Are you a fan of Sandman? Because you should be. But if you’re like me you were afraid that the recent(ish) The Sandman: Overture couldn’t possibly be as good as the old books that rearranged your mind, and so you put off reading it because of that fear. I finally read it this week and GET THEE TO A BOOKSTORE BECAUSE IT IS AMAZING. After the last few weeks which seemed too full of endings I really needed this… a brilliant ending that became a beginning.
It reminded me of the first time I discovered those few important books that made me realize I wasn’t alone. Hailey’s asked to read Sandman before because she knows I love them but I haven’t let her yet. Partly because I think eleven is a bit young for some of the subjects, but more importantly because if I’d read Sandman at 11 it wouldn’t have become the lifesaver I needed because I wasn’t quite yet the confused, lonely and angsty person I’d become. The books were a balm for me during rough waters and they still are today. They are also to me what the Harry Potter series are to her…a benchmark and a milestone and a moment when characters become real and stay with you forever.
It’s strange that the books that really spoke to me at her age (A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass) don’t appeal so much to her. She still devours my Ray Bradbury books when she thinks I’m not looking (I suspect the thrill of sneaking them from me adds to the appeal, like it did for me when I borrowed my grandmother’s Stephen Kings) and this week I’m letting her read The Graveyard Book, which she’s enjoying. When I ask her what books have meant the most to her she names A Wrinkle in Time and the Divergent series. She asks if Princeless counts since it’s just a graphic novel and I clear my throat. It counts.
I don’t know if Sandman will save her like it did me, or if it will be Catcher in the Rye, or something that hasn’t even been set to paper yet, but it’s so nice to know that those books are out there and that they’re still saving lives and making lives. I can’t wait to read the next one that will change the way I think and change me in the process.
And how about you? What books touched you at certain ages? What books affect your children now? What books should we all read? What books have you found recently that made a difference in your life? What books are lost to the out-of-print rare bookstores that you search for each time you scan the shelves?
I need something to read. Go.
And now, the weekly wrap-up:
Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):
- As requested, the 2016 Bloggess Calendar.
- Rory has your back.
This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Scarology.com. “Scarology is an affordable, simple and effective scar treatment system designed to dramatically improve the appearance of scars. Our unique 3-step process is clinically proven to improve the appearance of new and old scars resulting from surgery, pregnancy, acne, injury and burns.” You can check it out here. They’re offering 25% off using the code “BLOGGESS.
457 thoughts on “Endings and beginnings”
Read comments below or add one.
I LOVE having new books to read, thanks for the heads up!! 😀 And GO BRONCOS!!!!!
My all time favorite is The Bone People, by Keri Hulme. It came to me when I was living in a strange country, learning the language, and it bent and twisted story and language in a way I can’t describe. I’m on my third copy, and I buy copies when I find them to give to others. It’s not an easy book, and you have to go back and reread the first chapter when you’re done, but it writes of people like nothing else.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and Room by Emma Donoghue. Both recent reads and both are amazing!
I am constantly in search of the Borderlands short stories (out of print) and any Charles De Lint books. Magic and reality combining in amazing ways. Much like Sandman.
A Man Called Ove. It’s about the most reluctant hero ever and how family isn’t always someone you’re related, too.
Island of the Blue Dolphins was a fav for both my daughter and I both at the same age
A Man Called Ove. It’s about the most reluctant hero ever and how family isn’t always someone you’re related, too.
The book that saved me was “Inkheart” by Cornelia Funke. Whenever I was sad and lonely I would take it out and disappear into its pages. I still have my old paperback copy, which is sitting on my college dorm room bookshelf. I still like to pick it up from time to time and be comforted by it again.
The book that saved/saves me on a regular basis is “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith (of “101 Dalmatians” fame). I got it when I was 15, and it was suddenly like the skies parted, and there was this book that understood me, and who I was. I read it every year or so, and it’s the book I pull off my shelf and read a few passages here and there when I am having a rough day. It’s wonderful, and perfect, and I am so glad it has stayed back in print since I first got it 15 years ago.
