My Life In Books

tbcIt’s time for another link-up with The Book Chewers! This month’s prompt is:

Create a timeline of all the books that hold personal significance. They can be favorite books that you read over and over again, or just books that attach to a particular memory. You can include when you read them, why you loved them, and any other specific details that you remember and want to share. You can write it in the format of a blog post, draw it, make it into a poem, create a slideshow, or make a vlog… just be creative and have fun with it.

I had so much fun writing this post, as you can see below!

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I wish I remembered the first book I ever read, but sadly I don’t. I do know that I loved Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, an adorable board book, when I was little. Evidently I chewed on it quite a bit.

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak fascinated me as a little girl – I think it was mostly due to the illustrations. I still love it. (I keep a shelf of picture books in my room just in case because you never know when you might need cheering up.)

I believe Matilda was the first Roald Dahl book I ever read. I adored it because Matilda was the first protagonist I really related to – she loved books too!

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire when I was about seven. My favorite story was of Actaeon, Artemis, and the hounds.

Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes stories are cartoons, but I’m counting them as books because they were such a huge part of my childhood. Somehow I still have only one (I believe it’s The Essential Calvin and Hobbes) but that didn’t matter because I got them at the library over and over again.

Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones series was a favorite of mine in first or second grade.

Although The School Story is no longer my favorite Andrew Clements book (it has since been overtaken by Frindle), six- or seven-year-old me certainly enjoyed it. I guess that was the very beginning of my desire to be an author.

I’m still kicking myself for giving away my Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne – I’d collected more than twenty. It would’ve been fun to occasionally pull one or two off my shelves just for nostalgia’s sake.

My second great bookish obsession, after Roald Dahl’s works, was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. I dressed as Laura for Halloween in first grade. The summer before, we’d visited De Smet, South Dakota, because that was one of the places where she lived. I was so excited.

Harry Potter! J.K. Rowling’s series kept me enthralled for years, from about age eight to age fifteen. My main memory from my ninth birthday is beginning Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It is still my favorite of the seven.

In second grade, I often finished my assignments early and was excused to go read in the back of the classroom. (This is one of the reasons I’m homeschooled now – my mom didn’t think I was challenged enough.) My introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes short stories was through the illustrated editions I found at school. They were like picture books, but they weren’t abridged – they were just really long with lots of illustrations. I found my favorite, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” there, and I remember having a sad because in one of the stories, Sherlock fell off a cliff. I only recently realized that must have been “His Last Bow.”

Around the time my mom read Harry Potter to my brother and I, she also read C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia to us. My favorites then and now remain the same: The Horse and His Boy and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

I was about nine when I first read Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s Understood Betsy and I hated it. I couldn’t understand why the protagonist was such a wimp! Around seven years later, I reread it and realized I’d missed the point – Betsy does become bolder.

I need to reread Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. My mom read it aloud to us when I was about ten and although it started slowly, I soon loved it because it made me think. It stretched my mind to imagine living forever.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett either the summer before I turned nine years old or the one after that. (I can’t remember exactly.) I thought the writing was beautiful and I liked how the author wrote dialogue, even if I couldn’t always understand Martha.

Our local bookstore had a summer program that offered kids one book for every eight they read. This was easy for Quentin and I, so I chose something I don’t remember now and he chose Gregor the Overlander. I read it and fell in love, and then tried the rest of Suzanne Collins’ Underland Chronicles. My first memory of waiting anxiously for a book release is of being excited for its final book.

At ages ten and eleven I was obsessed with historical fiction, especially Elizabeth George Speare’s The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Actually, I think that was the first time I realized I had a crush on a fictional female character. On more than one, in fact. Hmm. I haven’t thought about that in forever.

A Tale of Two Cities remains the only Charles Dickens book I have ever finished (excluding A Christmas Carol because it’s so short). At age ten I was in awe of Dickens’ ability to write plot twists. Also, SYDNEY. Sydney is amazing.

I read The Giver by Lois Lowry when I was ten. Actually, I read its threequel, Messenger, first and was extremely confused until I realized that wasn’t the way I was supposed to read the story.

