View Full Version : Books that influenced your childhood

29th November 2012, 07:29 AM
I've been thinking about how deeply books we read when we were very young influence our world-view; I wonder how differently one would "see" if one had not read books like "The House at Pooh Corner" or "Bertoldo, Bertoldino y Cascaseno", not to mention all the nursery rhymes that exist unchanged in all languages & (western) cultures. I remember a translated book of Danish fairy tales (I think!) in which there was a story about a Brownie who lived in a castle; the world was supposed to end once his beard reached all the way around a mill wheel, or something of the kind. For some reason he still sometimes figures in my dreams. . . .

29th November 2012, 12:08 PM
"Miss Twiggley's Tree" by Dorothea Warren Fox. It's about this quite odd, eccentric lady who lived in a big tree house and all the people of the town thought she was weird. Then there was a big flood and she invited the entire town to her tree house, which was well above the water, and everyone got to know each other and, of course, enjoyed a happy ending.

Moral of the story: It's okay to be weird. :)

I recently found out that the book was back in print and I ordered a copy of it. I said it was for my kids, but it's actually a bit "young" for them, and it was really for me, anyway. ;)

Another book that had a HUGE effect on me was Frances Hodgson Burnett's "A Little Princess", which is about a little girl from a very wealthy family who finds herself orphaned and stranded at the boarding school where she was living while her father was away in India (obviously this is set in the 19th century when England was still playing the role of the Raj). She goes, overnight, from pampered princess to basically a servant who has to live in a not-very-nice attic and engage in quite menial chores. Eventually, her life turns around again in an interesting way, but the thing that struck me is how she managed to survive the terrible turn of events and eventually thrive. I just thought if she could survive her terrible circumstances and come out of it okay, so could I. (And so I did.)

Another book that stands out is "Bonnie Bess, the Weathervane Horse", which is about, well, a weathervane horse. It's the story of the horse and, like "A Little Princess", the weathervane horse ends up in not very nice situations where she's neglected and forgotten and even abused, but eventually someone comes along and sees her worth and fixes her up and puts her on their house again, where she can once again do her job as a weathervane (oh, dear, I've given away the ending... ;)). Again, the theme is pretty obvious (and, yes, I had that kind of childhood).

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl where a little boy in dire circumstances ends up unexpectedly winning a jackpot and it turns his life and his family's lives around. "Anne of Green Gables" (in fact, there's a whole series of "Anne" books) by Lucy Maude Mongomery, where an orphaned girl finds a loving family and gets into all manner of scrapes and adventures and never quite conforms to social expectations but still does okay, anyway.

Then came Greek and Roman mythology (and then Norse and whatever else I could get hold of), which utterly fascinated me, even though at the time I didn't really understand all the implications of myth and archetypes and so on, and that led into the study of actual history, which I've been doing ever since (currently pursuing a degree in that discipline, in fact).

There are many more, but those are all I can think of just at the moment, so they must be the ones that stand out the most as influential. I might think of more later, though...

29th November 2012, 02:06 PM
I think the series of books that most influenced my childhood were:
Anything by Poe- they were my favorite school reading books
Anything by Agatha Christie- Miss Marple was my favorite character, I dreamed of growing up to be her (which I know is weird for a ten year old Puerto Rican girl, but I'm weird) and my absolute favorite, from 11 to 12, a series that I read and reread until my book literally fell apart: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I could feel the martian ghosts in between the grains of sand in my imagination. I loved the series beyond belief, and later on, when I was older, they made a TV series (or was it a movie?) it was a huge disappointment-my imagination was much better than what you could see on the screen, and the poetry of the situation was utterly lost.
And this probably tells you more about me than any autobiography.