“The Treachery of Beautiful Things” by Irish author R.F. Long
Masque of the Red Death Book Series by Bethany Griffin (and “The Fall” by her is amazing too)
“When the Sea is Rising Red” by Cat Hellisen
My favorite book is Jane Eyre, favorite series of that is the 2006 BBC version. Was a huge fan of L.M. Montgomery as a teen, The Blue Castle is still a favorite of mine. And I have a slight obsession with anything vaguely Cinderella (The Cinder series? LOVE)
I only ever read one novel in high school. It was “The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith”. I just wasn’t into reading fiction. I did read an World Book encyclopædia though which I thought was much more fun. Reading non-fiction gave me a thirst for knowledge.
Michelle West’s Broken Crown. The series is epic. Also, for urban fantasy, her Cast in Shadow.
One I keep looking for every time I’m near a bookstore because I loved it is Free Fall by William Golding.
Books that struck me:
Mists of Avalon
The dark tower series by Stephen king
The strangers in paradise graphic nove series by terry Moore
Anything by Anne rice
I don’t have kids so I can’t speak for them, but the YA series that I’ve enjoyed were:
The divergent series
The chronicles of narnia
A very recent one for me was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Unreliable narrator, awesome female characters, awesome female friendship, spies and Nazis. It’s like a long but heartbreaking love letter to friendship, which is something that really spoke to me (even though my lady friends have never been threatened by actual Nazis.) Very recommended for you and her both, if you’ve not read it.
Sorry if this double posts but I can’t see the comment I originally posted.
The book that (quite literally) saved my life was “Inkheart” by Cornelia Funke. I would take it out when I was sad and/or lonely or just hated life in general and would disappear into a world of magic and adventure and awesomeness. My old beat up paperback copy is currently sitting on the bookshelf of my dorm room. I like to pick it up from time to time so I don’t forget the story.
I got the Sandman Overture on the release date, but it hasn’t made it out of the plastic for those exact reasons! That and I just don’t want it to end…and if I haven’t read it then I can still look forward to it? But mostly, I’m just waiting for the time when I really need it…when nothing else can do what it can.
Besides Good Omens, the books I usually give an annual re-read are the Newford stories by Charles de Lint because they’re real and wonderful and have that everyday magic that might just end up being true…
Ender’s Game was pivotal in my youth. It was the first book that ever made me feel empowered. As an adult, The Road by Cormac McCarthy just changed the way I read post apocalyptic books forever.
I read 1984 years before I was allowed to, and so I had to process it on my own. Love and violence, political control and propaganda, all swirled around in my 11 year old head and formed the basis for my understanding of people, but also my deep belief in forgiveness when we do horrific things.
A newer book I love: The Nothing Girl by Jodi Taylor … a bit of fantasy, triumph, tears and terrific sarcasm.
Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore saved me a couple of times.
Also, while you are her mother, and I fully support your decision about Sandman, kids tend to get drawn to books at the right time (and graphic novels, no pun intended). She may have overheard some of the ways you have talked about Sandman saving you and wants to read it to get to know you better.
When I was in a shitty, shitty relationship, isolated from friends and family, I read tons of Ray Bradbury. But the one book that was my savior was Dandelion Wine. The first story resonated with me and reminded me that I AM alive and that life could be found in the small things and that the feeling of being present was a gift in itself.
For me it was Louisa May Alcott’s “An Old Fashioned Girl” (which actually meant an independent, free-willed girl) and the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I read them over and over and over.
I read a lot. Like, A LOT. I’m always looking for new stuff. But I’ve noticed that there are some books I go back to over and over again. Familiarity? Comfort? I don’t know why, exactly, but Robert R. McCammon’s Boy’s Life, Frank Herbert’s Dune, The Harry Potter series, Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April, and Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm always work for me.
I loved reading Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It opened me up to a world of magic and mystery. As a kid I love A Wrinkle in Time and anything by V.C Andrews. My parents didn’t read books so they had no idea what I was reading,probably part to blame for my warped mind. I also love the Earth’s Children series by Jean Auel. I was in an abusive relationship when I read them and I feel they helped me believe that I deserved more for my life and didn’t need to put up with it, they helped give me the courage to leave.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull taught me that it was okay to follow my dreams even if other people didn’t understand them, and that it would take hard work and practice but in the end it would all be worth it.
