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favorite books

Meme from fajrdrako

1. What book or books were special to you in your childhood?

When I was really little, I was fascinated with P.D. Eastman's "Are You My Mother," that book about the baby bird that falls out of its nest and gets lost. I think the idea of losing my mother terrified and fascinated me at the same time.

The first book I reread obsessively once I was reading on my own was the first Nancy Drew book I ever read: "The Mystery of the 99 Steps." It was set in France and set me on a lifelong path of Francophilia. I read pretty much every Nancy Drew book that was out at the time, but that's the only one that ever stuck in my head.

I actually read a lot of adult books when I was really young--I was reading my dad's Perry Mason, Nero Wolfe and Louis L'Amour books when I was 8, mostly because they were what was in the house. (I was also 8 when I read "Confessions of the Boston Strangler," which probably warped my sexual development in really strange ways. Well, that and lives of the saints. I blame my bondage kink on those two sources. Some of those martyr stories are very kinky!)

If we're talking about books written specifically for kids, though, there are two series I loved to death: the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series, which I chiefly loved for all the practical details about life on the frontier, and John D. Fitzgerald's The Great Brain series, about four brothers growing up in 19th century Utah.

When I was a little older, definitely my favorite books were fantasy. I reread the Chronicles of Narnia probably about 50 times, and spent an awful lot of time checking out wardrobes in people's houses just in case. And the Lord of the Rings was another favorite.



2. What was special or memorable about these books?

I think what I wanted most in books, when I was young, was a sense of escape, though I didn't know it at the time. I was the oldest of five kids, and we lived in a very crowded house, and in a sense books were my way of creating my own personal space. (I only realized as an adult that my dad and my grandmother, both eldest kids from even larger families, did exactly the same thing: created psychological space for themselves by always having a book in front of their face).

So it's not surprising to me that I was so drawn to fantasy like Lewis and Tolkien, or else to historical novels, because what both had in common was allowing me to imagine myself in a different place. I also loved the characters, of course. "The Great brain," modelled on JD Fitzgerald's older brother, was awesome because he got away with everything, which was another one of my fantasies.

And I don't know if teenage years count or not, but when I was 13 I got addicted to pro Star Trek novels (this was in the 80s, when they were still as good as the fanfic that had inspired them), and little did I know the path these would lead me on! I almost wrote a college essay on Diane Duane's The Wounded Sky , until a friend persuaded me that colleges wouldn't necessarily find it to be as philosophically deep as I had.

3 & 4. Have you reread any of them as an adult, and were they as good as you remembered them?

Hmm. I haven't reread the 99 Steps, but I've reread all of the others. Lewis and Tolkien remain favorites, though of course I know find some of the religious themes in Lewis (especially the antisemitism in The Last Battle ) a little disturbing. I still remember how brilliant I felt, though, when I was 10 and actually figured out that Aslan was Jesus.

I reread the Great Brain books a summer ago, when I came across them in the library, and I still think they're a lot of fun, though they're obviously kids books.

5. What do you think about movies being made out of children's classics (like the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of The Rings, etc)?

LOVE them. Love, love, love. The LOTR movies are my favorite movies, hands down. I didn't think LWW was as great as it could have been, but the casting and acting was superb. And I loved the first Lemony Snicket movie, and all the Harry Potter movies.

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Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
blisstasteful
Aug. 25th, 2006 10:51 pm (UTC)
I think most people who regularly read for pleasure would agree with you, that they read mostly for escapism. I know I do. Which also lead me to fantasy.

I've recently been re reading several of the books and series that meant a lot to me during my childhood and early teens, and whilst not all of them survived the passing of the years The Chronicles of Narnia definately did. I saw the religious symbolism at an early age too, and it was an experience to revisit that through adult eyes, but a completely different experience. It worried me slightly to think of all of things I was half picking up on and just accepted as a child.
norwich36
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I guess I wonder who *doesn't* read for escapism.

I wonder if having deciphered the religious symbolism of the Narnia books young is key to still enjoying them as an adult? I remember around when the film was released a lot of people talking about how betrayed they felt that these books that they experienced as sheer fantasy as children turned out to be chock full of Christian allegory. (Of course, I also don't have a negative attitude toward Christian allegory, while I know a lot of people do.)
blisstasteful
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
For me it was part of the reason I enjoyed them. Particularly The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe'.

I was brought up catholic, and the scenes of Aslan's 'ressurrection' helped me to tap into the feelings of a feast that was too overwhelmed in tradition for me to 'feel' it at a young age, by giving me a back door in, and letting my feeling get wound up in a character.

