Today we are hosting author Elizabeth Isaacs. Beth’s topic for discussion is – Into the Past – a list of your past self would recommend at ages 5, 11, 16 and 20.
I love this post! I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, and it’s odd that you’ve hit the ages where books seemed to influence me the most.
Age 5: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, and Blueberries for Sal by Christian Ahrens.
My mom used to read to me every day. We’d sit on the couch in the living room, me in her lap, her arms around me as she held the book out so that we both could see. It’s one of my most cherished childhood memories, and these are the two books that I recall the most. The Lorax was the first book that touched my heart. I remember crying when the last tree was struck, feeling outraged that the people just didn’t get it. Even then I understood that Dr. Seuss’s stories were more than clever rhymes. Since then I’ve always loved a book with a message. Blueberries for Sal was a favorite simply because of my mom. I loved her inflection. Every time she read the mother’s dialogue, the timbre of mom’s voice took on a soft, yet stern quality. I’d make her read it over and over simply to hear her voice.
Age 11: Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by the incomparable Judy Blume.
This book was the first of its kind. I’d never read a story that openly discussed what girls went through. Too, it made me feel like I wasn’t the only one. Real, authentic, slightly scandalous (for the day), and relatable … way back when, my friends and I hid our copies under our beds, but today it’s considered a classic.
Age 16: The Proud Breed by Celeste De Blasis
At this point in my life I was considered a readaholic. I’d read any book I could find. The summer of my sixteenth birthday I ran across The Proud Breed at a garage sale and bought it for a dime. It was June, and I remember picking it up because it was so big. I wanted something that I couldn’t just mow through … something substantial. What I found was a young California in the 1800s, a girl with violet eyes, and a dark haired man who stumbled on her as she bathed in a lake. When he startled her and she stabbed his leg, I was hooked. It was my first substantial romance, and he was my first character crush. I reread it so much that even now I can still remember most of the storyline.
Age 20: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson.
This series knocked my socks off! I’d stay up way too late, even skipped some college classes (don’t tell my parents) just to finish the newest book in the series. I read them so many times they literally fell apart, and one of my biggest regrets was that I gave them away when I went to graduate school. They are out of print now, but I still scour second hand stores. I’ve found the entire second chronicles, but I’m still searching for the first.
Dr. Seuss gave me a love of message, Judy Blume, an appreciation for authenticity, De Blasis made me fall in love with romance, and Donaldson gave me a passion for fantasy. They say what you read influences what you write. I’d say I’m living proof that is true!