Monday, April 20, 2009

Chain: Books

*Imagine Sesame Street theme here*

This week's blog chain is brought to us by the writer, Kate, who wants to talk about one of the most important things to a writer: Reading.

What books have influenced you? This can be books that influenced you as a writer, or simply books that touched you as a human being. If you want to talk about one book, a top three, ten, or even twenty go right ahead.

Books that have influenced me?

Oh, geez, you've just brought this topic to a girl who memorized "Green Eggs & Ham" when she was eight years old. I mean, gosh, I would read books in a box or with a fox. I would read books on a train and in a tree because I love them. Can't you see?

My dad had a story book from his youth that I think influenced my love for the emotion of storytelling. I remembered the sadness I felt when "Bongo, the Circus Bear" had to sleep on the cold ground.

From there, I was hooked. I spent my childhood with Judy Blume's "Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Superfudge" on my nightstand. As I got a little older, I ventured into her more grown up stories like "Are You There God. . .?" and "Tiger Eyes." (Tiger Eyes is still one of my favorites.)

When I got into high school, my mother turned me to romance novels by LaVyrle Spencer. I love "Bittersweet" because of the plot twists. (But I never quite understood my mom's fascination with Danielle Steele. I just don't get it.)

Mr. Bivens, my high school English teacher, helped me cultivate a love for classics like "Tom Sawyer" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" and really weird short stories, like "A Rose for Emily." And Miss Rood, my English lit teacher, pointed me toward Shakespeare and Chaucer.

After I became a wife and mom, I found little time to delve into a great book. It seemed once I tried, other priorities pulled me away.

Then I found Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" and the myriad of gems written by Jodi Picoult. ("The Pact" = awesome) and slowly rediscovered my ability to lose myself in a good, emotional story. One of my favorite Christian novels is "Watching the Tree Limbs" by Mary DeMuth (if you like To Kill a Mockingbird, you'd like this story). I want to make my stories sing like these three authors.

But no matter how many books I read, I doubt I will ever find one that has a more profound influence than one that I read when I was only about 9. After watching a Reading Rainbow feature on "Bridge to Terabithia" one afternoon, I rushed to the library to check it out. Reading Rainbow never told us which one of the characters died, but my classmates and I knew either Jess or Leslie wouldn't survive to the end of the book.

I had to know.

Honestly, I've never cried so hard at a book in my entire life. I doubt I ever will again. After reading Katherine Paterson's masterpiece, I decided that someday I wanted to write something as compelling as "Bridge."
Hopefully someday I will.

Now check out Christine's blog to see her faves. Or go back to Sandra who posted before me and read about the books that have influenced her.


gzusfreek said...

Great post, Kat! I am intrigued. I haven't read one book that you listed here(except, of course, green eggs and ham LOL). . .mmmm~it's cause you are so brilliant. I was in another book world all together. A true dork :)
You've sent me on a quest to find these books. And, of course, to Christine's and Sandra's to see what they are reading :)

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

OH! I LOVE Bridge to Terabithia. That should have been on my list - I read it at least two or three times.

Also, LOL on the Danielle Steel. I could never see the appeal of her books either.

Sandra said...

I remember Tiger Eyes too! (And Are You There God..., of course.) It's fun remembering the books of my childhood; I could probably go on and on about them if I had time and a better memory. ;)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

I loved reading about your favorites. I'll link to this later this week.

Michelle McLean said...

More good ones for my list!! I love seeing the types of books everyone grew up reading :) Gives us a little glimpse into each other's backgrounds :)

pseudosu said...

Fun-- Great pics and reminders. "The White Bone" and "A Fine Balance" pop into my mind as recent books that really moved me. I'm different for reading them. Book. Amazing right?

Anonymous said...

Great post - andI so totally cried during Bridge to Terebithia!!!

Mary DeMuth said...

I'm humbled and thankful to be a part of your favorite list, particularly with such great books.

With joy,
Mary DeMuth

Annie Louden said...

I thought I would die of sadness reading The Bridge to Terabithia.

I could never get into Dr. Seuss. I did like eating green eggs and ham in school, though.

Judy Blume was one of my favorites, too. I had to ask my mom a lot of questions for some of them, though. She was like, "What are you reading?"