Five Books
2007-02-12 - 11:13 a.m.

I'm still looking for input regarding Will's baby rage (see yesterday's entry), but today I'm moving into something a bit lighte, thanks to Dan.

The question: List 5 books that played and important role in your childhood and explain why. Then tag 5 others.

1. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl. Although you'd be hard pressed to find a Roald Dahl book I didn't (or don't still) love, this one is my favorite. The story of Henry Sugar and his bandaged, doughy eyes began a love affair with the short story for me that continues to this day. I will also confess that it made me believe if I tried hard enough I, too, could see through cards. It hasn't happened yet, but there's still time.

2. Forever by Judy Blume. Not really a stellar work of fiction, this book. Not nearly as well written as some of her other novels, all of which I read and enjoyed. But this book, which was published when I was 12, marked a change in my mother's and my relationship. It was a hot topic in the PTA--would you or wouldn't you let your kids read it. The prospect of teenagers having sex scared our moms. Me--I wasn't interested in HAVING it, but I was, however, interested in READING ABOUT it. My mother was smart enough to know the difference. We made a deal--I could read whatever I wanted, as long as I didn't hide it from her (see also: Domestic Arrangments by Norma Klein).

3. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This is the first book that ever totally captured my heart. It was purchased by my grandparents as a birthday gift for my cousin Laurie, two years my elder and the only person I knew who read more than I did. The book never made it to the party. I started reading it in the car on the way home from the store and there was no turning back. I still have that original copy, complete with a small tick mark on the front cover for every time I read it as a preteen. The inside cover was pretty much covered.

In a weird, related anecdote., the main character's name in the book is Sarah. She's brown haired and brown eyed. She has a doll named Emily with blonde hair and blue eyes. I had a doll named Sarah with brown hair and brown eyes, so I decided to change my name to Emily, as I had blonde hair and blue eyes, and then I would match Sarah's doll as she matched mine. For several weeks, I refused to answer to anything but. My third grade teacher threw up her arms in frustration when my mother said to her, "Well, Mrs. Morrison, why don't you just call her Emily then." Not sure how or why I gave it up. I still love the name.

4. The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was a kid with a very active imagination. Laura Ingalls Wilder painted so vivid a picture in her stories that I could close my eyes and BE that girl on the covered wagon. I still strive to paint with my words as she did.

5. Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Patterson. My first experience with loving something, even though it makes you horribly, horribly sad. I don't know if the moviemakers have stayed faithful to the book or not. The ads make this new, big-screen edition look more science fiction than coming-of-age, which would be a great disservice to this wonderful story.

And my runner-up #6, which I just can't seem to leave off, because I'm not sure I love it any less than the five books (or sets of books) that came before it, "The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. The quote from Anna Quindlen on the Amazon page says, "I read The Phantom Tollbooth first when I was 10. I still have the book report I wrote, which began 'This is the best book ever." She might just be right. If not, then at least most probably the best fairy tale ever. How much did I want a dog like Tock.

Okay, then, I tag...


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