Quantcast

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

1107

[Maybe] Good Books That Defined You

Let's make this a more collaborative post about literature. I'd like to hear about the books, either good, or bad, or seemed good at the time, or superb, or mildly embarrassing, that you feel had a significant role in shaping the person you became.

Me, I write about a lot of books, and will natter on recommending The House of Mirth until the end of time (read The House of Mirth!), but it's, um, definitely The Lord of the Rings that has, historically, mattered more to me than any other book. That's just how it is. I read it, myself, for the first time in second grade. And I still read it, about once a year. When my brother and I were little, my father read the entire thing aloud into a cheap tape recorder (and about forty tapes) so we could listen to it on car trips. And, generally, when I meet another person who takes Tolkien way too seriously, I know I'm going to be able to understand them.

Sometimes, when you revisit those books, they don't work anymore. Or they might not work anymore, so you choose not to re-read them. My father refuses to re-read In Watermelon Sugar, which had a massive impact on his life, because he knows it's going to be depressing. I have been on a ten-year John Irving hiatus, because I'm pretty sure that A Prayer for Owen Meany is going to seem hokey now, but it was very important to me at thirteen.

So, let's hear it.



1107 Comments / Post A Comment

-----------

Whatever small amount of badassery I can claim, I owe at least in part to many readings of The Blue Sword, and The Hero and the Crown. Robin McKinley and her strong female protagonists and elegantly understated writing FTW. And for me at least, they still hold up.

Monkey

@Kate Croy Oh! Oh! Are you me? These are the books. I still know bits of them by heart. Aerin Firehair 4-eva.

DH@twitter

@Kate Croy

I found Harry before I knew about Aerin, but both are so fantastic. I've yet to read a McKinley book I don't love.

charlesbois

@Kate Croy omg! I definitely envisioned myself more as Harimad-sol than Aerin, but yes!

Johanna Albrecht@twitter

@Kate Croy I am a huge fan of the Blue Sword and the Hero and the Crown too. But I'm an even BIGGER fan of Spindle's End, which is Robin McKinley's retelling of Sleeping Beauty. I think I've read it like 12 times, at least...

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@Kate Croy I'm delurking after a year of reading, and I am going to do it by going bonkers fangirl about many, many books. So, hello Hairpin! I love love love The Hero and the Crown/The Blue Sword. To this day, whenever I drink orange juice my mind says, "Harry scowled at her glass of orange juice." And I never cared about horses or horse books until Talat. Love Talat forever.

Monkey

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails Aw, and when I drink my coffee I always think "malak was supposed to bite, and the milk gentled it."

Guinevere'sGhost

@Kate Croy Oh my goodness, my love for those books is so so deep! I just re-read The Hero and The Crown over Christmas, and it definitely still does it for me.

Kristy

@Kate Croy You took the words right out of my mouth. I love these books - I think I must have first read them when I was around 11 or 12, and I remember thinking, "Finally! A woman who is the heroine and dragon/evil wizard slayer and not a sexy side character elf/fairy/sorceress!" I think what I loved most about them (and still do) is that the heroines were both awkward tomboys who don't 'fit in' and you can't help but cheer them on when they realize that they just need to own that shit and save the day.

Maryaed

@DH@twitter Do not read that horrifying one about the dragon preserve. So exquisitely bad.

mattewmc

Amazing! Thank you for sharing.@t

hideously

Nicole, are you me? I am a fellow Lady Who Loves Lord of the Rings. I've read widely throughout all my adult life, but someone recently asked me what my formative books were and I had to fess up my undying love of the trilogy. I first read them at eight years old, and have gone through them many times since.

Kulojam

@hideously Me too! I love the Lord of the Rings and often get the side eye when confessing that. But I don't care!

madge

@hideously i am also in this tribe. in addition to reading the books about every year, i also saw the fellowship 20 times in the theater. sometimes i'd stay all through one show, then watch the first half of the following one, too -- up till the part where frodolijah says "i will take the ring to mordor, though i do not know the way." that way i got to see the river-turning-into-horses-at-liv-tyler's-bidding scene again too.

Hot Doom

@madge Yep. I only read the trilogy once, in college, but it made a big impression on me. I tried to learn elvish (why am I admitting this? Christ.) and when that didn't work, I did the next best thing and minored in medieval vernaculars, so I learned Old English and medieval Welsh instead. I almost ended up getting my PhD in the latter, but chickened out.
The movies were a huge deal for me too because they inspired me to become a costume designer, which I did for a little while, but my heart still lies in academia and museums, so instead of designing costumes, I want to preserve them. Though, every time I watch LOTR or read some of the books, it takes me right back to the desire to learn that elvish and make those clothes!

thedivinelorraine

@hideously Oh me too - my dad also read the books to my brother and I when we were little so I have a huge sentimental soft spot for them. I haven't reread them in years though.

Marquise de Morville

@hideously I read the LOTR in grade school as well. We only had the first book at home, and I did not quite grasp what a trilogy was, so at first I thought the ending was a cliffhanger.

When the movies came out I almost did not dare to watch them as not to spoil the book. In the end they were as good as they could have been, but still too many unnecessary changes. I intensely dislike Arwen (poor Glorfindel for being written out) and Saruman's portrayal the movies .

hideously

@Marquise de Morville And where was Tom Bombadil? Where.

Marquise de Morville

@hideously Yes, and they ledt out the whole barrow-wight thing. But I would be worried how Bombadil would have come across in the movie, so I don't mind cutting parts as much as unnecessary additions. I was afraid they'd have Arwen instead of Eowyn kill the Nazgul. My, I do have issues with the movies, I could go on for paragraphs (Faramir being not noble enough! Why the Star Wars sized Olifants? Elrond looking like he just quit being in a hair metal band...)

madge

@Marquise de Morville @hideously yes, i hear you on all that. my biggest beef was how they made frodo so much less of a badass then he was in the book ... i mean, in the book he knows elvish, he can handle weapons, and he stares the ring wraiths down on weather top. but i understand why they did what they did, and the first movie in particular is so beautiful that i can't complain too much.

Bittersweet

@Marquise de Morville: All this, but I think my biggest beef with the movies is how they make Aragorn all doubtful about whether he wants to be King of Gondor, and whether he can handle being King of Gondor. I know this makes for more movie drama, but that's just not how Tolkien reported it when he came back from his Middle Earth visit.

Nutria

@LolaLaBalc I basically got my BA in Linguistics because of LOTR! I now know better than to go around telling people this, but it's totally true.

nyikint

@hideously Yup, LOTR (or actually, the entire Tolkien canon) for me is much much more than just a fantasy novel.

I think some people read the novels or watch the movies and enjoy it. But for some other people, it clicks and stirs something else.

The concept of death as a gift to Men, the imagery of light as a substance or rain, the sight of the red foam of Rauros after the battle on the fields of Pelennor - those are things that have stayed with me, that have ended up forming part of who I am.

So, yeah I like Tolkien.

harebell

@hideously Have all of you read The Once and Future King? I think you'd like.

OxfordComma

@harebell : YES YES YES to the single best telling of the Arthurian legend ever written!

Most folks don't realize that "The Sword in the Stone" is the first part of "The Once and Future King".

Seriously, read it. It will break your heart in the best ways possible.

Anne Helen Petersen

I schlepped The English Patient with me everywhere from 1997 to 2007. That understanding of love and passion was gospel. I mean, "THE HEART IS AN ORGAN OF FIRE." I still go back to favorite passages, but with slightly less devotion.

Anne Helen Petersen

@Anne Helen Petersen Also A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. <3 u forever, Francie Nolan.

Nicole Cliffe

Francie!!!!!!

falconet

@Anne Helen Petersen Ahhh yes! Ondaaaatje. Can I ask what happened in 2007?

Anne Helen Petersen

@falconet I read Shirley Hazzard's The Great Fire and it became my new gospel - that or I finished my MA, you decide.

falconet

@Anne Helen Petersen Must investigate.

Kulojam

@Anne Helen Petersen I think A Tree Grows in Brooklyn influenced my deep abiding love for brooklyn and probably my decision to live there. I used to look for Francie.

Killerpants

@Anne Helen Petersen Yesss! Francie!

Heat Signature

@Anne Helen Petersen Oh, how I hold the Nolan family in my heart! I loved the descriptions of the stores and their wares at the beginning and the ending and everything in between.

charmcity

@Anne Helen Petersen Still think about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at least once a week. Yesterday, I was pondering that neighbor who always wore one-sleeved dresses because she had a horribly burned arm from falling into a boiling pot of water as a child (?!)

bananalise

@Anne Helen Petersen Yessssss A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. I wanted a fire escape soooo baaad so I could sit on it and eat peppermints slowly one at a time.

anachronistique

@Anne Helen Petersen FRANCIE <3 <3 <3 I always refer to that book as my fake family history, because most of my ancestors lived in tenements in and around New York City at one point or another.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Anne Helen Petersen The English Patient was beside my bed for the first two years of university.

DH@twitter

The Once and Future King pretty much made me who I am in terms of reading taste. My granny gave me a copy when I was, like, 11, and I didn't read it for a year, and then when I did I didn't understand half of it, but I was obsessed with it and King Arthur and then I read everything else King Arthur-related that I could find, and then I read all of it again, and then I tried to write my own version (being about sixteen by this time, the proper age for such things), and basically have been reading White once a year ever since. And every new version of the Arthur story that comes out.

More broadly, that (and Animorphs, which is holding up surprisingly well! as my BFF and I are finding out in our reread) opened me up to science fiction and fantasy, and that has only grown over the years.

DH@twitter

@DH@twitter

Less grandiosely and later in life, I read the White Tiger miniseries when it came out because, duh, I have to read everything Tamora Pierce writes, and then I developed a weekly comic book habit. Oh god my wallet since 2006.

-----------

@DH@twitter Mithros, I completely forgot Tamora Pierce! I definitely had a looong phase of wanting desperately to be Keladry.

DH@twitter

@Kate Croy

...I kinda still want to be Kel. Or Rosethorn.

ach_so

@DH@twitter You are rereading Animorphs?? That is awesome.

runner in the garden

@DH@twitter oh my god! You're the one person Marvel's strategy actually worked on!

DH@twitter

@runner in the garden

I knooooow it's so embarrassing BUT I turned into a total DC fangirl, so joke's on you, Marvel! (she said, clutching her Astonishing X-Men trades close)

@rosielo

The series is both funnier and more disturbing than we remembered!

Maven

@DH@twitter Yes, yes, yes, TOAFK is still one of my all-time favorite books. It was assigned to me in 9th grade as part of the humanities curriculum at my HS (learning how to think, learning how to be human) and I keep coming back to it.

DH@twitter

@Maven

I'm kinda jealous you read it in school! I always wanted to have someone teach that book to me, especially in college with a brilliant professor. Even though by that time I'd read it, oh, at least fifteen times. And gotten the inscription from Arthur's tomb tattooed on my shoulder. o.O

suzabellajones

@DH@twitter On the King Arthur tip, have you read Robertson Davies' The Lyre of Orpheus? It's about a foundation that decides to fund the completion of an old opera about King Arthur, which is sort of a fiasco, and in addition the relationship between some of the characters parallels the Arthur/Guinivere/Lancelot story. Davies is probably not for everyone but I think he is hilarious and brilliant.

DH@twitter

@suzabellajones

Oooh. Thank you for the recommendation!

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@DH@twitter More King Arthur stuff: I was hooked on Mary Stewart's version for a long time (and her other books too, I have a weird spot for Madame Will You Talk even though I haven't read it since gr. 9.) Anyways, the trilogy is The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and the Last Enchantment, with a bonus semi-sequel tossed in (Mordred!) in The Wicked Day. Happy reading?

SarahP

@DH@twitter The Once and Future King, yes yes yes yes. From middle school to college, it was my comfort book, and White is the one who started my Arthurian obsession, which led to me deciding to go to college for English, which led to my entire life/career/etc.

Also, whenever I was sad/moody (which, in middle school and high school, was, you know constantly), I would just opent he book to a random spot and read the chapter and it would either give me insight into my problems or distract me from them. The best!

SarahP

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Ha, from what I remember of those books, it wasn't happy reading, ever, but good reading.

DH@twitter

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

I actually have a first edition set of the Mary Stewart books! Even The Prince and the Pilgrim! /dork

SarahP is actually me, you guys. Secret is out.

How insane was it when you found out that there was A WHOLE OTHER BOOK TOO? Or were you lucky enough to have The Book of Merlyn included in your set already?

Cat named Virtute

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Yessss, Mary Stewart! Love her.

SarahP

@DH@twitter Oh no, I wasn't that lucky--I discovered it a while after. Which, actually, felt even more lucky. I have this thing I love--and I find out there's more?!

I'm suddenly really homesick for my books.

DH@twitter

@SarahP

Right! Somehow I didn't know about The Book of Merlyn (probably too busy reading Piers Anthony) until my granny died and I got her copy. The political discussion in that book blew my head open. And yes, it's true, my laptop's wallpaper has been an image of geese flying with the caption "o clouds, unfold" since I started fiddling with some Photoshop rip-off in high school.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@DH@twitter I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE BOOK OF MERLYN YOU GUYS

DH@twitter

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

NOW YOU DO! I am so excited for you!

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@DH@twitter Haven't read TOAFK but LOVE Tamora Pierce, she has just finished a trilogy about George Cooper's great-great-great-etc grandmother which is really entertaining. ALSO, Animorphs! I was so obsessed with those, that series and Anne McCaffrey's Pern books got me into SciFi. I kind of want to reread Animorphs cause I vaguely remember a lot of strange things in those books...

SarahP

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) and @DH@twitter It's been a long time since I've read it, but I remember thinking it was so beautiful and dark.

@Sailor Jupiter I only recently discovered that the Beka Cooper books exist!

DH@twitter

@Sailor Jupiter

Yes, Beka is my second-favorite Tortall heroine! I really enjoyed those books (...even Mastiff!). I can't wait for the Emelan book coming up about Briar, Evvy, and Rosethorn in Gyongxe.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@SarahP ahh have you read them yet? they are amazing.

cliuless

@DH@twitter TAMORA PIERCE! I fall into a rabbit hole of rereading her books roughly once a year (sometimes less, sometimes more). I just reread Page, Squire, Lady Knight, and the Alianne books. I'm waiting for school to end before I let myself read the Beka books.

I think Kel is who I would like to be, but Aly is more who I am actually like. I mean, Kel has had all her shit together from day one and I'm about to be an adult and I've got nothing.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@cliuless have you read 'the immortals' books? with Daine as the protagonist? they are good although certain parts in the last two, especially the last one, are hilarious.

cliuless

@Sailor Jupiter I've read almost everything Tamora Pierce has written multiple times. I just have to isolate myself to one or two series at a time, otherwise I lose weeks going through everything.

Yeah, Daine gets herself into... situations. Her life is by far the weirdest of all the protagonists.

DH@twitter

@cliuless

Oh yes, Tammy is my go-to for rereading when I'm between library trips, am feeling depressed/angry/lonely, need a good laugh and/or cry, or really any other life event.

In all seriousness, my lifelong yearning to learn how to joust is probably directly attributable to Protector of the Small.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@cliuless I didn't think of this when I first read them, but now I can't read some parts of Daine's books without cringing because sometimes she is a bit 'save me' and Numair (god even his name) is a bit of a tall-dark-handsome-powerful cliche... much prefer george cooper ;)

cliuless

@Sailor Jupiter i agree. their relationship kind of weirds me out in the original quartet. but i'm a lot more comfortable with them in the flashes we get in PotS and the Alianne books. i think a lot of it has to do with the fact that daine is still really young in the original four, and in the other series she would be in her mid-twenties. she seems a lot more confident and self-assured. i think it just took her some time to realize that she is THE definitive wild mage who can stand on her own, whereas Alanna/Kel/Aly/Beka have always been driven and headstrong.

whoops. that got away from me a little bit.

DH@twitter

@cliuless

I agree. Daine/Numair's initial relationship is sort of squicky because of the age difference (like seriously Numair do not REMIND US that you were banging ladies when Daine was four), but I love the glimpses of them later, like when Aly sees the naming ceremony for their baby and Kel meets Daine.

Plus they named their son Rikash. I mean really.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@DH@twitter they have a son called Rikash? I did not know this, I only knew about their daughter!

Yeah the age and experience thing made it a bit weird, but also I just generally felt they were both more like characters in a book and less like real people than her other protagonists. Maybe because they are both more defined by their magic, which is of course less 'realistic' to be able to relate to?

DH@twitter

@Sailor Jupiter

Yesss he is a baby at the end of Trickster's Queen! Rikash is pretty much my favorite character, so I might have cried a little. :B

The magic thing is a good point. They're both so, so powerful that they're almost godlike--hell, Daine is basically a demigoddess.

cliuless

@DH@twitter RIGHT? ugh, i'm dying to see sarralyn and rikash let loose on the world. and neal's future daughter! i bet she'll be hilarious.

and it occurred to me while i was reading aly's books that tortall has recently become some kind of well-connected super power through it's women. kalasin is empress in carthak. aly's the queen's right hand in the copper isles. shinkokami is going to be queen one day. kel essentially turned the tide of the war, so tortall could defeat scanra. FICTIONAL WORLD POLITICS.

DH@twitter

@cliuless

Are awesome! I'd love to see what's going on in Carthak. I liked Kaddar a lot. I imagine Kally is having some kind of time at that court.

Future book spoilers courtesy of rot13: Fb Cvrepr vf jevgvat n obbx nobhg Xry nf n xavtugznfgre (FDHRR) naq n ehzbe vf gung ure fdhver vf Arny'f qnhtugre, juvpu vf cbffvoyr, V fhccbfr, qrcraqvat ba jura Lhxv unf n qnhtugre. V guvax vg'f zber yvxryl gung gur fdhver vf bar bs gur tveyf jub pbzr ivfvg Xry nsgre ure wbhfgvat zngpu jvgu Jlyqba va Fdhver. Rvgure jnl...FDHRR.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@DH@twitter Animorphs!!! Embarrassing true fact: I read Animorphs from about fifth through eighth grade, and although I had no idea that fanfiction was a thing, I did some epic mental Animorphs fanfiction writing -- including some crossover Animorphs/Tamora Pierce fanfic. (WHAT there is changing into animals in both Immortals and Animorphs SHUT UP. Also, the more mental opportunities for naked George Cooper, the better.)

DH@twitter

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

I would read that.

cliuless

@DH@twitter YES! i've heard that too. my main reaction is: finish your under contract books faster, ms. pierce, so you can get to writing that!

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@everyone Guys, I love you all and we are all secret soulmates. Hi, I'm new to commenting and have no boundaries! But really -- Tamora Pierce and Dragons of Pern and Mary Stewart and Animorphs and eeeeeeee happiness.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails Hi!!!!!!! Dragons of Pern! I love Menolly!

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@DH@twitter It was a LITTLE overwrought.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@Sailor Jupiter Me too! Menolly was my favorite and the first of the books I read. I also have a slightly ridiculous amount of happiness about the fact that Anne McCaffrey made up a totally-implausible-but-pseudo-scientific reason for how dragons can breathe fire, and how they were bred/evolved.

Dallas King@facebook

@DH@twitter I think the Laura Ingalls Wilder books influenced me a great deal. I became, and remain, a historical fiction lover.

TyrannosaurusWreck

East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It basically taught me that being a good person is not just a thing everyone is born with, and sometimes you have to fight the bad stuff inside you and DECIDED to be a good person, and it's hard. Also it's just a really great book.

raised amongst catalogs

@TyrannosaurusWreck Oh, preach it.

runner in the garden

@TyrannosaurusWreck ooh, nice. For me that lesson came from Garth Ennis's PREACHER, believe it or not.

fleurdelivre

@TyrannosaurusWreck "Oh, but strawberries will never taste so good again and the thighs of women have lost their clutch!" !!!!!

Cat named Virtute

@TyrannosaurusWreck I guess it changed my life in the sense of the thing with the knitting needle badly scarred me at 15 and I didn't read anymore Steinbeck for another year?

(glad I changed my mind. <3 you, Cannery Row!)

pterodactgirl

@TyrannosaurusWreck "It basically taught me that being a good person is not just a thing everyone is born with, and sometimes you have to fight the bad stuff inside you and DECIDED to be a good person, and it's hard." Middlemarch did this for me, but I love East of Eden too.

nevernude cutoffs

Is it okay for me to say Bossypants? I just think Tina Fey has a hilarious and positive attitude about life and how she applies improv rules to her career is all sorts of awesome.

Lemonnier

@nevernude cutoffs Yes, it is a thousand times okay! Reading Bossypants (and the part about "over, under, through!") helped me tough out the last few months in a terrible job.

nevernude cutoffs

@Lemonnier Definitely. And the whole part about "Yes, and" is a good lesson too.

I also love to reference the part about keeping her trolley tokens in her fanny pack, because that will never not crack me up.

TARDIStime

@nevernude cutoffs LOVE your username.
Also, I bought Bossypants and read it all the way home on the train. Then got off the train and walked half an hour to my house with earphones and Kindle both still doing their duties. I'm amazed no cars hit me considering the level of my absorption.

falconet

I pretty much worshipped most of Madeleine L'Engle's oeuvre as a teen. Cliche, but as I grew up in a cultureless backwater, her books gave me a glimpse into a world where people, like, cared about art and music and things I cared about, which gave me some confidence that I wouldn't end up marrying a grain farmer. Did anyone read the New Yorker article about her a few years back, which divides women into those who read A Wrinkle in Time as kids, and those who didn't? As a grownup I find Wrinkle a little less charmed, but The Small Rain I still love with unbridled passion.

-----------

@falconet Ah I was hugely into Madeleine L'Engle as a kid and unsuspectingly read--forget the title but the one where the heroine Does It With A Boy--and was SHOCKED!! And promptly reread it like 3 times.

DH@twitter

@Kate Croy

A House Like A Lotus? SAME! Oh my, my thirteen-year-old religious brain was baffled and intrigued.

noodge

@falconet um, are you my sister? no seriously. we did grow up in a cultural backwater, and we both read those books avidly as children.

falconet

@Kate Croy There's definitely more than one that I can think of! House like a Lotus and The Small Rain both feature reckless teenage sex. Oh, Mads. I should really do some rereading.

falconet

@teenie I am pretty sure that readers like us comprise a huge percentage of ML's audience.

-----------

@DH@twitter Yes! That's the one. Putting it on my to-re-read list, just for the heck of it.

cuminafterall

@falconet Me too with Madeleine L'Engle. I did not grow up in a cultural backwater, but at every age I've gotten something new out of reading her books. As a child it was an appreciation of science and math. Lately I've realized her books set me an example of patience, fortitude and the good old Episcopalian stiff upper lip.

And oh yes, A House Like a Lotus at thirteen. I read and reread and reread it that year.

Kristen

@falconet Mine is "A Wrinkle in Time." Absolutely. A few years ago, I was thinking about the idea of conformity - wrestling with something I can't remember - and I realized that the idea of conformity in my head was inseparable from the nightmare vision little kids all bouncing a ball in a row on Camazotz. That book, plus Harriet the Spy, instilled a set of values about the virtues of being both independent and a little weird that somehow managed to last me straight through adolescence. Nothing anyone in the world taught me in my childhood lodged more deeply in my brain than that.

In retrospect, now, I realize that Camazotz may have been some kind of Cold War parable about the dangers of Communism? Which makes me love it an iota less.

Monkey

@Kristen Yeah, it's a pretty unmistakeable allegory when you go back and re-read it. HOWEVER I have reclaimed said allegory by thinking not about Communism but rather about subdivisions and Homeowners' Associations.

SarahP

@Kristen For me it was A Wind in the Door, but A Wrinkle in Time is what got me there.

anachronistique

@falconet A Wrinkle in Time was a big part of the "science fiction isn't all about spaceships" realization for me, and A Ring of Endless Light taught me so much about grieving and loss and growing up. Also, dolphins.

pterodactgirl

@falconet Unf. Madeline L'Engle! Sometimes I read the Wikipedia synopses of her books just because. Is that weird? That's probably weird.

Totally had the exact same House Like a Lotus experience as everyone else here though. This is why you ladies make me feel less alone.

Ellie

Me tooooooo. Sex!

I love Madeleine L'Engle. I read and reread and reread and reread the Vicky Austin books. By FAR my favorite. I don't like fantasy and/or scifi so her stuff in that genre is mostly lost on me, but all the Austins books are the ne plus ultra for me.

SarahP

@pterodactgirl Welllll now I know what I'm going to be doing this afternoon.

falconet

@anachronistique Ring of Endless Light is my other fave. I made my high school boyfriend read it and he thought it was just about telepathic dolphins. We broke up thereafter.

DH@twitter

@falconet

That is as good a reason as any I've ever heard for the dissolution of a relationship.

pterodactgirl

@SarahP Dooooo it. Weirdly satisfying when all your copies are stuck in your childhood home!

theotherginger

@falconet @anachronistique and all of you. This afternoon: thesis schmesis. It's time to check Madeleine L'Engle out of the library. A ring of endless light. How has it been so long!!

omgkitties

@falconet @all Wrinkle in Time people - give When You Reach Me a try if you haven't already!

Maja D.@twitter

@Kristen HARRIET. My god, I loved her.

thebestjasmine

@falconet Yep, it's all about Madeleine L'Engle. I remember exactly where I was when I heard that she died, I was so sad. Partly because then she would never write another book. I adore Wrinkle and A Small Rain, but the books that I tend to reread the most now are House Like a Lotus (and that sex scene totally got me as a 12 year old too!), A Severed Wasp (damn I love grown up Katherine so much), and Young Unicorns.

And YES, if you loved Wrinkle in Time, you must must read When You Reach Me.

falconet

@omgkitties I have read it! What a great homage.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@thebestjasmine I just read When You Reach Me, and fell madly in love.

Gracious!

@thebestjasmine I'll check out When You Reach Me. And I'm glowing with pride now because I tried to quote Young Unicorns at a party two weekends ago (for Canon Tallis's definition of an emotionally healthy family — a definition that the Austins met).

I've reread L'Engle's The Other Side of the Sun about eight times (adult novel set in coastal South Carolina in ~1911 with lots of flashbacks, via diaries, to the mid-19th century). Aunt Olivia Renier has been a role model for me since my teens. Along with Aunt Leonis Phair in L'Engle's Dragons in the Waters.

thebestjasmine

@Gracious! I LOVE THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SUN. Oh man, I love that book. Sometimes when I'm reading anything about the South and slavery and Jim Crow I think of that scene at the end that you know what I mean and I start to tear up.

cava

@falconet Loved A Wrinkle In Time. I think it was in the second one where they talk about mitochondria? When I got to high school and found out they were REAL THINGS I fell on the floor, you guys, I had no idea.

pterodactgirl

@combustamove I can remember having a really intense argument with my dad though about how farandolae were real too though, and sadly that turned out to be false. Still love the book though!

EllyHigginbottom

@falconet I posted below about Madeline L'Engle. So much love for her. I was a very shy, awkward child and so was Meg.

stalkingcat

@falconet: To me it was A Swiftly Tilting Planet. That book messed with my head so much I stole it from my 6th grade teacher (sorry, Mr Bacon!) because I had to reread it over and over and over.... I still have that copy. It actually guaranteed that I would never be a Christian: the idea that music represented the good in the universe and that neither good nor evil were all powerful, but the result of our choices. And that seemingly small choices reverberated throughout the centuries. I loved the other books but that was the one which altered my worldview. The right time, the right book.

thebestjasmine

@stalkingcat The so interesting thing about that is that L'Engle was very very religious, and so much of her books were based on that. But I still think that she would love this.

okeydokeyartichokey

@falconet I have to add my L'Engle story to this amazing thread. I was obsessed with her starting from when I was 11 and read it all. It's so hard to say favorites, but I especially loved A House Like a Lotus, And Both Were Young, and Troubling a Star.

I wrote L'Engle a letter. She was then the writer in residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. I told her that I dreamed I was Vicky Austin, that I dreamed of becoming a writer, and asked her if she was going to write another book.

She wrote me back. It was a lovely hand-written letter. She told me that I was meant to be a writer if I woke up everyday thinking about it, and that I should try to write something everyday, even if it's just a sentence, even if it's not very good. She gave me a list of books that she'd written and circled some lesser-known ones she thought I might enjoy (I had, of course, read them all already).

It was the only time I've ever written to someone famous, someone I looked up to. Her reply is such a cherished thing.

thebestjasmine

@okeydokeyartichokey TEARS. This is the most beautiful thing that I've ever read about a woman who is my most favorite writer who I want to name a child after someday. I am so glad that you shared this story. (I also really want to know the books she listed).

DH@twitter

@thebestjasmine

Oh my lord, The Other Side of the Sun. My favorite L'Engle book. What an incredible book. I think it's still too deep for me but I love it.