Anne McAffrey’s Harper Hall Trilogy taught me that it was okay for me to express myself as a girl even if what I wanted to express wasn’t considered ‘normal’ for a girl to do. It also taught me that it was possible to not only break into, but excel in a male dominated career. I eventually moved on to joining the military and later became an electrician. (Sadly mental illness destroyed both of those careers but I kept seeking and eventually found a passion to devote myself too that doesn’t just take into consideration my limitations but turned them into strengths.)
A Wrinkle in Time was a huge one for me as a kid. When a little older, I discovered Watership Down and Pride and Prejudice. Austen took me to college then to grad school and is probably why I’m a prof..
In grad school, I found Terry Pratchett and he saved me. I needed smart but funny humaneness in my life to counteract the anxiety and competition and awfulness of PhD work and Pratchett was there. When he died, I cried for days.
You saved me too, Jenny. I found your books when I had no name for my anxiety and you showed me what is was and that I wasn’t alone. Thank you forever for that.
Lately, the series that has spoken to me most is Saga. It so captures all the good and bad of marriage, parenting, family and we get to see cool space monsters, too.
Could read “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell again and again. And I have! Wish I could remember the title of the sequel, because same goes for that one.
Basically, a priest goes into outer space…
I’m fan of neither religion nor science fiction, but I love. these. books.
Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C Wrede
Weirdos of the Universe Unite by Pamela F Service
In Fury Born by David Weber
The Song Killer saga by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones
I’ll leave it there for now
Ms. Peregrine’s Home for peculiar children and both of the sequels! So good!
When I was younger, anything by Robert Heinlein.
Anne Rice The Witching Hour and Vampire Chronicles when I was in my early 20’s, Harry Potter when I started to become a teacher, Your book when I needed a break from teaching.
BTW, Has she read or heard of the Lunar Chronicles at least that is what I think they are called…based on Fairy tales-Cinder, Scarlett, not sure how many there are.
I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables as a child and have stayed in love to this day, rereading all the books every few years. I even got my book group at the library to read it and they all fell in love too. As an adult, Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries (particularly on audio) and Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart trilogy have been meaningful – not necessarily because of the stories, but because they introduced me to characters that I connected to so strongly that they have had an impact on my own development as a person.
The Giver, when I was younger, but I get something new everytime I reread it. Homers Odyssey (by Gwen Cooper, about a little blind kitty cat) when I was in graduate school. And Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Seriously, it totally came into my life at the exact moment I needed it to. I also have loved the Hunger Games, the Divergent Series, Joss Whedons biography and most recently the Martian.
Ender’s Game always and forever. When I read Ender’s Shadow as an adult, it just added to my understanding of the world. 🙂
Ahhhh. I wish I could go back to Hailey’s age and rediscover loved books again!
As a kid some of mine were Judy Blume’s Just As Long As We’re Together (and all the Superfudge books when I needed a laugh/break from life), Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, Norma Fox Mazer’s Silver, and Betty Miles The Trouble With Thirteen when I didn’t have my nose in a Baby-Sitters Club book.
As a teen I fear that I fell in love with the horror genre so they were dominated by Christopher Pike, RL Stine and VC Andrews when I wasn’t still denying that I was too old for The Baby-Sitters Club LOL.
In my twenties post divorce I read books that I should have read as a kid/teen and fell in love with Anne of Green Gables (I was obsessed with the mini series but never made it through the books), Little House on the Prairie, Jane Austen and Chick Lit (Jane Green’s Bookends and Jennifer Weiner’s In Her Shoes were some of my favs).
At the present I just finally read the Harry Potter series a couple years ago and kick myself for not reading them then. I also love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, Alison Arngrim’s Confessions of a Prairie Bitch and all other kinds of random things that make me smile.
