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 Womenby 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 Webby 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 Gardenby 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. Frankweilerby 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 Borrowersby 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 Journeyby 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 Heroesby 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?