Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Books Changed Your Life?

Reading was a big part of my childhood. Every night before we went to sleep, my mom or dad read to us and I got to escape into a new world. Sometimes we went to Middle Earth, other times to a Little House On the Prairie, but each night it was something new, and made me imagine from a young age all the places I could go and things I could do.

One of my youngest memories (I was probably about 3-4 years old) is sitting on the living room couch, holding a brightly colored children's book, The Hobbit. Despite the fact that the book/record set came with a plethora of books, The Hobbit was the one I couldn't get enough of. The book came with a record that allowed me to listen and follow the words as I read. I remember jumping up and down on the couch, ecstatic when I recognized the word "and." I started trying to find other words, then I'd go through my mom and dad's newspaper, not understanding what I was seeing, but pretending I could read. Every once in awhile, a word I knew from The Hobbit, would jump out on the page. Granted, since I wasn't reading the Middle Earth Times, there weren't a lot of similarities between The Hobbit and the newspaper, but words like: and, the, but, and or were easy enough to find. I couldn't stop dreaming about one day when I'd be able to read the newspaper all by myself and know every word. Reading has always been important to me, but there are some books that have truly changed my life. Here are some of them...

The Hobbit-Even though I was only reading a children's picture book version, this is the book that made me fall in love with other worlds and want to spend all of my time reading.

The Fairy Rebel-My school librarian, Mrs. Asay, gave me this book when I was in first grade. I wanted to stay with the blue haired fairies forever. Then I realized that even if I couldn't stay there, I could write my own stories that readers might want to live in as much as I wanted to live with the fairies. This was the book that made me believe I could be an author and craft worlds of my own.

Gone With the Wind-I admit, I LOVE a good love triangle...and Gone With the Wind has one of the best. Okay, so most people think Scarlett should be with Rhett. He does seem a better match when it comes to Scarlett's wit and stubborness, but he also tries to reign her in for a good part of the book, and I don't like that. Ashley is the man Scarlett's always wanted and pines for, but he's not good at taking charge and not strong enough to counter Scarlett's strong personality--until one important scene. Maybe it's because I'm putting it in the context of when it was written, but the first time I read it, I put the book down, took some deep breaths and read it a few more times. Then I officially planted myself in the Team Ashley camp for a good long while. However, the amazing thing about Gone With the Wind (for me at least) is that it's a book where I change teams depending on when I read it. Sometimes I want Scarlett with Ashley, other times I want her with Rhett, and a lot of times I think she's far better off on her own. This book, and the Ashley/Scarlett scene especially, taught me how to write romance.

Their Eyes Were Watching God- *Happy sigh* Their Eyes Were Watching God reads like poetry. It taught me how to write different types of love and the prose is so stunning it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I even used this book to answer one of the essay questions on my high school AP English test. The lyrical writing is so beautiful that I keep quotes from the book on my wall. My favorite is: "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. For some they come in with the tide, for others, the sail on forever on the horizon, never changing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by time." The quote always reminds me to never turn away from dreams.

So, now I want to know, what books changed your life???