Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I didn’t like this week’s topic, so I picked an old one. Basically, these are some of the books/authors that hooked me on reading or particular genres. Frankly, I don’t remember a lot about when I started reading (around 7, I’m told), so these are just books I remember really enjoying as a child.
My dad is actually the one who recommended Lloyd Alexander to me, thereby introducing me to my favorite author (I did name my blog after his character….). From Prydain to Westmark to the Gawgon, Alexander’s writing entranced me, his characters spoke to me, and his stories lifted me up. Most of his books are written for children, but not at children. They are smart, funny, and aware in the innocently skeptical way kids are. And his female characters are….real. They are not “strong female characters.” They are dynamic, intelligent, inquisitive, hurt, annoying, fierce girls who felt like someone I would want to be.
A Little Princess
This is the first book I remember loving. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it. I’ve watched countless movie versions in much frustration. And I have no idea how many hours I spent recreating and fantasizing about this book in daydreams. It remains one of my favorite children’s classics, and one I ought to revisit. If you’re wondering, my absolute favorite adaptation is the 1986 film series.
Critically thinking, the story is somewhat unrealistic and certainly moralistic, but I refuse to allow analysis to remove the magic.
If you don’t know, Marguerite Henry authored a multitude of horse books, including Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind. I read every single book of hers in our library. My favorites were King of the Wind, Guadenzia, Pride of the Palio, White Stallion of Lipizza, Mustang, Wild Spirit of the West, San Domingo, the Medicine Hat Stallion, and One Man’s Horse. Her books are very educational about horses, history, and geography. For a crazy horse girl (as most middle school girls seem to be), her books were perfect.
Asimov’s Robot stories (sci-fi)
What better introduction to science fiction than one of the top 3 authors from the Golden Age of Science Fiction? Asimov’s Robot stories were a particularly good beginning for me. I love psychology and logic, so his combination of the two created an irresistible style and world. Asimov was a genius and everyone should read some of his work. (The Robot world is introduced in short stories, mostly, making it a good place to start.)
Agatha Christie (mystery)
I’ll admit, I haven’t read much Christie. But I made the effort to acquaint myself with Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None (arguably her most notable works) and I LOVED them. I read a few of her others on a whim, but only enough to know that I prefer Poirot over Marple (fan war in the comments?). Again. I like logic. I like puzzles. She is brilliant at both. Also, at suspense and character and pacing. You owe it to yourself to read at least one of her best works.
Incidentally, I’m still not much of a mystery reader, but she’s still my best introduction to the genre.
The Count of Monte-Cristo (classics)
I’m sure I read classics before Le Comte, but it was my first very large “classic” (term I use loosely to mean anything in the canon of good old works). And that is when I fell in love with the way classics introduce a multitude of seemingly unrelated storylines, only tying them together in the very end. I get such a sense of satisfaction at seeing all the loose ends tied up! It’s a beautiful feeling that leaves me in awe of the author every time.
Paired Le Comte with my first reading of Ben-Hur, which made for a fascinating study in revenge literature.
The Truth About Forever (YA Romance [sorta])
Although I’m not sure it’s fair to classify Sarah Dessen’s works as YA romance, that’s how I perceived them before reading The Truth About Forever. But it was surprisingly thoughtful and real and light on romance and heavy on important relationships (family and friends, but also boys). I reread it for a video recently (link coming soon….) and it was as good as the first time.
So Dessen is responsible for hooking me on YA and also romance.
Rivers of Judah
Most of you will have no idea about this book. That’s fine. It’s a Christian fiction book from a small religious publisher. Rivers of Judah was important to me because it talked about some of the difficulties that exist for children whose parents are in church leadership. I’m a pastor’s kid–a position that is incredibly challenging, although I wouldn’t change it for anything. Reading this book first made me feel like someone else understood what it could be like. Not many books are written for those children. Not many books have PK main kids or try to tell that story, especially in thoughtful ways.
WH was an early classic for me, one I read in a single night. I loved it (still do), so Emily Bronte is probably partly responsible for my English major.
If you need any incentive to pick this one up: it’s basically an English heath soap opera.
Classic children’s series
I would be unfair if I didn’t mention some of the classic children’s series I devoured as an early reader. In no particular order:
- Little House on the Prairie
- Anne of Green Gables
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- The Lord of the Rings
- The Black Stallion
That’s it! Which books hooked you into reading? Or into certain genres? Have you read any of these? Let me know!