I often feel that I have to be very careful with my admissions of being a practicing Christian, or reacting to things from a Christan perspective, which I personally feel is ridiculous, knowing myself, but in some ways understandable, for a myriad of reasons I'm sure you understand.

norwich36
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, I completely understand. (And I was also brought up Catholic, and I really liked the religious symbolism, once I figured it out).
blisstasteful
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC)
*g*

I can't actually remember if I figured it out on my own or if I was lead to the conclusion. I guess I doesn't really matter either way, as the boks were important to me. I just like the thought that I came to it on my own.
norwich36
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC)
Hee! You should just claim to have figured it out on your own and we can bask in your brilliance without knowing any better!
blisstasteful
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC)
well in that case...... clearly it was all my own work, I also uncovered Hitler's secret new identity (he was working as a lolypop man in Barnstable and didn't burn to death in a bunker as we all thought), and engineered a perpetual motion engine before the age of 11.

Bask and grovel.

Heee!
norwich36
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:54 pm (UTC)
::Bows in your general direction::
pepperjackcandy
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:21 pm (UTC)
I loved LWW (which I read for the first time in 5th grade), but felt guilty about it for *years* because I thought the death and resurrection of Aslan was blasphemous. 8-)
norwich36
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC)
Ooh! That's a response I've never heard before. And I can see how that would definitely be a big problem.
blisstasteful
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC)
I've always had an attitude towards my religion which allowed me to come to everything on my own terms, so I've never felt the trademark catholic guilt (I'm speaking for myself here as I've no idea of your denomination), that is aside for being a very good girl throughout most of my teen years, which could have been part religious upbringing part chronic shyness.
pepperjackcandy
Aug. 27th, 2006 03:53 am (UTC)
I was raised Protestant (UMC, specifically), but I've always carried this huge burden of guilt. My mom, too.

It's probably a side effect of the dysthymia that runs rampant through my mother's side of the family. 8-)
kristiinthedark
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
LITTLE HOUSE!!!! Yes! Me too! I was so obsessed. I still have the set and I think it's the 5th set I've bought. I keep wearing them out :P but they're good when I'm feeling down.

Also, definitely Nancy Drew, also. I loved her. Hee, I always wanted more to happen with her and Ned, though. They were so chaste!

I think my earliest memory of a book was The Little Train That Could, and I carried it with me everywhere.
norwich36
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
"I think I can, I think I can"

Yeah, the Little House books are always satisfying. Except The First Four Years , which still feels more like an outline than a book (probably because it was). I wanted to have a dad as wise as Pa. Of course, considering how many business ventures he failed at, maybe he wasn't as wise as he appeared to Laura!

Somebody should write Ned/Nancy NC-17 fic, if they haven't already. (Or girlslash with Nancy and George.)
kristiinthedark
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
YES! I would have to go with Ned/Nancy, even though I don't normally go for the het. It's just that I dreamed of them getting it on for so long! *g*

I've actually done some research (okay, a lot of research) on Laura's life and I found out a)Yep, Pa was a dreamer and a wanderer and bad at decisions, even more than depicted. But, I think that kind of father is still a good kind to have. and b) I don't think Ma was quite as narrow-minded as Laura wrote. I think she cast that role upon her as a sign of the times. Some bitterness there, of course.
norwich36
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
I think I read a couple articles on Laura's life in a western history class, once, but I didn't know that she changed her mother's characterization. Interesting!
pepperjackcandy
Aug. 27th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC)
girlslash with Nancy and George

No, no, no!

Nancy/Ned het and George/Bess slash.
norwich36
Aug. 27th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC)
But Bess and George are cousins!
pepperjackcandy
Sep. 2nd, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)
Looks like they're gonna have to move to Massachusetts, then. They have gay *and* first-cousin marriage. 8-D
vibrantharmony
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
I definitely went through a Nancy Drew and a Trixie Belden phase. I did a lot of the big series' for my time - BabySitter's Club, Anne of Green Gables, Sweet Valley, Sleepover Friends. Anything that you could get in bulk, I read from about 8-12 years old.

I've reread some of them (I took a children's lit class this year) and I still like the ones that I loved then. I, sadly, gave away lots of my books and can't figure out who has them now, or I'd love to get back my huge collections.

I never read Chronicles of Narnia as a child, so I bought them this year. I've read the first 3 and they're ok, but I'm sure I won't like them as much as someone who read them as a child. I feel like I'm missing out on something :P
norwich36
Aug. 25th, 2006 11:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, how could I forget Trixie Belden? Though I borrowed a friend's copy of Trixie Belden until I lost one of her other books (I think it was the novelization of Raiders of the Lost Ark), and then she wouldn't lend me the rest. :-(

I think Babysitters Club came out after my teen years, though.

Public libraries, and university libraries where there are education schools, are usually good places to find copies of your old favorites. (There's a really good children's section in my local used bookstore, too, though you may not be as fortunate).

I can see how the CoN books are probably stilted and preachy if you first read them as an adult.
anoel
Aug. 28th, 2006 04:03 am (UTC)
Wow I totally remember the 99 steps book! I used to read a lot of Nancy Drew too and that one sticks with me as well. Just the stairs part sticks out with me though.
norwich36
Aug. 28th, 2006 06:51 am (UTC)
It's amazing what you remember years later, isn't it?
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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