I’m responding to the Book Challenge sent to me by Stephanie Pingel DeAugustine. Here’s what you do: In your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, just ones that affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends, including me so I can see your list. I’m not going to tag anyone, but, hey, play for fun. And, (edited to add), four books in I’m apparently adding “whys” to my list–we’ll see how many fit. Oh, heck. I’m going to copy this into a blog post and link to it!
1. J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit. This is the first book I remember staying up reading after everyone else in the house had gone to bed and sitting and just SOBBING through a particular near-the-end scene, which I’m not going to mention because–although I can’t believe it–I know there are those of you out there who haven’t read the book and are waiting for the end of the third movie to find out how everything plays out. So no spoilers. Even though you should go get the book and read it.
2. One of the Agatha Christie mysteries, not sure which–maybe the one in which Rosemary died a long time ago and everybody is back and talking about it. All I know is that there was a horrible green-faced woman on the cover of my mom’s copy and, if that wasn’t bad enough, I opened the book to the page where the victim’s death by strangulation or poison or something is being vividly described. I think I was twelve. I shut that book and didn’t actually discover and fall in love with Ms. Christie until I had burned out on long Victorian novels in grad school and turned to mysteries for several years of reading recovery.
3. Every teen mystery written by Phyllis Whitney, but probably most of all Mystery on the Isle of Skye. Been to Scotland twice and haven’t made it up to Skye and have possibly never pushed myself all the way north because I won’t have all the little red packages Cathy has from her grandmother to open along the trip and solve a mystery about. I’m pretty sure that I was reading Whitney’s books when I decided I wanted to be an author.
4. Arthur Ransome’s We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. Because, all of a sudden, the sailing adventure weren’t just make believe anymore, and this one got really, really scary, but the kids did it! Plus, seasickness.
5. Dodie Smith’s 101 Dalmations. Because the 101 Dalmations movie is the first one I remember seeing in the theater (I think it HAD to be a rerun–did they do that in theaters back then?), and Cruella scared me more than anything ever had (I hadn’t read Ransome yet or looked at Agatha Christie’s books!), and…puppies! And then I found the novel as a grown-up, and it’s just as delightful in its own way, and, OMG the most beautifully delivered sarcasm when the vet says how delighted he always is to come out on Christmas, or something like that. Maybe other people thought that line was serious, but as the child who almost always had her Xmas-present openings interrupted by a call to her parent veterinarians, I KNEW the sarcasm. (Addendum: My parents did always take the call, and they did always go with patience and care, and Xmas interruptions got much better when I was old enough to go and watch actual non-animated puppies and kittens being delivered!)
6. Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak. I was reviewing books for The Horn Book Guide, and somehow, magically, this arc ended up in my review pile. I think this book was probably my introduction to young-adult fiction and talk about being dropped head first into the fire. Pain and power and beauty like I’d never read before.
7. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Because the hero whines. And screams. And doesn’t have enough strength or breath to jump a skipping rope more than a few steps at a time. And recognizes a kindred spirit in Ben Weatherstaff. And Dickon. And, again for those of you who have only seen the movie, the Mary in the book does not, in any future beyond the pages, grow up and marry Colin. Team Dickon, all the way.
8. L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Because Anne was a child with overly strong emotions, a child with a too-fast temper. And she wasn’t ashamed of it, no matter how much people told her she should be. And…Gilbert and the slate on his head! And for you movie goers, THIS one you can see if it’s the PBS series with Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth. Because they are all genius.
9. Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. The kiss on the wall. Enough said.
10. J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Because reading about Diagon Alley to your, what–seven-year-old? when there has been no Harry Potter in his world yet, ever, or in yours for that matter? Hard to say who falls fastest and hardest in love. The sparkle in his eyes and your own raw sore throat tell you he’s caught. You’ve got him. He’ll be a reader.