Monthly Archives: August 2014

Top 10 Most Influential Books

Top 10 Most Influential Books

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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, ArnoldAnd 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.


51v1K7ay4YL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_  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.

witch of bb 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.

ss 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!

lotr 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 GirlThe 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 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.

gw 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!

f451 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?

wswr 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.

ecc 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!



10 books in my life

10 books in my life
10 books in my life

My childhood buddy, my newest traveling companion and a guru of all things witty has challenged me to identify 10 books that have followed me through my life. Just 10? I have moved 21 times during my 53 years of life so I do have books that followed me!

I LOVE to read! It started early in my life, reading at the feet of my mother as she completed a task such as crocheting or pinning curling papers in my hair. Ouch! Of course I started with See Dick. See Jane. See Spot. Then I moved up to library books! I am OCD and it started in my tender years at Saginaw Elementary. I remember the red book section (aka biographies). I picked up one, read it and just decided to finish the whole red book section! That was back in the day when biographies told you good information about people. You actually liked them when you finished the book. Remember those cards you sign to check out the book? I betcha my name was on a whole lot of those books! So let me tell you about two of the books from the elementary part of my life.

1. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

I really don’t remember if it was the artwork or the humor or the
Matadors but I fell in love with this book. I read it to my daughters and to my grandson. I still have a copy. I think I might go read it right now.

2. The ENTIRE Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I am not ashamed to admit that I have read this series more than a grown woman should admit too. Laura was a pioneer, she crossed the Mississippi, lived on the plains near Native Americans and fell in love with a farmer. What is not to admire, love and adore with this series? I remember the spanking she got, the cat crawling up her hoops in church and her first kiss with Almonzo. Sigh. One thing has always bothered me. Why is this fiction? Don’t get me started.

I had to grow up and leave Saginaw Elementary and move on to Wayside Middle School, the Saginaw Public Library and eventually to W. E. Boswell High School. I still loved to read and would prop up a Harlequin inside my Algebra book and read while Mr. Atchison taught the class. Let’s not talk about my grades in that class! I fell in love with love stories and here are the books I remember most from this time period. At this point I was scouring the library starting in one section completing it before moving on, kind of like a lawn mower!

3. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Green

I love this book. Typical teenage girl falling for the wrong guy or maybe not. I still hand this book to students and it still makes them cry.

4. Mr. And Mrs. Bo Jo Jones by Ann Head

Really? I know you are asking that, but I lived in a sheltered world! I remember the summer I devoured every Grace Livingston Hill and Emily Loring novel. Then I discovered Harlequins and then I read this book. I remember picking it up and thinking “who names their kid Bo Jo”? I discovered it was short for Boswell Johnson and that girls had sex before marriage and sometimes got pregnant. That was about the time Harlequins discovered the same thing!

5. The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

This book stunned me. Who willingly lived like this? Following Jesus where he wanted you to be, regardless of the circumstances.

There was a bigger influence in my life during this time. Jesus. He still is the biggest influence and that would explain the following books.

6. The Holy Bible (multiple copies and versions)

I have old ones and I have new ones but the message is the same in each one. God is love.

7. Hymnals

I have eight hymnals and I love to sing from them. So many stories put into words and set to music. Amazing Grace, Blessed Assurance and the list goes on.

I grew up, got married, had three daughters and wasted a lot of time reading Danielle Steele and other such novels. My oldest brother, Gary, told me I was wasting brain space and challenged me to read classic literature sooooo, you guessed it, I got a list and started reading from a college bound list, alphabetically of course. I had already read some of them in high school but I read them again anyway. This is where it gets hard to narrow the list down.

8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane is amazing! I honestly thought I would never get through the first hundred pages but this book changed my reading habits. She had the strength to say no when love finally arrived in her life. She walked away. I can still hear him calling her across the moors!

9. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The dust bowl. Oklahoma. What a life?! Moving your family across the country in hope, just hope of a better life.

I ultimately became a teacher. I teach Family and Consumer Science and I also teach reading. Imagine that! A couple of years ago my teacher lunch buddies asked if I wanted to join a reading club. They wanted to read this new book. Several conversations were going on at the same time and I only heard “shades if gray” so I said sure, it was a book on my reading list and it surprised me they were interested. Here was the problem: I wanted to read “Between Shades of Gray” by Ruta Sepetys, a novel about the Russian Invasion of Lithuania in 1939 and they wanted to read the other one. Needless to say I am the only one who read about the Lithuanians and the only one who didn’t read the other one. My final selection is a book that I think all my reading students should read.

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This book touched me in a different way than other World War II novels. Death is the narrator and we see the story through the innocence of a child. Reading really does make a difference in our lives!

I could have listed hundred of books but the Guru of Wit has limited me to 10!

What’s on your shelf?