An odd one I’m sure, but Catch-22 by Joseph Heller was one of the first books I read in high school that I bought on my own. The characters are so convoluted and their stories were each so different and full of insane tales that I couldn’t put it down. It was my eye opener as to the absurd plights we face as adults and how small decisions have such a lasting impact. Every time I read it I find something brand new that’s been hidden in the pages and with each passing year the messages become more and more relevant to life.
N K Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the rest of her Inheritance Trilogy are fan-fucking-tastic, and gave me that same kind of world-restructuring feeling I had when I first read Sandman 🙂
At your daughter’s age, I loved The Anne of Green Gables and Little Woman series.
My 13-year-old daughter just read “The Body” after watching Stand By Me half a dozen times. When she finished, she asked, “Why can’t all books be that good?” She says she wants to be a writer and has begun writing down story ideas. So I’m pretty sure that novella has changed her life in a beautiful way…much as it did mine when I read it at 12-going-on-13.
“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”
No angsty teen girl can read that and be the same after.
The book that struck me, stays with me until this day and that I constantly search for is The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane by Laird Koenig. I definitely recommend it.
I read The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley when I was in fifth grade, and it changed my life. An ostracized and bullied girl who fought dragons?! In the 80s, this changed my life.
You have to read The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. A good ” what would I do” book
When I was in second grade my teacher sent me home with a copy of Charlotte’s Web because I loved it so much. My other favorite book when I was a kid was Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. As an angsty teen I fell in love with V.C. Andrews and Hermann Hesse. These days I love books that bring me joy such as The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, and of course – Furiously Happy! I will have to check out this Sandman business.
The Redwall series springboarded me into higher leveled fantasy books and I will always be grateful for this and they always will hold a special place in my heart (since I still love the fantasy genre a lot). I still own quite a few of them and intend to see if my niece will like them when she’s around the age I got into them. If any of you have kids that like adventure and animals and all that, you might want to check it out.
Currently reading Skewed by Anne McAneny for any fans of thriller/crime stuff.
My favourite book when I was 11 was “Dune” by Frank Herbert. I read it at least once a year now. Seeing as I am now 43, you can tell that it is still one of my favourite books 🙂
If you haven’t read the Gentlemen Bastard books by Scott Lynch, then I cannot recommend them highly enough, plus I think I am a little bit in love with Locke Lamora.
The Otherworld Books by Tad Williams are bloody marvellous. I re-read them once a year too. I also have to recommend him because he is friends with one of my facebook friends and when he actually commented on one of her posts once we actually had a bit of a fan-girling squeeing time in messenger (ok, well a lot of if I am being totally honest)
“Flowers for Algernon” is very good but very sad too – it took me about half an hour to stop sobbing after I finished it. Luckily I actually waited until I got home (this when I still went into the strange place called outside) to read the end or I would have looked very silly on the pier train (we have a pier that a little train goes up and down to the ferry) (we are in the Guiness Book of Records about that)
I have to recommend “Weaveworld” by Clive Barker too, and not just because when I was 17 I had decided that we would get married, despite the 20 year age gap. I still have a treasured moment from when I was 17 (or just 18) when he came to give a talk at our local literary festival. I queued up in line so he could sign the 6 books I had taken along with me, but then realised how utterly battered my copy of Weaveworld was – it was being held together with sellotape by this point. I apologise to him for the state it was in but he told me that he was happy to see books like mine because it told its story of having been taken around in bags to be read in lots of places and a book that battered was a book that was loved.
I will be checking these books out, thanks! If you want to get involved in a three book series that I think are an amazing ‘get away with some weirdness and very cool pictures, check out Ransome Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children series. They are awesome
From Mid-Teens to early 20s:
A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
Good Times, Bad Times, by James Kirkwood
All the Tales of the Cities books by Armisted Maupin
The Woman’s Room, by Marilyn French
Poverty forced me to end my comic habit years ago so I did not know about Overture – will have to scrounge up some money (but my fav comic book pusher retired!) I have a Delirium doll – she is my talisman, I don’t leave home without her! So thanks for the heads up! And Harlen Ellison is always good.