Bittersweet

@DH@twitter: I went through a whole period a few years ago of reading L'Engle's adult fiction, and The Other Side of the Sun is the one that's stayed with me.

@okeydokeyartichokey: So amazing that she wrote you back! Does your logon name with Leapfrog?

Bittersweet

@Bittersweet: Does your logon name have anything to do with Leapfrog, sorry...

OxfordComma

@thebestjasmine : I just finished reading "Walking on Water" which is her writings on faith and art, and it made me weep, it was so beautiful.

falconet

@okeydokeyartichokey This is so great. And Both Were Young!! I am living in Europe this year and am seriously considering a literary pilgrimage to Switzerland just to see the little Alpine town where her Swiss boarding school books are set.

temporal_paradox

@EllyHigginbottom I wanted to be Meg from second grade until I went to college! I had the mousy brown hair and the glasses but the most disappointing day of my childhood was when I was told that I didn't need braces. :)

Also, Madeline L'Engle spoke at my graduation. I took it as a sign from the universe that I had made the right choice to major in English even though I might spend the rest of my life as a secretary.

bookbike

Charlotte's Web - my grandfather read it to my mother and my mother read it to me. From Charlotte's Web I memorized the distinct sections of a spider's leg and began my own bug collection. It gave me a romantic idea to never hurt any of the animals! When I am old I want a cat named Fern and a cat named Scout to comfort me in my old age.

charmcity

@heyad "Charlotte's Web" is an absolutely perfect book. I think it might be the great American novel. I am not kidding around here. Also, TEMPLETON <3 <3 <3

EpWs

The Hobbit, for me. I cannot remember the first time I read that thing but it made a huge impact on me and I love it to this day.

And, um, ditto goes for Gone With The Wind. But I don't have a GWTW tattoo, so...

wharrgarbl

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher My mother gave me The Hobbit when I was quite young, and I loved it, and I'm still a little annoyed that my husband hasn't finished it because hobbitses.

kgg
kgg

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher +1 on GWTW. I re-read it probably once a year from 13 to 20. As a really young child, though, The Wind in the Willows, Rabbit Hill and Charlotte's Web probably had the most influence on me by instilling in me a lifelong love of animals. I read the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in high school, too and loved them. As an adult, probably Bleak House has had the biggest influence on me because of its spot-on description of the legal system in which I toil daily in thankless misery...

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Ditto to both those. The Hobbit was less intimidating than Lord of The Rings and got me immersed into that world. And Gone With the Wind might be my favourite romance novel ever. I think it was the first book I read that didn't have an exactly happy ending.

EllyHigginbottom

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Oh Gone With The Wind! I visited Atlanta when I was a teen and I had to read this book. It's got such a good steamy romance BUT also so much great Civil War history! My sister argues that Scarlett is the worst, most selfish character ever but I will defend Scarlett til the day I die. She was just doing what she had to do! And if you want to talk selfish, unlikeable characters, I will raise you one Anna Karenina. That's right I said it, that lady drives me crazy.

honeybunchesofoats

When I was 14/15, I was obsessed with Tom Robbins. Honestly, I think I was just thrilled that I could understand (most) of the cultural/historical/philosophical references, and reading the books made me feel smart. Plus, it felt like such rebellion to be laughing at and questioning religion, and it just seemed so damn creative to have a spoon, can, and conch shell narrate a story. I haven't re-read any of his books since college, cause I do worry they'll seem not-as-relevatory now, but I'll tell anyone that Another Roadside Attraction is the reason I studied religion in college.

Killerpants

@honeybunchesofoats Yup, I'm with you on all that. I felt so cool and radical reading his books as a teen...not that there was a single person around me who thought that was cool or cared about what I was reading. But hence the cool, I suppose. My mom recommended Another Roadside Attraction to me, actually. I re-read a couple of his books when I was older and still appreciated them, but definitely with some reservations.

Hooplehead

@honeybunchesofoats Jitterbug Perfume was so fun to read. I also liked Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas.

Amphora

@Hooplehead Jitterbug Perfume is my favorite! Unfortunately I lent it to someone and never got it back :(

EpWs

And I'll have to lump all the other fantasy fiction I read in together as well--from Tamora Pierce to Patricia Wrede to Monica Furlong to Garth Nix to Philip Pullman. Oof, Pullman. Those books killed me dead, I need to reread them soon. The entire genre really shaped me (and generally gave me a pretty awesome vocabulary to boot).

Lucienne

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Oh my god, Monica Furlong. I loved her books - I didn't realize how much until I was older.. They're great.

-----------

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher
Word, you pretty much just named my canon. Just finished rereading the Abhorsen trilogy (you heard it here: it's still rad as hell) and I still cry when I read The Amber Spyglass. Also, Juniper! Cimorene!

EpWs

@Kate Croy IT IS TOTALLY STILL RAD AS HELL. I am going to spend my summer rereading all of these.

themmases

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Oh god, Patricia Wrede and Philip Pullman. I just reread all three of the His Dark Materials Books when I was sick. Half the time I was watching the numbers at the bottom of the page, being really disappointed that the more I read the less I had left to read...

DH@twitter

@themmases

Princess Slayer gave me the Enchanted Forest Chronicles box set for my birthday last year! She is a good friend. Cimorene still kicks ass.

themmases

@DH@twitter For a very brief time in junior high, I wrote a serialized fantasy story for the school newspaper and dedicated every issue to Patricia Wrede. Newspaper articles not being dedicated to people had apparently gone right over my head.

-----------

@themmases That is fantastic.

alebee

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher How about the Ruby in the Smoke Pullman series? I forget what it's actually called, but oh man, so awesome (not as awesome as His Dark Materials, but.)

EpWs

@alebee I haven't read those! Should I? I think I should.

DH@twitter

@alebee

Sally Lockhart! Yes! She is amazing. I STILL haven't read The Tin Princess. Need to get on that.

alliepants

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher YES Pullman. I was almost a religion major in college, and I'm fairly sure he had a big part in that.

missupright

@alebee SALLY LOCKHART SALLY LOCKHART SALLY LOCKHART I had SO nearly forgotten her and FRED and Chaka the dog and JIM and oh gosh SALLLLLLLY. And also, Pullman at large, generally, is one of those people I either want to marry or be and I'm not decided which yet.

SarahP

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I came here specifically to comment that Monica Furlong's Wise Child was one of the major defining books in my life. YES.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher WREDE. Yes. Morwen was my favourite. Oddly enough I couldn't get into Pullman? But yeah, pretending to be Cimorene got me through a lot of rough bits.

anachronistique

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher CIMORENE! MORWEN!!!

@SarahP Oh my god, I recently reread Wise Child and Juniper. Still good!

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Also loved His Dark Materials, I have read those books so many times I have to force myself to leave gaps between rereads so that I don't quote it to myself whilst reading it. I remember feeling physically sick reading Northern Lights, when Lyra and Pantalaimon are captured and put in that machine. I think that was the first time any book has affected me on that level that I had a physical reaction to what I was reading (aged 10 or 11). As I got older I was even more enthralled by the trilogy because of all the clever religious and philosophical connotations/references Pullman has woven into the story. And of course the daemon idea is something that I still fantasise about.

SarahP

@anachronistique Ugh, so good.

Guys, was it Morwen's sleeves that held everything ever? It's been a long time since I read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles but I seem to remember trying to picture Morwen's magic sleeves.

anachronistique

@SarahP Yes it was! I still want those sleeves. And the door that leads to different rooms in the house!

And I just remembered that the first time reading His Dark Materials I somehow MISSED that they were killing God. Like, the actual Judeo-Christian God. I am not as smart as I think I am. This is way worse than not realizing Aslan is Jesus. (Which I finally twigged to in COLLEGE.)

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@anachronistique LOL about Aslan. I remember rereading C.S. Lewis' Narnia series and being all, 'this is...propaganda!' but what annoyed me most is how SPOILER susan doesn't get into heaven at the end?!!

anachronistique

@Sailor Jupiter No lie, I have a tag on Tumblr called "shut up lewis" for this very reason. Blah blah she redeems herself eventually whatever but in the meantime her entire family is dead.

themmases

@anachronistique Especially for "flaws" in her character that develop and exist entirely outside of the books, so it's really a poor writing decision, too. We've all been missing Susan for a few books, wondering if she'll get to come back and when. Then we're told, not shown, that she got too into boys or something and now is lost. My feelings of disappointment at that plot turn were definitely not with Susan.

fyfe

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I actually just finished re-reading the Cronicles of Narnia about a week ago (first time in probably 25 years) and somehow as a little kid, I must have glossed over the whole "Susan gets to live the rest of her life with ALL OF HER FAMILY DEAD!!" bit in my excitement for the rest of the family. I still love the stories, but man... what a downer.

celacia

@themmases Growing up, _everything_ by Patricia Wrede, Jane Yolen, Ziplha Keatly Snyder, Barbara Sleigh, Diane Duane (Deep Wizardry changed my conception of life, the universe, and everything), Margaret Mahy (The Catalogue of the Universe and The Changeover were my favorites of what I have read of hers), and Diana Wynne Jones (Howl's Moving Castle is still one of my top 3 favorite books ever. Also? The Spellcoats? Yes.)

I was always so sad about Susan. It wasn't even so much boys as stuff like make-up, from what I remember? Which made it worse to me.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@celacia yeah I always felt it was a bit of an attack on femininity..

Princess Slayer

@DH@twitter <3

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@Sailor Jupiter Yep, I loved Narnia for a long, long time, and particularly loved A Horse and His Boy. Then in late high school I went back and read them and was aghast at the blatant BAD GUYS in TURBANS, people! Attacking VIRTUOUS AND BEAUTIFUL WHITE PEOPLE, to SUBJUGATE THEM with their HEATHEN WAYS! There's actually a line where one of the Muslim, a-hem, Calormene noblemen is gnashing his teeth and says something like "those accursed but beautiful northerners", and goes on about their pure, lily-white, virtuous, Aslan-loving, noble ways and how he HATES FREEDOM.

It was really horrifying.

Inkling

@Sailor Jupiter
I feel like that every time I take my cat to the vet, and they wrestle him around to draw blood and his claws and my fingers and ugh.
I loved that line about Pan sinking his claws into her breast and every stab of pain being dear to her. Perfect.

Nutmeg

@anachronistique There's an awesome Neil Gaiman short story titled "The Problem of Susan" that's all about what happened to Susan. I can't remember which short story collection it's in, but it's worth a read.

anachronistique

@Nutmeg Ohhhh, I've heard of it. And read it. And then made the D: D: D: D: D: face at my screen, because WHOA.

Bittersweet

@anachronistique: My take on Susan is not that she didn't "get into heaven" because of her interest in boys and nylons and lipstick, but because she disowned the more important things in life and put these interests ahead of them. I'm so ambivalent about Susan because in some ways I'm so like her, and yet she drives me absolutely crazy. Maybe she drives me crazy because I'm like her? Although Jill is really my long-lost sister...

isitisabel

@anachronistique Not stupid at all. I don't know about your background, but I miss religious references in literature ALL THE TIME because my childhood experience with the Judeo-Christian canon was as limited as it could possibly be in a small Midwestern town. Like, this semester (my junior year of college) is literally the first time I have ever read any of the Bible apart from the Christmas story at family Christmases. I remember one particular incident in high school when we were reading a short story in which there was an extremely obvious (in hindsight) extended reference to baptism that went completely over my head. And of course the rest of the class got it immediately.

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Are we the same person? All of those names are near and dear to my heart. So many wonderful strong-girl characters who are still so believably flawed and relatable. Sally Lockhart, Lyra, Cimorene, Sabriel and Lirael, Alanna and Daine and Kel. I've read them all so many times, and I still want to go back and read them all again right now. They are the definition of formative books for me.

Nutmeg

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher The His Dark Materials series taught me about love and sacrifice before I was even old enough to know what love was besides kissing, and I will be eternally grateful to Philip Pullman for that.

EpWs

@isitisabel WE MAY BE. And that is okay.
@all of you YOU GUYS. You guys are making me feel FEELINGS. I am so glad we can share these things.

JaneDoe

@Kate Croy
Nix is apparently writing a prequel, and an additional book in the Abhorsen books! One was supposed to come out in 2010, then 2011, then 2012, now 2013. And I can't wait much longer!! I might explode if I can't read them soon.

isitisabel

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher What what what?! I have never heard of this but I am forever grateful to you for bringing this information into my life.

EpWs

@JaneDoe WHAT HELLO. Must has now please.

RK Fire

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I read it when I was 11 and it sparked this seven year obsession with fantasy books, Arthurian narratives, and Celtic cultures.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld books also had a huge impact on me, partly because of the levity he brought to fantasy books, some of the personal philosophy he was trying to espouse, and his rampant and hilarious use of asterisks/footnotes.

DH@twitter

@RK Fire

I still love Mists, despite its issues and enough that I've read all the increasingly-crap sequels and "Diana Paxson as Marion Zimmer Bradley" prequels. :B

RK Fire

@DH@twitter: I totally read all of the sequels, the prequels AND I read some of the Darkover books when I was in high school. Guys! I was so cool! I worked in the Special Collections section of my college library in undergrad, which boasted a significant sci-fi and fantasy collection, including fanzines dating to the 1920s. Helping with the inventory of those was interesting, especially since that's how I learned about the controversy circling MZB and her husband.

Oh oh, and I totally forgot about another series of books that also got me hooked on fantasy books: Piers Anthony's the Incarnations of Immortality books.

DH@twitter

@RK Fire

Man, once I discovered fantasy, I went whole hog and didn't care about quality. Piers Anthony EVERYTHING, including that totally bizarre and terrible book called If I Pay Thee Not In Gold that he wrote with Mercedes Lackey.

RK Fire

@DH@twitter: HOLY CRAP I READ THAT BOOK TOO. I couldn't really get into the rest of Piers Anothny books for some reason, but I think that was more about being distracted by other books.

I also liked Mercedes Lackey. Gryphons! GRYPHONS!!! Also, the Companions in her Valdemar books.

Honestly, the tide turned re. fantasy books + quality + humor when I was about 16 or so and started reading Discworld books. I think part of it is that I had read such a broad array of fantasy books that I got Pratchett's jokes about the genre.

Also, how could I forget Judith Tarr's The Hound and the Falcon trilogy? That's the book that sparked my interest in Byzantine architecture.. as well as any book that can be called historical fantasy and rooted in the fourth crusade? Er, yeah.

Megasus

@RK Fire That library sounds amazing. I read Mists and liked it, but I had already read the A.A. Attanasio Arthurian books (The Dragon and the Unicorn, The Wolf and the Crown, etc) which are much more history based and weird, so that was kind of (and still is) my reference for Arthurian stuff.

DH@twitter

@RK Fire

I was obsessed with the Xanth series because Xanth was shaped like Florida, where I lived, and some of the placenames were puns on Florida cities, and then I found out that actually he lived like four hours away! This obsession with reading about my home state has not abated in my adulthood. :B

I still have a lot of Mercedes Lackey books, too.

oh well never mind

@RK Fire <3 <3 Discworld! I love how I can re-read them so many times and still discover new jokes...

Lucienne

@RK Fire Ah, Judith Tarr! I think I never really believed any of her male characters were straight, and so found the conclusion of any of her books extremely disappointing. "But ... don't you really love [second male lead] a lot more?"

area@twitter

@RK Fire Discworld Discworld Discworld!!! Love Terry Pratchett, love him. I have a particular soft spot for the Tiffany Aching/Wee Free Men series too. So, so good.

themegnapkin

@DH@twitter I think I read maybe 20 of the books in that series? I can't remember why, now. The first few were fun, but they devolved into too silly pretty quickly.
There's something about Florida. . . that state has spawned a few off-beat and entertaining authors.

DH@twitter

@themegnapkin

Yeah, they were mostly terrible (and full of sex. Lots of panties?). When my mom took me to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings estate (which, The Yearling was DEFINITELY another of those made-me-who-I-am books), we stopped in Inverness on the way home and I told her excitedly that this is where Piers Anthony lives! It is astounding that I didn't get beat up more in high school.

Lily Rowan

@DH@twitter Just don't look into Piers Anthony any further, because that dude is creepy and has some disturbing shit going on in his books. (But I also loved the Xanth books as a kid.)

DH@twitter

@Lily Rowan

Yeah, I reread one of the Incarnations of Immortality books as an adult and was like...my mother can never know I read this when I was twelve.

RK Fire

@Megano!: Here's a little link. Shhhh.

@DH@twitter: !! That totally makes sense re. Xanth and your fascination with it. Also I haven't reread the Incarnations of Immortality book as an adult, but from what I can remember of it.. yeah. I'm thinking specifically of the last book re. Satan.

@all the Discworld fans: <3 <3 <3! I'm hoping I can get my niece to read the Tiffany Aching books when she's old enough. My particular soft spots are the Lancre Witches and the Watch books, but I think a lot of people like those.

@Lucienne: Alf/Jehan OTP 4EVA!!!

pterodactgirl

@RK Fire I love the Watch books! Sam Vimes, you are duke of my heart.

celacia

@Lily Rowan The weird gender stereotyping in those books. I found the story so interesting and yet, I spent so much time wanting to punch the author in the face because, really, all that 'women trade sex for love and men trade love for sex' crap.

Lily Rowan

@celacia There is also some grown-man sex with 12 year old girls, and that's just yuck.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@Lily Rowan Truth. I started reading Xanth in fifth or sixth grade, and talked all the time about how I loved them. Possibly to check up on me, possibly because he loves scifi and was branching out, my dad was inspired to read the first few. He then had several quiet conversations about my mother about whether or not I should be allowed to keep reading them. At the time, I was deeply uncomfortable but didn't understand, because most of the sex stuff went straight over my head -- now, in retrospect, I'm slightly mortified.

Especially since it became All Panties All The Time pretty quickly.

celacia

@Lily Rowan I had forgotten about that, it's been a while since I have read them.

EvilAuntiePeril

@RK Fire DEATH. Vimes. Granny Weatherwax.

SockHopBop

I've re-read The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter at least once a year since I was 16. It's one of those books that is SO good but the title makes people kind of wrinkle their noses at potential cheesiness, like how when you try to describe Veronica Mars as a show about a teen girl detective people are all ". . ." until they see it for themselves.

Susanna

For me it was Patricia Leitch's Jinny and Shantih series which I re-read as an adult – I was amazed at how they'd shaped the way I live my life. They are not your ordinary girl/pony/ribbons books. They're more like a beautiful hybrid of Alan Garner and National Velvet.

The writing style and the landscape (the Scottish Highlands) are part of what I'd call my aesthetic.

It's basic level Buddhism, although I never realised that as a child.

The books ask big big questions: what happens to your imagination when you pass from childhood to adulthood? How to deal with change and death. How every successful piece of art you create will have one shining instant of being all that you meant it to invoke, and then will suddenly seem ordinary - the utter elusiveness of art or writing.

seven costanza

@Susanna Yes! I loved these books! I was just thinking about them the other day and I've never heard anyone else mention them before. I was a big fan of the usual 'girl/pony/ribbons' books generally (anything horse-related, really) so these were a pretty wonderful surprise to me at the time.

Susanna

@seven costanza Re-read them, they are so good and still so relevant. I made a discovery about the real Finmory - it exists!

http://susannaforrest.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/the-real-finmory-discovered/

seven costanza

@Susanna That's amazing! I'm Scottish (I live in Glasgow, though, not some wild romantic place on the moors) and I've been itching to explore a bit more of my country - I totally want to take a trip to Skye now to visit Talisker House. Hmm...I wonder if my Jinny books are still at my mum's place.

EpWs

OH, more: I am in that very privileged age group who got to literally grow up with Harry Potter in pretty much real time--I read Sorcerer's Stone when I was 10 and never stopped. Sobbed like a baby at the final movie because that's a huge and awesome chapter of my life that won't ever be quite the same for people who don't have to wait a year between books.

samafaye

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher yes yes yes yes a thousand times yes to this. i think i will be nostalgic for harry potter for the rest of my life.

DH@twitter

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

Yep. When the trailers for the last film started I was just like, MY CHILDHOOD IS ENDING.

plonk

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher iiiii was just about to say that (and in those exact words - "growing up literally in real time"). it makes a huge difference, that parts of this story we were super invested in didn't exist, and then did, and we got to be involved in that.

laura h

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

I spent my early teenhood waiting for my envelope with my name in green ink written on it. Like I REALLY believed and wanted this at 13 and 14. Growing up with HP books... there's nothing like it. Not trying to be hyperbolic, but it's one of the things I'm most thankful for in my lifetime... the whole experience. GOD i think i might cry.

DH@twitter

@laura h

My cousin and I wrote each other letters in our best cursive with bright green Jelly Roll pens which were quite in vogue at the time. We also made S.P.E.W. badges.

Hammitt

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher My boyfriend is about 3 years younger than I am - as a result, I grew up with HP, he didn't - not quite. Not exactly. So when we went to the last movie together and walked out he turned to me and saw I had tears streaming down my face, I don't think he got it. In fact I know he didn't. He pretty much teases me about it to this day.

EpWs

@all of you MY PEOPLE. I cannot tell you how much time I spent devoutly wishing for that envelope. We belong to an elite and magical group, never forget this. (Thanks, J.K. Rowling.)

redheaded&crazy

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher i'm so glad i didn't have to scroll too far down to hit harry potter. I mean OBVIOUSLY!!!!!

MoxyCrimeFighter

Ahhhh, I think I was 12 when the second book came out? I was literally the age of the characters for a really long time, until the the books started getting spaced out further and further. I ended up reading the 2nd book first and was like, "I'm only 12! Where's my envelope! It's not too laaaaaate." So yeah. Totes there with you all.

chnellociraptor

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Ahhh, ditto! Man, there was REALLY nothing like that, right? There are other books that I think are better literature, but I've never read anything as much as I've read the Harry Potter books.

Faintly Macabre

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher In fourth or fifth grade, my best friend showed me this book she'd just started reading that she loved--Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. She must have been one of the first in my grade to read it. We spent the rest of elementary school convinced that we were witches, making up spells and talking to trees. I know from babysitting that younger kids still love it, but I don't think anyone else can have the same investment in it that our cohort had.

martinipie

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Just signing on to say yes, yes, thousand times yes to being the exact right age. It's really mini-generation that people even three or so years older or younger than us just will never get. I'm totally getting misty aaauuggghhh!

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@martinipie I'm also in that age group and it definitely helped brought the books to life for me, because of the sense of community it created in that EVERY kid I knew was reading them. So in a way we really all did go to Hogwarts.

Also join pottermore if you haven't already, I found it the other day, it's really cool!

rosaline

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher ME TOO. We really had the most perfect timing. The 7th book came out the summer right before I left for college; it felt like Harry and I were coming of age together! I love those books SO MUCH.

Also, I cried on my 11th birthday when my letter did not come.

Emma Peel

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Yes. I read the first book when I was 11 (which means I aged somewhat faster than Harry since they quit doing a book a year). I got really into online fan fiction and communities (any former other Sugar Quillers here?) and my best friend and I bonded over the books. They absolutely define my life from 12-15 or so.

sophi

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Harry Potter first hit in the US when I was 12 (not to brag, but I started reading it before anyone else that I knew and before any of the other books were released), and my copy of Sorcerer's Stone is SO beat up, because I carried it around with me EVERYWHERE that year. The spine is completely warped, there's a huge water stain on the front cover, and there are food stains on random pages. It is the definition of well-loved.

TARDIStime

@sophi Same for me - Except in Oz it was titled "philosiphers stone". I have pages that have are falling out because the glue on the book is now 12 years old. I got it in 2000 for my 10th birthday, just one year to wait for my letter!
It 1000 times changed my life and I used to pretend I was Hermione (nerdy, bookish, uncontrollable hair... no pretending required).

TARDIStime

@laura h Definitely a defining thing. My mum's generation had blue Jeans and could see Led Zeppelin live for the cost of buying their album... but we grew up with those three teenage wizards and their magic and their hormones. Alongside them. Totally special and our kids will read it but it won't be the same for them as it was for us.

laura h

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher
I KNOW THIS IS THE BEST
there's so many of us.

God. I think I'm going to throw up from emotions over HP and all the $5 wine i drank while doing laundry.

laura h

@DH@twitter

ilu. that's awesome. was it the emeraldy metallic jelly roll pen? those things. man.

EpWs

@Sailor Jupiter "So in a way we really all did go to Hogwarts."

TEARS. Tears on my face. Damn you people and our FEELINGS.

@sophi You should see mine, it is atrocious. These books were not physically built to handle this much love. (Sidebar: there will never be an e-book equivalent to this phenomenon. Or, now that I think about it, the midnight book release parties. PRINT FOREVER.)

@laura h I'm there, clearly.

yourpretendfriend

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher
Yes to all of these. Reading Harry Potter just makes me feel like I'm home. It got me through a lot of tough stuff, just knowing I could escape into that world for a while.

Mad as a Hatter!

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I have to say, the best present I ever received was the Harry Potter box set from my ex for Christmas. What a dear.

I think I'll go reread them now!

sophielouise

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I can't be the only one who has planned to strictly regiment the way my future, entirely hypothetical children read the books - right? Like I plan to dole them out one by one, in an attempt to mimic the way I got to read them. I realise there are holes in my plan, but I figure I've got time to figure out a way to block the loopholes.

TheMnemosyne

"A Little Princess", by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I so strongly identified with the misfortunes of Sara Crewe (and admired her unrealistic optimism towards her situation!) that it still sticks with me to this day...and I still reread it, occasionally, two decades later.

falconet

@TheMnemosyne My great-aunt gave me a fancy hardback edition of this with colour plates at age 7, and I read the fuck out of it. I had no idea that Becky the maid was supposed to be Cockney, so was baffled by all her dialogue.

-----------

@TheMnemosyne Ooh did you ever read Burnett's Little Lord Fauntleroy? I blame it for making me suspect, for an ignomious period of my young life, that I was probably actually an adopted aristocrat. (Spoiler alert: this was not the case)

rosaline

@TheMnemosyne Also "The Secret Garden." I can't say how many times I read that! My sister and I transplanted a bunch of weeds from one corner of a field to another so we could have our own garden...

pterodactgirl

@TheMnemosyne I would always try to be like Sara and lift my head proudly and not cry whenever anything terrible ("terrible") happened to me between the ages of 6 and 8. And then I would always feel like such a failure if I broke down.

thebestjasmine

@TheMnemosyne I just reread some of it this weekend! Though, when I reread, I often start at the part where the magic comes (one of the most perfect chapters of any book ever oh my god) and read through the rest of the book, because when Sara's father dies it's so sad for me.

TARDIStime

@TheMnemosyne I got made fun of for totally loving A Little Princess in early High School and relating to Sara Crewe - except I never had the fall from grace she did - I started out at the bottom, lol!
@pterodactgirl I still feel that way to this day about crying, I hate others to see me at my most vulnerable and I think this is also where I got it from!

noodge

all my earliest book obsessions are... embarrassing? i think? I lived on the Belgariad (and Mallorean) series by David Eddings, started reading that when I was 9 or 10. I also was obsessed with the Celestine Prophecy when I was a teen because it was, like, so deep. I reread it a few years ago, and was embarrassed at the writing.

Lucienne

@teenie I definitely burned through the Belgariad and Mallorean series when I was like twelve or thirteen. No shame! Those books are fun, even if they are not that good in hindsight.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@teenie Ahaha Fig 2 has some of the Eddings books and I read one in a fit of boredom recently...no shame, they are engaging! And also embarrassing, because you remember how Earnest you were as a preteen and how much you secretly wanted to believe Things Could Happen To You...oh god, I thought I had repressed all those memories...

noodge

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)
preteen teenie: "maybe if i BELEEEEEEEVE hard enough I TOO can use the word and the will!"

TheBelleWitch

@teenie Oh man, me too. I will definitely never touch those David Eddings books again because I know I'd have to throw them across the room. But they were perfect for the 9- to 13-year-old years. I probably read them half a dozen times.

Marquise de Morville

@teenie, @TheBelleWitch A friend of mine was a great fan and recommended the books to me - in college. I was sadly past the age where I could appreciate them and found them pretty repetitive, but could see the appeal they'd have had on a younger me.

branza

@teenie whatever I STILL LOVE THOSE

TyrannosaurusWreck

@teenie I read those in my mid twenties at the behest of a boyfriend (who is no longer a boyfriend!) who loved them as a preteen. Let's just say if eddings described ONE MORE THING as "dunn colored" i would have killed someone.

runner in the garden

(1) Ender's Game (2) Jonathan Livingston Seagull (3) Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

All three have turned out to be slightly embarrassing in one way or another, over the years (Orson Scott Card turned into a huge asshole, Salman Rushdie only a little asshole? and JLS has just never ever been cool) but I'll still fight anybody to defend these three books specifically.

