Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ten books that impacted me

There's a book related meme going around Facebook right now. My friend Steph tagged me, and I decided to post my answers here so I could expound on them more than I did on Facebook.

"I've been challenged to list 10 books that have stayed with me in some way and tag people to do the same. Rules (there are always rules): don't take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way. Then tag 10 friends including me so I can see your list. Don't make fun of me. No particular order."

1. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
When I was young, bedtime was one of the most special times of the day, as my mom would read a chapter or two of a book to my brother and me. She read the whole Little House series to us, and Big Woods is what kicked off that special journey.

2. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
I was an English major ... a really bad one. I hardly read anything that I was supposed to read (Shhh! Don't tell Dr. Sauders!), choosing instead to turn to SparkNotes. But, for whatever reason, when Dr. Lovelady assigned As I Lay Dying, I read it. It was so ... weird. And I loved it! More than 10 years later, I couldn't really tell you anything about it, except for this: "My mother is a fish."

This was another childhood bedtime read. I had a boxed set of Roald Dahl books that Mom worked through—this book, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator, and James & the Giant Peach. This book has stuck with me, not because I loved it, but because I was horrified when Mom explained poaching to me. 

4. Romans (in the Bible)
I suppose I could have just said "The Bible," but Romans is my favorite book. It's my default book—the book I turn to if I don't have a specific passage in mind to read. It always encourages and challenges me.

5. Sophie's Heart by Lori Wick
I first read Sophie's Heart as a freshman in high school. I'd read other Christian romances before, but Sophie's Heart made me love the genre.

6. Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
The Anne of Green Gables series is one of my all time favorites. Anne and Gilbert ... need I say more? So why would I pick Rilla out of all the books in this series? Two words: Walter dies. I remember nothing else about this book, but I vividly remember where I was when I read of his death: lying on my parents' bed on a lazy summer afternoon, tears streaming down my face. Then my sister walked in and caught me sobbing. It was the first time I cried while reading a book.

7. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
My previous Shakespeare experience consisted of reading Romeo & Juliet in high school, which I thought was just about the dumbest story ever. Then I read Hamlet in community college, and I realized that Shakespeare had some good stories to tell. In this class (which is the class that made me decide to major in English), we each had to find a song that went along with a particular scene in the play. I got Act 3, Scene 1 (Hamlet's soliloquy), and I used the MASH theme song,"Suicide Is Painless," which has a horrible message, by the way! (Shoutout to my mom's Sheet Music Magazine subscription, without which I never would have known that the MASH song had lyrics.)

8. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Another community college read (I did far more reading there than at Grace), Things Fall Apart marked the first time I realized that, while spreading the gospel is a good thing, the white man's methods weren't always good. Things Fall Apart caused me to think critically about what I read for one of the first times in my life.

9. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Sure, I read an abridged, illustrated version that someone gave me for Christmas, and I've never read the actual book, but The War of the Worlds was my first foray into science fiction. For that fact alone, it belongs on this list.

10. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
My mom read us the Narnia books, too, and The Horse and His Boy was never one of my favorites. It just didn't seem to fit with the other books. Then, I read it again a few years ago to one of my ESL classes. I. Loved. It. Maybe it's because my students were so intrigued that I saw it through new eyes. It has adventure, action, humor, and a glimpse at the Pevensies during their rule of Narnia. It's really fantastic!

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