October 8, 2012

Monday Pep Rally: Books That Change Us

Monday Pep Rally is a weekly feature where the Misfits post a question for you, the reader, to answer. You can answer on your own blog and link in the comments, or just answer here!

We all know those books. We all have them. Books that change our outlook or our way of thinking, books that change us and change our lives. Books that make us who we are.

They define us, as writers or readers, or just as us.

And they are beautiful.

Sometimes they're classics. Sometimes they're books no one else has heard of. Sometimes they're the book that someone gave us or we found when we were having a really bad day. But whatever they are, they stick with us.

I grew up reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I was that kid that everyone looked at funny if I brought the same book to school two days in a row. I read a lot of books. And I don't remember half of them. But some of them?

Some of them I can never forget.

Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time is one of the first I remember that really got to me, and it's still one of my all-time favorites. Meg and Calvin were smart and fun and amazing, and the combination of science and fantasy blew my young mind. I was never the same. The books that followed (A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet) only solidified my love for all things tesseract and history and everything fantastic. It let me see the world in a different way, a way that said it was ok to be smart and that science could be magical.

AND. It starts out with the best cliché ever, and it works.

"It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger..." 

Go ahead. I dare you not to be intrigued.

By the time I'd discovered Robin McKinley's Deerskin, I'd long ago fallen in love with The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword. Her fairytale retellings are some of my favorite stories. Deerskin isn't even my favorite McKinley (that's reserved for Spindle's End). But Deerskin touched something dark, broken, and hopeless that I'd buried so deep I prayed I'd never find it. I read the book obsessively, and afterward, I couldn't even look at the cover for years.

But it's one of my favorite books. McKinley pulled no punches, and asked no forgiveness. And I needed that. Because it showed me that there was hope where I thought there was none, and healing where I thought there could never be. 

There are few things more priceless than that.

There are so many more. Anne McCafferey's Dragonriders of Pern series - Dragonsdawn was the first book that I remember bawling my eyes out at. Jane Yolen's Pit Dragon series. Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, that I read in middle school, and hated because I didn't understand them, only to come back to them later and discover the amazing imagery and brilliance in them. There are so many more. 

And the beautiful thing is, there are so many more for me to discover.

So the question for you is - what books have changed you?


Steph Sessa said...

I've never actually read A Wrinkle In Time (shameful I know!) I wish someone had given it to me when I was younger, but I guess I'll just have to remedy that by reading it anyways!

Jamie Grey said...

A Wrinkle in Time is TOTALLY one of those game changers for me! LOVE that book!

I also loved John Bellairs and his spooky paranormal mysteries. And Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game. They totally made me love the suspense/mystery genre.

And I was a huge Anne of Green Gables fan. I re-read those books a million times to be friends with Diana and fall in love with Gilbert and just experience the world through Anne's eyes.

What a great post Cait!

Marieke said...

I totally felt the same way about DEERSKIN. :-)

I think many books changed me, one way or another. Two recent(ish) books that influenced me immensely are CODE NAME VERITY for the sheer emotional impact and FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK for inspiring me to push my writing to the limit!

Jolene Louise said...

The book that changed me was Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. It is the best thing I've ever read because it just... Understood me. If you haven't read it, you need to.

Laura Howard said...

The Queen's Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner, all of them. The writing is impeccable, so epic!

Carrie-Anne said...

The book that most influenced my life was Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf. I could relate so much to Harry and how he needed to learn to get a life and not be so serious and intellectual all the time. My first Hesse novel, Demian, also opened my eyes to so many new ideas. And of course, The Tao Te Ching is right up there too.

erica m. chapman said...

Oh man. I think Harry Potter was the one series that brought me back to reading. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series was the series that made me think I may be able to write a book, and Twilight is what made me believe I could possibly write YA.

Very cool post!! I didn't know that ;o)

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