All three are kind of variations on the theme of "how to be a very special boy"...

spoondisaster

@runner in the garden 1 & 2 yes! Jonathan Livingston Seagull, even though it was a novella, is definitely One of Those Books.

themegnapkin

@runner in the garden Salman Rushdie may be a little asshole (is he? I've never heard that before), but he can definitely write. <3 The Satanic Verses.

runner in the garden

@themegnapkin dammit, now i can't remember why I thought that! There was something a couple months ago... Oh well. Sorry Salman Rushdie!

Well, the sequel to "Haroun" isn't nearly as good as the original. That's something.

themegnapkin

@runner in the garden Hold on, I think you're right: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2069832/Devorah-Rose-claims-Salman-Rushdie-horny-jerk-dumped-didnt-sleep-him.html

(found after googling "Is Salman Rushdie a jerk?")

Tiktaalik

@runner in the garden I also have a special place in my bookcase for Ender's Game, I loved that book SO MUCH. OSC's older stuff is good too, I really liked Treason! When he turned out to be a huge asshole, it was so disappointing to me, ugh. I tried to defend him for an embarrassingly long time, but his asshole politics started taking over his writing too, and that's when he lost me.

spoondisaster

@Tiktaalik The Ender's Game series has a place in my heart, but I was also severely disappointed when I found out that he's such a dick. He lives in my city and writes a column for the local independent newspaper and it kind of ruined his books for me, which really sucks. Jerry Pournelle is the same, my dad worked with him when they were both at NASA in the 70s and according to my father he is an asshole, which is not readily apparent in his writing.

Faintly Macabre

@runner in the garden I was soo in love with Ender's Game for so long. I read the whole series, plus most of the Bean series, part of the Homecoming series, and Treason. I even went to a book signing/reading with OSC! As a smart brat who wanted to be a genius/special, Ender's Game had a huuuge effect on me, mostly by turning me into a more difficult teenager because I felt like I was too smart for people to understand me but not smart enough to go to battle school, THE ANGST! But by mid-high-school, he'd become waaaaaayy too much of a douchebag and I'd realized there were better ways to assess my own intelligence than through a YA sci-fi novel written by an asshole.

Tiktaalik

@spoondisaster Those same columns were also published on his website, and I read them religiously, but I just remember in the early/mid 2000s when he started talking about how gay people shouldn't get married because it would redefine the word marriage, and we CAN'T do THAT, and I was pretty much done.

whereismyrobot

@runner in the garden Love JLS.

Also, you will be happy to know, a friend of mine got into with Orson Scott Card a couple of weeks ago. She is pretty much the sweetest person in the world, but said he was a huge ass.

runner in the garden

@Faintly Macabre. Speaker for the Dead was really big for me too. It basically taught me about anthropology and moral relativism and the origins of religion.

Tiktaalik

@runner in the garden Yeah, I loved Ender's Game and that's usually the one I mention because it's the first in the series, but I think I might actually love Speaker more. It's tough to reconcile the author of such a good, thoughtful, empathetic book with the narrow-minded bigot he turned out to be... which I guess was kind of the point of Speaker for the Dead, now that I think about it.

OxfordComma

@runner in the garden : "Enchantment" by OSC is pure loveliness--the boyfriend gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago, and I loved it--give it a try?

spoondisaster

As a youngin' it was Dune that had a big effect on me, just in terms of, I don't know, realizing that things are usually more complicated than they appear.

Now, in my early 20s, I spend a lot of my time thinking about The Brothers Karamazov and Infinite Jest, even though it's been a year or two since I last read either of them. They both taught me a lot about people and hopes & dreams. These books were the first two to really make me think, as evidenced by the fact that I still think about both of them years later.

pterodactgirl

@spoondisaster Dune was such a revelation, and then the sequels were too...but not in a good way. I gave Dune to a friend for his birthday in high school and then hounded him about reading it for months afterward. He never did. It caused a rift between us, no lie.

amity

@spoondisaster OH thank you for making me feel like I'm not a totally pretentious dick for really, genuinely being moved by Infinite Jest. Honestly, the only two people I know who had even heard of the book did not take me seriously when I told them how much I had loved it, and I have felt kind of alone ever since. And I'm working on The Brothers Karamazov now, so I appreciate this doubly!

spoondisaster

@pterodactgirl It's hard for me to take seriously someone that hasn't read Dune. It's kind of a friendship requirement for me-- not that I would not be friends with someone that hasn't read it, but I would insist that they read it. And if they didn't it might cause a rift, as happened to you. The sequels not so much, like you said, but I've read Dune at least 10 times. My high school boyfriend got me a first edition hardcover copy of it and it's the best gift I've ever received.

spoondisaster

@amity Honestly I was a bit concerned that I'd come off as being really pretentious if I said those two books had affected me so deeply, but it is the truth and I'm so glad I read them both. I read Karamazov the summer after my first year of college and Infinite Jest a few years later. IJ took a year to read and it was really a struggle for the first half of the book, but it was all worth it. I

t's really hard to put into words exactly why it affected me the way it did and I only know one other person who has read it, but he understood. It just feels like it's helped me understand myself better, I guess. Same with The Brothers Karamazov. I grew as a person from reading about other people. Plot came secondary to their experiences.

pterodactgirl

@spoondisaster Oh yes, that would be a really awesome gift. My edition has a mostly black cover that gets all fingerprinty when you read it in a way I don't like, but have learned to ignore over the years. And honestly, this turned out to be one of the first hints that that friend was not that cool. Today he is a really uptight foodie who posts militant articles about veganism on facebook, but I just found out is not actually vegan? Very weird.

ach_so

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I first read it as a sophomore in high school, and then re-read it at least 4 times, probably. I just love it. It's a great mix of story/philosophical musings, if you ask me. The movie sucks comparatively.

annestofannes

@rosielo I'm pretty sure Milan Kundera helped me survive high school. Loooooved The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

BoozinSusan

@rosielo Yes, this. I don't know if I'll grow out of it (I suspect I might) but after reading tULoB in college, I read all of his other books. I think the melancholy that suffuses all of them, and the kind of defeatist attitude towards the possibility of true lasting romantic love, has really affected my life. I don't want to be like his characters, but I fear I will.

roadtrips

@rosielo Me too! Bonus points that there was also a Bright Eyes song called "Tereza and Thomas" which maybe? was about tULoB. At least when I was 15, it definitely was.

themmases

My upbringing was so secular (my mom agonized about whether to go back to Unitarian church and ultimately decided against it) I read the Chronicles of Narnia 8 times between elementary school and junior high and had no idea they were allegory. I reread them in high school or college and felt so betrayed. But still kind of like them and have pulled them out once or twice when I was really, really depressed. Favorite ones: The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I realize I'm weird.

After that it was To Kill A Mockingbird. I read that at least 8 times in junior high alone.

-----------

@themmases Another irreligious type here who devoured Narnia with no idea that Aslan was anything other than a really awesome lion. The Silver Chair is still one of my favorite comfort reads. And The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And actually all of them (except The Last Battle, because holy bigotry batman!).

charmcity

@themmases Agreed on TKAM. I probably went to law school because of that book. Damn you, Atticus Finch!!!

themmases

@themmases Oh and, finally, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. I still give people my age side eye if they don't know what that is, because we all had the exact same copy of 1984 and it is discussed at length in the afterword! I mean really, what high school student doesn't read the afterword to their assigned reading and then track down a book discussed at length therein, read it for fun, and talk about it for years after to anyone who will listen? Damn kids.

Seriously though it is my favorite book.

Kulojam

@charmcity This is very true! As a native Alabaman, TKAM made me so Ashamed that i think it really did motivate me to go law school to be like Atticus, the good guy.

And I second (or third) the late-in-life discovery of allegory in Narnia.

Lucienne

To Kill a Mockingbird, or, your first awkward crush on a father figure.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@Lucienne Made more or less awkward by how hot Gregory Peck was in the movie?

@serenityfound

@themmases There is never enough love for A Horse and His Boy, which always makes me sad.

Monkey

@@serenityfound Well, what with the racism and Islamophobia and all. Still, love you 4-eva Bree, but mostly Hwin.

KeLynn

@themmases Absolutely my favorite books of all time! And I'm not religious.

I'm actually in the middle of rereading them now. I've read the series a dozen times probably, but not in the last few years. And yep, just as magical and defining at 25.

Actually, weirdly, C.S. Lewis is hands-down my favorite author, despite the fact that I'm not religious. Something about his writing just gets right inside my heart every time.

Bittersweet

@@serenityfound: The whole Narnia series has always been a touchstone for me, and The Horse and His Boy is my favorite. For some reason the racism doesn't bother me - I just acknowledge it as skewed and caricature and move on.

Apocalypstick

@themmases We! It is so underrated! In fact, even my Englih teacher had not heard of it (which made it difficult to write an essay on).

The Horse And His Boy was my favourite too. I can't beleive Lewis (presumably accidentally) wrote a strong female character who still embraced her femininity and didn't need a boy to show her what to do, and then had her condescended to by Aslan and take it. Made me rage with the second-hand humiliation.

celacia

@@serenityfound A Horse and his Boy is my husband's favorite. I never really liked it though. The Magician's Nephew was mine.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@Bittersweet A Horse and His Boy was always my favorite, too, but I do have a lot of trouble getting past the racism now. I think it might be that I reeeally invested emotionally, so when I realized the awful caricature-ness I felt personally betrayed. Intellectually, I can try to condemn that specific part and set it aside, but when I reread now I can't stop focusing on it.

In my opinion, C.S. Lewis has many flaws, but he is one of the most heart-felt writers ever. I've read everything he's ever written, except his reeeally old stuff on classical myths, and even when I fervently disagree with him he still pulls my heartstrings -- I think it's because he was always struggling with his faith, and so it always feels very real and raw to me. (Of course, if anyone ever wants to see me go HULKRAGE, let's talk about the passage in That Hideous Strength about how we ladies must submit to our husbands even when they are universally acknowledged to be The Worst and may actually be a literal minion of Satan.)

Nicole Cliffe

I absolutely agree on the heartfelt thing. I am a total jag of an atheist, but I always gave Lewis a pass for being so freaking genuine all the time.

yeah-elle

@themmases Yes, TKAM! I read it so many times in middle school. Hey, Boo.

joie

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails let's also talk about the totally-not-latent homophobia in That Hideous Strength. super creepy!

I feel the same way though - totally squicked out by Lewis's problematic viewpoints that come through in his writing, but always totally gobsmacked by the sense of wonder that he manages to convey in his writing that leaves me teary every single goddamn time.

Bittersweet

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails: CSL got me on my path to faith, and if I'd had a boychild his middle name would be Lewis. He was an incredibly complex, frustrating man, but his life is really fascinating. Last year I read The Narnian, and it made me realize just how complex he was (and how much Shadowlands left out).

Lindita

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails I have loved Lewis at pretty much every phase of belief and lack thereof for just this reason. And because of Til We Have Faces.

OxfordComma

@Lindita "'Til We Have Faces", oh God.

billie_crusoe

@MoxyCrimeFighter SO HOT. So so hot.

My only celebrity poster when I was a teenager was Gregory Peck + Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, and I still think they were both the hottest people ever.

TARDIStime

@Kate Croy I used to dig Aslan too, and then I found out about the parallels between him and Jesus. Ruined the series for me - I don't hate Crhistians, but I hate when people try to subconsciously indoctrinate religion for kids with a great fantasy novel.

TARDIStime

@Kate Croy I used to dig Aslan too, and then I found out about the parallels between him and Jesus. Ruined the series for me - I don't hate Crhistians, but I hate when people try to subconsciously indoctrinate religion for kids with a great fantasy novel.

elmephants

I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was 12. I'm not sure why, because I couldn't really relate to anything in the book other than Francie. I saw a lot of myself in Francie, especially in one of the first scenes when she's sitting on a fire escape, reading a book and just watching everything around her. I haven't read it in about 10 years, but it'd be interesting to re-read and see what I remember.

Also, and this might be hokey, but Smashed by Koren Zailckas had a huge influence on my life a few years ago. I was in college and just starting to binge drink. I was feeling like I maybe wasn't making the best decisions, and reading that book made me put everything in perspective.

Alyson Thomas@twitter

@elmephants YES to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and double yes to sitting out on the fire escape. The whole part where she goes to the candy store and buys peppermint candy and eats it on the fire escape while she reads and drinks ice water? No idea why that has stuck with me so much, but it has. I remember eating peppermints and drinking ice water while I read outside for years after that.

Lemonnier

Most of them are children's books-- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, the Melendy Family books (The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake), the Great Brain books -- though I have an extra-special place in my heart for Winter's Tale.

oh well never mind

@Lemonnier Oh the Wolves of Willoughby Chase! We studied this in my last year of primary school and I absolutely loved it. Have just discovered through Wikipedia that there's a whole series set in the same alternate universe called the Wolves Chronicles - might have to look them up.

sudden_eyes

@Lemonnier I'd forgotten The Wolves of Willoughby Chase! *Smacks own forehead.* And as moosette notes there are a ton of sequels - many of them fascinating.

raised amongst catalogs

@Lemonnier Those Melendy books are tattooed on my heart for all time.

Jaya

Oh god, I'm so sorry. it was Are You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume for me in 5th grade, sitting in the back of the classroom and reading it under the desk and I don't even know why ahhhh I swear I read better books now.

Kulojam

@Jaya Ah! I read it back then, too, but my poor sheltered Catholic schoolgirl self didn't know what a period was, and i spent the whole time thinking the dang book was about punctuation, no lie!

Jaya

@Kulojam Omg! It's like that time I thought "safe sex" meant having sex with your clothes on!

BoozinSusan

@Jaya All of the Judy Blume books - Deenie! Then Again, Maybe I Won't - provided an insight into the confusing world of teenage sexuality before I even knew what that was. <3 you, Judy Blume.

EpWs

@Kulojam DUDE there's a mention of "I have not even started my monthly courses yet, so how can I be a wife?" in Catherine Called Birdy and I swear to God I thought she was referring to actual classes.

sovereignann@twitter

@Jaya I read all Judy Blume books like they were being taken from me when I was maybe in the third grade? But then...then there was Forever which I think was stolen from someone's parent or older sister and was passed around in my circle of friends in Junior High and it rocked my world. It was so heartbreaking and grown up to me at the time. Plus, sex

Greta M.

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Ah yes, I thought that too for an absurdly long time.

New Commenter Name

@Jaya
I read every one of Judy Blume's books starting in 3rd-4th grade, I'd have to agree they were very influential. I learned about sex from Judy Blume. Forever - my mom had heard something about that book and told me she wanted to read it before deciding whether she'd allow me to read it. She read it and told me no way. But then she left it out! Just sitting there! In plain view! So I read it on the sly. I was maybe....5th grade at that point. I still have images in my head from that book.

My daughter is in 3rd grade now and I cringe at the idea of her getting hold of ANY of those books. So far she has not discovered them.

thebestjasmine

@Curiouser and curiouser Hahahaha, it's so funny that your mom did that, because I recently read about a talk that Judy Blume gave, and that's exactly how she says to get a kid to read a book that you want them to read.

BoozinSusan

@thebestjasmine EXTRA irony: I have shared this story on the Hairpin before, but when I went to a reading for Summer Sisters when I was 14, at the signing afterward Judy Blume asked my age, and then told me to wait a few more years before reading the book. I opened it up immediately when I got home.

thebestjasmine

@BoozinSusan LOVE IT. That Judy is so smart.

TheLetterL

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher At 7 or 8, I woke my mother up demanding to know what a period was after a particularly edgy "Sweet Valley Twins."

Lucienne

Quest for a Maid, The Riddle-Master of Hed, and Gone With the Wind, most importantly. There are others - I'm part of the Harry Potter generation - but those three (errr, five) are the most significant. (I think.)

I suspect A Suitable Boy will be the definitive book of my early adulthood, but it's too early to say.

SarahP

@Lucienne QUEST FOR A MAID! I can't believe I forgot about that book. Every now and then in my head I replace the word "always" with "aye" and realize that reading that book so many times as a kid changed my brain's syntax.

Lucienne

@SarahP It is soooooo good. I recently(ish) made the mistake of rereading it on a bus. Did I miss my stop? Yes. Yes, I did.

Jenn@twitter

@Lucienne RIDDLE-MASTER OH MY GOD YES.

No one I know has even heard of Patricia McKillip :(

Nicole Cliffe

One of my husband's Formative Books!!!

Lucienne

@Jenn@twitter She is weirdly over-looked! I think the ... quietness of her books is a contributing factor. Also their lack of machismo, or something.

@Nicole Cliffe I read them when I was 10 and my sense of aesthetics, among other things, was profoundly altered.

PistolPackinMama

I read The Handmaid's Tale when I was about 12. Speaking of hearing the penny drop.

noodge

@PistolPackinMama oh yeah, i read that in high school for the first time and it scared the pants off of me. that one was HUGE for me.

slammysosa

@PistolPackinMama It freaked me out when I read it for the first time. Last year. When I was 27. How did you manage to process it at 12??

PistolPackinMama

@teenie I called a radio show Atwood was on once and told her it was my pennydrop book. She said she hadn't written about anything that hadn't already happened. *shiver*

@slammy I don't know? Probably focused on the personal story aspect and didn't absorb as much of the bigger social structure issues, I would expect. It still made the point, though.

Women unable to read! Shock agh!

dj pomegranate

@slammysosa I read Handmaid's Tale like, last year, finally, at the impressionable age of 28, and was like OH NOW I GET WHY EVERYONE KEEPS TALKING ABOUT IT!!

Heat Signature

@PistolPackinMama My sophomore English teacher introduced me to Margaret Atwood (Cat's Eye was the first book I read), and I IMMEDIATELY fell in love with her writing and devoured every book of hers I could get my hands on. Also I was totally freaked to learn that A Handmaid's Tale takes place in my hometown of Bangor, Maine.

sovereignann@twitter

@PistolPackinMama That book...THAT BOOK. Love that book and pretty much anything by Margaret Atwood. But The Handmaid's Tale. Wow.

baklava!

@Heat Signature Cat's Eye was my first one too. I think the Edible Woman was the one that had the biggest impact on me as an impressionable young lady though.

Apocalypstick

@baklava! The Handmaid's Tale made me aware of injustice as an abstract, The Edible Woman and Lady Oracle made me aware of the injustices in our own society.

stonefruit

@Heat Signature ... no? People always say it's set in Maine, but there are really clear references to Cambridge (Memorial Hall is on Harvard's campus, as is Widener library; the Brattle theater makes an appearance; walking down Mass Ave in pre-Gilead times).

/pedantic discourse from disgruntled ex-Cantabridgian

Nicole Cliffe

The Sheraton Commander hotel!

stonefruit

@Nicole Cliffe YES, SERIOUSLY.

TheLetterL

@PistolPackinMama And to make the mention of Handmaid's Tale even more appropriate today: It's May Day! OR IS IT?

PistolPackinMama

@TheLetterL nolite te bastardes carborundorum, yo

yeah-elle

@PistolPackinMama Yes! I didn't read The Handmaid's Tale until I was 15 or 16 but holy shit, it still hit me like a brick to the solar plexus.

TARDIStime

@PistolPackinMama I have poked aorund amazon for a kindle edition of Handmaids Tale - no dice. Am I missing something or do I have to source this the old fashioned way?

yourpretendfriend

@PistolPackinMama
Ugh I was obsessed with The Handmaid's Tale and Margaret Atwood in general last year/still. I'm currently awaiting the last book in the MadAddam trilogy, which deals with a dystopia/apocalypse (surprise, surprise) society. So good.

seaview

@TARDIStime its one of the few books i have pirated - found it on kickass, in a post-apocalypic collection.

Killerpants

Nicole, your dad sounds like the coolest ever. He read the book onto tapes for car trips?! That is so sweet and nerdy and amazing, I can't even deal.

"In Watermelon Sugar the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar.” I found this very profound when I was 15, and it still gives me a little thrill.

highfivesforall

@Killerpants I reread Trout Fishing in America a million times in high school and loved it so much, although I don't think even today that I really "get" it, if that makes sense.

TARDIStime

@Killerpants Dad-made audio books is the cutest ever! I have to say, though, that Stephen Fry audiobooks for Harry Potter could not have been more perfect. Except he does pronounce Wagga Wagga wrong, but that's a TEENY niggle.

slammysosa

YES! to Owen Meany. I read it, I obsessed over it, and I promptly scarred my 12-year-old brain by reading everything else I could get my hands on by John Irving. 'The Water Method Man' is not meant for tween eyes.

Madeleine L'Engle sparked my fascination for science, C.S. Lewis taught me to get lost in other worlds, Susan Cooper opened up the possibility that there may be more than meets the eye in this one, and my fifth grade teacher taught me that a book doesn't have to be highbrow to be great when she read 'Aliens Ate My Homework' to the class. Twice.

Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler

(First comment!)

I'm also in the children's book camp for the most part. Definitely A View from Saturday, From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler, and A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Songs for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. (I didn't ever run away to the Met but I did join my high school quiz bowl team). In high school I Capture the Castle joined the list and at the moment I'm rereading Netherland by Joseph O'Neal for probably the fourth time. The writing is just so beautiful I can't keep it on the shelf.

PistolPackinMama

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler Pasta au Fromage!

And "A String in the Harp." Yesss.

madge

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler from your mixed up files is one of my favorite books ever! also loved my side of the mountain. something about the kids-running-away-from-home-and-doing-it-for-themselves makes me irrationally happy.

cuminafterall

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler Yes, E.L. Konigsburg! I was in sixth grade when A View from Saturday first came out. I ended up reading so many of her books through middle school and early high school-- Father's Arcane Daughter, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver and all the rest.

oh, disaster

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler Yes, yes, yes, Mixed Up Files and A View From Saturday. I want to reread them now.

Maven

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler I swear to you that several years back I wanted to make "What Would Claudia Kincaid Do?" t-shirts. I love that book so much I have two copies. Going to the Met museum for the first time in my early 20s was extra great because of that book.

SlutBucket

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler I forgot my love for The View until I read your comment. I was on my elementary school's Quiz Bowl team and thought it was written FOR ME. Did you also read the Westing Game? It was the first mystery I ever read and led to my obsession with Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Decca

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler Yes! Thinking about it, I suppose From the Mixed-Up Files... was to me aged 8-12 what The New York Trilogy was for ages 13-18. Both made me fall in love with the idea of New York, with knowledge, with secrets, with curiosity.

Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler

@SlutBucket yes! the westing game was my jam! loved that book so much. it also played into a long obsession with agatha christie (post have murder on the orient express as pre-6th grade summer reading) and sherlock holmes stories in middle school. i think i read the collected stories all in one go while at home with the flu in 8th grade...

Bittersweet

@SlutBucket: Ellen Raskin 4eva! My daughter just finished The Westing Game and is now trying to find The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel). I think reading those books (and Encyclopedia Brown) started my love of mysteries that continues apace today.

thebestjasmine

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler My God, I love love The Mixed Up files so so very much. CLAUDIA, you're the best.

stonefruit

@Maven I WISH TO BUY THIS SHIRT.

Slight Joy
Slight Joy

@SlutBucket @Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler @Bittersweet Read the Westing Game in my fourth grade class and loved it. It was totally a gateway drug to Agatha Christie and all sorts of other great murder mysteries.

Emma Peel

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler Three books I remember exactly where I was the first time I read them: the first Harry Potter, Gaudy Night and I Capture the Castle. I don't think I've ever fallen in love with a book so deeply as I did the latter. I reread it every couple of years, always worried I'll like it less as I get older and older and older than Cassandra. So far it hasn't happened.

yeah-elle

@Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler The Mixed Up Files was a huge book for me as a kid. I reread it so many times!

@SlutBucket I still read The Westing Game about once a year. It's still so good, ahhhh.

Megasus

I read The Golden Compass over and over and over in 6th grade, and it's still one of the best books ever. Also Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Quartet and The Immortals series. I seriously almost murdered my stepsister when she wrecked one of them.

chicken&telephone

@Megano! I was having a long discussion (monolog?) with my male partner the other day about how important the Alanna books were to me growing up. If you put all the kingdom of Tortal, female knight business aside, the Alanna books are basically an outline of How Life Will Go for Strong Intelligent Women. You will fall deeply in love. You will get over it. You will act boldly and take responsibility and make big mistakes. Things will sometimes seem really terrible. You will know who you are, but then that will change and you'll have to figure it out again. You will have sex with men you do not see a future with and that will NOT be a terrible thing. You will find a place in the world and end up with the thief and things will be all right.

There is something really reassuring about knowing what to expect from existence, and I really took the Alanna-as-an- "instruction manual" thing to heart long after I had finished reading the books.

Megasus

@chicken&telephone Yes! Tamora Pierce 4 lyfe!

Alixana

@chicken&telephone I have not read these in probably 20 years, but now, thanks to this comment and the magic of Amazon Prime, they are all on their way to me! Yay!

adela

@Megano! I realized recently that I can't overstate how important those books were to my development. From the chivalry stuff (do the right thing! Even when you're tired and grumpy) to the way that the characters set and keep really long term goals, everything I recognize as a good quality to look for in myself and others probably came from that book.

My bad qualities came from other books entirely.

Ellie

@chicken&telephone Yes yes yes!

My favorite series is actually "Protector of the Small." I think Kel is the best female character in the entire realm of literature. Maybe she's a little too "good at everything"
but I cannot say enough good things about her as a role model for hard work and persistence. I actually used to re-read them in college as motivation to study hard. This is kind of embarrassing to say out loud.

cliuless

@Ellie do not be embarrassed by that, because that's basically how i live my life. except i know i would be a major disappointment to Kel.

tibia

@Ellie I *still* pretend to be Alanna or Kel when I am working out. I basically just re-read all of Tamora Pierce over and over my entire childhood, and I don't even think I realized then the awesome (feminism, humanism, work ethic, loyalty) values it was instilling in me. Also, magic.

tibia

@tibia AND basically every awesome girl I know now will confess to an abiding Alanna/Kel obsession in middle school/now.

Johanna Albrecht@twitter

@Megano! hardcore legit these are my favorite books of all time!! I definitely identify most with Alanna (probably because that was the first quartet I read) and believe a Lion is my spirit animal and purple is my favorite color because of these books. Have you all read the Daughter of the Lioness books (Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen)? Her writing is so much more intricate in later works like that, but I still can re-read the Lioness or Wild Magic quartets and be so involved. Those books were highly influential on my life; I think the biggest impact on me was the idea of always being able to make your own choices no matter what other people thought you should/shouldn't do.

Megasus

@Johanna Albrecht@twitter I only read the first of the Kel books, I haven't really read any of the newer stuff, but I think I'm gonna have to do like a giant Amazon spree on all of her newer works. Oh and I read the ones about the weather wizard kids (what was that even called?) BUT I HATED THEM. Which I think is why I haven't read much of her newer stuff.

tibia

@Megano! Circle of Magic. I loved those a lot as a kid, but they're written for slightly younger people (like ages 8-12 maybe?) so I think they don't hold up as well as the Tortall books.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@tibia Agreed on the instilling of amazing values. I recently realized that Song of the Lioness was the first book/person/statement that ever told me it was possible to love and have sex with more than one person in your life, without being emotionally and morally bankrupt. It was a very necessary message for me.

Also, I am totally going to start pretending to be Alanna while I work out. Best idea.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@chicken&telephone Yes yes yes. If I ever have daughters I am going to be reading them Song of the Lioness from before the time they can understand words. (Actually, that goes for sons too. More boys should read Tamora Pierce.)

Kulojam

Where The Red Fern Grows was a school-assigned book that made me cry, probably the first one to do so. The Ramona books by Beverly Cleary made me love to read - I remember really identifying with Ramona as a kindergartener. Like whoa, she didn't MEAN to get her new rainboots stuck in the mud! So many Feelings i have were sparked by books - The Handmaid's Tale, 1984, Fahrenheit 451. Harriet the Spy! Augh, this open thread is gonna be amazing. So many memories.

DickensianCat

@Kulojam Mine is also Where The Red Fern Grows. I think either my third or fourth grade teacher read it out loud to the class, and how any of us kept from crying I'll never know.

pterodactgirl

@Kulojam I can't ever go back and read Where the Red Fern Grows because I still don't think I'm over all the tears I shed in fourth grade.

Lindita

@DickensianCat My fifth grade teacher read it to us, but got so choked up at the end that she had to stop, and made me take over for her. Ten year old me was pretty heartless.

raised amongst catalogs

Leif Enger's Peace Like A River is going to be a book I go back to every year or so for the rest of my life. It stands out as being a pure and non-shitty part of my twenties.

