Suldog did this over at his place. His list was so interesting and varied I loved it so, of course, I decided to swipe it. Here are the instructions he posted.
List 15 books that had a dramatic impact on your life, or that make you happy in your pants, or that you took out of the library and never returned, or something like that. Anyway, list 15 books. Folks who are looking for a good read will find some worthy choices, while folks who like lists will be gratified.
I'm not sure any of them made me happy in my pants but maybe as I go along I will find one. If I do, I'll let ya know.
1. Go, Dog, Go! by P. D. Eastman. I learned to read before I ever went to kindergarten. My parents both instilled a love of books when I was very young. My mother taught me to read before I ever entered school. It's probably a very good thing because there were a number of teachers who seemed determined to make me hate reading. My parents' early influence was a good inoculation against school inflicted drudgery. As it happened, they also encouraged me to express my opinion. So when, in the due course of time, I entered kindergarten and found the available reading material less than fascinating I let my teacher know. I requested to bring in my favorite book from home and read it to the class. She insisted I did not know how to read. She thought she could placate me by offering to read what I brought in IF it proved suitable. I insisted on presenting the book myself and assured her I could, in fact, read it myself. She remained unconvinced until she spoke with my mother. Thus I came to read this book to my class during story time. Really, how could anyone not love the way the tension builds between the boy dog and the girl dog trying to impress him with her various hats? Who could resist the exciting tree top dog party at the end? Only those with the dullest imaginations. That's who!
2. The Crane Maiden by Miyoko Matsutani, Ill. by Chihiro Iwasaki. This was a book my mother got as a freebie trying to lure her to subscribe regularly to a children's book club. It's based on a Japanese folktale about an poor, childless, older couple who aid an injured crane. Shortly thereafter a young woman who needing shelter appears on their doorstep and offers to pay for her keep by weaving cloth for them to sell. Her only condition is that no one must watch her while she weaves. The couple agree but eventually give in to curiosity thus discovering the girl turns into a great crane who plucks feathers from her body to weave into the beautiful cloths. The crane maiden must leave once her secret is discovered. Although it has a sad ending I loved the story and I was utterly captivated by the illustrations. Long after I gave up other picture books I'd take this one off the shelf and marvel over the soft watercolors. I still love artfully done picture books and would love to have a collection of all the Caldecott winners.
3. The Favorite Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris. Dad brought this home for me after returning from a business trip. Mom seemed horrified by it. She hated the poor example of grammar in the dialogue and the somewhat un-PC tone. In retrospect, I think she also hated it because of other things that went on during that business trip. Anyway, after Dad left, Mom told me I wasn't allowed to have the book at our house. I had to keep it at Dad's. PC or not, the stories made me laugh. I liked that the language was "bad." It was strange to realize books could make people angry but I liked sitting on Daddy's lap while he read such subversion to me.
4. Helen Keller biography. I have to admit I am not sure who wrote the version I remember reading as a child. My mother had taken my brother and me to the Jersey Shore for a weekend when I was 7. We were each allowed to pick one souvenir from a shop on the boardwalk. Nothing appealed to me until we found a bookstore. I was in heaven. I'd been to the library bunches of times but this was the first time I remember being set loose in a bookstore and being told I could pick one to take home forever. I took a VERY long time to choose. I found this book and was immediately intrigued by the blurb about how a woman who was blind and deaf could manage to succeed in the world. Life seemed like a tremendous trial at that time since it was only about a year after Dad left. When I read this and saw all that Ms. Keller had overcome I felt a spark of hope. She became one of my heroes and I reread that book so many times it nearly fell apart. I was also proud of the book because it was the first "grown up book" I ever read. By that I mean it had chapters and no pictures. I felt very big being able to manage a book like that. It set me on a path of loving biographies, memoirs, and stories of overcoming adversity that has lasted to this day.
5. The Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. (no longer published in hard copy) Dad bought this for my brother and me after the divorce. At first I thought it was a very strange thing for him to do, but I was only 8. What did I know? Well, with this set I could eventually answer that with, "Lots!" I spent many a rainy day pulling volumes out so I could follow cross references. Hours would pass and I'd suddenly notice I had more books spread on the floor and flipped open than remained on the shelf. As great as Google is, there is nothing quite like being able to see all the information spread out in sequence on the floor in front of you. It helped me see connections between things. It instilled confident nerdiness. It was fun to know things.
6. The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery. Yes, another "children's book" but I think it should be required reading for everyone regardless of age. Over the years I have found a number of people who share a special fondness for this book. I think there is a very sweet kinship between those of us who would include this on our list of favorites. I read it for the first time in 3rd year French class. This required us to go slowly. It was discussed at length during class obviously as a means of getting us reading and conversing in French but the teacher also clearly had a deep love of this story and wanted to impart its lessons beyond grammar and comprehension. Some of the students thought this was all very smarmy and overly sentimental. The Little Prince tamed me (if you've ever read it you will understand exactly what that means). M. Colasanti, merci de me présenter au petit prince. This book and the next one on the list are the only two I own in 3 different languages.
7. The Bible, NIV. As a high school student I received a copy of the New International Version. It was in a form of language I could understand instead of all that flowery, antiquated language. Although I always read ahead of grade level I've also always had a mental block against that style. Even Shakespeare can drive me batty. This was approachable and comprehensible. I was deeply grateful to be able to "get" what it was saying after spending a portion of my teen years terrified of reading this book. After all, it was a heavy, gilt-edged volume that was read in very serious tones on Sunday morning. My fingers or eyeballs might catch fire if someone so unholy as me were to dare touch it or attempt to understand it. Really, I thought that until I laid my hands on a version I could understand. Not bursting into flames was a pretty transformative experience. The added benefit of comprehension proved to be even more so.
These are only the books that had a dramatic impact on me before I ever reached adulthood. Ok, I realize if I give this much of a review on all 15 books I am going to loose everyone long before they get to the end of the post. In the interest of keeping readers interested (and milking an idea for as long as I reasonably can), I'm going to break this into 2 parts. You'll get the books which impacted me as an adult next week.