Thursday, January 13, 2011

Books in our Brain Wrinkles

We all have them. They attached themselves to our curious minds and tucked into brain winkles with their slippers and PJs on. For young readers today, maybe they’re wearing Snuggies.

Think back to your childhood, to that moment you marveled, you wondered, your tear ducts opened, or you held your breathe in suspense. We all have that one book that did it for us, that one book that made us view the force of words in an entirely new way.

For me, in 4th grade, Where the Red Fern Grows was the first book to make me cry. I honestly thought something was wrong with me. I was reading in bed, comfortable and warm. I could hear my family talking downstairs. My world was just fine, but I was bawling over my homework reading. This couldn’t be normal.

In 6th grade, Lois Lowry’s The Giver agitated my vision of the world. I closed that book curious, wanting to know more, wanting to figure out all of the ‘what if’s, wanting to know what was possible… Lois Lowry made me want to be a writer.

All grown up now, I suppose, I look at myself as a writer. How much did these books affect what I write today? If not in style, how did they affect my purpose? Can books read in adulthood shake you to the core like they could when you were a child?

I’d like to create a list of great titles here. Please help my cause. These are the books that made you want to write, that showed you the power of literature. These are the books that we should share with our children and the ones we should explore further ourselves.

I’ll add two more to my list:

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind
Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist

How about you?