MerelyGoodExpectations

As a teen, Mists of Avalon. In college, Griel Marcus' Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century. Post-college, Mayakovsky and Frank O'Hara.

And, because today is May Day, Red Emma Speaks, by Emma Goldman. I pulled it off the library shelf at random one long summer when I was about fourteen, and it was my earliest and still most influential encounter with the history of the radical left.

Lisa @twitter

From my college years, probably "Perelandra" by CS Lewis or "The Alchemist" by Paolo Coelho. More recently, the Song of Ice and Fire series by GRRM because *damn*.

MerelyGoodExpectations

@Lisa @twitter My father absolutely LOVES the Prelandra books and still holds hope that I'll come round to them eventually.

DH@twitter

@Lisa @twitter

Perelandra! I read the Cosmic Trilogy when I was nineteen or so and it blew my mind, especially Out of the Silent Planet (also a good King's X album).

runner in the garden

@DH@twitter also a great Iron Maiden song!

DH@twitter

@runner in the garden

Yes! I wonder what Lewis would think if he knew how many Satanic metal bands have used his stories for inspiration. XD

Bittersweet

@DH@twitter: Perelandra still blows my mind, especially that chapter in the middle when Arthur realizes why he's there. "It is not for nothing that you are named Ransom." *shiver*

Guessing Lewis would give those Satanic metal bands some serious side-eye...

Atheist Watermelon

oh god. i read everything Christopher Pike wrote from the ages of about 7 through 13, then made the smooth transition to Stephen King after having seen the Christopher Walken movie of the Dead Zone. I'm not sure how this has "formed" me, though... Hmmm...

Atheist Watermelon

@LittleBookofCalm i have to admit that the Stand is still one of my favorite books, and I still read it once a year...

New Commenter Name

@LittleBookofCalm
After reading all of Judy Blume's books as a child (see up thread), I moved on to trashy romance for a few years (none of which is individually memorable), then I discovered Stephen King. The Talisman, which he co-wrote with Peter Straub, was my first introduction to fantasy (is that considered fantasy? I don't even know) and then The Dark Tower series. I think in my whole life, those Dark Tower books are the only ones I've ever read twice.
Yesterday a new book arrived in the mail, and it's part of The Dark Tower! I joked to my husband that I might have to take a couple days off work to read it.
I've never read most of the "classics." I guess I don't have very sophisticated taste in books, but whatever.

DickensianCat

@LittleBookofCalm Christopher Pike!!!! Those books were great. Well written, and just edgy enough for my 11 and 12-year-old sensibilities because there was some sex, but it wasn't too smutty, and some of them actually made me cry. Remember Me made me cry and cry and cry and actually still affects my outlook on the afterlife to this day.

Gina@twitter

@LittleBookofCalm yesss!!! I was so obsessed with Christopher Pike as a kid! I would feel so superior to my friends reading Goosebumps. I read Whisper of Death probably 20 times. (I also just googled "Christopher Pike witch abortion" because I couldn't remember the title haha)

Atheist Watermelon

@DickensianCat Remember Me and Spellbound were my favorites! This is actually making me want to read them again... Haha!

celacia

@LittleBookofCalm Remember Me made me cry so hard. There were sequels? I had no idea. (Thanks, Wikipedia.) I loved his books. Some of the adult ones were also not too bad. Sati was fantastic, and totally different from his other stuff.

kerouackangaroo

those georgia nicholson books? 'angus, thongs, and full frontal snogging,' etc. loved them. when i was kind of too old to love them (late high skool)

slammysosa

@kerouackangaroo I read all the 'Princess Diaries' books in college. No shame.

Dizzy

@kerouackangaroo Totally in the same boat, no shame! I re-read them when I'm at my parents house and still laugh like a crazy person every. single. time.

Cat named Virtute

@slammysosa The Princess Diaries are actually pretty great books, though. I've read the first three, and probably the first one three or four times. Cabot really gets being an awkward teenager, and the voice in those books is so strong and believable. Also, I like that Mia wrestles so hard with wanting to be cool/loathing the cool kids and wanting to be alternative and different. So many books about different kids made me feel like a bit of an imposter because being on the outside is hard and lonely, damnit! And I feel like Cabot really gets that dynamic.

Does Axl have a jack?

@slammysosa I read all of the Princess Diaries books a few years ago (mid 20s). Then the rest of Meg Cabot's books.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@Marika Pea@twitter Looooooved the Georgia Nicholson books, also when I was really too old to be reading them. And I had a great affection for the The Princess Diaries until she turned into kind of an idiot in the last few books. Like, not just sort of oblivious, like always, but an actual stupid person. Ruined 'em a bit for me.

maxandserg

@kerouackangaroo I made an account just to say how much I luuuuuuuurve Georgia! To this day whenever I do something especially fun and/or insane, I think of her (particularly when making costumes-- as I looked in the mirror of my homemade Jafar costume, I thought "Georgia would be proud!").

thebestjasmine

@Marika Pea@twitter Yep, totally agree! Also, Meg Cabot is a proud feminist, and I think that her books really show this, while also having her characters be real people.

Josiepagne

Nick Hornby's High Fidelity for the high school and college years. I'm admittedly afraid to reread because I don't think adult relationships will look the same to me now as they did back then, and I don't want to ever love the book one ounce less.

The icing on the cake was when I met him at a NYC book signing while in my first job as an assistant at his publisher. I showed up with a stack of books including a couple British editions that I had bought while abroad in college. He noticed them, asked for the story, and then wanted to know what I studied in college. Journalism, I told him, and he asked how that had worked out for me. I think I said something pretty close to "Well, not too badly, because now I'm working for your publisher." He stopped signing, looked me directly in the eye, congratulated me and told me I should be really proud of myself. It was pretty much the best. He also signs his books "Love, Nick Hornby" which I could not adore more.

Atheist Watermelon

@Josiepagne LOVE Nick Hornby! I've read everything he's written. I do have to say, though, that I've never quite forgiven him for trashing Kid A in the New Yorker...

bessbrowning

@Josiepagne I completely agree. I actually still read that book every year. To me, it still feels like I'm rediscovering a secret into the male mind with each read. It also gets reread after every break up. I'm very happy to hear that he was so sincere when you met him. Nothing is worst than hating an author whose work really meant something to you. Last year, my dog ate the last 5 pages of my British copy (that I also bought while studying abroad). I just can't bring myself to replace it.

raised amongst catalogs

Also, Jacob Have I Loved (Katherine Paterson) and Cassie Binegar/Arthur for the Very First Time (Patricia MacLachlan)were perfection to me as a kid -- as were the Melendy books by Elizabeth Enright, which I have already commented on about six times on The Hairpin).

raised amongst catalogs

@vanillawaif You dummy, self -- how could you neglect to mention Sarah, Plain and Tall?

redonion

@vanillawaif Jacob, Have I Loved! It still wrecks me to remember the way it wrecked my 10 year-old self.

oh, disaster

@vanillawaif Ohhh, Jacob Have I Loved. Poor Louise.

raised amongst catalogs

@redonion Seriously! Re-read it and be wrecked anew!

raised amongst catalogs

@oh, disaster I just tried to get my boyfriend to read it and he refused. I pity him, because he'll never know Call & the Captain.

Greta M.

@redonion Wrecked indeed! Her sister was the worst!

anachronistique

@vanillawaif "Will you miss me as much as you miss Caroline?" "More."

BRB, SOBBING INTO MY KEYBOARD

raised amongst catalogs

@anachronistique That settles it. I'm re-reading it TODAY.

anachronistique

@vanillawaif Just make sure you have a box of tissues handy. Every time I think this'll be the time I get through it without hysterically sobbing... and it never is.

elizabeast

Three books. None of which make any sense.

1. When I was 12, I pulled a copy of No Exit off my parents' bookshelves because the cover looked kind of creepy. That was the year I stopped doing any homework ever.

2. Violet & Claire by Francesca Lia Block. I can't even get into a discussion about whether or not Block is a good writer, but I loooooved her books when I was a teenager and I still love them now (I'm rereading the Weetzie Bat books with my 14 year old sister right now and it is SO FUN). I'm pretty sure V&C is the reason all my friendships are bestfriendships and why I wanted to run away to LA.

3. When I was 15, I found an issue of Bust and an issue of Bitch buried behind some other lady magazines at my local Borders. I had never seen anything like them before, so I bought them and went home and got super psyched that there were other thinking women out there in the world. One of the magazines had a review of the recent reprinting of Dialectic of Sex. I obediently went out and purchased Dialectic of Sex. At that point, I kind of knew nothing about the current landscape of feminism and I wasn't sure if this book was a joke or super radical or what, but I was fascinated by it. I especially loved the parts about freeing the children.

I've since re-read all of these books a few times and I'm transported back to my teenage self every time. When I had to read No Exit again in college, it was like visiting an old friend (seriously, who am I?). When I think about Violet & Claire, I get all warm and fluttery inside.

Ellie

@elizabeast I go back and forth all the time on how much I like Francesca Lia Block. In some respects, yes, she's a good writer, it's so beautiful and lyrical, and SO evocative. In other respects, I think she seriously glorifies eating disorders and drug addiction and abusive relationships, which I can legitimately understand is hard not to do when you yourself are suffering from any of those things.

Also, everyone in her books is unrealistically beautiful and thin and the fact that they "feel" ugly doesn't really excuse that for me. I did really enjoy reading them as an anorexic teenager though! I'm probably being too harsh, they are good books, but I can't get past how she glorifies eating disorders and fucking movie stars at age 13 and whatever.

pterodactgirl

@Ellie Agreed about being made uncomfortable by a lot of the content in FLB's books. I also feel very strongly that she's one of those authors who needs an editor with a strong hand to rein in the lyrical quality of her writing or it becomes soppy. That said, there was a three month period of sophomore year of HS where I was OBSESSED with her books.

elizabeast

@Ellie I never felt like Block was glorifying eating disorders, but definitely drugs. And definitely being a free range teenager. For me, I love her books because I love the fantasy world they're set in. I know not much of it is rooted in reality, but it's nice to imagine a world where the wind talks to you or whatever,

raised amongst catalogs

In the ninth grade, I walked around with a tattered copy of The Prince of Tides. I typed papers on it for my English classes, in that terrible cursive-looking font.

WWVMD

@vanillawaif Yep, I was just coming here to say that. Also, Beach Music KILLED me. I still have pretty vivid nightmares about scenes from that book.

raised amongst catalogs

@vanillawaif I read Conroy's last novel on a flight two summers ago and felt SO ripped off. It was just a mish-mash of the same storylines he's already written!

Monkey

@vanillawaif AW GIRL I swear to god I wrote a paper in high school comparing and contrasting The Prince of Tides to East of Eden. My poor sweet junior-year teacher let me get away with it but I kind of wish I could find her now and we could laugh about it together.

raised amongst catalogs

@Monkey I will love you forever for doing that and for telling me about it.

Creature Cheeseman

If poetry counts, then definitely the Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. For regular books, I'd probably have to say Pride and Prejudice.

shumacumlaude

As a kid, Judy Blume's Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself was my absolute faaaavorite. Somewhere around 12 I read Jane Eyre which was sort of my first foray into "grown-up" literature. And then, um, I carried The Perks of Being A Wallflower around with me like a security blanket for much of 2002 - 2003. I did the same with Allen Ginsberg's HOWL a year later.

MissM

@shumacumlaude I just lent someone my copy of Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself to someone! It's 20 years old and verrrrrrry loved. Great, great book.

le mango

@shumacumlaude I can't believe no one else has brought up Perks of Being a Wallflower! I read it when I was about 14 and I looooved it, it felt so transgressive and cool to read it, and of course I knew exactly what Chbosky was talking about when he said they were infinite. I think about it every now and again, but so far I haven't been willing to re-read it because I have a feeling it will not stand up to adult scrutiny.

annestofannes

Anne of Green Gables. I still read it compulsively when I'm having a bad day. Oh Anne.

And also, MANIAC MAGEE. Ohmygod, best YA book ever.

Hammitt

@annestofannes When I was like 5 or 6 my mother wrote the Denver Post book review of Maniac Magee. She read a preview copy aloud to us in my living room. I realize she has done other important and awesome things in her life, but, lets be honest, that's pretty much teh one that stuck.

raised amongst catalogs

@annestofannes Yes! AofGG is my therapist.

annestofannes

@vanillawaif Totally! I just imagine mysely away in Marilla's kitchen and my day gets infinitely better.

SarahP

@annestofannes Ohhhh, Anne of Green Gables was my gateway to the Story Girl books! I loved them.

Splendiferous

@SarahP My own kids have started reading the Anne books, and it makes me so incredibly happy, because those books definitely had a huge impact on me. I want to live in Avonlea, please!

And the Story Girl books! Cecily! Felicity and Peter 4ever!

Bittersweet

@annestofannes: Hooray, Anne of Green Gables! I first read those at age 10 and still read them all about once a year. Definitely books of comfort and sustenance.

On our honeymoon 15+ years ago (!) we went to Nova Scotia and PEI and visited the Green Gables national park. I wandered around in a happy dream, oblivious to my husband's (affectionate) teasing. It was like visiting some sort of shrine.

pterodactgirl

@Splendiferous I reread all the Anne books recently (and read the Story Girl books for the first time) and came to the conclusion that I think when I die I'd like to go to Avonlea instead of heaven.

Two-Headed Girl

@annestofannes I'm rereading Anne right now, and I think I actually appreciate it a lot more now that I'm older. LMM is so funny, even if her life ended up being kind of sad.

yeah-elle

@annestofannes I reread Maniac Magee a few months ago and WEPT. Jerry Spinelli, man. I remember Wringer also totally wrecking me as a kid.

And Anne, of course. When I was little, I wanted to be an author/illustrator and live on PEI like her, haha.

salty

@annestofannes Without hyperbole, those books saved my sanity. I spent a month after my mother died curled up in a chair reading them. I wasn't very old, I was scared and sad, and I don't doubt I would be a much less stable person now if I hadn't been given those books, and allowed the time to lose myself in Avonlea. Even looking at the covers of my Anne books can cheer me up on bad days! I would totally name a future daughter Cordelia, just in honour of Anne!

Dizzy

I went on a all-the-Sherlock-Holmes-mysteries tear as an 11 year old and those have most definitely had a significant impact on my life. Being able to see what other people miss, that everything is just laid out there for you to figure out if you just tune in was and still is very appealing to me. Though it's a great game to try and figure out people's stories as they pass by I take it a bit too seriously than I'd like to let on. And now I get the "in" jokes in Sherlock which I use (somehow..?) to justify my all consuming crush on Benedict Cumberbatch.

Also EVERYTHING by Gordon Korman. Witty, caring, conniving kids who were always ahead of the curve.

ranran

@Dizzy Loooooved Gordon Korman! I'll reread those every once in a while -- they're still funny!

@serenityfound

@Dizzy I have a "Complete Works of SH" from the 1970s that are basically just facsimiles of some earlier printing, which I love and read to DEATH as a youngling. Also, it inspired me to learn to read roman numerals, since that's what the publication date was in.

sudden_eyes

@Dizzy So totally yes on Sherlock Holmes! Read 'em all, repeatedly, and can't believe I didn't think of it till I saw your comment. As for Mr. Cumberbatch, oh my God swoon. WTF is it with him? I shall never recover.

withatwist

Madeline L'Engle was a big damn deal to me as a young one, specifically the books featuring the O'Keefes. I re-read Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted about once a year and it still feels like an awesome coming-of-age story.
Reading White Oleander as a thirteen-year-old (and at least once a year again throughout high school) got me thinking about womanhood and identity.
There are also so many series I obsessed over, but the ones that actually mattered were LoTR, Harry Potter (which I started reading at 11, right when Chamber of Secrets came out), and The Golden Compass trilogy.

EpWs

@aitch Oh yessssss, Ella Enchanted.

MoxyCrimeFighter

I think Ella Enchanted is the only book I've ever finished reading and then immediately started reading again.

maxandserg

@aitch I harbor a not-so-secret fantasy of remaking the Ella Enchanted movie and doing it RIGHT, dammit.

Guinevere'sGhost

@aitch I think you are me. Yes to all of those books, and I just reread Ella Enchanted a couple of months ago (I am now 25) and still loved it so hard. And @maxandserg I also harbor that fantasy. That movie made me violently angry. How could they ruin something so awesome?

EpWs

@maxandserg I have not seen the movie and refuse to do so. Let me know when your and Guinevere's Ghost's version comes out, please!

Decca

Without hesitation, Paul Auster's New York Trilogy. I came across my dad's battered paperback copy when I was 13 and it exploded my tiny little mind into pieces. It was my introduction to experimental fiction and post-modernity (before I'd even heard of modernity) and genre blurring and intertextuality and authorial winks. There was a character named "Paul Auster" for Christ's sake! I just thought it was impossibly cool and dense and weird. I'd always been a voracious reader but this was the book that made me want to study literature.

I was hugely into Auster from then up until a few years ago, reading and rereading everything he put his name to. Sadly I think his last 4 or 5 books have been rubbish, but I'll always be grateful to him for instilling in me a curiosity about literature. I went to see him read last year in Harvard Square and ended up making conversation with the women in the audience beside me who turned out to be his cousin. She was lovely and introduced me to him afterwards, so I got to thank him in person.

Aaaand literally just this afternoon I handed in my last ever undergraduate English essay: on psychogeography in The New York Trilogy.

runner in the garden

@Decca the graphic novel adaptation by David Mazzucchelli is really interesting.

themmases

@Decca I loved that book! I've been meaning to reread it because I really enjoyed Jedediah Berry's The Manual of Detection and it reminds me very much of New York Trilogy. And, alas, that is Berry's only book so far. So much more fun to discover an author when they have an entire body of work you can dive into.

What else of Auster's do you like? I've only read New York Trilogy.

Decca

@themmases I'd recommend Leviathan or The Music of Chance next! Neither works within the detective convention, but they're almost as good as the Trilogy.

reebs14

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien SLAYED me in high school, and set in motion an obsession with all things Vietnam war-related, especially concerning the soldiers themselves. I read it again for college (I made a point to take every single course that focused on that era and/or other American wars) and found myself sobbing at the exact same passages and even some new ones. The story about the baby water buffalo? God, I can't even.

elysian fields

90% of my favorite books are from childhood, because reading fiction will never be as exciting as it was between the ages of 8 and 12. :/

Top contenders:
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy
Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman (Lena Dunham name-checked it in the NYT!)
Holes by Louis Sachar
Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech

Nothing I've read as a teenager or adult even comes close.

reebs14

@elysian fields Ahhh, Catherine Called Birdy! I think I still have my battered copy somewhere....couldn't bear to get rid of it.

LaLoba

@elysian fields The View from Saturday and Maniac Magee, oh LORDY. I re-read Maniac Magee two years ago and it was incredible. That huge knot! Oh god, it's just so good. And I loved the View from Saturday in fourth grade.

slammysosa

@elysian fields I just bought Catherine Called Birdy at a library book sale because my immediate reaction upon seeing it was "holy cow that book was AMAZING in sixth grade!" Am I the only one who haunts used book sales specifically to buy things I thought were awesome in elementary school?

DH@twitter

@slammysosa

You are not. As I recall, Catherine Called Birdy holds up pretty well!

EpWs

@reebs14 OH Catherine Called Birdy. I went through two copies and both of them have the covers falling off or gone completely. Wow, that book.

oh, disaster

@elysian fields I totally agree, especially between 8 and 12. At that age, you're old enough to read on your own and young enough that peer pressure hasn't set in yet (well, hopefully).

Lil Sebastian

@elysian fields Ooooh the Westing Game! I loved it. Behind the Attic Wall I remember giving me the super creeps though.

Maven

@elysian fields THE WESTING GAME!!!!

DH@twitter

@Lil Sebastian

Was Behind the Attic Wall the one about a Nazi Youth girl whose family was hiding a Jewish family in their house?

Wait no, that was Behind the Bedroom Wall.

Speaking of creepy attics, did anyone ever read Time Windows? It was about, as I recall, an enchanted dollhouse. I read too many scary doll stories as a kid.

annestofannes

@DH@twitter Ohmygod I Loved Time Windows. Did you ever read The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright???

DH@twitter

@annestofannes

Yes! It was a huge mistake, I had nightmares for weeks!

Lil Sebastian

@DH@twitter Yes yes, Time Windows and the Dollhouse Murders both gave me the super creeps too. Behind the Attic Wall was about dolls that came to live and... verbally abused each other? Behind an attic wall? That's how I remember it anyway. So, relevant to this discussion!

DH@twitter

@Lil Sebastian

Ooog. Glad I missed that one. I couldn't even deal with the Goosebumps that were about dummies and dolls, not sure why I thought reading a book called THE DOLLHOUSE MURDERS would be a good idea.

anachronistique

@DH@twitter HOLY SHIT, I did not think anybody else had actually read Time Windows! Do you still get creeped out by magnolias?

candybeans

@LaLoba Maniac Magee! Maniac Magee! So damn good! I read and reread that book RAGGED in 5th grade. I read Stargirl in high school to a similar point of ragged-ness, actually.

yeah-elle

@elysian fields Ahhhh, ALL OF THESE.

DH@twitter

@anachronistique

I don't exactly get creeped out by them, but when I smell them that is EXACTLY what I think of. Terrifying Proustian olfactory flashback to ladies who lock their children in cellars.

BattyRabbit

@elysian fields Behind the Attic Wall is so creepy and lovely and sad!!! I read the title in your comment and had to go get my copy off the shelf and flip through. Uncle Morrissssss :(

Lil Sebastian

Anne of Green Gables was what I read repeatedly, exhaustively as a kid. The Time Traveler's Wife and Life of Pi were what I read repeatedly, exhaustively as a college student.

Hammitt

@Lil Sebastian I read Anne of Green Gables (ALL EIGHT BOOKS! I bet most of you didn't even know there WERE eight!) at least four times through in 4-6th grades.

Lil Sebastian

@Hammitt Oh of course I had the whole series, 2-8 are all equally battered from rereading, the first one has basically fallen apart. I was also reminded downthread of my complete obsession with Roald Dahl. He wrote such wonderful, relatable kids! Matilda forever.

Hammitt

@Lil Sebastian Well, I assumed YOU did, fellow Anne lover! But the rest of the world is sadly under-aware of them. Rainbow Valley was my favorite.

Bittersweet

@Hammitt: You mean everyone doesn't know there are 8 books?!? That's just wrong. All of mine are pretty battered, but Anne of the Island and Anne's House of Dreams are battered AND highlighted because I love them so much.

thebestjasmine

@Bittersweet Anne of the Island is still my favorite, I think. I love all of the books, so it's hard to choose, but God, I still want to live in Patty's Place.

candybeans

@Lil Sebastian Matildaaaaa! I read that book SOO many times. Over, and over, and over. Of course, being slightly above-average in school and having a vaguely un-fun childhood, I thought I WAS Matilda. So much love.

SuperGogo

@Bittersweet Anne of the Island and Rilla of Ingleside were my most battered books of the series. And it took me a while to come to love Anne of Windy Poplars, because originally I was just pissed off that Anne had to go off and teach and write letters rather than just marrying Gilbert already!

SuperGogo

@thebestjasmine Absolutely. With Gog and Magog guarding the fireplace and everything.

Hammitt

@SuperGogo I know! Never liked that one as much. Anne of the Island, Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside were my faves. Although I have a really, really soft spot for Anne's House of Dreams.

thebestjasmine

@Hammitt You know, I never liked Windy Poplars that much, until I reread it in my years just out of college. I felt an affinity to Anne then that I didn't get before -- I was also away from my family, working at a job where people weren't that nice, and missing my friends and my cozy college life. Granted, the place where I was living had no Rebecca Bee, so it wasn't the same.

Hammitt

@thebestjasmine I wonder... I'm 27 now, I bet if I reread it it would feel VERY different, you're right.

madge

"island" by aldous huxley, his utopian book where people take mushrooms, do a lot of mountain climbing, and practice non-ejaculatory sex for both spiritual and contraceptive reasons. the book is absolutely beautifully thought through and i want to live in pala SO BAD.

plonk

as a kid: LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE (the whole series). as a teen: i capture the castle. college: possession.

i like stuff about the details of people's households, i guess.

Interrobanged

@plonk I Capture the Castle, god, yes. I read over and over and it was so awesome, until I felt like I got it, or something.

Cat named Virtute

@plonk "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink..."

Oh yes.

thebestjasmine

@plonk Have you read The Wilder Life? It's all about visiting the Little House sites and some of the real background of the books and is such a fun read to any fan of the books.

pterodactgirl

@plonk Possession was actually really really huge for me. Every time I reread it I get something more out of it too. Have you read Angels and Insects or The Children's Book? Because they are fantastic as well and I want to talk about them. (The Little House books were just MY LIFE for a while as a kid though. You have excellent taste Internet Stranger.)

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@plonk Little House on the Prairie was absolutely foundational for me. I loved the family dynamics, and the striving, and the details of pioneer life. And I loved Almanzo Wilder. To this day, the "For Daily Bread" chapter in The Long Winter reduces me to tears in about five seconds.

plonk

@pterodactgirl the only other as byatt book i've read is the little black book of short stories. but we can talk about possession and little house! as long as the conversation takes the form of shouting out things from the books, since i actually have a paper to write right now.

maud taking off her turban!
the breton girl's DIARY!
the CAVE with the TINY RED CRABS! (if you haven't read the book don't get all hurr hurr in here, that's the POINT)

and in little house on the prairie:
the pig bladder balloon!
the aunts getting ready for the maple sugar dance!
the LEEEECHES!

plonk

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails have you read lizzie skurnick's shelf discovery essay on "the long winter"? it is excellent.

siniichulok

@pterodactgirl I love The Children's Book!! It's like what all the adults in The Railway Children would have been doing behind the scenes, but I find The Children's Book to be even MORE interesting, with all that art and feminism and class stuff.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@plonk Oooooh, no, I have to look for it! Thanks!

pterodactgirl

@plonk

When Roland peeks through the keyhole into Maud's bathroom and then she walks into him!
The bit narrated by Ellen Ash!
MORTIMER CROPPER!

Almanzo's family having to splash water on the crops to save them from dying in the frost!
Laura's mom putting her hair in rag curlers! Mary being a bitch about it!
The CHINA SHEPHERDESS!
And ugh...LEEEEECHES!!

Seriously though, as @siniichulok points out, The Children's Book is mad good too.

sudden_eyes

Many v. v. good books listed already, quite a few of which (hi, Pride and Prejudice!) are totally on my list. And - LAURA INGALLS WILDER! I'm particularly fond of Farmer Boy and Little House in the Big Woods, but they're all amazing.

In the mildly embarrassing category, I've got to go with the B. J. Chute's delicious Greenwillow, which I read at about 14 and then over and over again for years (still own it, and have been known to reread it when ailing) (still love it, too). It's a village story, with a romance, but also with a wealth of quirky sensual detail and lovely writing that lifts it above the run of the mill. That being said, the romance was exactly the stuff of my youthful fantasies and this book was one of the essential tools in my "I'm not going to ever grow up and have a mature relationship" kit.

Fun fact: Joy Chute was at one time the President of PEN American Center.

sudden_eyes

@sudden_eyes Oooh! Also! Georgette Heyer. These Old Shades, Frederica, The Grand Sophy ... I wanted the clothes and the adventures, I wanted to be those heroines. Was less interested in the men.

I'm sticking with "mildly embarrassing" because if I try to write down everything that had a strong influence on me - Emily and Charlotte Bronte! Jane Austen! Keats! As You Like It! Bleak House! Raymond Chandler! Tolkien! (Eowyn!) - I'll never never cut it out.

charlesbois

@sudden_eyes I use Georgette Heyer's writing as a model for social interactions. I love the heroines, but give me any of the heroes for their icy set-downs!

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@sudden_eyes Frederica is my favorite! I once dated a guy who sneered at me for reading Georgette Heyer, because clearly women reading Georgette Heyer are shallow and vapid and just looking for "respectable" bodice-rippers and blah blah blah. That guy should have been broken up with much faster than he was, or at least been subjected to some EXTREMELY icy set-downs.

sudden_eyes

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails Frederica is almost always my total favorite - although The Talisman Ring was my gateway drug and I still love it!

I only WISH I were good at icy set-downs.

sudden_eyes

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails Also, my husband once put my Georgette Heyer novels in storage, on the grounds that "obviously" I didn't need to have them in the apartment - which admittedly has too much stuff in it, but PRIORITIES, dude. I made him drive to the storage place and retrieve them.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@sudden_eyes WHAT. I'm glad you set him straight. The things that stay in my apartment no matter what are my plants and my feel-good books. Clothes,furniture, cleaning supplies, food...all negotiable. But paws off my Georgette and Tamora and Mary Stewart.

sudden_eyes

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails "Airs Above the Ground"? My first - and still most fondly remembered - Mary Stewart.

fleurdelivre

When I was six, I ordered Finding the Titanic by Robert D. Ballard from a book order and read it over and over and over and it was a childhood obsession that crescendo-ed until the movie came out when I was 11.

