From the Baraza: Book Nook
Today the Baraza Residents consider the question: What’s the most influential book you’ve read?
I have to pick just one? Jeez – way to my brain into a tailspin. The Brothers Grimm – FairyTales. Yes, I am serious. I remember devouring them as a child. And I’m not talking about the cute little sanitized everything is sugar plums and lollipops versions you find so many places. These were the witches actually eating children, princes blinded by thorns, bear ripping apart a dwarf versions found in the original versions. There were princesses and love and magic and amazing journeys to unimaginable places. It set my imagination free. Much of how I see the world is firmly rooted in fairy tale lore. Contrary to what so many self-righteous pundits say – I am a strong, independent, adventurous woman because I read fairy tales.And yes, I Still want to grow up and be a princess!
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. Lewis’ fictional recounting of the Psyche myth while looking at different types of love also is a look at what faith is. This book gave me a whole new perspective on God and faith after I read it.
Every book that I read has some sort of influence on me, but I have to say that the books that have had the most influence on me are the Anne of Green Gable books. I read “Anne of Green Gables” and “Anne of Avonlea” when I was 8 years old, and gradually worked my way through the rest of the series. I still return to them every year and re-read them. Why? I love the lyrical way L.M. Montgomery uses language, the focus she has on every day relationships and the little things in life that mean so much. I love that my set of the books was read by my mother and aunts when they were young, and that now I get to be their caretaker. I also love the way that the books draw our attention to the beauty and wonder of nature and friendship. Universal themes, I guess.
I absolutely loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I could not get enough of this book and read it over and over and over again throughout my youth. Having a special place to disappear in was of particular interest to me growing up. I also was more than a little intrigued by someone who could grow plants rather than kill them. I loved the stories each character brought with them as they were introduced and as they grew physically and emotionally. I think I’ll read it again as a matter of fact.
Like music or hairstyles or food, their are certain books that define periods of my life. As a kid, it was things like Babysitters Club, Encyclopedia Brown, and The Neverending Story (the book is so much more complex than the movie–read it!). The first ‘adult’ book I read was Gone with the Wind in eighth grade. It took me two months. The Great Gatsby was the first school book that I really clicked with–Fitzgerald’s descriptions were so beautiful, I can still quote them. Margaret Atwood’s Blind Assassin was another game changer when I read it right after college. However, probably the books that I have, in the long run, meant the most to me are the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. Alanna is one of my favorite characters and Pierce’s writing is complex even for YA. She’s not afraid to tackle tough things (identity, loss, free will) even under the veil of fantasy. Just between you and me? I still have copies of the second and fourth installments in the four part series that I borrowed from my junior high library. And I reread them occasionally.