Those Who Watch – Robert Silverberg
The Vagabond – Colette
Happy All the Time – Laurie Colwin
Tisha – as told to Robert Specht
These all mattered when I was young. Made me want to experience life and the world, so I did. Left home at 18 by joining the Army. I still have the fragile, yellowed books to reread from time to time.
kellymlawrence – if you have a kindle, lots of Charles DeLint’s stuff is being re-released for e-book so it’s getting easier to find. He even did a new Jilly Coppercorn shorts collection just last year. Enjoy!
As for me – I discovered the Marion Zimmer Bradley ‘Darkover’ novels when I was just getting into high school and they stoked both my love of SF and my desire to chart my own path. I’m now much more conflicted about them, since I learned about she and her household covering up child sexual abuse for years, but I still can’t bring myself to let them go. I’ve been leaning towards adding up all the cover prices and making a matching donation to a suitable charity – to make myself feel a little better. I guess. It’s hard to know what to do when you learn that something you loved was also part of something so ugly.
Oh, and I forgot to add The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye. I’ve always been “the plain one” in my family & any given group of friends; this book was the perfect read for me as a girl who loved Disney Princesses but knew she would never be one.
Ender’s Game will always and forever be the book that helped me realize that it’s okay to be smarter than the people around you* and that, just because you’re smart, it doesn’t mean that you have to understand people. When I read Ender’s Shadow as an adult, it was like I was seeing part of myself from another person’s point of view. It was enlightening.
I am in no way as intelligent as Ender Wiggins. I read it at a time when I realized that not everyone was as smart as I was.
I have not read the Sandman, but will now look into doing so…thanks..when I was a teen it was “Catcher In The Rye” that did it for me…I just recently read “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain.. it is fiction based loosely on the love story of Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson…it made me fall in love with Hemingway all over again and now want to read or reread everything he wrote…
I recently read “Rebecca” and “Jamaica Inn” by DuMaurier, and I was blown away by both of them!! I can’t believe I’d never read either of them before, but I definitely think they will be re-read-worthy!
Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness books were my elementary school constant rereads–followed by every other Tamora Pierce book I could get my hands on. Seconding the Enchanted Forest books, and I devoured Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books.
The Pink Motel
The Great Brain series
David Eddings’ The Belgariad and Mallorean series
Rita Mae Brown’s fox hunting series
The Narnia series when I was a youngling, “Lord of the Rings” when I was a teenager, and probably “The Screwtape Letters” when I hit twenty. When I first started to recognize why I was so intensely sad all the time, it was “Thirteen Reasons Why”. That book kept me from the edge.
One book that’s made a huge difference to me is Chalktown by Melinda Haynes. She’s written several novels, but hasn’t published for a few years. It’s a Southern gothic story of a teenage boy who takes his little brother on a journey to Chalktown, a crossroads where the residents only communicate through chalkboard signs on their porches. He wants to know why. It’s gorgeously written, magical, and dark all at the same time. I highly recommend it.
When I was a teenager, it was Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. Also an amazing read, and one that made me realize there was more to the world than the high school I went to.
I was Meg in A Wrinkle in Time without the hot basketball playing boyfriend and the nice mom.
Wuthering Heights wild moors and tragic love and ghosts
Johnny Got His Gun in Grade 9 by Dalton Trumbo
The Princess Bride when I was an alienated teen having to go on a family vacation.
Salems Lot. Scared the everloving crap out of me. Was very suspicious of kids in my class for a little while.
The books that saved me were really dark and always about death. I loved everything by Lurlene McDaniel. Emotionally I felt the type of loss that she described, though my situation was not like those of her characters. It was the first time I wasn’t alone. It scared my family though, a tween reading about death was alarming but they couldn’t complain because I was reading and it was never one of my favorite pastimes.
Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series. I think I was around eleven and Derry was the first character in a book that I remember having a huge romantic crush on!
I was thrilled when I found a copy of The Ice Cream Cone Coot and Other Rare Birds at a thrift shop. I scooped it up, took it home to read to the kids, 5 and 6 at the time. I don’t think it was the right time for that as the illustrations are borderline scary.
