The Books with Staying Power

By now you've probably heard of the doctor that researched exactly why Mary Ingalls went blind, as detailed in the Litttle House on the Prairie series of books written by her sister, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
It's fascinating enough that Dr. Beth Tarini found evidence that either meningitis or encephalitis caused Mary's blindness, rather than scarlet fever, as the books detail.
But what I liked most about the story is that a series of books were so influential to a little girl that she grew up to not only remember the details, but to want to research more about a critical plot point.
I read like a fiend when I was a child, and there are so many books that mean a lot to me even today. So I thought I'd make a list of the books that were the most influential to me (in no particular order):

Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott
I read this book maybe dozens of times as a pre-teen, and of course I identified most with Jo. Her zest for life, her spirited defense of friends and family, and her creative spark really appealed to me. I credit Jo for influencing me to write.

Charlotte's Web

by E.B. White
I hate to admit it, but to this day I believe that my pets can understand me, thanks to this book. I also apologize to my sister, because when we were children I convinced her that a bunny lived in our walls and could talk to me, again all due to reading this story.

The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This book, along with Burnett's A Little Princess, gave me hope that anyone could find a better life and that being headstrong and determined wasn't such a bad thing for a girl. Blame these two if you find me to be too stubborn.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg
Two interesting points in my life can find their roots in this book. First, there was the time I tried to hide in the bookmobile with the goal of living among the books. And then, later in my adult life, this book inspired me to design a blogger sleepover in the Showtime House while I worked at Metropolitan Home magazine. The second event was much more successful than the first.

The Borrowers

by Mary Norton
Maybe it's my Scots-Irish heritage, but I still want to believe in fairies, sprites, and all manner of little magical people. The Borrowers were my first "evidence" that the stories could be true. As far as influence, though, this book made me look a little differently at the common, everyday things around me.

The Incredible Journey

by Sheila Bunford
Courage, strength, and the idea that you should never, ever give up. Not a bad recipe for a book that taught me a lot.

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes

by Edith Hamilton
This was an old book that I found at a library sale for $1 when I was about 10. And I still have it. Full of swashbuckling tales of heroes and monsters, Mythology was also an interesting primer on the faults and failings of men, and of the gods they idolize.

Other books I devoured included several series: Little House, Trixie Belden, Bobbsey Twins (leftovers from my mom), Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and more.
What books from your childhood influenced you the most?

1 comment:

  1. The Hardy Boys for sure! I think many of the books that have stayed with me are books with fantasy themes that had really powerful female characters, like anything by Tamora Pierce. The "Alanna" series was the first I remember reading of hers, but the "Protector of the Small" series, about the first female knight in the fantasy realm of Tortall, was definitely my favorite. Also in that vein was the "Dealing with Dragons" series by Patricia C. Wrede, in which a tomboy princess runs away from home to live with a dragon (instead of being kidnapped, as princesses usually are). I think those books definitely helped shape my personality! I also remember reading all of the Redwall books and anything by Roald Dahl. Not to mention Shel Silverstein! I could do this all day...