Books that changed my life (the early years)

I brought it on myself.  I see that now.  I was thirteen-years-old, wasting a perfectly good summer’s day lazing about on the chaise lounge by our pool, sighing dramatically about how bored I was, which inevitably prompted my parents (after failed attempt to get me to do yard-work) to shove a well-worn copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” into my hands.

“Trust us, you’ll love it!” they implored, forcing it on me with that special brand of parental enthusiasm that provoke eye-rolls in even the most compliant of teenagers.   “Just give it a chance.”

Seeing no other choice, I took their smelly old book, agreeing (yet highly skeptical) to read only a chapter.  By the end of the day, I had finished it.

But “The Catcher in the Rye” is just one of the many books that rocked my childhood literary world.  Here are some of the others.

“Look Through My Window” – this is the first book I ever fell in love with.  It felt like I had a secret stealing away to my room to read this in third grade and I remember being called down for dinner and literally not being able to tear myself away.

“Joni” – I did a book report on this autobiography of a teenager who becomes a paraplegic when I was in the fourth grade.  Reading such a tragic and inspirational story made me feel very grown up.  And afraid of diving into swimming pools.

“Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?” – for obvious reasons.

“Forever” – I was only in fourth grade when I read Judy Blume’s “Forever.”  For some reason still unbeknownst to me, my mother thought it was appropriate for a ten-year-old to read about a high school girl having sex for the first time and her boyfriend with a penis named Ralph.

“Where the Red Fern Grows” – I read this in Mr. Eliason’s seventh grade Reading Class.  In retrospect, I should have taken Spanish.  But boy, did I love this book.

“Diary of Ann Frank” – for obvious reasons.

“The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton.  I read The Outsiders at least three times and it’s probably the first book I read that made me cry.   Still to this day, when I’m feeling melancholy, I often recite Ponyboy’s favorite Frost poem in my head.  “Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold…”

What books made a mark on you as a child?

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2 Comments

Filed under book blog, books, movies, YA, writing, favorite books, teenage girls, writing, young adult

2 responses to “Books that changed my life (the early years)

  1. Great list! I read many of those — wow, those covers bring back memories! (I seem to recall seeing “Joni” in an Arrow Book Club flier, but don’t think I read it). I do remember sobbing over Where the Red Fern Grows, and wandering around in a fog for a week. Harriet the Spy was probably my bible. Also loved mysteries by John Bellairs and fantasies by Lloyd Alexander (the Prydain series). I don’t have many teenage standouts; my most intense reading was before age 14. Wish there had been such a rich YA selection as there is now, when I was growing up!

  2. Bridget

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Still an all time favorite.

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