Stephen King, Harlan Ellison (my mom didn’t know I was reading this stuff) and any other sci-fi I could find in the 70s. Later, The Color Purple (read that 3 times). Then non-fiction for decades. Now I read the classic sci-fi. The boys got over the Coot illustrations, but told me to hide it behind the bookshelf. M…
I read whatever was on my mom’s shelf, including some really racy stuff that was probably really inappropriate for my age. But the ones that stayed with me were horsey books like The Black Stallion series, Marguerite Henry’s works, and the Dick Francis mysteries. Recently, I read Jane Smiley’s Horse Heaven, which follows the lives of horses and their humans in the racing industry. It sounds dry, but it was both heartbreaking and heart lifting.
I identified with A Wrinkle in Time, because I was that bespectacled nerd whose father always seemed to be missing. Other favourites for me were: Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, The Indian Trilogy by Lynne Reid Banks, and of course The Hobbit. I enjoyed these as an adult, too.
When I was 9 years old I read Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh and it was my favorite book for years. It started me keeping a journal which I continued to do for more than a decade.
The Wonderful Flight To The Mushroom Planet. (no, I haven’t read the sequels)
Read a few times at 8, and again at 18 when I found it in a public library a day or so before I drove across country to college.
“Wanted: a rocket ship built by two boys… ”
No, it’s not “inclusive,” because it was the ’60s. On the other hand, I’m a boy, and so I didn’t need it to be.
The Outsiders by SE Hinton was my preteen/teen book (and movie) and I still love it now. Those Greasers just seemed like my people and their tragedies fit the anger that I had at the time. Plus, knowing she had been 14 when she wrote it appealed to me. My own daughter thinks the book is “ok”. I wonder what her book will be – right now it changes from week to week. If I ask her right now, it’s The Fifth Wave.
I like to mainly read mystery/thrillers. The books that have meant the most to me are Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, The Golden Compass series and of course Harry Potter & Alice in Wonderland. I also always enjoyed the Magic Kingdom for Sale series.
“Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss.
When I was young I survived off of Animorphs, Nancy Drew, and Wishbone Classics. Once I was about 15 or 16 I got into the Exiles trilogy by Melanie Rawn, which sadly still does not have a written third book even though it was set up to be amazing. These days I’ll read anything by Anne Bishop or Kevin Hearne.
Anne Bishop has an amazing writing style that you would probably enjoy, Ms. Bloggess, because they story gets quite dark but the way she writes just pulls you (and my fiance, who hates fiction) in. At the end of the original trilogy the good guys win after a long struggle. Kevin Hearne is witty and funny, and it’s about a 2000 year old Irish Druid living in Arizona fighting Gods with his Irish Wolfhound, who is very funny. A bit more escapism, but very entertaining!
Um… I’m a bit of a fantasy nut.
A Wrinkle in Time still speaks to me, even now in my late 40’s. I so related to Meg and feeling not special in most aspects of my life growing up. It was a joy and a triumph to see an outcast character grow to love herself and be loved in return, and that her uniqueness was just who she was, neither right or wrong, just her.
Likewise, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for me as well. I don’t believe truly that anyone has an easy time growing up. And some have it much, much harder than others. I always related to those characters who got back up again and did what needed to be done.
1) just as long as we’re together and tiger eyes both by Judy Blume
2) the cider house rules by John Irving
3) gone girl by Gillian Flynn
All blew my mind. Though, to be 100% honest, your book is the one I recommend to friends. That I treasure in a way that I can’t describe. It’s the book that describes my soul.
Currently reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Ahem If Hailey wants to be a beta reader for an unpublished coming of age story about a Canadian girl who pines for a boy in an International school in 1970’s Spain, let me know.
I also read The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Nifenegger about 5 years ago and fell in love with it. Another heartbreaker – “Don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?” That line sticks with me.
As a teen, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. My lifelong adoration of her could be concerning, but I appreciate her genius and her insight and her way with words.