When I got to those formative teen years, the Georgia Nicholson books were big for a while. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging is still hilarious to me.

And Nicole! My mom read Island of the Blue Dolphins into a tape recorder for some reason every night at bedtime when I was in elementary school and I got to be along for the ride!

Chills

@fleurdelivre I loved 'Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging' Was so happy the other day when my Guides were talking about it, it's nice people still read it!

olivebee

I don't know about shaping me, per se, but when I was in first grade, I devoured the entire Nancy Drew series, and it was the first inkling I had that a girl could do anything equal to or better than a man. Elementary school is the time in your life where they drill into your brain "everyday heroes" such as cops, firefighters, scientists, and astronauts, and the images of these people are ALL MEN. Always. Men. So Nancy Drew was a girl that was brave, incredibly smart, and loyal, and solved a lot of fucking crimes.

K.@twitter

@olivebee So much yes to Nancy! Have you read Confessions of a Teen Sleuth? It's a tongue in cheek tell-all autobiography of Nancy Drew -- which sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it's actually hilarious and very smart & is a great thing to read as an adult if you grew up reading Nancy Drew.

DH@twitter

@K.@twitter

Oh my god I must get that. Thank you for telling us about it!

sudden_eyes

@olivebee Absolutely! Nancy is so sweetly badass. And the language! Sleuth. Chum. Roadster. I still want a roadster.

DH@twitter

@sudden_eyes

And her dad was an attorney, never a lawyer!

sudden_eyes

@DH@twitter Oh, absolutely! If I had any of the books here, I could look up more of the wonderful vocabulary. Is Bess "plump"?

DH@twitter

@sudden_eyes

I would almost guarantee it. She always needed to lose three pounds! OH BESS.

In hindsight I am wondering if George was a lesbian.

olivebee

Ah, the nostalgia this thread is bringing me! And now I need to go read that "autobiography"...

sudden_eyes

@DH@twitter George was totally a lesbian, surely? I always thought so (well, once I knew what a lesbian was). And a positive image, go George!

DH@twitter

@sudden_eyes

I think, bizarrely, my absolute favorite Nancy-related thing was the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys crossover books. I thought Nancy should totally ditch Ned for Frank.

Cat named Virtute

@sudden_eyes Pleasantly plump! This was a favourite joke amongst my high school friends. "Oh man, I've eaten three pieces of cake already, I'm making such a Bess of myself." I like to think it wasn't as awful as it sounds because Bess always seemed really solid and secure in her plumpness and love of food.

K.@twitter

As embarrassing as this is to say, Francesca Lia Block's books (especially Weetzie Bat and Violet and Claire) totally shaped me during my adolescence -- I still remember how immediately happy I felt reading the first line of Weetzie Bat about how she hated high school because no one else understood (I was all, "I also hate everything because no one understands!") Zilpha Keatley Snyder was a big deal to me when I was in late elementary school, particularly The Headless Cupid and The Changeling (I also loved The Egypt Game.) In middle school I was really into Anne Rice's Mayfair Witch series (though in retrospect I'm a little creeped out by all the ghostly rape that goes on in those books) -- they still retain a slight significance for me because they're the first books I remember hiding from my parents.

SarahP

@K.@twitter Anne Rice! The vampire books are what made little protogoth SarahP realize she was a little goth SarahP.

pterodactgirl

@K.@twitter I already commented about loving ZKS, but THE CHANGELING. Oh man, The Changeling. That book was incredible.

cava

@K.@twitter @pterodactgirl I read the Changeling cover to cover every day for the year I was 10. That book, oh my god. I've looked for it in every bookstore I've ever been in (since I had to return it to my school library at the end of that year, sad day) but I haven't found it yet. AUGH FEELINGS what a book. And just, all the Zilpha! I read everything of hers I could find, her books made such an impression on me throughout elementary school. Love you 4eva Zilphs.

laurel

@K.@twitter Aw, Weetzie Bat, yay.

Slight Joy
Slight Joy

Oh, man. As a kid who was never, ever without a book and as a 21-year-old who tries to be the same way, there is a whole library full of books that I'm hopelessly attached to. However, the big ones, all from different points in my life, are: (elementary school) Anne of Green Gables, (middle school) To Kill a Mockingbird, (high school) White Teeth by Zadie Smith, and (so far in college) Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Read every single one of them at least four times.

Pieces of poetry/poems have done the same thing for me: "New York Poem" by Terrence Hayes, "A Disused Shed in County Wexford" by Derek Mahon, "Getting it Right" and "Love" by Matthew Dickman, "We Did Not Make Ourselves" by Michael Dickman," "Meditation at Lagunitas" by Robert Hass, "Names" by Richard Siken. I'm going to stop there or else I'll just go on forever.

Lucienne

@ I adore "Meditation at Lagunitas."

Slight Joy
Slight Joy

@Lucienne It's wonderful, isn't it? When I first read it, I just marveled at it — the "blackberry, blackberry, blackberry."

Also have to add to that list section 46 of "Leaves of Grass." Read it when I was about 16 and just cried. Mix of hormones and teenage angst and Whitman's words is waaaaaay dangerous. It's here: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw375.html

darkfoxx

My biggest literary influence as a kid has to be Stephen King's Dark Tower Series. I only had 3 (+ all the other tie-ins) to obsess over and obsess I did. I finished Drawing of the Three in a day in middle school and by that time was already far down the Tower rabbit hole. The series end ruined my life for days and I am working up to reading the new book. Aside from that series, Charlotte's Web, To Kill A Mockingbird, Where the Red Fern Grows and From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler were all biggies in elementary school. As were anything by Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary. Ooh.. Watership Down was also a biggie, as was The Secret Garden. Most of those I haven't read as an adult (except for the Dark Tower Series and my other King fav., The Stand), but I was recently at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC and struck again by the same wonder I felt when I read Files (even though I believe that was set in the Met). The Princess Bride, also a big one (though the movie had much more sway than the book).

MoonBat

@darkfoxx Yessss, everything Stephen King as a kid, and everything VC Andrews. And at night, every one of my mom's Jackie Collins novels, by flashlight in my room. I must have been the weirdest kid ever.

Interrobanged

FRANCESCA. LIA. BLOCK. I know most people bring up the Weetzie Bat books, which are rad, but for me there is life Before I read I Was a Teenage Fairy, and then there is life After.

In Grade 5 I won a set of the Lord of the Rings books for reading the most books in the class - it took me months to get through them, but they were like the foundation for a lot of books I read afterwords.

Garth Nix and the Old Kingdom trilogy. Philip Pullman and His Dark Materials.

In Grade 9 we did a unit on dystopic fiction and The Handmaid's Tale introduced me to the patriarchy before I had the tools to describe what it was.

area@twitter

Oh wow. So many great books to pick from, including ones that others have mentioned above. (<3 u, YA lit!) If I had to choose, Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George. Little me from suburban Maryland wanted so badly to live on the tundra with a wolf pack and live off the land. And that led me into Gary Paulsen and Jim Kjelgaard. As an adult, probably Ursula K LeGuin. Tehanu and The Other Wind both go in deep for me.

LaLoba

@area@twitter HOLY SHIT Jim Kjelgaard!!! I literally read every book in my elementary school library that had dogs or wolves in it (after finishing the horse ones) and asked the librarian every day if "They had gotten anymore." They got new books like... once a year.

AND I made MYSELF a friendship bracelet with thirteen beads on it and named each bead after one of the wolves in Julie's pack, and would sit in bed looking at it and reciting the names... hoooooooly shit yes I did.

Jane Err

@area@twitter Oh my god, Julie of the Wolves. I got so depressed reading that book that one morning when my mom tried to wake me up for school, I just said "I hate the world" and she let me stay home. Julie was clearly much stronger than me.

I also read ALL the wolf and horse books. Jim Kjelgaard, oh man. I literally haven't even thought of that name in so many years. Might have to hit up the library this weekend and take a nostalgia trip with Irish Red and Stormy.

area@twitter

@LaLoba YEAH girl!! My favorite book through most of elementary and middle school was Snow Dog (Stormy and Outlaw Red and Lion Hound probably close seconds). Chiri and Link, out there havin' adventures! And omg, Amaroq and Silver and Kapu, and Tornait the little bird. My HEART. I am totally going home tonight and having a Kjelgaardfest.

Bob Loblaw

I loved the Anastasia Krupnik books by Lois Lowry. She was super neurotic and had kind of low self-esteem while at the same time thinking she knew everything, and I guess that resonated with me.

Also I was crazy about the Goosebumps books, and I think that shows now in that I really like ghost-y, monster-y, vampire-y media but can't stand serial killer/crime horror.

Yeah! I'm neurotic and scared of murderers! Sweet!

LaLoba

@Bob Loblaw Shit I forgot about Lois Lowry!!!

Slight Joy
Slight Joy

@LaLoba @Bob Loblaw I loved Lois Lowry so much I convinced my mom to buy me her memoir "Looking Back" from book orders. And then read it repeatedly.

Also, oh wow, I miss book orders.

Greta M.

@Bob Loblaw "things I like: making lists"

Bob Loblaw

@Slight Joy AAAAA BOOK ORDERS! That was the most wonderful thing in all of elementary school! Poring over the scholastic catalog and marking all of the things I wanted (which were many) and MAYBE I would be able to get one thing, or EVEN TWO! And then the day the books would come and get stacked on everyone's desks and they didn't even have any creases in the cover and smelled like paper and ink and shiny new books!

I hope they still do that for kids these days because it was amazing. Besides, our rampant consumerism should be applied to books as well!

And Book-it. I hope that still happens. I loved the hologram pins with the little rainbow coming out of the book.

Interrobanged

Also, I just finished my undergrad (THANK YOU GOD I DON'T BELIEVE IN) so I'm going a little psycho reading fiction! with characters! and plots! In the past week I've done Jane Eyre, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, those Susan Cooper books, and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. What, I'm eclectic.

Monkey

@Interrobanged Oh the Dark is Rising books are the Best. Ever. Best best best.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Monkey I have read all of those except the Oranges book as a preteen/teenager. I loved Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich, even if I didn't get some of it.

Also, I was lucky enough to receive the Dark is Rising sequence as a 9 year old, so I was close to Will's age. It's weird though, cause when I reread them, I can remember thinking that the first time I read them he seemed so much older than me. Now eleven seems to me to be so very young. But yeah, I emulated Will as hard as I could...still do, sometimes. Jaaane! Jane.

DH@twitter

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

Jane! I didn't really understand Jane as a kid, but as an adult I love her. I am firmly in a Greenwitch phase.

MissMushkila

Everything is Illuminated. I was 15 when it came out and I picked it up by whim in a bookstore. I think it's just a thing where you love weird books with deep names and lots of philosophy/historical references when you are dorky and in high school. But when I read it I had just been burned by a boy and felt very cynical and worldly, and I highlighted the shit out of that book. Same thing when Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close came out a couple of years later. I did my senior philosophy project on that book (in hs).

In middle school I tested out of language arts class to do my own independent study of dystopian literature and I read: 1984, Brave New World, The Handmaids Tale, and Fahrenheit 451 and was wickedly obsessed with those for awhile. That definitely had an impact. Although those books were by no means age appropriate...

Jane Eyre. I've reread it about five times at different points in my life.

Oh but for biggest affect - did anyone else read the Georgia Nicolson series?? My friends and I were OBSESSED in middle school and high school. I even read the last one when it came out in college. We found it inspirational?? In terms of getting in to trouble etc.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@MissMushkila I stayed at work an extra hour (unpaid) because I was near the end of Everything Is Illuminated and I couldn't put it down and go home (an 8 min trip.)

oh, disaster

Harriet the Spy. I found my dad's old copy in our hallway closet and read it so many times the cover fell off. I remember it as the first book that presented kids who can be ugly, selfish and cruel but that didn't make them 'bad' people, just people. I was also reading a lot of Babysitter's Club books at the time, which as much as I loved them, was full of characters who were so sweet and good all the time. And it got me into writing, like every other person.
Not long after I read it the first time, I told my parents at dinner "I'll be damned if I eat these green beans." It did not go well.

sudden_eyes

@oh, disaster Coming to New York meant getting to walk around Yorkville, trying to figure out where Harriet might have lived. Happy sigh.

Also, I loved The Long Summer.

ru_ri

@oh, disaster Yes! Oh, man, I also have a falling-apart copy. That is still one of my favorite books. Did you read the sequels? The Long Secret was more about Beth Ann than Harriet, and Sport was, of course, about Sport. Both good, but not as great as Harriet.

sudden_eyes

@ru_ri The Long Secret, thank you - I got the title wrong. Am supposed to be working. *shifty eyes*

Lily Rowan

@oh, disaster Oh yes. I fully dressed up as Harriet for Halloween one year when I was little. Needless to say, no one got it, in my class full of kids in plastic-from-the-drugstore costumes.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@ru_ri I read The Long Secret before Harriet the Spy and I thought all the characters were so mean. Related: I was a sheltered child.

beanie

@oh, disaster Harriet the Spy had me doing peeping Tom activities to the neighbors...so sorry neighbors? But that book was amazing, and I still want to have an egg cream. And a dumbwaiter.

sudden_eyes

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) They WERE really fucking mean! (I was a sheltered child as well.) But I found that so exotic that I started enjoying it. What was the horrible mother's name? Not Zooey, something like that.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@sudden_eyes Yes! I didn't get why everyone liked those books so much at the time! (Now I do.) I was so upset. It was like when I watched the Princess Bride in grade 2 or something horribly young and was traumatized. I hated it and only came to like it years later in uni when I read the book.

BosomBuddy

I read the Anne of Green Gables series obsessively as a child and pre-teen. The first book I read too many times to count, the first three a few times, and the entire set twice. After this I went on an L.M. Montgomery bender and exhausted her entire catalogue. The series' greatest contribution to my life (admittedly, an unintellectual one): a strong desire for red hair (brunette, holla!).

For some reason that I cannot yet explain, I had in intense love affair with Wuthering Heights in the tenth grade. My adult self recoils at the notion of ever having found Heathcliff an appealing paramour. I definitely did, though. My English teacher at the time even encouraged me to read the sequel (can we call it that?), called Heathcliff (I think). I've since read the book as an adult and have no idea what I found so engaging at sixteen. On the bright side, it openened up the doors to Jane Austen, the other Brontes, etc.

Hammitt

@BosomBuddy So then it's you and me that are the only two people to have ever read Rose in Bloom?

God I loved those books. ALL her books. I wanted to be Anne. I kept designing a house like the one she lived in at college with the china dogs. Man, was college a let down after that.

BosomBuddy

@BosomBuddy It's taking me a lot longer to come up with something so memorable in my adult life.

BosomBuddy

@Hammitt I wanted to marry someone like Gilbert at the time, though I was definitely NOT signing up for eight kids.

Have you ever visited the AoGG house? It's pretty cool, though extremely touristy. I also dislike the stark contrast between old-timey and modern. As in, the house is pretty close to a parking lot and all kinds of modern amenities, which really ruins the image. But it's cool! And everyone should go to PEI!

LaLoba

@Hammitt Gog and Magog!

annestofannes

@BosomBuddy Gog & Magog!

Hammitt

@BosomBuddy NO! When I was little ALL I WANTED was to go to PEI, and i still do. When I was 16 my mom said she'd take me on vacation. I requested PEI. She countered with London. It's really hard, it turns out, to turn down London.

foureyedgirl

@BosomBuddy I occasionally propose a trip to PEI to the dude, but he's not down with either the "listen to the Anne audiobooks all the way there" plan or the "you pretend to be Gilbert and I will wear a red wig" plan. Killjoy.

dj pomegranate

@BosomBuddy When Matthew died--the first time I cried over a book. :( :( :(

Hammitt

@dj pomegranate I probably cried more then than the first of the 72 times I read Beth's death in Little Women. Intense.

Hammitt

@LaLoba YES! I had forgotten their names, which makes me feel like a failed fan. Thank you!

annestofannes

@foureyedgirl my boo promised to take me to good old PEI and that's when I knew he was the one.

raised amongst catalogs

@foureyedgirl Let's all go, and let's all be Anne.

foureyedgirl

@annestofannes Oh, he'll go to PEI, but he doesn't want to watch me traverse roof beams or dip my red (wig) braids in the inkwell. I have agreed to his (lamer) version of the eventual trip, but I have every intention of running toward the first pond I see screaming "the lake of shining waters! the lake of shining waters!!"

@vanillawaif Absolutely! Let's! We will all need dresses with puffed sleeves.

annestofannes

@foureyedgirl "I have every intention of running toward the first pond I see screaming "the lake of shining waters! the lake of shining waters!!"

This is the best ever. I'm sure you can also arrange it so that he saves you from your sinking dory.

EvilAuntiePeril

@BosomBuddy AoGG confession: when I was oohhh 8ish, I was desperate to have red hair. When constantly checking the mirror for about a week made me realise this would not happen by sheer force of will, I took it to the next level. I crushed Mum's super-expensive special occasions only blush into my hair, with the plan that this would turn my hair permanently strawberry blonde, and thus reveal me to actually BE Anne.

My mother was not amused. And my older brother continues to mock my obsession to this day. But I do not care, because my love for Anne (and Emily, and Marigold, and Jane, and even Pat) is pure.

I've read everything LMM wrote. Just checked the internets to be sure.

BosomBuddy

@EvilAuntiePeril That sounds like something Anne would do! I waited until I was about 18 and out of my parents' house before dying my hair red. I haven't done it since then, because it ruined my hair, but the second I go completely grey, I'm gonna rock some red hair.

@everyone There actually is a so-called Lake of Shining Waters. In that particular area of the island, nearly everything is called after something from Anne. Whatever, though. Group trip! Tangentially related fact: PEI has some of the best crustaceans and molluscs, so if you're into that, go!

SuperGogo

@BosomBuddy "He absolutely assured me it would turn my hair a beautiful raven black!"

BosomBuddy

Thanks for opening-up the book discussion. I love to know what everyone else is reading or has read!

oh well never mind

@BosomBuddy I was just about to post how much I love this thread too. This discussion is getting me through a long afternoon at work and I love geeking out about books in general!

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@moosette I have my library website open in another tab and am placing holds as fast as my hot little hands can type.

MissM

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) I had to close the tab because the list of requests was frankly getting out of hand. But this page is bookmarked and I will be coming back!

spots

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Yep, I have copied and pasted every book/author I haven't read yet into my new favorite Google Doc. This was an excellent idea!

laura h

Roald Dahl!

Especially the BFG and The Witches and Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If I ever become a person who is thought of as cool, and then people ask me how I got to be that way, Roald Dahl will be one of the things I mention.

Lil Sebastian

@laura h Ooooh yes, I forgot Roald Dahl, in my obsessively rereading the whole list. I loved his memoirs too when I was a little older! Matilda, over and over and over!

BoozinSusan

@laura h Yes! Roald Dahl told us we could be weird, and sometimes dark, and it was okay, because the world IS crazy, magical and unpredictable. Lots of love for that man (even if he hated kids, or so I've heard).

Creature Cheeseman

@laura h BFG BFG!!! I can still reread that and enjoy it.

oh, disaster

@laura h Matilda was my favorite, but now that I'm older I really appreciate The Witches for absolutely terrifying me.

oh well never mind

@laura h I really wanted to be Matilda! All the reading and the eye-power...

Heat Signature

@laura h Oh I desperately wanted to be friends with the BFG! Also, one of my cousins gave me a hardcover version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and after I read it I was a little PO'd that it wasn't exactly like the movie (but I still loved it and re-read it obsessively). Also James and the Giant Peach made me me want to live in a giant peach.

highfivesforall

@laura h Roald Dahl was the first thing I thought of. I'm pretty sure he's the reason I'm so snarky. And not only do his children's books hold up wonderfully when rereading as an adult, but his short stories and essays written for adults are fantastic as well.

catsoncatsoncats

@laura h Dammit! I posted RD down thread lol. Matilda was life changing for little girl me!

shamburgesa

@laura h Ahh! I keep scrolling down hoping someone would mention Ronald Dahl. The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar is still far and away my favorite book ever.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@shamburgesa Henry Sugar! I spent an awful lot of time staring at candles as a kid, proving that I missed the point of the book.

Deb@twitter

@laura h - Yes, it's Matilda over and over again. She has so much of her own agency and confidence and makes her life her own. I return to her still as a grown up and pass her on to all the children, esp. little ladies, that I love.

beanie

@Deb@twitter remember when they list all the impressive literature Matilda had read by age 5 or whatever? I totally wanted to take on her list because I wanted to be as smart as her.

pterodactgirl

@shamburgesa I cannot see anything about Max Factor without thinking of Henry Sugar. And they are a client at one of the places I work now, so I think about Henry Sugar a lot.

Also, I said this downthread, but Boy and Danny the Champion of the world are amazing. Player's Navy Cut! The caravan! (Really though, fuck it, they're all amazing.)

Princess Slayer

@laura h Why aren't more people freaking out about Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator?! Also, your name and initial are the same as mine.

laura h

@Princess Slayer There's a lot of us out there - there's an awesome Canadian graphic designer (what i am) who has my full name and my dog. she's kinda the shit and probably the only reason i miss being on facebook.

roald dahl was dark and surreal. in the BFG other giants actually ATE CHILDREN. which is only dark, not that surreal. GOD. THOSE BOOKS WERE AMAZING. i wish i could recreate the way i felt about books as a child as an adult. it's just not the same. bear with me while i get really weepy over this, but god i'm so thankful that i read books as a child. soooo thankful.

also:
Dinotopia.
There. I said it. Talking Dinosaurs with compelling feelings. REALLY COMPELLING.

EpWs

OH one more, maybe (j/k I can't stop)--obviously, The Phantom Tollbooth. (@Faintly Macabre, where you at?) One of those books that is just as good when you're eight as when you're 18 or, presumably, 28, 38, 48...sparked my love of wordplay, or at least accelerated it. <3 my aunt for buying it for me when I was just a wee Wordsnatcher.

Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher YES the phantom tollbooth! It's the reason why I discovered English grammar/wordplay/vocab is so fun!

foureyedgirl

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher The Phantom Tollbooth is where my list starts... and could end if I was pressed. I try to read it every year. And it's just as good every time. I've even considered a Whether Man tattoo.

BoozinSusan

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Re-read it recently and can confirm, almost 20 years later, that it's just as awesome as when you're a kid.

highfivesforall

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Yes, oh my goodness, absolutely, I still bring this with me on trips since I get anxiety when traveling, and I can always get absorbed in this book. (Also I only just made the connection with your name (and Faintly's) and now I am ashamed.)

AMS
AMS

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Yes! The Phantom Tollbooth! Because of the map. And the words. And a solo(ish) journey to unknown lands...

Faintly Macabre

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Here I am! I got excited even before I saw you namechecked me! I don't even know how many times I've read that book. I remember impressing my 4th-grade teacher with my explanation of averages stolen from Alec. And I still worry about the Senses Taker and the Terrible Trivium and jumping to conclusions. I recently bought the 50th-anniversary edition for my baby cousin, and I can't wait until she's old enough to understand it. (Though Norton Juster was a little less friendly than I'd have hoped, sigh.)

ETA: My aunt bought me my copy, too! How funny.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher "Be very quiet, for it goes without saying."

AMS
AMS

@Faintly Macabre My aunt bought me my first copy as well... Go aunts.

anachronistique

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I've met Norton Juster! He is a dear and sweet old man. And yeah, this is one of the greatest books in the world, especially for nerds.

EpWs

@anachronistique WHAT? YAY. Of course he is.
@Fig. 1 Yes. It is perfect in every way.
@everyone GO THANK YOUR AUNTS

EpWs

@Faintly Macabre He's Alec Bings, he sees through things.

LaLoba

Grade school reading also had a huge impact on me and are the books I recall with the most dog-eared fondness. Like elysianfields, Maniac Magee is a must. There's also:

Walk Two Moons (yes you CAN re-read it)
The Hero of Lesser Causes (polio! brother sister dynamics, eyebrow shaving!)
Silent Storm (horses, orphans, silent disturbed girl)
A Girl Named Disaster (lone girl voyage across Africa!)
Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder
Robinson Crusoe (apparently the only book I read about boys)
And Anne with an "e" of course, though I always get pretty pissed after Anne of the Island. "No.. sending stories to magazines was a silly girlish whim!"
Oh and all Walt Morey and Gary Paulson books and every young reader book you can think of where some boy in Alaska or the south rescues a wolf-dog. They are ALWAYS boys and it kind of blows.

LOTR has been a huge part of my identity from a young age; I had parents start reading it to me when I was itty-bitty. And as I got older, the two books that were the first time I remember experiencing a shift in perspectives where the world opened up to me are
The World According to Garp and
The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Oh and Fire On the Mountain. and The Electric Koolaid Acid-Test opened some doors but I did not actually enjoy reading it.

Oh and the books that changed my life at the end of college were
Persuasion and
Portrait of a Lady.

Isabel Archer, I BLAME YOU.

anachronistique

@LaLoba WALK TWO MOONS. Oh my lord.

billie_crusoe

@LaLoba I forgot Walk Two Moons! And Gary Paulson.

TheLetterL

Paul Zindel! Specifically the Pigman books - I was crazy for them in middle school/early high school. A little later, it was "Franny and Zooey"...I liked it BEFORE hipsters, daggummit.

And plus 1 for "The Handmaid's Tale" and "1984."

But, the books that I reread religously as a youth and are shaping my interests even now? Garrett's "The Coming Plague" and Preston's "The Hot Zone." (I have so many feeeeeeelings about them)

Lisa_RedRowFarm

@TheLetterL yes to Franny and Zooey... I was in ninth grade and felt way too self important given how much I assumed I'd become Franny. Later it was And The Band Played On that began my endless love of nonfiction, leading to my all time favorite, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.

candybeans

@Lisa_RedRowFarm God, Franny and Zooey. I think it was freshman or sophomore year when I just fell head-first into that book. Reading it was my own way of lying on the couch and muttering the jesus prayer to myself over and over, for whatever reason. I think that the general melancholy of much of the Glass family was something I could identify with.

TheLetterL

@Lisa_RedRowFarm I am so so sad to say that I had "The Spirit Catches You" kind of ruined for me by having to read it for four different classes and having four identical class discussions. I must read it in a non-forced setting.

@candybeans Oh, yes! Still so many <3's for "Do it for the fat lady."

celacia

@TheLetterL oooh. Salinger. His books wrecked me. I have had them since I stole them from my parent's bookcase in high school, and I can't get rid of them, but i can't read them again either, because they still wreck me. Too close to my own crazy, I think.

MollyRingwald

Ladies. LADIES! Let me make this easier on all of us - there's only one possible answer we can honestly give: "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret".

LaLoba

@MollyRingwald Dude I just read "Wifey" last summer and it kicked ass. Except maybe the ending. But the whole thing was so trashy and yet so sexy and satin night-gowned and half drunk.

Hammitt

@MollyRingwald Fact: my mother met Judy Blume recently. For goddamn dinner. She didn't understand what a BIG F'ING DEAL THIS WAS. So my sister and I conference called her to obsess about this for about 45 minutes. I still don't think she got it.

dj pomegranate

@MollyRingwald I had to give a book report on "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret" in fourth grade and all the boys snickered at me when I said the word "period." And then a girl in class said, "You made that up, no one would write a book about that!" Ah, fourth grade.

oh, disaster

@MollyRingwald Judy Blume always wins.

MollyRingwald

@dj pomegranate In fourth grade I gave a book report on Fran Drescher's memoir Enter Whining. We didn't realize then how much that was going to say about the adult I eventually turned in to. Or that it was foreshadowing all the gay boyfriends I'd have in high school....

MollyRingwald

@Hammitt OH MY GOD. Now my sister and I need to conference call to my mother and ask why she isn't as cool as your mother. WHAT DID JUDY EAT?!

Hammitt

@MollyRingwald Mahi Mahi. Embarassingly enough, I actually asked that. And white wine. And they had wine at her house first. THEY SAW HER DESK. (The they is both my parents, but somehow I only really was mad at my mother for not realizing HOW AWESOME THIS EXPERIENCE WAS)

MollyRingwald

@Hammitt How do your parents live such a glamorous life as to be rubbing elbows with The Voice of a Generation (sorry, Lena Dunham, but Judy was here first)? Mahi Mahi...now I know what to cook when Judy contacts me to be her publicist and I tell her that maaaayyyybe i'm interested in the job. #Casual

WWVMD

@LaLoba and Summer Sisters! I've read that one at least 3 times. So wonderful. So trashy.

