Reading is one of my first memories and some of my favorites! Books have been a stable and constant force all throughout my life! I remember bed time reading rituals of the Berenstain Bears, Dr. Seuss, and Princess Smartypants. Class projects with Eric Carle. Going to class with Ramona Quimby, Age 8. I decided by 3rd Grade I would never move to southern California because a book on plate tectonics said it was going fall into the ocean. Puberty would have been horrific had Judy Blume not been there every step of the way. Textbooks were designed as a cover for the book I was really reading. Who cared about high school boys where there was Mr. Rochester, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley, and Rhett Butler. A Midnight Book Release party will never be the same without making your own magical creature out of play dough and someone instantly knowing it was Jenny’s pigmypuff, Arnold! And my college roommate might not have ever become my best friend had she not been so insistent that I read Twilight.
It’s tough to identify 10 books that have had a significant impact on my life. This is evolving list – ask me next year and it could be completely different.
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
“Katy was a beautiful red crawler tractor. She was very big and very strong and she could do a lot of things….” This was my favorite childhood story, probably because it shared my name. I remember reading it with Dad before bed. He would read the long parts and when he’d turn the page I would read “…but not Katy”; because Katy can do anything! Nothing could stop Katy! This book alone has instilled so many values I hold dear: hard work, service, responsibility, leadership, and determination. When I find myself needing a reminder of who I am, I just read Katy.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
I don’t remember how this book got in my hands, but since the 6th grade I have probably read it at least once a year. It’s my fall favorite. Kit is a young heroine forced to move to aPuritan New England in 1600s. She doesn’t fit in and causes speculation that she is a witch. As my family and I moved over the years, I would be drawn to Kit. She reminded me that life often takes us to new places and we must learn to adapt while holding true to yourself. It also helps that there is a little romance in there too.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
I have my sisters and my mother to thank for this one. When they finished reading the Sorcerer’s Stone as a requirement of for an extracurricular activity, I got to read it!! And we’ve been Potterheads ever since. It’s tragic that we didn’t know about the series until the hype of the 4th book release, but we made up for it. The series introduced me to the world of fantasy and to embrace the nerdiness of reading. I remember the midnight book release parties and the heartache after each book and the anticipation for the next. When the series was finished it was like loosing a best friend. But at least they are all still there on my bookshelf!
Lord or the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I read The Fellowship of the Ring in 8th Grade after the release of the 1st Film. I couldn’t get enough of Middle Earth! And it was the start of my obsession with film adaptations. My favorite book is honestly the Two Towers! But I love the end and of The Return of the King. When the movies completed I was heartbroken that they missed the essence of the entire journey for Frodo and the other hobbits. It was then that I learned that book and film are two different mediums and the book is always going to hold more.
The Goose Girl By Shannon Hale
My mom gave me this book. I was in high school and I honestly only read happy ending and romantic stories. I would read part of it, run to her and ask her a question and she would smile and say “Just keep reading’ in that I-know-something-you-don’t-know voice. It is my all time favorite! A mixture of fantasy, a strong and independent heroine, and a noble prince. Like the Witch of the Blackbird Pond, this is the other book I go to when life turns into an unanticipated adventure.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This book I honestly wanted to read for all the wrong reasons and when I finished, I loved it for the love story. My oldest sister loved the tragic story of Karenina and Vronsky. I was eager to know this story and as I endured this massive read I was not impressed by the immorality. Instead, I slowly fell in love with the story of Levin and Kitty and Levin’s journey to Christianity.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Again, my obsession with movie adaptations led me to read this book. It was tough to read. The movie may be long but it doesn’t come close to covering everything! I had to set goals to get through this one. When I met Rhett for the first time, I couldn’t wait to meet him again. It would seem like it was never going to happen. So, I would flip through the pages to find his name and then I’d know how far I’d have to read to get there. Sometimes it was just a one liner conversation about him and other times it was actually him. He usually only popped up every 100 pages or so. Just like me, Scarlet will find a way to find him again!
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I read this book for a class in college and it was so thought provoking. Can you imagine a world where books were not allowed? Why would you ever burn books? What if our world turned into their world? how would I rebel? And if I had to, what book would I choose to memorize?
Woman Suffrage & Women’s Rights by Ellen Carol DuBois
One of my most influential classes in undergrad was Social Movements. We spent a great deal of time covering Woman Suffrage and Women’s Rights. It’s one of the few books I kept. It not only enlightened me of how fortunate I am as a 21st century woman but revealed to me how societies work and how to go about making change.
Ecclesiastes by Soloman
The Bible as a whole can be daunting but it’s a collection of valuable books. Every time I read it I get something different out of it. Every season in life I have a different favorite. Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books as an adult. God empowered Soloman with the gift of wisdom and Ecclesiastes reveals the wisdom of living our life in the present and not to wait on doing the right thing. It reminds me of my philosophy in high school “it’s all part of the plan”. I find comfort in that I am part of a greater plan and that no matter the season of my life “God has made everything beautiful in it’s time” and I simply need to embrace that and live my life!