Saturday, January 9, 2010

Books That Changed The Way I Feel About Reading

The title of this post explains it all. This list is in no particular order.

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: This is the first book of recognized so-called “literature” that I actually liked. It may be the one responsible for sparking my interest in literature ever since. Specifically, the ending stayed with me long after the book was finished. I didn’t understand a lot of it at first, and it would take me a while to get used to the writing style, but I was young and that’s what teachers are for. (What can I say? I had a good English teacher.) That was my freshman year of high school. By my senior year, I would read it again and still love it. I think this book will always stay with me.

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry: In my opinion, everyone should read this book. The Giver proved to me that young adult literature is capable of addressing important, even controversial, issues. The best feature of this book, however, is not that it gives you the answers to the questions it raises, but rather that it gets the reader to think. In other words, The Giver asks the right questions. The answers are the reader’s responsibility.

3. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: I feel sorry for those people who saw the movies before reading the books, or who haven’t read the books yet. It was just one of those books that, while I was reading it, I couldn’t wait to get back to. Believe it or not, it was one of the fastest reading experiences I’ve ever had despite its epic scope and length. It was a Harry Potter-like experience before I ever discovered Harry Potter. But don’t worry. Harry would follow close on Frodo’s heels. Speaking of which…

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling: This is the Harry Potter book that made me a Harry Potter fan. To be honest, I started with the second book, Chamber of Secrets, because my personal introduction to the Harry Potter series was the first movie. And Book 2 was okay, but Azkaban was the book that convinced me that this series was more than just a story about a boy wizard.

5. Othello by Shakespeare: The play that convinced me that Shakespeare was an okay guy, and not as boring or as complicated as he usually seems to the typical novice reader.

6. Matilda by Roald Dahl: My first love. That’s the best way I can think of to describe my experience with this book. In a way, this book made me into a bookworm because I so loved the title character of this story that deep down I wanted to be exactly like her. Reading was the source of her power. And I read it over and over again.

7. The Nancy Drew books: A Tale of Two Cities may have sparked my interest in literature, but the Nancy Drew books are the ones that sparked my interest in reading in general. Without Nancy, I may have never been able to enjoy Dickens, which reflects my opinion that all reading is connected. One book leads naturally to another, and one’s reading capacity develops of its own accord. A love of reading is the foundation to a wide reading experience. I also believe that one is not better than the other. A book’s literary status, whether it be Nancy Drew or Charles Dickens, is a minor factor in determining whether a book is good to read or not. For me, if it fosters a love of reading, a love for stories, and not anything malicious or degrading, it’s a good book.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: What girl doesn’t like Jane Austen? It’s almost a rite of passage for women to read this book, perhaps because it is one of the few books with a strong female character. Austen also proves that a story does not necessarily have to be action-packed to be dramatic, and that love—whether familial, neighborly, or of course, romantic—can and should be taken seriously.

9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The scene that always sticks with me from this book is when Lucy first meets Mr. Tumnus. Or when Edmund first encounters the White Witch. Another scene is the one when Aslan is bound and killed on the stone table. Or when…oh forget it. The whole book is memorable, with simple yet powerful images throughout. That’s why this book has endured for as long as it has.

10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I can’t really think of anything to say about this book, which is odd, considering that it’s my favorite novel of all time. Suffice it to say that Atticus Finch is my hero. That pretty much sums it up.