Hammitt

@MollyRingwald Legitimately: friend of a friend was like "oh, you're going to Key West? You should have dinner with my friend Judy. You'd love her." Hence why my mom was so unaware of the awesomeness of what was happening.

MollyRingwald

@Hammitt This story could only be better if the friend of a friend was named Nancy Wheeler and she was a lying bitch.

candybeans

@WWVMD I'm afraid that you're right. Also! Just as long as we're together! I reread that one a lot, too. Judging from the comments I've left here, I've pretty much only read four books, but I read them 50 times apiece.

ru_ri

O gods all the books. I was obsessed with so many of the ones already mentioned! But also: S.E. Hinton's books, especially Rumble Fish, probably shaped my identity a lot. And growing up I always read my grandmother's old New Yorker magazines, so that had a big influence on my writing style. I still love the hell out of James Thurber, E.B. White, and Joseph Mitchell.

I also read and reread and re-reread Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series, the LOTR books, all the Madeleine L'Engle books, etc. etc. as a kid.

When I was older (early twenties) I discovered Gravity's Rainbow and read that at least once a year. Then it was all about Neal Stephenson, especially Snow Crash and The Diamond Age.

Kind of amazing to see comments from y'all who love(d) the same books I do--and comforting. When I was growing up I didn't know a single person who was into Paul Zindel or Zilpha Keatley Snyder or Ellen Raskin, and it was lonely. So happy you all are out there, still reading!

TheLetterL

@ru_ri re: Paul Zindel. Was it just me aspiring to be Lorraine?

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@ru_ri Oh god, I haven't thought about Zilpha Keatley Snyder for yonks. Libby on Wednesdays?

anachronistique

@ru_ri SNOW CRASH! THE DIAMOND AGE! Sometimes I think about all the shit Stephenson got absolutely right and I get the vapors.

celacia

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Green Sky! The Changeling! The Velvet Room! The Witches of Worm! (Which I found _really_ upsetting.) I don't think I have read anything of hers written after 1989, because I am old.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@ru_ri Lloyd Alexander forever and ever. When I was little and writing my own terrible fantasy stories on the back of my sister's homework papers, I carefully dedicated every one to him. Because he is wonderful.

cuminafterall

I've already commented above on Madeleine L'Engle and E. L. Konigsburg, but Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game tops my list. I bought it from the Scholastic Book Club in first grade, realized it was too old for me, picked it up again at 9 and have loved it ever since. It's the book that taught me cleverness, strategizing and a good head for business weren't exclusively the province of bad guys (or guys at all).

Hammitt

@cuminafterall I read it about 6 times! And every time I forget who did it. I might read it again today.

dj pomegranate

@cuminafterall omg I love that book SO MUCH.

ranran

@cuminafterall Yes! I have never loved a book as much as The Westing Game. I've probably read it at least 50 times, not even joking, because when I was a kid I'd just finish it and start in again. I identified with Turtle SO strongly. Any of y'all read The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues? That one's also pretty great, and The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)...Figgs and Phantoms kind of creeped me out, though.

cuminafterall

@ranran Agree with your assessment on all three. Tattooed Potato and Leon were wacky and fun. Figgs and Phantoms was a little too heavy to be as weird as it was.

hansOK

@cuminafterall WESTING GAME. So good. I loved it as a kid and reread it recently. It really, really holds up.

Antonius Block

@cuminafterall The Westing Game was my obsession. I ran into a copy at the used bookstore a few weeks ago and sent it to my baby brother (we're about a decade apart) posthaste. He finished it in two days! *Sniff* - so proud.

yamtoes

@cuminafterall As soon as I saw this article I did a control-F to make sure someone had mentioned The Westing Game (glad to see there are numerous mentions!). It is my all time favorite book - I have probably read it more than 10 times since I was 12. My husband and I read it out loud to each other a few years ago (he was a bit skeptical but ended up loving it). Turtle Wexler is my hero.

Hammitt

I was a romantic obsessed with bad victorian literature in which NOTHING HAPPENS and its 20th century equivalents. As such, I am IN DISBELIEF that the following two books have not been mentioned:

I Capture the Castle
and (and actually this is three)
LITTLE WOMEN.

That shit DEFINED me. Still does. I read my copies so much they fell apart. I actually had three copies of the original fall apart on me, and one lost on a canoe trip (who goes on girls camp canoe trips with 400 page novels? THIS ONE!) I have an second edition of Little Men that was given to me when I was 15 and is pretty much one of my most prized possessions I will EVER have.

I see a little too much of life through Louisa May Alcott's eyes.

Also, if oyu haven't read I Capture the Castle (Dodie Smith) then go do it. NOW. Your work is not as important as this.

Also The Giver - I read that before school every year from 4th to 10th grade.

As for older-person life, nothing touches on those. I don't really understand how anything could. Of course they couldn't. For career, the collected essays of Thomas Babbington Macaulay, and William Cronon's Nature's Metropolis, but that's not exactly the kind of gripping shit that changes your world. And then, um, I guess... yeah. I'm out. Nothing touches on the stuff you read when you're thirteen, weird and impressionable.

sudden_eyes

@Hammitt Doing the Little Women dance over here ...

Hammitt

@sudden_eyes It's a good dance

sudden_eyes

@Hammitt But I've only got one clean glove! I'm holding the other one.

Hammitt

@sudden_eyes You just made my morning 100 times better. Lets run away and start a school for scrappy boys together.

Hot Doom

@Hammitt Yes! I Capture the Castle is soooo wonderful. I would get frustrated about THINGS (ie. BOYS) and hear Cassandra's voice in my head, and though it didn't offer much guidance, it totally made me feel like someone, even a fictional character, understood.

EpWs

@Hammitt OH GOD YES LITTLE WOMEN. Jo foreverrrrr.

TheLetterL

@Hammitt Can't believe I forgot about "The Giver!" So good.

And "Little Women!" Recently used it to write a paper and found myself getting as sucked into it as ever (also, sobbing. Because Beth).

Melusina

@Hammitt Seconding both Little Women and The Giver ! How did they not come up before?

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@Hammitt i think The Giver was the first dystopian novel I ever read and it's definitely memorable. I remember being so confused/frustrated by the ending, haha

anderin

@Hammitt Little Women, a thousand times yes! My sisters and I would fight over which of us was Jo. But, deep down, we knew our mom was really Jo--a wonderful writer, prone to bouts of depression, who never quite achieved the success she deserved.

sudden_eyes

@Melusina We're all going crazy trying to remember stuff! Scrolling through this thread I feel like I'm in a pinball machine: Little Women for 3000! I Capture the Castle for 1750! The Once and Future King for 2500! Whoops, you missed The Wolves of Willoughby Chase! Tilt!

dj pomegranate

I read Caddie Woodlawn when I was in sixth grade. I think it was the first book that made me think about the tension between respecting your family and valuing tradition and also being an independent girl/woman with her own (perhaps non-traditional) goals. I don't know how popular this book was among the general public, but I still have my dog-eared copy and intend to read it to my daughters.

TheLetterL

@dj pomegranate Oh, Caddie Woodlawn! I will be passing that one down as well.

ranran

@dj pomegranate My password for my library card in my hometown is "Warren," because I had just read Caddie Woodlawn and was obsessed with "If at first you don't fricassee, fry, fry a hen." I thought it was the height of comedy, even though my family were all vegetarians and I had no idea what "fricassee" meant. My mom tried to talk me out of it, but clearly it was a good choice, because I still remember it!

dj pomegranate

@ranran Ha ha ha! I also thought that was hilarious and went around quoting it. And the tricks they played on Annabelle! The somersault egg sabotage!

Crindy Bluth@facebook

Anne Frank's Diary traumatized the heck out of me. To this day I find myself planning secret compartments in every house I move into. I could not believe that this had happened and I remember lashing out at my grandmother for not going all ninja and saving the people from the camps. (She was 16 at the time and lived nowhere near Poland). She still reminds me what I said every time we see news on Iraqi civillians, Syrian refugees etc.

Bon Vivant

The My Friend The Vampire series. I still reread it:) Also: which way books were hilarious and interesting to me, Ramona Quimby joints, the Witch Family, and old dark fairy tales. As I got a bit tweenier: The vampire Chronicles (Anne Rice ftw, even as grown up me cringes at some of the stuff in them now), and Imajica by clive barker. I fell in love with Barker, and that book tore my jr high school mind open.

Bon Vivant

@Bon Vivant Oh ALSO! Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and collection of ghost stories ("13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey" comes to mind) And Fangoria magazines :)

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Bon Vivant ANNE RICE. I couldn't stop reading them. So decadent to a teenage me.

martinipie

@Bon Vivant Those Scary Stories are important to my life if only for the fact that I can STILL freak myself out thinking of the illustrations alone!

Hambulance

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Decadent. That is exactly what those books were to me.

Wow.

KellyStitzel

Judy Blume and Stephen King both had a profound effect on me as a young reader. King was a particularly stong influence -- it may sound strange, but "Misery" may very well have been the book that made me first think about becoming a writer.

When I was in high school, I read Alice Walker's "Possessing the Secret of Joy" (mostly because I'd read Tori Amos said it partially inspired her to write "Cornflake Girl") and it really got to me. I thought a lot about that book -- moreso than most I read during that time in my life.

Also in high school, my favorite English teacher introduced me to Dorothy Parker. I bought an anthology of her work and became obsessed with it. I had only considered becoming a writer before, but after reading Parker's work, I decided that I definitely wanted to write.

As a creative writing major in college, I read a lot of books that inspired me, but, strangely, the one that I think had the most profound effect on me was Carl Sagan's "Contact." I identified with the character of Ellie so much, it kind of scared me.

Splendiferous

@KellyStitzel YES Dorothy Parker! My grandfather was a fan and the Portable Dorothy Parker, which I basically stole from his house and then memorized over the next few years. Formative for me as a writer, for sure; her "light" verse is great, but those stories-as-monologues? "Big Blonde"??!! So great.

Prairie Dawn

I read Bitch wby Elizabeth Wurtzel when I was 17 and it blew my world wide open. I think it tapped into some dormant well of feminist anger I never knew I had until that moment. Reading it now, it doesn't hold up as well

Erika Peterson@facebook

"Are You There God It's Me Margaret" and later, "Summer Sisters" by Judy Blume. I first read it the summer I was 15, and from then on I think I read it once a month. I even got my friend who hate reading (seriously??) to fall in love with it too, and we made friendship bracelets that say NBO and you can totally see mine in my senior pictures. Ugh, the best!

oh, disaster

@Erika Peterson@facebook Ahhh, Summer Sisters, the only book my mom ever opposed! I was 12 when that came out and loved Judy, so I bought it and left it on the dining room table, where my mom found it and told me it was too old for me. Later I heard her talking to my grandma and aunts about it and saying "It is full of sex." OF COURSE, I wanted to read it after that. She hid it in her room and I spent the next year finding it, reading it in parts, and then getting grounded for reading it. So good.

Erika Peterson@facebook

@oh, disaster I was half a virgin when I met Summer Sisters!

beeline96

Confession time: "Eat, Pray, Love" had a big impact on me... not because it inspired me to travel and/or live well (didn't need a book for that), but because it allowed me to be comfortable questioning my religion for the first time in my life! And now I'm agnostic and happy, so thanks Elizabeth Gilbert.

raised amongst catalogs

@beeline96 I love Liz Gilbert & pretty much do the internet equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing "lalalala" when I see how mercilessly she gets bashed.

theotherginger

@vanillawaif I think the book is a bit self-absorbed and normally that irritates me, but somehow not with her. She is incredible. I read it while I was doing voluntary service for a religious organization. and was religious but questioning religion with the hope of staying religious... less so now. I feel that the book set off a positive chain reaction! Hurray!

macaroni

@vanillawaif I loved that book as well. I think because it started me on the path of realizing that I, like her, "have a tendency towards melancholy" and that that's OK, and that I should try to cultivate the part of myself that is more at peace. (I would have said happy, but I don't think that's the right word...) And it (inadvertently) inspired me to move away, go to massage therapy school, and get REALLY into yoga.

raised amongst catalogs

@macaroni As a fellow melancholy person, may I just say that the last part of your comment made me very, very happy for you?

macaroni

@vanillawaif Yes, thank you! Seriously was the best decision I've ever made. I'm now back close to home, but I don't have the regret I think I'd have had if I'd not moved west for a few years.

justtalking

I have finally created an account just to comment on this post! My defining book would be Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island". If you don't know Bill Bryson he is an American born writer who moved to the UK as a young man. This book was his farewell tour of the UK before he moved his British family to America for the first time. It's a gentle, funny, anecdotal book rather than especially academic, but 15-20 years later I still find myself thinking of passages from it when I visit a new place. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be doing the job I am doing now without it either (grant funding for heritage). He has written a few other travel books too, all brilliant. He's pretty well known here in the UK but I have no idea if he is known in The America.

Hammitt

@justtalking VERY well known over here, too!

I have often said of getting my PhD while still doing travel writing and also being into other things: If they just had a degree in Being Bill Bryson I wouldn't have to bother with all this shit.

His Australia book is my favorite.

raised amongst catalogs

@justtalking LOVE him.

DH@twitter

@justtalking

That was definitely the defining book for my Anglophilia. My best friend and I remain obsessed with it. I love Bryson.

oh well never mind

@justtalking Welcome to commenting :) Have you read Bill Bryson's At Home? Stuffed with facts and things you'd never really thought about but suddenly realise are really interesting! Aside from his travel writing, A Short History of Nearly Everything is also very much worth a read.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@justtalking In a Sunburned Country! Also I bought A Short History while homesick on an Europe trip. Love it, but have found some errors in it.

SuperGogo

@justtalking A Walk in the Woods is my favorite, but probably the most influential on me was I'm a Stranger Here Myself, because I was just moving back to the States after living abroad when I read it and it's a great reverse culture shock read.

alpelican

I read every single Francesca Lia Block book after finding Weetzie Bat at my (suburban hellhole) public library. I was 14 or 15 and riding my bike everywhere and trying to envision living a life not in the suburbs. Those books gave me hope.

martinipie

@alpelican Basically the same for me to. And also inspired a neverending love of glitter, punky boys, Iggy Pop, burritos, PJ Harvey...

OhMarie

This is drivel, but the American Girl books literally convinced me that it was worth it to try and read for fun when I was in the 2nd grade.

EpWs

@OhMarie Yes indeed. Also those Dear America books sparked the historical fiction fires within and they are STILL GOING.

Two-Headed Girl

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Oh man, Dear America! I read the Canadian equivalent (imaginatively named Dear Canada), but also, the Royal Diaries. Marie Antoinette's was my favourite. I'm convinced all of these are what made me want to be a history major.

Lexa Lane

Of course this post comes on a day when I have so much to do I can't really give it the attention it deserves! But had to list a few - The Secret Garden was one of the first classic books I read, when I was about seven, and it has never lost its charm for me. Little Women, of course, which I still cry through most of. The Hobbit, obviously - I can't wait to read that to my kids, if I have any. Harry Potter, because every time I re-read it I'm so sad it's over. And some less classic YA ones that had a huge impact: Buffalo Brenda, which was one of the best books about non-conformity ever, and The Only Alien On the Planet, which is still one of my go-to comfort books, and gives me hope when I need it.

sudden_eyes

@Lexa Lane I know! I'm on a deadline and can't really do this right - scream. So, so yes to The Secret Garden!

missupright

@Lexa Lane YES to the Secret Garden. I re-read it quite regularly, but it's so much sadder than I used to think it was.

BosomBuddy

@missupright I'm sorry to hear that, only because I want to re-read the Secret Garden this summer. I used to love it, but I can't remember anything about it now.

sudden_eyes

@missupright The saddest thing about it, for me, is realizing that the newly healthy Colin is now the exact right age to go get killed in the First World War. Along with Dickon.

Decca

Other books that were/are formative in various ways: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E.
Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, Hons & Rebels by Jessica Mitford, The Passion by Jeanette Winterson, Self Help by Lorrie Moore.

Oh, and The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton. Has anyone here read that? I've never met anyone who has, and it is so good!

Decca

@Decca Oh, the libretto for Sunday in the Park with George counts as a book, yeah?

Nicole Cliffe

Leaves a little space in the way, liiike a wiiiiinddoooooowwww.

Decca

@Nicole Cliffe brb crying all the tears

sarah.@twitter

@Decca Self Help! I stole my mom's copy and read it over and over when I was in college, and I get so starry-eyed when I talk about Moore I think my mother will blame herself if I start day-drinking in fancy restaurants and having affairs with married men, etc, i.e. my only goals in life.

phlox

I won some elementary school prize and the award was a gift certificate to the nice kid's bookstore in town, so I got this beautiful illustrated hard-cover Anne of Green Gables. I now also own a smaller paperback to read on the go, but I loved that book. And then all the other LMM books, of course.

In high school it was Franny and Zooey - we had to read it for grade 10 English and the teacher used it to teach us close reading, marking up every page, and then I lent my copy to my sister when she had to read it, and this was in the late 90s/early 2000s so there are stupid notes in sparkly jelly roll pens all over it. I still re-read it all the time but it might be time for a new copy...

TheLetterL

@phlox Franny and Zooey and Gelly Rolls? Yes to all of this!

redonion

I keep starting lists but there are too many. I think I've lived my life through books. But in college I read The Passion and The Master and Margarita and The History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters those are still three books I use to decide if a person and I might get along.

Decca

@redonion I have read and loved The Passion and History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters (and lots of other Barnes) and I OWN a copy of Master and Margarita that I will get around to reading tbis summer. Let's get along!

redonion

@Decca YES! And Barnes! I just read The Sense of an Ending and I had to forcefully prevent myself from underlining every other paragraph.

Decca

@redonion There's also the fact that The Passion was written about Winterson's affair with Barnes's wife, Pat Kavanagh!

redonion

@Decca That is a fact I had forgotten! I am long overdue to reread The Passion.

If we could dredge up a link between Winterson and Bulagakov or Bulgakov and Barnes, that would be most amazing.

raised amongst catalogs

People who liked history and ghost books: did anyone else read the Richard Peck books about Blossom Culp? (Ok, so they're also about a boy named Alexander and while he is no slouch himself, Blossom Culp is kind of where it's at.) Start with The Ghost Belonged to Me -- then read Ghosts I Have Been and The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp. I can virtually guarantee that you will fall in love.

area@twitter

@vanillawaif I loved those books in elementary school. Loved them like burning. The thing with the shotgun filled with rock salt and the outhouse? Good times.

raised amongst catalogs

@area@twitter Yes!!!!!

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@vanillawaif I had forgotten all about these. Richard Peck and Gordon Korman were a large part of my elementary years.

pterodactgirl

@area@twitter AHHHH! I had a copy of The Random House Book of Humor when I was little and they excerpted the chapter about the outhouse and the shotgun and the rock salt! I always thought it was hilarious, but I'm not sure if I ever read the actual book. (I think I did, but maybe at school? I didn't own it.) That anthology actually lead me to other amazing stuff though, from Freaky Friday to Saki.

celacia

@vanillawaif I was just thinking about those the other day after seeing some stuff about the Titanic anniversary. They were awesome.

PomoFrannyGlass

I'm part of the Weetzie Bat Changed My Life Club, too. Also all things Jack Kerouac (SO uncool to admit now but I have to give credit where it's due) and probably more than anything else, Lynda Barry's comics.

Heat Signature

I was such a big fan of serialized fiction throughout my childhood and youth. I started with the Ramona series, then "progressed" to the Baby-Sitters Club, The Girls of Canby Hall, Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew (both the original series and the Nancy Drew Files), the Anastasia Krupnik books (still one of my very favorites, since I so strongly identified with her), Bruno and Boots, and so on. In some ways, since I didn't have many friends during that time in my life, I felt like these characters WERE my friends, and reading their books was an extension of that friendship.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Heat Signature BRUNO AND BOOTS! I thought Bruno was a jerk at the time, but now I sort of admire him? Also, Cathy and Diane FTW.

Heat Signature

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) My third-grade teacher used to read us the books in the afternoon, and he'd do different voices and so forth for the characters. It was AWESOME.

Heat Signature

@Heat Signature ALSO: Island of the Blue Dolphins (to this day, I want to try abalone), Bridge to Terabithia, the Little House series, Tuck Everlasting, and if we're counting magazines (which, why not?) Spy Magazine and Sassy (the old Sassy, because I'm old).

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Heat Signature I read Island of the Blue Dolphins when the grade above me had to read it for English class...they all thought I was nuts for voluntarily reading something they were assigned.

Leon Tchotchke

The books that defined me are probably The Illuminatus! Trilogy and On The Road, only they're less books that I can still look back on and see the same way as I did when I first read them (12 or 13 in both cases) than they are books that I used as stepping stones to the places I would eventually go.

I can look back on both books now and see them as the flawed things they are, but it was recognizing those flaws that was what ultimately became valuable.

On The Road first gave me a huge wanderlust and made me want to run around experiencing everything, and that was valuable. But way more valuable was reading it again when I was a few years older and finding it sort of shallow, because it helped me realize that, however great it is when you're young, there's MORE to life than zipping around the country or the world and doing whatever the hell you want.

And then there's Illuminatus!, which is a patently ridiculous book but also one that's jam-packed with wild ideas, most of which are bad (and many of which are intentionally so, I now realize). It gave me an obsession with esoterica and the occult and conspiracies when I was a young teenager, but - again - I eventually realized how ridiculous all that stuff was. But realizing that made me a much less credulous person than I might have been, and made me waaaaaaaay more able to spot the sort of conspiracy/cult/New Age scams that people can stumble into even as adults. If I hadn't been exposed to all that stuff early and in a way that was already pretty tongue in cheek to begin with, who knows what nonsensical crap I'd believe now.

Neither book is like a personal tome for me, but both definitely left a huge impression, even if a big part of that impression was realizing the flaws and absurdities of both of them.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Leon Tchotchke I think I need to get a copy of Illuminatus to my sister. She is so credulous that it's painful.

RK Fire

@Leon Tchotchke: Ah, the Illuminatus Trilogy! I should've also added the Principia Discordia as a "book" that left an impact on me, when I first read about it on the interwebs in 1997.

Alixana

So many of the fantasy novels discussed above, definitely, but I specifically wanted to add something about Mercedes Lackey. In the Vanyel and Talia trilogies, and in the Kerowyn book, there's a really strong message about just owning who you are and being that and loving that, and I was a teenager who just desperately needed that lesson. And of course the Vanyel books are about a gay character who is gay like he's brilliant and kind and so on, which gave me an ability to accept that of which I am really proud as an adult and for which I had few real-life models.

Then in college I got into Guy Gavriel Kay in a big way and developed really specific academic interests in a number of things because of him (Theodora of Byzantium primary among those). But also I re-read Lions of Al-Rassan whenever I need a message about how nothing lovely comes in life without risks and loss.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Alixana Tigana is still one of my favourite books.

sarah.@twitter

I am de-lurking to say Jeanette Winterson! I read The Passion when i was like 12, and my mind was BLOWN. I got a line tattooed when I was 18, and I haven't read it in a few years but I trust that it will never get old. Haven't had the chance to read her new memoir but I WILL.

Also somewhere up there someone said Ella Enchanted--you guys! Ella Enchanted! My sister and I were just talking about how we both seemed to have been reading that book over and over, constantly, for a solid year, but we were sharing a copy so that can't quite be true. But, man. I still want to grow up to be that badass.

(Also Neil Gaiman and Francesca Lia Block, it would be dishonest of me not to name them.)

SarahP

@sarah.@twitter I loooooved Ella Enchanted, and passed it on to a friend who loved it so much she memorized the entire first chapter verbatim.

Ellie

@SarahP I also love Ella Enchanted. I just reread it sometime in the past year actually. Someone gave me a signed copy when I was 10 and it was instantly my most-read book. It's too bad none of her other work is nearly as good.

pterodactgirl

@sarah.@twitter Ella Enchanted is amazing. I still think about her going to the giants' wedding and eating the huge greenbeans and the cheesepuff that gets cheese all over her face. I think a giant cheesepuff that gets all over your face might be what heaven is like.

stonefruit

@sarah.@twitter if I were to tattoo something of Jeannette Winterson's on my person, it would absolutely be "what you risk reveals what you value," which is probably not actually a good thing.

sarah.@twitter

@SarahP THAT IS SO BADASS

sarah.@twitter

@stonefruit I don't know, I kind of like it! I mean the gambler who puts a guy's hands in a box haunts me (was it hands? am I misremembering this?) but it is a moral I am down with, I think.

I went with the cryptic "Thus the present is made whole," which for me is shorthand for a million things but really difficult to explain when strangers ask. Someone once asked if it was from the Bible, and I was sort of like, "no, but yes."

Jane Err

Every animal book ever written was my JAM when I was a kid. All Marguerite Henry, Walter Farley, Jack London, Gary Paulsen, Black Beauty, Jim Kjelgaard, oh my god.

I want them all back. I want to be 11 reading them all over again.

When I got to be a depressed teenager though I was elbow deep in things like Girl, Interrupted and The Bell Jar, natch.

Theda Fontaine@twitter

A Spy In The House of Love - Anais Nin

Marisa Siegel@twitter

Formative books: The Little Prince and Eloise. Also, The Chronicles of Narnia (I still maintain you can read them without thinking about religion), Pippi Longstocking, the whole Anne Shirley series, and Harriet the Spy. As a teen, all of Francesca Lia Block, but especially the Weetzie Bat books. Tom Robbins, especially Still Life with Woodpecker. And ee cummings' poems.

DH@twitter

@Marisa Siegel@twitter

Pippi! I was Pippi three years in a row for Halloween.

werewolfbarmitzvah

As a kid and as a young teenager, I was always heavily swayed by the Victorian novels because they were bursting at the seams with LUST.

I sheepishly admit that Little Women left very little impression on me, and Jane Austen went in one ear and out the other, largely because these books had NO LUST. And as a nerdy little chubby bespectacled kid, all I wanted out of a book was lust. Enter Wuthering Heights and Return of the Native, and HOT DIGGITY DOG, I was in heaven. THE LUST! And for similar reasons, when I was about 11 or 12 I read Like Water for Chocolate, and proceeded to reread it three more times because HOLY MAMAS, the LUST! And also at that same pubescent age I read all of the books in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series, because BOY HOWDY! The sex and the drugs and the orgies galore, sign me up! And then when I was 14-15 or so, I read Madame Bovary, and helloooooooo that was HOT STUFF!

And really, this tendency toward books that are exploding with lust and barely contained passions, this has completely carried on into adulthood. It's still the #1 thing I look for in a great book. Moll Flanders? Sons and Lovers? All the Russian books? PASSIONS GALORE! Jane Austen still bores me to tears, but GOOD GOD, hand me some D.H. Lawrence and we will have ourselves a time!!!

Chills

@werewolfbarmitzvah Oh man, you would have loved my English A-level class, we studied Return of the Native and Wuthering Heights!

hansOK

Ramona Quimby FTFW. Beverly Cleary is an OG. Ramona and Scout Finch (and my awesome older brothers) are pretty much responsible for the fact that I'm 24 and still not fully out of my tomboy phase.

raised amongst catalogs

@hansOK Did you read Cleary's memoir, A Girl From Yamhill? It was such a gift to me when I had grown up a little and then found out that I had more Cleary to read.
P.S. Jesus, Beezus!

Equestrienne

The first book I was really influenced by was Little Women. My mother gave it to me when I was in 3rd grade and had the chicken pox. She kept extolling the virtues of Jo March to me, and I can clearly remember my horror upon reaching the realization that I'm really more of an Amy.

Reading DuMaurier's Rebecca during my teenage years profoundly influenced many of my ideas about women and relationships.

As unoriginal as it may seem, I also feel the need to mention The Great Gatsby. My college advisor was completely convinced that I was Jordan Baker. I remember finding it mildly insulting but simultaneously taking a sick pride in it.

Lastly, Alex Haley's Roots is singlehandedly responsible for cultivating my interest in family and history.

elysian fields

@Equestrienne oh my God. Rebecca! I read that in 8th grade and actually screamed when I got to the "revelation" part. Started re-reading it again recently and it's even more deliciously creepy than I remembered.

thebestjasmine

@Equestrienne Me too with Rebecca! I read that when I was twelve, and an awesome bookstore owner who loved that I loved to read told me to get it. I need to reread that soon, it blew me away.

Nutria

@Equestrienne <3 to you for saying that you're more of an Amy. It's been awhile since I read it, but I remember feeling that I was more of an Amy too, and Amy gets so.much.hate. from people. Look, we can't all be Jo, alright!

Also, now I need to go re-read Rebecca! I remember it being mind-blowing.

yaz
yaz

Can I just take a giant leap backwards and say Where The Wild Things Are? I still really want to have a wild rumpus!

missupright

@yaz YES. I have known it by heart since I could speak and so have my siblings- the kid I look after now demands it in three languages at bedtime and I love it.