I read Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret simply because he also illustrated Andrew Clements’ books. It’s a very clever mix of illustrations and text – read it or else!

Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted kicked off a love of retellings, especially fairy tale retellings, that I still hold today. I read it for a homeschool book club and Ella made me giggle uncontrollably.

At camp in 2008 I was homesick and even more miserable because I hadn’t thought to bring any books, but I felt better when one girl loaned me her copy of Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson. The later books have really gone down in quality, but the first is still nothing short of brilliant – it has cloning and flying kids and midair fighting and basically every awesome thing you ever asked for in a book.

After my mom read Running Out of Time to us, I read loads of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s books: Leaving Fishers, Double Identity, Escape from Memory, Turnabout, the Shadow Children series. They’re all fantastic and most are dystopian standalone novels.

My friends Alex and Sarah introduced me to Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books when I was twelve. Thanks, guys.

Am I Blue?, an anthology edited by Marion Dane Bauer, was the first LGBTQ+ book I read. I was thirteen years old and hid it, terrified that someone would find it and I’d get in trouble. It wasn’t the best of books – it was written in the nineties and what was once edgy definitely isn’t now – but that was the first one I’d read like that.

My mom also read Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents to us. I adored Tiffany Aching.

I read The Lightning Thief and Rick Riordan’s other books in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series when I was about thirteen or fourteen, delighted to find retellings that weren’t based on fairy tales.

The Ultimate Teen Book Guide by Daniel Hahn, Leonie Flynn, and Susan Reuben is basically just one long, annotated list of books, but it totally deserves a spot in this post because it led me to the vast majority of excellent books that I read in my later teens.

For example, I found Kirsten Miller’s Kiki Strike series through that book. I still haven’t read the latest book in the series, or any of her other three books, but I can’t wait to.

I loved the movie Jurassic Park when I was ten, but I loved the original book by Michael Crichton even more at age fourteen. It’s much darker than the film.

I’m pretty sure Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel I read. I tried more of his books just the other day, actually.

The graphic novel adaptation of Coraline, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by P. Craig Russell, was another favorite.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak terrified me soon after that.

One of my friends convinced me to read The Hunger Games just as it was becoming the next big thing, shortly before Mockingjay was published. I wasn’t impressed – I thought Suzanne Collins’ earlier Underland Chronicles was better – but I changed my mind a few years ago thanks to the movie.

My mom introduced me to the amazingness known as Agatha Christie by reading And Then There Were None and The Body in the Library to us. As you can see, my mom read aloud often even through my middle school years. Thanks, Mom.

Starla Griffin’s Girl, 13 was one of my favorite books in my early teens. It’s about teen girls all over the world.

Linda Newbery’s Sisterland is one of the last books I can remember my mom reading aloud. I have never read any of Newbery’s other books, but I really should. Sisterland is a great combination of historical and realistic fiction and REUBEN AND SAID ARE SUCH AN ADORABLE COUPLE.

In late middle school my brother and I spent a year studying World War II and one of the assigned books was Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. I’m still astounded by her talent.

I aspire to write as well as An Na does in A Step From Heaven, a book I read when I was fourteen.

I would also like to emulate Garth Nix’s writing in Sabriel, a wonderfully dark high fantasy story. Also, did anyone else get a crush on Sabriel? Because that was totally a thing for me. Girls who kick butt using magic are awesome, yo.

I really related to Jess Jordan, the protagonist of Sue Limb’s Girl, 15, Charming But Insane and its sequels – she wants to be a comedian and she’s kind of a goof. What am I saying? She’s a total goof. She’s me.

I stumbled across Lev AC Rosen’s All Men of Genius at the library two years and have never really stopped thinking about it.

It led me to read Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest – Rosen’s book is a retelling of that and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

After years of trying and failing, I finally read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy at sixteen. I wish I’d read it sooner.

