Wednesday, April 2

These Books Changed My Life

It all started with Dr. Seuss. HORTON HATCHES THE EGG was the first book I ever read, on my own, around five years old, and below is a photo of that very original.



Dr. Seuss taught me that books could be exciting and fun--and of course, the illustrations were great!

Later, I moved on to CHARLOTTE'S WEB (cried my eyes out), the LITTLE HOUSE series (longed for the days of prarie dresses and lace up boots), and then sometime around sixth grade, I was introduced to Judy Blume. Or more specifically, her book, ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET.

Margaret changed my life. Reading her story made me realize a book could do more than entertain and inform, it could speak to you directly. And it made me want to be a writer too. And while my copy of Margaret was lost a long time ago, I hung on to DEENIE and my favorite Norma Klein, books, LOVE IS ONE OF THE CHOICES and FRENCH POSTCARDS, all of which I read over and over (and over!) again.


Then came high school, and the introduction to JD Salinger's CATCHER IN THE RYE. Think what you will, but that book was kind of a life saver. Back then, I hated high school and my home life wasn't so great, but reading about Holden Caulfield's own feelings of alienation, made me feel better about my own. When I'd finished that, I wanted more, so I headed to the book store to pick up a copy of FRANNY AND ZOOEY and loved it just as much--maybe more. It's hard to say, they both spoke to me in different ways.


But by senior year, I longed to escape all the angst and drama and who better to provide that than the delightful Holly Golightly of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S and the informidable Billy Ikehorn of Judith Krantz SCRUPLES. Two beautiful, gutsy heroines who traveled the world and lived life by thier own rules, and I wanted to be just like them.



Of course, since then, I've read loads of other books, some that I probably like better. But these were the ones that really stuck. These are the ones I not only read several times over, but that I dragged from CA to Greece to NYC and back to CA again. These are the books that spoke to me, changed me, and sometimes, maybe even saved me.

What about you? What books changed your life--or your view of life--?

12 comments:

ellie said...

Doing It by Melvin Burgess for me.

It was enlightening to go in to a guy's world..UK at that, to see what was going on with a school boys mind..silly (loved the slang! & Dino too.) but as you got deeper into the novel about the friend who was having the secret affair with the teacher and what he was going through, gave me a different out look on the whole teacher/student thing.

Daphne Unfeasible said...

What a great question! I hope lots more people add their faves. I added mine.

Gerb said...

I can think of a lot of books that affected me deeply - like Where the Red Fern Grows... I stayed up all night reading that in grade school and bawled my eyes out... but really changed my life? Probably A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and City of Joy because those books each gave me a new perspective on have and have not.

Little Willow said...

I think I take a little something from every book I read. I don't know that any have changed my life, but plenty of them have taught me things, made me think, enhanced my writing, and so on.

Amanda Ashby said...

My daughter has just started getting into Dr Seuss which is brilliant - we're having so much fun!

I change my answer for this question all the time because I have so many fav books, but the first one that really made me understand the joy of humor in books was The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole!

bevrosenbaum said...

Your post brought back memories! I remember loving Franny and Zooey, and I also went through a major Judith Krantz phase!

Alyson Noel said...

Ellie- Wow, I really could've used a book like that back then-- sorry I missed it!

Waving to Ms. Unfeasible!

Gerb- Ah, yes, WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS and A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN- how could I forget?!

Little Willow- I know, it's hard to choose. I also take something from most books I've read!

Amanda- You're so lucky, perfect excuse to read Dr. Seuss- not that you need an excuse!

Bev- But of course! You know, being b-day twins and all!

Melissa Walker said...

What a great post! I once read Franny and Zooey twice in one day--in a park in England--just because I didn't want to leave their world or my sunny, grassy spot.

Alyson Noel said...

Hey Melissa- I once read it twice in a day too--just because I loved it so much I didn't want it to end!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

A SEPARATE PEACE.

Heather said...

What a great question... Over the Moon, a YA book by Elissa Haden Guest was the first book I ever felt like was written FOR me. Also, Tuck Everlasting was the most inspiring storytelling Id seen... and the Emily of New Moon books. I always thought she was so much cooler than Anne...

Vienna said...

I recently finished reading a newly released book entitled Songs for a Teenage Nomad, a novel written by Kim Culbertson. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book. Culbertson’s writing was thoughtful, insightful, and thoroughly entertaining. The story is not a dramatic farce but rather a meaningful, relatable venture.