EpWs

@missupright Three languages? That sounds fantastic.

missupright

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Yeah- English- because, you know, English is my natural bedtime-story gravitation-, French -because he is French- and German, because we were in the library and he decided that THIS RIGHT HERE this WO DIE WILDEN KERLE WOHNEN is EXactly the ONLY BOOK he needs to read this week. And it hasn't been allowed to be returned since. He's a good kid.

catsoncatsoncats

As a child it was Matilda by Roald Dahl. I devoured his books when I was around 8-ish. I loved Matilda because it was about being smarter than the people around you and how that can be a curse as well as a blessing, which was definitely a theme in my childhood. But I didn't read the LOTR trilogy in grade 2 as some other people commented, so I guess I wasn't that much above average. I was always the "smart kid" in elementary and junior high. My intelligence totally leveled out in high school. Discovering weed probably didn't help with that...

EpWs

@andsoitgoes Yessss Matilda. It's okay to be smart!

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@andsoitgoes Raise your hand if you spent a lot of time staring at bits of chalk!

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) and glasses of water.

@serenityfound

I'm just going to go up through the end of high school (which is when I discovered Stephen King and was ruined forever): Ella Enchanted, Far From the Madding Crowd, Mists of Avalon, Love You Forever, Cannery Row/Sweet Thursday, Death Comes for the Archbishop, ANIMORPHS (fuck yeah. I should probably be embarrassed but I'm NOT), Goosebumps, Nancy Drew, Alanna, American Girls (Felicity, Molly, Samantha, Addy), Blood & Chocolate.

...I know there must be more, since I literally carried a book around with me everywhere. I would sneak them into my mom's purses when I didn't have one of my own.

DH@twitter

@@serenityfound

Never be embarrassed for Animorphs love. Didn't we all pet our cats and concentrate really hard?

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@DH@twitter I'm seeing a lot of Animorphs on here - I can't remember anything except that I liked them and that I felt a deep sadness about some kid named Tobias, so perhaps I should, er, sneak them out of the library or something.

DH@twitter

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

If you aren't against torrents there was a giant file of all the books, including the specials, on Tumblr awhile back.

Also you should definitely be sad for Tobias. :'(

@serenityfound

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) @DH@twitter TOBIAS. ;_; I had such a tragic pre-teen crush on the hawk-boy.

(I also obviously didn't CTRL F for Animorphs before posting, so I am glad there are others who love it like I did!)

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@DH@twitter for a really long time I wanted to name my future (hypothetical because this was from age 9-18) daughter Cassie.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Tobias...oh, I loved him so much. Protip for checking out Animorph books: find a child. Any child, really, they're all over the place. Offer to take the child on a trip to the library. Check out ALL THE ANIMORPHS for yourself, in company of child. Return child.

missupright

I Capture The Castle, which from "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink" to "Only the margins left to write on now" is JUST THE BEST THING EVER oh my god. Gaudy Night. Secret Garden. Tom's Midnight Garden. In The Night Kitchen. I don't know if any of these defined me but they were SUPER important. Are.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@missupright I Capture the Castle makes me SOB every single time I read it. The end, where her life is improving on the outside but she's so unhappy on the inside...oh dear, kills me.

BadWolf

The Phantom Tollbooth, Little House on the Prairie, Ananstasia Krupnik, Jacob Have I Loved, and The Giver when I was in elementary school.

And then, in 6th and 7th grade, I read Gone with the Wind, The Once and Future King, Jane Eyre, Our Mutual Friend, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame in rapid succession, and never looked back. There is nothing to get you through middle school like pretending you are Scarlett O'Hara shooting Yankee invaders in the face.

And then junior year of high school, I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and my WHOLE LIFE CHANGED.

(Can I also say how happy all the big fantasy novels on this list are making me? I need more swords and sorcery in my life right now.)

themegnapkin

The Castle in the Attic! I could read, but I didn't get the point of reading in 1st grade. Then in 2nd grade, I devoured The Castle in the Attic in about a day, and never looked back.

themegnapkin

@themegnapkin OMG I just saw on amazon that there's a sequel! How did I not know this?

Faintly Macabre

@themegnapkin Aahh I loved that book! I think I read the sequel, too.

EpWs

@themegnapkin Oh wowwww this book. Perfect.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@themegnapkin THE SEQUEL HAS TERRIFYING RATS. Ye be warned. I loved it, though.

diesel_vontrapp

The Mists of FUCKIN' Avalon, ya'll.

redonion

@Equestrienne just reminded me about Roots! And that reminded me of my middle school love of historical sagas that was fueled by my mother's collection of historical romances, including a particularly interesting one whose name is lost to history on the Wars of the Roses, and of course the Jean Auel books. And Penmarric, by Susan Howatch, which set me down the rabbit hole looking into the Plantagenets that eventually led to A Man for All Seasons. And all of these things maybe led to me studying history?

Cat named Virtute

At 13 Sabriel showed me that fantasy could be smart and engaging and not just flowery stuff about dragons. It shaped the writing I did as a teen, and I've probably read it five times.

At 15 Kiss of the Fur Queen taught me about the disgusting colonial legacy of my country in a way that was meaningful and devastating, and probably did more to make me a raging leftist than most other things in my life.

At 18 In the Skin of a Lion lit my soul on fire because I wanted to be able to do THAT with language, and Latent Heat by Catherine Hunter (my writing prof!) showed me that other people felt the same way about my beautiful troubled hometown, and that the writing that I do and the subjects I'm invested are worth writing about.

In the past three years Jeanette Winterson and Ali Smith have taught me about writing queer while also writing damn gorgeous fiction, and Rachel Wetzsteon and Karen Solie have spoken to all the small afraid lonely single flaneuse voices in my closest heart, and show me that there is a way of living with the small grief of being lonely while turning it into something stronger.

themegnapkin

@Marika Pea@twitter I read In the Skin of a Lion last year and fell in love with Ondaatje's writing all over again. Usually I read books for plot, but Michael Ondaatje and Michael Chabon demonstrate such genius in putting words together. <3 them both.

EpWs

Okay, so this isn't a book but it was HUGE for me: Cricket Magazine. Literary, beautiful, smart, absolutely formative. I still have ALL my old Crickets and refuse to throw them out. (I need to digitize them and stick them on an e-reader.) Anybody else grow up on this?

noodge

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher me me me!!! I loved cricket! except it was my sister's subscription and even though it was meant for both of us, since it had her name on it she would lord that over me. ahhh, sibling rivalry.

Faintly Macabre

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Uh, me! I think my parents still have a big box of them. And I even subscribed to Cicada for a while. Are you my sister or something?

fictitious

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher When I was in college I interned for a summer for the non-fiction branch of Cricket Publishing (Cobblestone, Odyssey, etc). It was if I had won the lottery, getting to be surrounded by big images of Cricket and Ladybug all day. The editors told me great stories about the early days of the magazines. The children in my life get a gift subscription whether they want one or not!

Tiktaalik

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I LOVED CRICKET. When I moved out of my parents' house I had to seriously downsize my collection, but I still have a couple that were my absolute favorites. I started getting it when they still only had one color per issue, and one of the ones I kept was the first full-color issue.

I'm a librarian, and when I went to the big ALA conference last year, I was so happy to find the Cricket booth! I picked up some of the newer science-y titles and the latest Cricket. Any children I know will get a subscriptions to those magazines.

Fun story: In 2nd grade, we got to make our own spelling/vocab lists. One week I was making a list of words that started with "every-" (everyone, everybody, everything, etc.). I got SO MAD at my teacher when she said I couldn't use everybuggy because it "wasn't a real word."

beanie

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I remember entering a Cricket writing contest! Did anyone else do this?

EpWs

@beanie I did, I did! I think I got an honorable mention for a poem once. That was a proud day for the Wee Wordsnatcher.
@Tiktaalik If I encountered a Cricket booth at a convention I would probably go into full-on fangirl mode and just squee and mumble something about "youguyschangedmylife." I am so so glad they're still around.
@fictitious That is a fantastic gift for kidlings, I will do the same.

harebell

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Hi, everybuggy. I had no idea Cricket was still being published -- glad to hear this! It just might be coming into my niece's life on her birthday now, this year or next...

celacia

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I have a cover of one of those from forever ago that I carefully detached because it was drawn by Trina Schart Hyman who is my favorite illustrator ever tucked away in a photo album somewhere.(Found it, it's from Feb. 1987.)

Gordon Bombay

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I looked like a total asshole toting it around at 14 but goddamn. I still reread it every year and force it upon potential romantic partners as something of a vetting process - “We have advantages. We have a cushion to fall back on. This is abundance. A luxury of place and time. Something rare and wonderful. It's almost historically unprecedented. We must do extraordinary things. We have to. It would be absurd not to.”

spoondisaster

@Gordon Bombay Dave Eggers was my shit as a young teen. I (somewhat pretentiously) extolled the virtues of McSweeney's to all of my highschool friends and would not shut up about AHWoSG. It was just so good and so different from anything I'd read previously.

billie_crusoe

@Gordon Bombay I was reading AHWoSG while moving to Berkeley at 21. I got so much of a thrill out of reading about Moe's and Telegraph Ave and People's Park while I was discovering the city myself. I still love me some Eggers.

bessbrowning

@Gordon Bombay My dad got it for my for Christmas when I was in college and I couldn't get over how my dad could have gotten me something so amazing. I haven't reread it because I'm afraid I won't love it the way my pretentious, idealistic college self did.

thedivinelorraine

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series – the first time I remember realizing books could be snarky and funny and completely absurd. I read them yearly from about 14-college. I haven’t reread them since because I’m afraid they won’t seem as hilarious to me, but I still have such strong memories of them.

RK Fire

@thedivinelorraine: yes yes yes how could I forget HHGTTG??

Leon Tchotchke

@thedivinelorraine God, yes, this. I still reread it every year or two. I remember finding it in the room where my older cousin had been staying while he was visiting. I was maybe 9 or 10 and I was really into astronomy at the time, and I thought it was a cool stargazing book maybe? My mom saw me with it and told me not to read it because it would "make [me] weird." (No idea what induced her to say this, since I can't remember her EVER telling me what I could or couldn't read/listen to/watch any other time, ever).

Needless to say I ignored her advice, but she turned out to be right because it did in fact make me weird.

Heat Signature

@thedivinelorraine I just reread them in the past year or two and yes, they're still funny.

give cheese some pants

Maniac Magee, YES, but also There's a Girl in My Hammerlock! Jerry Spinelli is the man.

MoxyCrimeFighter

Ahhhhhhh! I'm seeing so many books on here that I've never heard anyone else say they've read - this is why I love it here.

Okay, so:
1) The Bruno and Boots series, and basically all other Gordan Korman books, especially A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag, Son of Interflux, and I Want to Go Home. I loved that he wrote his first book at 13.

2) Anastasia Krupnik, holy God, I loved her so much. I loved her educated, kind of dorky parents, who gave her boundaries but were so kind and understanding; her friends who had their own weirdo, distinct personalities; Sam, who was adorable!; and obvs, Anastasia herself, who had long hair and glasses and fell over things and said stupid stuff but was smart and happy with herself. Also, Taking Care of Teriffic.

3. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. Precocious kids, trivia, and themes about what makes a family. Lovely.

4. A Countess Below Stairs and Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson. I love these books so much - various European aristocrats fallen on hard times fall in love whilst surrounded by helpful eccentrics.

5) Beauty by Robin McKinley. Beauty is a sarcastic, pragmatic nerd who ends up being foxy and gets to marry a sexy prince. I mean, that's super-reductive, because this is an excellent interpretation of the story and beautifully written, but it's my favorite fairy tale because the nerdy girl wins.

6. All the Roald Dahl - he appealed to my morbid sense of humor, and his wry way of relating fantastical situations was a huge influence on me.

There are seriously so many others - Animorphs, Harry Potter, Bruce Coville, Jane Yolen, The Enchanted Forest series and Mairelon the Magician, Georgette Heyer and other age-appropriate Regency novels. And now I'm going to go back and re-read them all!

MoxyCrimeFighter

@MoxyCrimeFighter Diana Wynne Jones! Holy crap, how could I forget her - Diana Wynne Jones for life! And the Edgar Eager series - Half Magic and the Time Garden and the rest. Criminy, I need to go find these again.

Tiktaalik

@MoxyCrimeFighter I love Diana Wynne Jones! I was always impressed that she somehow managed to be really prolific without a dip in quality or creativity. She will be missed.

martinipie

@MoxyCrimeFighter DIANA WYNNE JONES FOREVER AND ALWAYS! Oh my god she is the best, the Chrestomanci books, Howl's Moving Castle...siggghh.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@martinipie I still think Howl is MAGNIFICENTLY sexy.

pterodactgirl

@MoxyCrimeFighter The View from Saturday defined me for a year or so in middle school. That and A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, which once won me major points (with the Librarian, not my classmates) when I was able to successfully teach my whole class about Eleanor of Aquitaine one time. And I know I've talked about this n the Hairpin before, but Beauty is so so so good. Probably my favorite McKinley! Well, that or The Hero and the Crown?

I'm not even going to get into all the Roald Dahl because COME ON. He's just the best and there isn't really anything else to say. (Boy! Henry Sugar! Danny the Champion of the World! Sigh.)

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@MoxyCrimeFighter Howl is one of the sexiest characters ever. DWJ is so good at those small romantic side-plots. Another good book of hers is 'Fire and Hemlock' which I think may be aimed at older teenages. And all of the Chrestomanci books of course.

celacia

@MoxyCrimeFighter Howl is to die for. I would give your comment _all_ the thumbs up if I could.

MoxyCrimeFighter

@Sailor Jupiter Oh, Fire and Hemlock! I read that when I was in late elementary school and then not again for a few years and I was amazed at how much I had missed. That romance is sweet and kinda creepy at the same time? But Thomas Lynn is probably where I developed a Thing for older, slightly weary intellectuals who display sudden bursts of passion that reveal their deep feelings for you...sigh.

Chills

@MoxyCrimeFighter Eva Ibbotson! I loved her so much, although I only ever read 'The Secret of Platform 13' I was utterly obsessed, must have read it at least twice a year, and it still works reading now!
And Diana Wynne Jones- the Chrestomanci books were my favourites.
When I heard about their respective deaths I was so sad.

AnalogMetronome

-Pretty much all of the Dear America books
-A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
-His Dark Materials Trilogy
-Harry Potter (like someone said upthread, for those of us who grew up as the books came out, it's kind of the end-all be-all of formative literature)
-Laura Ingalls Wilder
-Rilke

Munich Pixie Dream Girl

@MademoiselleML DEAR AMERICA!!! I ate those up as a kid. I read the other ones, (I vaguely remember there being ones about royalty?) but the Dear America ones were still the best.

AnalogMetronome

@lostinthesupermarket The Royal Diaries! I read those too. My faves of the Dear America were the pioneer ones and the WWII ones...

shamburgesa

I have mention Agatha Christie! I spent an entire year reading everything she ever published.

Dancercise

Charlotte's Web, most especially the closing line: "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."

EvilAuntiePeril

All of the above, esp. the hundreds of kid/YA/golden age mystery books (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, any of the Enid Blyton numbers, The Three Investigators, Encyclopedia Brown, The Boxcar Children, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Georgette Heyer, Margery Allingham, Dorothy Sayers).

Here's 4 writers/books that aren't on the thread so far:
Jean Little - how I lived for From Anna I sobbed, I cried, I obsessed. She came to do a reading at our library, and all the other kids were asking tonnes of questions. I just sat in the corner, gaping in awe, I thought she was so amazing.
Anne McCaffery - Dragonsong. Meant so damn much to me as a girl.
Judith Kerr - When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit & Edith Nesbit - The Railway Children. I was really into books where mysterious adult stuff is going on that kids don't really understand or have explained to them, but who still have to deal with the consequences. These 2 really resonated with me for a long, long time.

baklava!

@EvilAuntiePeril Omg, Jean Little. I won some kind of contest (I think it was designing a bookmark) and the prize was a book signed by Jean Little (Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird maybe?). She came in person to the local library to sign it and I deer-in-headlightsed my way through the whole thing too. It was sooo strange to meet the person that had made up the characters that had made me cry all those tears. Later that year I wrote my first book (it was grade 4) and sent it in to her publisher. Haha!

sovereignann@twitter

OK, all these books are so great! I'm trying to remember some of mine because I jumped around so much and just kinda read whatever struck my fancy. I will say Judy Blume was probably number one. I read her stuff from around second grade on, just whatever I could get my hands on. Then I don't know what happened...Like I don't know if Texas just didn't do a lot of elementary school reading of chapter books when I was growing up or if the school libraries were crap, I don’t know, but I don't have any remembrance of any of the books you guys are talking about from your youth other than Judy Blume or Charlotte’s Web. I kinda started reading Agatha Christie and Robert Ludlum and other spy novels for some reason about the time I was in 4th grade which lasted a long time. My parents were avid readers so I read all the time but I don't know what happened with me there. Then in Jr. High and High School I consumed almost everything written by the Brontë sisters over and over again. Then 1984 and Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies, Brave New World, Les Mis, The Handmaid’s Tale…all these dystopian type books wormed their way into my life. Then I went on an Anne Rice kick and not just vampires. Then there was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I have read that book over and over again since 2005 and in different ways (only Oskar’s chapters followed by only the grandmother and grandfather chapters) it just amazes me every time. Right now though, my reading consists mostly of historical mysteries and other uninspired reading. I need to find a new amazing book or re-read one that has struck me. If only there was a long list of interesting books recommended by interesting people. Oh wait…

the angry little raincloud

This is a spectacular post, with spectacular comments. Thanks, Nicole.

Several of the books by Stefan Zweig (early 20th-century Austrian writer) have been overly influential. He's not as well known in these parts as he should be, but his works have been recently translated (and very well translated at that). What I discovered I love about Zweig is that his books capture that sense of creeping dread and horror that seems to lurk under the smoothest of surfaces. And that everything--and absolutely everything-- in your life can change with little notice, or at the least expected times, and for the most minor of reasons. And some of this is within our control, but mostly not, but we are nonetheless left to pick up the pieces after the maelstrom of destruction, which so often breezes in with just a tickle and not a full force gale, has passed.

I'm thinking specifically of The Post Office Girl, Chess Story, and Beware of Pity. Gorgeous books. Not happy books, but they've helped me make sense of things, and provided many hours of solace.

I also read way too much Henry Miller as a youth, but that's a different story, entirely.

Tiktaalik

I have read/skimmed all (?) the comments, and I am a little embarrassed that no one else liked Redwall by Brian Jacques. Just me? I LOVED that book in 4th grade and read all the new sequels until I was in college, at which point I realized that he had kind of run out of ideas and I started to have trouble immersing myself in the world of talking, sword-fighting, questing woodland creatures. I remember when I was in 4th grade and finished reading all the books that were in the series at the time (5? 6?), I cried for hours that it was over. I made my own trading cards of the characters. When my grandma's cat had kittens, I named them all after characters from the books. When I went to boarding school in 11th grade, my randomly assigned roommate loved Redwall too, and her mom decided to throw us an annual "Redwall Feast" where she made food described in the books... we kept having those feasts through college.

Other books that had a big impact on me:
-Ender's Game. I loved reading about other smart kids! This one is a little embarrassing now that Orson Scott Card has gone off the deep neo-con end.
-Something Rich and Strange by Patricia McKillip. All her books have this wonderful dreamy quality, plus this one was about environmentalism and the main character has my name and it is illustrated by Brian Froud! So good.
-A Wrinkle in Time
-One Hundred Years of Solitude. I picked this one up in college and read it over 2 days. I read lots of fantasy, but this was my first time reading magical realism, and I LOVED it, complete with all the repeated character names.
-Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie. A take on the Arthurian legend from Guinevere's POV... I also read Mists of Avalon (which I loved!) and The Once and Future King, but this is the one that lodged deepest in my brain. If I were to reread it today, it would probably seem a little trashy and melodramatic.
-THE SECRET HISTORY. Gawd I love that book. I got all my college friends to read it too, and we enjoy picking out the perfect actors to cast the movie. Anytime I meet someone who knows/loves this book, it's like shorthand that we will be friends.

anachronistique

@Tiktaalik You are not alone. My friends and I adored those books, did feasts.... and my first foray into online anything was a Redwall BBS and chatroom.

DH@twitter

@Tiktaalik

I definitely have a Redwall-shaped vacuum in my heart. I always wanted to have a Redwall feast! I kind of meant to as a memorial to Jacques when he died last year, and haven't gotten around to it yet. Actually, my first foray into fanfic was Redwall. Damn that's embarrassing.

anachronistique

@DH@twitter My fan character was SarahRose of Noonvale, and sarahrose was my first email address. NO EMBARRASSMENT, JUST FOND NOSTALGIA.

DH@twitter

@anachronistique

My first screenname was something with Mariel in it! Damn, I could still use a gullwhacker these days.

The fanfic...the main character was a skunk, because I was obsessed with skunks as a child and was sort of affronted that there weren't many (any?) in Redwall. I think it had silver fur.

(incidentally my first email address had a reference to Batman Beyond, but that's a whole 'nother thread)

EpWs

@Tiktaalik Redwall! Yes! Perfect!

Lucienne

@Tiktaalik Something Rich and Strange is pretty much the only McKillip I haven't read. :( I need to fix that!

Amphora

@anachronistique Redwall feasts! My friend and I used to hold these regularly when we were in 4th-6th grade. I totally insisted on making a flan with my mom, it was a mess but delicious.

Redwall changed my life. At 26, I cried for hours when I heard that Brian Jacques passed away :(

Amphora

@DH@twitter I wrote Redwall fanfic too (on AOL, it was the 90s) - I was obsessed with otters. No shame in it!

sarah girl

Ramona!!! She made me feel like it was okay to be a kind of messy, goofy kid who got things wrong sometimes. I really vividly remember throwing up at school in 1st grade, but I was okay because Ramona did that and she survived, right? I loved how she just adored her parents (so many kids books these days have these little 8-year old sass monsters who are SO disrespectful, it makes me sad), loved that her parents sometimes fought but they always made up, loved that she spent a lot of time inside her head honing her imagination.

Alixana

Several people in this thread have mentioned books involving lions, which is calling to mind faint memories of a fantasy series I loved but can't remember enough about to locate! The main characters were shapeshifters of some kind, and there was a strong connection to lions - maybe one of the books had Lion in the title? Does this ring any bells for anyone?

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Alixana Ugh, I can't remember, but your comment has triggered an (embarrassing?) summer spent reading all of Alice Borchardt's wolf-shapeshifter oeuvre.

Alixana

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) By "embarrassing" you must mean "awesome."

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Alixana Oh god, they were like crack. Well, maybe not crack. Like a giant box of Nerds.

leonstj

Are people still commenting here? If so, my tale is easy and three parts.

Little Kid: Robin Hood, Huck Finn, kids version of Arthurian shit. Made me a shitty little rabble-rouser socialist.

Freshman Year of High School: My grandmother was really ill, and i was living w/ her to help out as she died. She loved musicals, and RENT was new and she loved it. This is so corny, but at 13, I would just listen to "La Vie Boheme" over and over, and everything in it, from yoga to the Sex Pistols - it just became my personal syllabus. I eventually turned 18 and went off to study art in NYC...

Freshman Year of College: ...and was reading (ugh, each thing more unbearable than the last) "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" when I found out I couldn't afford to stay in art school, basically had a full on nervous breakdown, and began the "On The Road" part of my life (cuz, I read that constantly too).

Eventually, while doing my 3-year stint in South Texas for my Philosophy degree, I stopped doing tacky obvious things. I realized Gatsby was my favorite book ever, but it didn't mean I should die in a pool.

Instead, I started carrying around "One Hundred Years of Solitude" for a while to meet girls. This basically never worked.

Eventually I stumbled upon Oulipo, which became my favorite movement in all of literature, and Perec's "Life: A User's Manual". Bartlebooth's absurd mission is now the key touchstone in me understanding why I do what I do and am how I am as a grown-ass man.

leonstj

@leon.saintjean - Also, if there are any hardcore philosophy nerds here, the other critical documents for how I view the world:

Quine's "Two Dogma's of Empiricisim", KG's "On Formally Undecidable...", Kripke's "Naming and Neccessity", Grice's "Logic and Conversation".

SarahP

@leon.saintjean I can't believe I didn't mention On the Road. I don't care what a cliche it is to be a teenager and love that book, I WAS A TEENAGER WHO LOVED THAT BOOK. And what it meant to me and what it said to me at a time I needed it to say such things means I still love that book.

Hambulance

@leon.saintjean Wow. Oulipo. You just kind of blew my mind out of my face and turned it into a huge pile of respect for you, sir.

Hambulance

@Nicole Cliffe I am terribly sad for your father.

anachronistique

Now that I've gotten all up in everybody's threads...

I don't think I could possibly overstate the impact "Tam Lin" by Pamela Dean has had on my life. Poetry! Small liberal arts colleges! Being your own person! Believing in magic! Classics! It's taking the wrong lesson entirely to say it made me a classics major, but... yeah, it probably did. I legitimately considered stealing my library's copy because it was out of print for a while there.

Other greatest hits: Anne McCaffrey, sci-fi with ladies in it. Marion Zimmer Bradley, history and legends as told by the women (The Firebrand! So bad but so good!). The Sandman series, all stories are connected. Everything by Madeleine L'Engle, teaching me how to be a good human being and believe in the higher order of the universe.

Tiktaalik

@anachronistique I love Tam Lin! So much! I have an inexplicable soft spot for any books that deal with magic and are set at a boarding school/college. Harry Potter, Tam Lin, Secret History (no magic in that one, but close enough), The Magicians, the Chrestomanci books... It's my favorite sub-subgenre.

Alixana

@Tiktaalik Me too! My FAVORITE in this vein is "A College of Magics" by Caroline Stevermer. Yet another book about just being who you are, come to think of it.

anachronistique

@Tiktaalik It is a great regret of my life that I didn't read Diana Wynne Jones until the past couple of years, because I would have LOVED that shit as a kid. Not that I don't love it now, I'm just sad I missed out for all those years.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@anachronistique What I love about DWJ, and this is particularly in the Chrestomanci books, is her style of writing about magic and how it is performed. Instead of waving arms, a wand, or magic words, it's generally about willpower? So of course I thought it was more 'realistic' and I would definitely be able to figure it out.

celacia

@anachronistique Tam Lin is one of the books that has had a major impact on my adult life (contributing with another book to my going back and finishing undergrad). My husband dropped my copy in the tub ~4 years ago and I am _still_ not over it. (It is not even destroyed, just wrinkly and fragile.)

@Alixana A College of Magics! I loved that. Faris is so _interesting_ and Jane is so delightful.

pterodactgirl

I, Claudius. I can remember my dad listening to it on tape when I was 6. Then I read it at 9. And reread it and reread it every few years forever. I've seen the mini-series countless times too. SO GOOD.

There are others, but I think for better or worse, I, Claudius defines me in a way they don't.

celacia

@pterodactgirl My husband regularly names his MMO characters after people in that book. I may have named one or two of mine that way as well.

pterodactgirl

@celacia They have some great names; my personal favorite is Vipsania. My little brother had a rat named Livia when he was in middle school though. It's an important book for our whole family.

celacia

@pterodactgirl I have two who are named Livia. I may refer to the smaller one in conversation as Livilla, much to the confusion of anyone unfamiliar with the source of the name.

pterodactgirl

@celacia Brilliant. I also really like Sejanus for the sound of it, although I don't think I could ever name anything I cared about after him....

Melusina

The Lord of the Rings (especially the appendixes) must be heavily implicated in my choice to move to a foreign country at 17 to do a linguistics degree. Plus, my husband and I would not be together if we weren't both total geeks who rely on Tolkien anaglogies. (For example, I convinced him that someone was wrong for him by asking, "Is she your Eowyn or your Arwen?" Subtext: Pick me instead.)

As a child, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Anne books and the Diary of Anne Frank all helped make me the person I am today. I also have to give a big shout out to Middlemarch, which besides being amazing, helped cure me of some of my more ridiculous ideas.

pterodactgirl

@Melusina Middlemaaaaaarch!

Lustful Cockmonster

Oh man, the first book I remember reading and re-reading and loving and carrying around was "The Ordinary Princess" by MM Kaye. I think I was about 7 when I read it the first time, and even though there are parts that are aggravating as an adult (brown hair and freckles makes you ordinary?!?) I wanted to be Princess Amy, living in the woods and making friends with animals and fighting to be regular instead of getting stuck being a stuck up boring "normal" princess married to a terrible dude she didn't like. It's been years since I've read it, but it is still sitting on my bookshelf.

