that is not important. I read the book because it was one of the two highest difficulty rating books on the list. For me, it was a challenge on whether I was capable. When I took the test for the book to count, I barely passed with a 75% (yes, I still remember getting 15 questions right, 5 questions wrong, it was that important to me), but to me, it was as big of an accomplishment as the first book I had ever read.
7. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
This is one of the books my dad would read to my sister and I before bed. There were numerous others (The Music of Dolphins, Anazi the Spider stories, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), but this one I know he chose to try to connect with me. I was the one who loved horses. My dad and I didn’t always get along when I was little. I think we spent more of our time together fighting than breathing even, but this book showed he was trying and it did not go unnoticed.
8. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Peterson
I think this was the first book that we read in school where a character died. My family and community had been full of sudden deaths when I was 7 and besides my own family, I felt like I had no outlet to talk about it. This book opened up a way to discuss death with my peers. It was interesting to find out who had actually experienced similar events to myself. Also, the book became one of the first real plays I was involved in, where I learned to crochet and really bonded with kids with a variety of ages.
9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This book mainly influenced my life because I read it at so many different times and got something different out of it each time. By the second time I had read it for school, I felt like we were beating a dead horse, but the first time, as a young teenager, I felt for Elizabeth on the embarrassment of her family and loved her strong attitude. When I read it later as a freshman in college, I felt sorry for her family for the way she treated them, especially her sister Mary. The fact that reading a book at different stages of life changed the message to me was eye opening.
10. Nearly any of Shakespeare’s Plays
On paper, I seem to not be able to understand the plays. I struggle with getting lost in the picky details of the language. However, seeing the plays (and having them done well), opens a door for me into this magical world. Heck, doing read throughs of the plays or scenes with other people having the different characters helped me understand. I think they changed my life because they highlighted for me that I am capable of understanding literature, I just need them presented in the correct way. I get in my own way with reading sometimes.