My father and I have been watching “The Great American Read” on PBS and it got me thinking about the books that changed my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an avid reader. As a child I had rows and rows of picture and chapter books, while my parents filled the walls of our home with classic titles and crowded shelves. Reading let me escape, helped me learn, and kept me entertained for hours on end. These books are quite dear to me- if you haven’t read them, I would highly recommend.
ONE// Harry Potter (Series)
Harry Potter was the first series that truly got me hooked on books. My father used to read to my sister and I every night and we made it through all the Harry Potter books together. It is so easy to get lost in the world J.K. Rowling created, to fall in love with the characters and share their triumphs and heartbreaks. While the underlying stories and plots are genius, the witty humor and twisted webs of details within the books (unfortunately, often lost in the movies) pull at your heart and your mind. I keep saying I need to go back and re-read them all, and I hope I have the opportunity soon. I’m sure my love for the series has not changed, even after all these years.
TWO// Uncle Wiggly’s Travels
This may be the one book on this list very few have heard of. This title, gifted to my dad, my sister, and I from my grandmother, is the sweetest little story about a little old rabbit named Uncle Wiggly. He goes on adventures, meets new friends, eats slices of pie, and has the more entertaining quips. While the copy we have is antique and worn, it is just as valuable to me as any other. I picture my grandmother’s sewing room, where my sister and I would sleep on blow-up mattresses on the floor. She would sit and read and we would laugh about little birds singing and hot air balloons. There was power and imagination in those simple stories.
THREE// Little House on the Prairie
I don’t know about you, but I wanted to live out in the woods, in a cabin, when I was a kid. Strange? Maybe. But the Little House on the Prairie got me totally hooked! While I don’t remember the stories by heart, by any means, I remember loving the characters and the family portrayed. Their experiences just seemed so honest and real, written in mesmerizing detail and description. I would sit for hours reading, imagining myself in their place. Who doesn’t want to run into a bear outside your front door?
FOUR// My Side of the Mountain
Another story that made me want to drop everything and move out into the woods. Sam, a fourteen year old boy, goes out into the Catskill mountains, by himself, and is able to survive and sustain a suitable life for himself. Not only does he create a shelter, but he creates a smoker and befriends a falcon he names Frightful. This book was my favorite. My grandparents lived in upstate New York, so I had a vivid image of the setting described. When I read, I was there.
FIVE// A Time to Kill
My favorite John Grisham story- that I read far too young. I was bored of the books I was flying through in middle school, so my mom offered up this one. She must have done it because I was in mock trial and wanted to be a lawyer at the time, and she thought I could handle the grit and gore of the story. I do remember being horrified at the attack that is the basis of the novel’s case, but I also remember being incredibly captivated by the text and its portrayal of people and their actions. It’s a well written story and not straight out-of-the-courtroom which made it attainable, even for a younger reader.
SIX// To Kill a Mockingbird
I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and fell in love with the characters. I think the themes within the novel are so important, especially in this day and age. However, the relationships within the pages are so strong and wonderful. The story considers such dense concepts, but addresses them through the eyes of a young, innocent girl who truly has no bias in her mind. I would read Harper Lee’s work time and time again.
What books changed your life? Let me know in the comments below. One of my October intentions- get through a few of the books cluttering my shelves!