Within a few years I had ditched the "kid stuff" for Christopher Pike, VC Andrews and Clan of the Cave Bear. I'm a little bit nervous to give too much thought to how those formed my future self during my elementary school years.

As an adult it might have to be "Reading Lolita in Tehran." It might be a little shlocky, but I think it's when I realized that reading could make you part of a community? It had always been a very solitary endeavor for me, and I took part in an online book club with like a hundred other people and the author when I was reading that and I loved that aspect of it...

And going back and reading and enjoying as an adult all of the things that I was supposed to have read in high school (The Good Earth, East of Eden, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, A Separate Peace) has made me realize I was such a shit back then and my teachers were frustrated by me for good reason. I needed to get over myself. Apparently I chose to fight the man by not reading anything I was supposed to read. High school kids are the best.

Tiktaalik

@bandgmeg I loved The Ordinary Princess too! They published it for a while in Cricket magazine, one chapter at a time over several months. I also wanted to run away and live in the forest with Princess Amy!

EvilAuntiePeril

@bandgmeg Seconding "The Ordinary Princess". I loved that book so much I stole it from the library before we moved. *blusheswithshame*

JadedStone

@bandgmeg OH THANK GOODNESS.
Somebody else who thrived on Christopher Pike and V.C Andrews!

Ellie

There are so many comments I wasn't even going to get into it, but then I did a control-F for Dostoevsky. SERIOUSLY?????? By far, Dostoevsky novels have contributed to me, my interests, emotions, etc. more than other novels. Also "The Possessed" by Elif Batuman (meta).

I feel that people are mostly talking about childhood books. I read like all of these too, and we're all different, so I'm not sure any of these could have singularly shaped my identity (or anyone else's?). The one read-in-childhood book that really DID, though, is "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman." I read it first when I was 6 (no, I don't have Asperger's syndrome) and reread it every year since then, but I stopped a few years ago because I basically know the whole thing. He's always been my number one role model in life. I didn't end up becoming a physicist, which I still feel a bit wistful about, but I wanted to for most of my life.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@Ellie Dostoevsky in da hoooooouuuuuuuse! When I was 16 I read Brothers Karamazov largely out of spite, just to prove that I could do it. And by god, who knew it would wind up triggering a lifelong love for Russian literature. And Turgenev is also fantastic.

And The Possessed was the most hysterically funny book!

distrighema

@werewolfbarmitzvah I had to read Brothers Karamazov in high school (is that weird? I don't think most kids had to do that) and I wouldn't say I loved it, but my friends and I developed a long-running habit of referring to the characters Sex and the City style-- "I'm totally an Ivan!" "But you're being such a Smerdyakov!"

werewolfbarmitzvah

@distrighema *gasp* I love this.

Munich Pixie Dream Girl

So many good books here! I noticed no one mentioned Shel Silverstein though. I loved (and still do) pretty much everything by him. To this day, I still tell people he's one of my favorite poets without a hint of irony. My mom even bought me his newest book of poems for my birthday.

Also, Angela's Ashes, which I read when I was around 14. It's one of the first book I remember that managed to make me laugh and cry simultaneously.

anachronistique

@lostinthesupermarket I can't wait till my best friend's kid gets a little older and I can send him all the Shel Silverstein books. Best poetry.

DH@twitter

@lostinthesupermarket

I didn't get into Shel until I was nearly a grown-up, but as a kid I LOVED Jeff Moss and Jack Prelutzky. Sort of in the same vein of funny/serious kids' poetry.

Munich Pixie Dream Girl

@anachronistique It really is the best poetry. I can still recite "The Gypsies are Coming" word for word after performing a dramatic reading of it in fifth grade.

OxfordComma

@lostinthesupermarket : Yes to "Angela's"--the way his prose just dances around? Glory.

toastandjam

I blame my love of academics and floppy-haired musician types on Little Women. It shaped my idea of romance to an unfortunate degree.

@serenityfound

@toastandjam Professor Bhaer is and always will be swoony. Also, probably influenced my unfortunate attraction to accents...

toastandjam

@serenityfound And, as played by Gabriel Byrne?? EXTRA-swoony!
Btw, is your name a ref to Firefly?

@serenityfound

@toastandjam I am even partial to silly Paul Lukas in the Kathryn Hepburn version. Everything about almost any version of that character makes me schoolgirl giggly.

And, yes, yes it is. Minted right around when the film came out.

toastandjam

@serenityfound Gotta say I didn't love Christian Bale as Laurie: for one thing, his hair was all wrong.

My game name - the name I use on ticket to ride etc - is zoewashburn! Sigh, I miss Wash...

@serenityfound

@toastandjam I had completely forgotten that Christian Bale ever played Laurie. Hm.

I am a leaf in the wind...

Lu2
Lu2

<3 you for so many other reasons, Hairpin, but I created an account just to have my say on this topic. There's a book I read that influenced me but I've long since forgotten its title. I've been wondering about it for decades and I thought that if any community would know about it, this one would. Hairpin, can you help?

This book is probably 30-40 years old. When I was in high school, I read some young-adult novel about a group of high school girls, and one of them dreamed of going to Bryn Mawr College. In this novel, a couple of them used to sneak out to an old-fashioned nightclub where they would have drinks and dance with boys and, most notably, come home with gardenias (from the drinks?). Anyway, I had never heard of Bryn Mawr College, but the character in this book fed into my interest in going to a women's college. The play "Uncommon Women and Others" had started it for me in the first place--henceforth I dreamed of going to a school like Mount Holyoke or Smith or BMC.

Reader, I did go to one of those schools. And thus I would dearly love to trace that throwaway book about high school girls that, strangely enough, ended up shaping my life. Anyone have any idea?

All I know is that it had a rather long title; I am under the impression that it's similar to the title of the Judy Blume book "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself." I don't think the description of that plot matches what I recall of my "lost book."

runner in the garden

@Lu2 we should have a whole thread about "lost books" from our childhoods! Mine was a huge hardcover collection of folktales from around the world - similar to, but not one of, the Andrew Lang Fairy Books.

Lu2
Lu2

@runner in the garden --I would definitely help on that thread! :)

It would be like those pattern-matching services that find the one fork you lost from your wedding silverware or the 8th saucer from your china set.

SarahP

@runner in the garden I have a large book called Favorite Folktales from Around the World--it can't be that simple, can it?

pterodactgirl

@runner in the garden My lost book was one about a girl who had an enchanted Cabbage Patch kid I think? It granted her wishes, but somehow they never turned out the way she thought they would? Something like that. This was one of the first books I read during "Silent Reading" in second grade which made me realize how amazing reading was. I don't think I thought it was very good even at the time, but it was seminal for me.

raised amongst catalogs

@runner in the garden Ahhh, help! All day I've been trying to remember the name of the book about two girls who became friends...bonding over a dollhouse, I think? I feel like one of the girls was from a bad home and there was something (possibly) about her being taken from her parents to go into foster care? I could be making that part up but I just remember the basic storyline revolving around two girls and an unlikely friendship, and ... a dollhouse. Ugh, I hate my brain for not remembering anything except for the FEELINGS this book gave me.

Emma Peel

@vanillawaif I have one I have NEVER been able to figure out. There was an English war orphan named Una and she eventually found her grandfather, and it was heartwarming. I literally remember nothing else about this book. HELPPPP.

Lu2
Lu2

@Emma Peel --That sounds familiar .... but I had no luck trying your search. But youse guys! I found this search/tips site. Could this be something?

http://www.ipl.org/div/pf/entry/76690

@serenityfound

@Lu2 I KNOW THAT BOOK. I don't know the title, though. I do distinctly remember the coming home with gardenias thing. And I, too, went to a women's college and it was awesome.

I found the title of my lost book one time, didn't write it down, and therefore lost it again. It was some YA book about a girl (in medieval England, maybe?) who gets basically sold into marriage to a big galoot but then meets and befriends a mute boy that the rest of the townfolks despise/think is possessed...or something. I got half-way through it during my lunch break at Academic Decathlon one time and always wanted to finish it.

Lu2
Lu2

@@serenityfound --NO WAY!!!!! I can't believe someone else read it and remembers it! :D :D You made my day. I have to say, not once at my college did I ever get gardenias, nor did I go to nightclubs. Too busy studying, I guess. :\ Oh, well, the gardenias and hangover would have long since been lost, but my Finely Trained Scholarly Mind (lol) lasts forever.

darklingplain

@@serenityfound I think this is The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan, maybe?

darklingplain

@vanillawaif This might be Afternoon of the Elves.

laurel

@Lu2 OK, it's the middle of the night now but in your lost book does one of the characters spend an entire day running around looking for a charm with a stone where Bryn Mawr would be to give to the girl who wanted to go to Bryn Mawr on whom she had a crush? I have no idea what it's called but the girl crush part made an impression on me. The drinks and gardenias are ringing a bell. I feel like I read it in junior high right after The Bell Jar or something.

I've spent this whole post wishing it was about lost books. Mine is about a little girl, maybe southern? Maybe black? who has a really unstable home life. At some point, a grown up lady is kind to her and invites her to the movies and the little girl doesn't have nice clothes to wear and shows up wearing a big floppy hat and no shoes? It sounds absurd but I remember it as being so haunting and touching.

raised amongst catalogs

@darklingplain No, it IS it! THANK YOU! I was so hung up on thinking it had another title. When I Googled that and saw the cover of the book come up I instantly had memories and feelings and oh my gosh how did you know?

Lu2
Lu2

@laurel @laurel --Gosh, I honestly can't remember that part. But I will tell you this: I have done that "theme" as going-away gifts for people in the intervening years, as recently as this year. Did I internalize the idea from that book? What's funny is, while the Bryn Mawr gem charm is now starting to feel familiar to me, I have no memory of a girl-girl crush in the book.

Interrobanged

@@serenityfound I don't think anyone's still checking this thread, but that book sounds an awful lot like The Raging Quiet.

@serenityfound

@darklingplain @interrobanged It totally is! I always tell people that it has "quiet" or "silence" in the title. Purchasing on Amazon before I forget again... Also, Amazon describes the book as "eminiscent of the work of Thomas Hardy", which totally explains why it captivated me.

Interrobanged

@@serenityfound Yay, success!

laurel

@Lu2 We could be talking about two different books but your description struck me so hard. I too had never heard of this magical place called Bryn Mawr (wut?) when I read it (junior high in a small California beach town) and I think about that book fairly often. There was just something about her fixation on finding the charm with a gem in exactly the right place that felt familiar. I can get fixated on an idea and spend too much time and effort on trying to make it real.

Your comment prompted me to google keywords from my other lost book and I found a woman on goodreads who is looking for what sounds like the same novel. I'm going to haunt her thread and see if she finds it.

Lost books! Why are they so compelling?

Speaking of cake, I have cake

Books that made me a nerdy child with a dark sense of humour & love of colourful plots in exotic locales: The Tintin and Asterix books, and the Diary of Adrian Mole. Books that tipped my nerdiness over into insufferable verbal precociousness: everything by Enid Blyton. Books that older me read that basically were grown-up versions of first three: works of Graham Greene and Lawrence Durrell

JadedStone

OH GOOD. I will open my goodreads in this here browser and then go through all the comments and add things to me "TO READ" shelf. EXCELLENT.

dale

@Jade - ditto
@everyone
a) I wish goodreads had existed when I was younger, so I could have kept track of the books I read back when I Was Young; and
b) Is there a 'pinner group of any kind on goodreads, that we could join?

Nutria

@dale Ooooh, I'm not aware of a 'pinner group on goodreads, but maybe we should make one!

billie_crusoe

@dale For about 2 years, maybe early teens, I kept a meticulous journal of every book I read, including a summary and whether I liked it. I was perhaps a little obsessive. But I kind of wish I still had the journals.

dale

Phew. So many books! So many of them in common with you all. But as far as influence goes, I guess I would have to say the Mary Poppins books (my first gentle intro to fantasy), Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, the Anne books, Hitchhiker's Guide series, anything and everything Margaret Atwood, and Lord of the Rings, which I came to much later but it has definitely shaped my life over the past decade+.
Things I read obsessively but wouldn't necessarily claim any influence as such: Justice & Her Brothers trilogy; Incident at Hawk's Hill; anything by Lois Duncan.
I'll admit it to you folks here: I also had a fling for a few months with The Fountainhead, because I was in that teenage independence-is-everything stage. Then I grew up.

raised amongst catalogs

@dale Hahaha -- The Fountainhead totally turned me and two of my closest friends into total assholes in high school, and then we stopped speaking to one another. Is there anything haughtier than a high school student who isn't speaking to another high school student? Finally we came out of our Roarkian stupor and got back to normal. Two of us are still best friends and laugh at the huge rift that book caused.

dale

@vanillawaif Ohhhh, that is funny. I mean, probably not at the time, but now! I don't think anyone else in my class had read it, and I probably bored them to death when I used it as my book report.

Now I just use it as a gauge to determine whether I'll like someone or not. Oh, you like Rand, do you. Would you excuse me, I have to be somewhere else right now.

rosaline

SO many favorite books!! I'm completely overwhelmed thinking about all this!

Bittersweet

@Hammitt: You mean everyone doesn't know there are 8 books?!? That's just wrong. All of mine are pretty battered, but Anne of the Island and Anne's House of Dreams are battered AND highlighted because I love them so much.

theotherginger

@Bittersweet I am so sad for those people. I think my Anne's House of Dreams has no spine. I want to read it (specifically my copy in another city) right. now.

OxfordComma

@Bittersweet : "Anne" is one of the single best heroines in fiction, ever. There. I said it. :)

omgkitties

I credit/blame Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH for my extreme (over?)empathy for all animals ever. (Still upset over LW3 yesterday? OH YEAH.)

cava

@omgkitties THE RATS OF NIMH! I LOVED IT SO HARD but I don't really remember anything about it, except how much I enjoyed it? Weird. OH GOD YES I DO, JENNERRRRR MY JENNER FEELS

MBDC21

-The Egypt Game! Totally inspired my love of ancient Egypt as well as a fear of stranger danger!

Anyone else love:

-A Doll's House by Rumer Godden. That scary/beautiful doll, Marzipan, who took control of the house and bossed around the meek doll family and set the one celloid doll on fire? Intense!

-The Alice books, by Phillis Reynolds Naylor? Her brother, Lester, and his large-breasted gf, Crystal? Memories!!!

DH@twitter

@MBDC21

ALICE. Those books taught me more than my mom and public school combined, for sho. I really would like to read all of them--I kinda swerved away from them in high school when I really got into speculative fiction.

Ahhh Crystal with her wonderful breasts and...what was Lester's other girlfriend's name, the hippie one? Lester with his mustache! Pamela who cut her hair short! (in hindsight she may have inspired me to do the same) Elizabeth the Catholic!

pterodactgirl

@MBDC21 Oh man, I'm commenting waaaay too much all over this post, but The Egypt Game! My middle school bestie and I totally played something we called "The India Game" because we (I) wanted to be more like the characters in that book. Zilpha Keatley Snyder had some other great ones too. I still think about Amanda and the Stanley family when I go into a Banana Republic. And how good was the Green Sky trilogy??

mustelid

@MBDC21 I loved the Alice books. So much. Did you know Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is still writing them? I recently bought some of the high school aged ones for my thirteen year old cousin for Christmas... and read them all before I gave them to her. I also totally got to meet PRN when I was ten or so? I had brunch at her house, because she went to my grandmother's church. She gave me books from her personal library.

I grew up in Silver Spring so I totally felt like I WAS Alice. Like she'd go on a date to Wheaton Plaza to see a movie in the crummy theater I'd be like, "I go on dates to the movie theater at Wheaton Plaza, too!!!" I also grew up with a single father, am tone deaf and mouth the words to Happy Birthday, and spent a lot of my teenage years thinking about sex and whether I was doing too much or not enough. I still have an attraction to redheads. I always wished I had a cool older brother like Les.

celacia

@pterodactgirl I had the video game. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Below_the_Root_%28computer_game%29) I loved those books so much.

pterodactgirl

@celacia I did not know that existed, but it sounds amazing!

Rosebudddd

@MBDC21 AAAAHHHH YES, The Doll's House! I had completely forgotten this, but it came rushing back as soon as I read your description. I looked at the book on Amazon and totally recognized the illustrations. The main doll character is called Tottie Plantangenet. Also, the mean doll is named Marchpane. I read SO MUCH as a kid, but I've forgotten many of the books I read in elementary school. Thanks so much for mentioning this and recalling it from the depths of my childhood!!

frannypants

@MBDC21 I love those Alice books so much. I dressed up as Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for a book report in sixth grade! I wore my mom's clothes and I got marked down for not putting in enough effort. Worth it. My best friend and I still use "Pamella" and "Elizabeth" as adjectives.

JadedStone

So.. nobody else was strongly influenced by "the sufferings of young werther" by Goethe? Nobody? ok then....

I'm gonna say Anne Rice, like so many others.
Except! Bonus - my dad who wanted to 'show he cared but not really bother to check' got me all the 'other' Anne Rice books when I was about 12. You know, the erotica stuff under a different name. Of course I read them all.

...EH VOILA! I am who I am now!

raised amongst catalogs

Why were books about damaged children so much a part of my childhood? I, Trissy. Goodbye, Pink Pig. The Two-Thousand Pound Goldfish. Cracker Jackson.
Has anyone else read these? I would come home from school and just LOSE myself in these very sad stories.

raised amongst catalogs

@vanillawaif And seriously, I Love You, Janie Tannenbaum. Two girls meet in the hospital because they both need surgery to correct their terrible scoliosis.

dale

@vanillawaif Gasp! Scoliosis! You've totally twigged something for me here...I loved and read and re-read the books about Karen Killilea, who had (has) cerebral palsy. I certainly hope that it gave me an early insight into what it's like to be differently-abled.

themegnapkin

@vanillawaif gosh, I had forgotten about the Two-Thousand Pound Goldfish! I wonder if my parents still have my copy?
Does anyone remember the Key to the Treasure books, by Peggy Parish? I loved them!

Rachel@twitter

"Song of the Lioness" by Tamora Pierce ("Alanna: The First Adventure", "In the Hands of the Goddess", "The Woman Who Rides Like a Man" and "Lioness Rampant") springs most readily to mind. I read the quartet 2-3 times between the ages of 11-15 and recently (last week) re-read the first two books for the first time in years. I realized a lot of my ideas about feminism, sex and what makes a functional romantic relationship stems from this series. Its flawed, yet strong and practical heroine Alanna is also the yardstick I measure all fantasy and young adult heroines by. With Alanna as paragon it's no wonder Twilight held no interest for me and Hunger Games really captured my interest. I intend to reread the rest of the quartet and make my way through the rest of the Tortall series, but it's a nostalgia trip. I still love the stories and characters, I don't think I've out grown them, but I find Pierce's writing too simplistic for my current tastes. Then again, my favorite reading of late has been metaphor-laced writings of Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout and Grace Metallious. Still think "Song of the Lioness" should be required reading for all preteen fantasy fans.

theotherginger

@Rachel@twitter I totally forgot about her until this thread. You and the other pinners remind me of what I truly love!

EpWs

@Rachel@twitter Oh...oh no...years down the line, there will be girls (and presumably boys?) for whom Twilight was a defining novel. That is just horrible.

EpWs

So true stories: I love this thread. (Thanks, Nicole!) And a friend of mine asked for book suggestions for a book baby shower (!!!) and I kind of overwhelmed her with ALL THE THINGS. (For younger ones: Sendak, Beatrix Potter, Boynton, Van Allsburg, etc etc etc.) I'm so glad you guys are here to nerd out on books with me.

DH@twitter

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

Book threads are my favorite threads!

Dude, for a baby shower you totally need BRAMBLY HEDGE! Someday when I have money and time, I'm going to write a pompous, lengthy treatise about anthropomorphic British animal stories.

EpWs

@DH@twitter I haven't heard of Brambly Hedge, but it sounds delightful!

I swear, when my friends start having kids, ALL they're getting is books. SO IMPORTANT, seriously. (Evidence: this thread.)

DH@twitter

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher

There are several books in that series, but a nice intro is The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge, which collects four single seasonal stories.

Hambulance

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Awwww. Sendak.

A Kiss for Little Bear is disintegrating on my shelf from so much love.

EllyHigginbottom

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Did you hear the Maurice Sendak interview with Terry Gross a few months ago? I cried.

Uhh I don't know how to do the cool embedded link thingy so here it is if you are bored!
http://www.npr.org/2011/12/29/144077273/maurice-sendak-on-life-death-and-childrens-lit

billie_crusoe

@EllyHigginbottom Oh, that was the best interview ever! (Not hyperbole, I actually think that was the best interview of anyone I've ever heard.) And he was so sweet to Terry Gross, too!

I adored his bit with Colbert this winter, too. Not as good as the NPR interview, but so adorable and grumpy!

EllyHigginbottom

@che He is the perfect curmudgeon! You could practically hear Terry Gross blushing in the interview. It was like eavesdropping on an intimate conversation. I'll have to check out the Colbert bit.

Slapfight

All of Beatrix Potter, My SIde of the Mountain, Watership Down, Bridge to Terabithia, The Secret Garden (sensing a theme?) and...Wait for it...It by Stephen King. Yep.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@Slapfight Watership down was/is one of my favourite books with an animal protagonist.

pterodactgirl

@Sailor Jupiter "The primroses were over...."

harebell

@Slapfight Yay for My Side of the Mountain. That was wonderful. It inspired me with a dubious childhood habit of eating wild plants, too. (After recognizing what they were first, of course).

TheLetterL

@Sailor Jupiter @pterodactgirl Watership Down came up earlier this week, and I barely managed to get out "It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing..." before having to gulp and bite my lip a little. (My own fault for going right for the big guns)

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@TheLetterL brb, crying

pterodactgirl

@TheLetterL @Sailor Jupiter ALL the tears.

TheLetterL

@Sailor Jupiter @pterodactgirl Awww, you guys

Slapfight

@Sailor Jupiter I read WD every single summer. It gets better every time. @harebell How cool would it be to live inside a tree and have a bunch of critters hanging out with you?

redheaded&crazy

i am overwhelmed by this thread

redheaded&crazy

@redheaded&crazie OVERWHELMED WITH EMOTION FOR MY CHILDHOOOOOD

pterodactgirl

@redheaded&crazie Me too. I can barely handle this.

CrescentMelissa

@redheaded&crazie crying at my desk. What a loaded question this is!

cava

@redheaded&crazie I've been coming back to this thread on and off for like five hours. There's just so much FEELING

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

The first book I read that had a major impact on me was actually several books, when I was about 6 or 7 - the Silver Brumby series by Elaine Mitchell. I was horse-obsessed already but that took it to a new level.

Then as I got older, I read a lot of fantasy and science-fiction, most of them already mentioned on this thread. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (and everything else by Diana Wynne Jones), Sabriel (etc), Discworld, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, everything by Tamora Pierce, Anne McCaffrey's 'Pern' books, 'Animorphs', C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien...

I would say as a young teenager reading Joanne Harris' 'Five Quarters of the Orange' was a pretty definitive book for me, just because of the way it detailed adult (and not-so-adult) relationships. That and the fact that it had a fascinating historical background.

As an older teenager, 'The Handmaid's Tale' by Margaret Atwood sickened me.

I'm still looking for the next definitive book.

aaaAAAaaaAAaaAAAAA

@Sailor Jupiter OH just thought of another one, it's called 'PREP' and it's by 'Curtis Sittenfeld', read it as a teenager and really related to a lot of the awful things about school/teenagers in general in there.

Hooplehead

@Sailor Jupiter Handmaid's Tale was horrifying and resonant for me. It was so good for me to read it when I did. It is one of the only books I found relevant or interesting during high school English.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Sailor Jupiter Prep, I loved it even though I had nothing in common with the setting or background, just the awfulness of high school and the realization that sometimes you contribute to your own victimization.

H.E. Ladypants

I have two, very trite books/authors that made me who I am. First off was Ender's Game. I read that after having a portion of my childhood decimated by being in this stupid pilot program for super smart kids and it was like finding best friends and a different way of looking at other people all at once.

Secondly, some Jack Kerouac. I know it's very cliche and brings to mind jerk-bag dudes who are going to find themselves but Beat Literature grabbed this misfit kid on the American Plains and taught her that life is not just a series of tracks but that it can be wild and scary and beautiful. It was quite the revelation to my 16 year old mind and gave me the power to leap out of my tiny hometown and into the world.

I still have mad love for Jack (and lots of the other Beats). I think he was a damn good writer in his own way and get really sad when people write him off as some beatnik cliche. He had a real love of words and literature and there's a lot of depth to his writing beyond On the Road.

SarahP

@H.E. Ladypants Yesssss! I had a similar upthread "I know it's a cliche but I DON'T CARE" rant about On the Road.

baklava!

I read a lot of the books mentioned above but the one from childhood I remember reading more thoroughly and carefully and with a bit more 'whoa' was the Booky series by Bernice Thurman Hunter. I didn't re-read them as an adult but I remember being kind of shocked at how much new information about being a girl was in there.

Then later I read the whole Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullogh and even though they are not excellently written they had a huge impact on me. (Mostly turning me into an obnoxious Italophile that has very warped ideas of Roman history.)

I think the book of the last decade that's had the biggest impact on me was Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware.

BosomBuddy

@baklava! I LOVED Masters of Rome. Besides I, Claudius, it's about the only classics-related historical fiction I have ever been able to tolerate. Still haven't read A Secret History, though I should probably get on that.

On Italophilia: I want to read more, but have only read Room with a View. Do you have any suggestions?

baklava!

@BosomBuddy I'm so glad to hear that someone else read through those monsters and came out feeling good about it! Oh gosh I wish I did have some good recommendations. I tend to pick up easy-readin' books about people in modern-ish Sicily. I enjoyed 'Bitter Almonds', the biography of Maria Grammatico (a former nun/current pastry chef in Erice)... recipes included. I also read The Leopard (di Lampedusa), Lives of the Saints (Ricci), and some Camilleri mysteries I liked because of the vulgar greetings the Sicilian cops use with each other, but I really can't in good conscience recommend any of these to follow Forster. Italian Hours is next on my to-read list, along with La Bella Vita by Vida Adamoli.

OxfordComma

@BosomBuddy : "I, Claudius" is *headexplodey* in a really, really good way.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

OK, some adult books that changed (younger) me, just to move away from the YA love for a bit.

-Our Bodies, Ourselves - as a 14 year old late bloomer, this book was alternately "disgusting" and a godsend - the images of real women talking comfortably about themselves was a much-needed counterpoint to the YM/Seventeen narrative. To further that vein, Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach helped me through a difficult bit of self-hate and uncertainty after graduating university.

Blankets by Craig Thompson is a beautiful book, and got me into graphic novels and thinking about illustration. I loved that it showed a rural upbringing and that you can come to terms with yourself and your past. Pluto by Urasawa and Tezuka catapulted me into an ongoing manga habit, and I found it every bit as powerful/engrossing as Harry Potter, even though I read it when I was 25 not 15.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs - You guys, this is the thing that started getting me into community activism, volunteering, municipal politics, and especially urban planning. If I do go back to school, this is what I want to do. I'm sure this book has inspired legions of people to do the same, but seriously, if this area of study interests you in any fashion, read it.

I'm so cliche - Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, as well. Sometimes I catch myself thinking "would my great-grandparents recognize that thing as food?" and "mostly plants".

I'm going to think about this all day and come back with some more. Too bad I can view my reading history from the library for the last two years only.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Also, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - I realize it has influenced my behaviour, and definitely helped set an example of what I wanted if I got married. Er, not a tall red-heided Scotsman, but rather things like trust and being a total badass with a dirk.

redheaded&crazy

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) oh i'll take a tall red-heided scotsman (was that a typo or an imitation of a scottish accent)

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@redheaded&crazie No typo here!

redheaded&crazy

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) that's what I thought >:) oh jamie, marry me

Two-Headed Girl

@Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy) Blankets was also what got me into graphic novels (after reading Maus for a class.) I remember the first time I read it, I did it in a day but kept having to stop to just...look and catch my breath, because the illustrations were so beautiful. Have you read Habibi yet?

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@Two-Headed Girl It's now on my list!

Johanna Albrecht@twitter

So in addition to my replies about Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley I have one other very important book: Tatterhood and Other Tales compiled by Ethel Johnston Phelps and Pamela Baldwin Ford, published by the Feminist Press at CUNY. I inherited this book from one of my sisters (and by that I mean I totally absconded with her copy without asking) when I was around 10 years old. It's a selection of wonderful folktales with female protagonists of different ages from many many different cultures. My sisters and I use this book as an excuse when our mother says, "I thought I introduced you to lots of kinds of books when you were young, why won't you read anything by/about men now?" It really shaped my view of what a story should be, and the many types of strength women (and all people) can possess. These folktales still hold up to re-readings and it's still in print!

Amphora