Thanksgiving 2012 brings with it a very specific memory – my parents competed in a 5K that morning because they’re odd and I didn’t want to be bored, so I brought along Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. Although I sat near the finish line, I completely missed seeing Mom and Dad run past because I had my nose in a book. And later, sleepy from all the turkey I’d eaten, I finished the book and decided Calla was one of my favorite minor characters ever.

One of my New Year’s resolutions in 2013 was to try one Stephen King novel. I chose Misery and it did not disappoint.

And that brings me up to the present day, more or less. I discovered my current obsession, Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, just last month. Yesterday I finished the latest book, Cress, and I can’t believe I have to wait a year for Winter.

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Time for some announcements.

What am I reading currently? Roadside Picnic, a Russian science fiction novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. My brother recommended it to me – maybe in return I can make him read the Lunar Chronicles!

Next, I would like to announce that the next set of posts will make up the Good-Sinful Alliance’s 2014 winter conference. Expect to see stuff from the villains of (among other things) The Hobbit, Doctor Who, Sherlock, The Hunger Games, and possibly A Song of Ice and Fire!

Finally, readers: what books have been important in your life?

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth, University of Iowa class of 2019. Double majoring in English & Creative Writing and Journalism. Twenty-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, and aspiring writer. Passionate about feminism and lesbian positivity.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, Harry Potter, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to My Life In Books

  1. Okay, all other books in there aside that I love… just wow. I was so sure that hardly anyone liked or heard of the Junie B Jones and Magic Tree House Series. I grew up with those! I loved them for so long, and I think I might have even wrote a letter to the library complaining that they didn’t have all the Junie B Jones books, and I had read them all. Wow. They were favourites for so long when I was younger. 😀

    Anyway, there are so many books that are extremely important to me… too many to list, hehe. Lots of the books on your list would be part of mine as well.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I guess I can understand not having heard of Junie B. Jones, but not knowing about Magic Tree House?! :O
      …you’re not American, are you? It could be a difference between countries. MTH is huge here, or at least it was. I don’t know if there are any more books being published now, though.

      JUNIE B. JONES IS PERFECT SHE IS ME AT AGE SIX I LOVED THOSE BOOKS SO MUCH.

      • Hehe, no I’m not American, instead, I live in a somewhat isolated little country… New Zealand. 😀
        Hmm… I’m not sure if there are any more new ones.

        BUT SERIOUSLY JUNIE B, JONES IS JUST FLAWLESS. I REALLY WOULD LOVE TO READ MORE.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Aha, I thought so! 🙂

      Yeah, I don’t know if there are any more books. Maybe she finally made it to second grade. xD I’ll check.

  2. Cait says:

    THIS is an awesome post. Although I read Where The Wild Things Are when I was like 18, and I loved it (and it coincidentally inspired me for books and writing and stuff) BUT STILL. These are epic books. Matilda was awesome, and I had to laugh at you missing your parents finishing the race! That’s something I’d do! XD That book was awesome. Calla was awesome. Actually everyone in Blue’s house was awesome.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Why, thank you! ^-^

      Haha, at least you read it! That’s what counts.

      I often zone out when given a book. xD
      I love that everyone in The Raven Cycle, even the minor characters, has such a distinct and awesome personality. Even the villains are awesome because they have depth. (Something I find lacking in, say, the Lunar Chronicles – except for Sybil Mira. Don’t mind me. I’m just fangirling about the only thaumaturge/royal with any personality.)

  3. orphu44 says:

    You can understand not having heard of Junie B. Jones, but no Magic Tree House? Really? With me it would be the other way ’round. I’ve known about Junie B. Jones since I was about six, but didn’t hear about the Magic Tree House until I was past the target audience age (I think? I don’t remember how old I was exactly, it could have just been upper end of the target audience age), and even then it was only through looking for books on tape.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yeah, I knew kids who liked MTH up to about age ten or eleven or so, but Junie B. Jones seems to be more of a really-little-kid thing. At least it was with my friends. So I assumed maybe not very many people had heard of it.

      Anyway, Junie B. was little!Engie. Present-day!Engie too, some days. xD

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