Top Ten Tuesday: Gateway Books in my Reading Journey

Top Ten Tuesday: Gateway Books in my Reading Journey

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Broke and the Bookish runs this business.

When I saw this topic, at first I think I must have groaned. "I can't remember, who knows," I thought to myself. "I am hungry," I also thought. But then all of a sudden I was like, "Well, of course there was this one first, then this one..." So I guess I probably do know. But I'm still hungry.

It's funny that most of these were lost to my memory before being forced to think about them. I should be really thankful for them. I should probably put them in a glass display case and bring them daily offerings. Animal sacrifices? Jerry Spinelli, you can have whatever you want.

Gateway Books in my Reading Journey

1. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I don't entirely remember what this one was about (nonconformity, I think) or why I liked it so much, but Jerry Spinelli was the first author I wrote to. And he wrote back! I still have his letter in my house somewhere (along with a signed Stargirl bookmark) and I remember being so inspired by it. It was such a special moment for me. I immediately needed to read everything else he ever wrote.

2. In the Stone Circle by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. This is a strange little book and probably the first spooky thing I read. Oh, it was so painful to put it in the Free Little Library in my neighborhood, but I knew I had to do it. It's about a girl in Wales with her single parent (a reality I then didn't realize I would have so much in common with) and also a ghost. It wasn't a horror book, I don't think. It was just kind of creepy. I hope someone likes it as much as I did.

3. Requiem for a Princess by Ruth M. Arthur. This is another spooky one, and it made me feel older. It felt like it was written a long time ago, though I know see that it was from the 80s. It's about a girl in a big house in coastal England, weird dreams, and a mysterious portrait of a girl.

4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding: Welcome the book that first turned me into a snob. In 3rd or 4th grade we were put into different groups to read different books and I was put in the Lord of the Flies group. That was the top one. And I was sooooo proud of myself for reading it. I definitely brought it up casually later to impress people. I can't imagine I understood most of it, but it did get me to challenge myself in my reading. And it began the eventual journey of cooling it with the book snobbery.

5. The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi. Another creepy one! I thought it was YA because it was about a young girl, but I don't know if it was actually YA. There's a lot of weird Nigerian mythology stuff in it and just listen to this from the amazon summary: "It is only when she visits Nigeria for the first time that she makes a friend who understands her: a ragged little girl named TillyTilly. But soon TillyTilly’s visits become more disturbing, until Jess realizes she doesn’t actually know who her friend is at all." Um WHAT. This was a point where my parents were cool with me reading whatever I wanted, and that felt like a big deal. This was my choice.

6. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. This was only a short story, but it still had a profound impact on me in jr. high. My introduction to a real master of horror. I read this in some gifted kids class (cough snob cough) and we were forced to like really analyze it, not in a typical jr. high way. I loved the story so much that I wanted to look at it more closely. This was the story that first got me really looking at how things are written, and I loved it.

7. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It was either this or Catcher in the Rye (read them in the same class) that really got me to feel a strong personal connection to what I was reading. In this class I was first becoming very seriously moved by literature (we read The Things They Carried, too, which also affected me). I'm choosing Slaughterhouse, though, because it has more of a lasting power. And also my cat was named Kat Vonnegut Jr., so.

8. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Here it is. Of course it's on this list. I first read this in high school and I fell head over heels. This book is when I first fell in love with language, I think. In just marveling over words and the arrangement of them. I had never just sat with a sentence in my mouth and felt full before. Also the story is just so good. Sam will forever be my favorite character.

9.  A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. I first found sci-fi with this book. I clearly was being shaped for it through my other reading. Ugh it was so good, I want to read it again.

10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I read this kind of young (8th grade). My mom didn't want me to, even though it was my dad's favorite book. I think it was very important that I read it, though, because it showed me the possibilities of the written word. I didn't know that languages could just be made up and forced onto people, and it could still be considered a good book. I believe this to be my gateway to more experimental fiction, because it shattered what I thought a book could be.

Well, there you have it. Those are the books responsible for me. Did any of these books shape you?


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