I think I breathed books when I was younger, so it’s hard to pick one or two. I ran away into them when it got awful in the real world, and I would just inhale series of books or reread ones indiscriminately just for the escape they brought. Anything would do. I read things that were far above my grade level and only understood them years later (hello, Animal Farm in fourth grade! Really not about cute farm animals!). That said, Madeline L’Engle’s books shaped me in my early years. Tolkien gave me a whole world to run away into in my teens. But Ursula LeGuin has grown with me through the years, first with Earthsea, and then with works like The Dispossessed (seriously the best commentary on Marxist idealism I’ve ever found, and a damn good story to boot) and The Lathe of Heaven. Each time I read them, I find something new to think about, and so many current authors have at least one root leading back to her (China Mieville and Ann Leckie both jump to mind). Damn. Now I want to read awesomeness but I have to read statistics. Bleh.
Stranger in a Strange Land was truly a game-changer for me. I have been learning to grok the world around me ever since. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test came at a time when I had just found the Grateful Dead. The bus came by and I got on, indeed. I think the first life-changer was Wrinkle in Time, though. My fourth grade teacher read it aloud to us. I remember her doing the voices beautifully (Mrs. Which declaring, “We are here!” Stands out in particular), and I remember wishing that I had an Aunt Beast to comfort me.
A series that changed my life in elementary school was Trixie Belden. She wasn’t the most beautiful. She wasn’t the smartest. She had siblings that drove her crazy. She had chores. She was me, if I had had a rich neighbor with horses.
As a kid I loved books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder…The Velvet Room, The Changeling and The Egypt Game. They were out of print forever so my copies were (and are) treasures.
As an adult one of my all-time favorites is A Widow for One Year by John Irving…I read it over and over and over again, and I love it every time.
Read Shannon Hale’s “Book of a Thousand Days.” I loved it when I first read it years ago, and just re-read it after buying it for my 11-year-old daughter. It’s a fantasy retelling of an old Grimm’s fairy tale. The main character, Dashti, is a strong young woman who clearly knows what she is and what she is not. We like Shannon Hale’s other books, too.
For some great belly laughs, read Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods.” I read it on vacation with my husband when we were pretty newly married. I kept laughing so loudly in my pool chair that my poor husband was desperately trying to nonchalantly scooch his chair away so no one would know he was with me.
Tina Fey’s Bossypants is definitely a favorite that I’ve read repeatedly – it kind of feels like going home every time I reread it. Any book that changes the way I think about the world and myself in it or inspires me to do better – most recently Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream which is about the war on drugs and what we can do to policy/society wise to give addicts the best chance at life.
And Furiously Happy! I laughed so hard and needed it so desperately. Will definitely reread:)
I don’t really have “benchmark books”, music is what saved me – what still saves me. I am a voracious reader though. I love The Jim Butcher Dresden Files series. Time After Time & Replay are great books dealing with time travel. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is wonderful. Starz has done a decent job with the series as well (but very not Hailey appropriate). My favorite series from childhood was Trixie Belden. I still have all of mine.
Sandman changed the way I read books. The Overture was so incredibly beautiful. I was also worried it couldn’t live up to the rest of the series. Silly me. As if I should ever doubt the genius of Mister Gaiman.
Also, Harry Potter inspired me to read again after several years of just not reading. Anais Nin’s beautiful stories and journals have been important to me. I used to read Stephen King when I was a tween/teen. Those books opened my eyes to the possibility of ugliness in the world.
So many books. One of my absolute favorite books ever is Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I love Clive Barker and John Irving, too.
Seconding anything Tamora Pierce. The Immortals quartet was one of my favorites, I must’ve re-read it half a dozen times a year.
My other top picks are:
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Anything by Seanan McGuire – I keep returning to the October Daye series, and the stuff she’s written as Mira Grant
The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
Books are so personal, they speak to all of us in different ways because we are all different people. I don’t think Hailey will need Sandman to rescue her the way you did, and she probably won’t need Narnia or Middle Earth to comfort her the way I did, but maybe she will find her home in Diskworld,or Earthsea, or some place else that doesn’t quite exist yet. And that is Okay. She will find her books and her world and they might not entirely be yours or they might not speak to her in the same way, but they will be Hers, and in the end that is all that matters.
Margaret Atwood. Cats Eye. Never where by Gaiman was pivotal to me as a young woman and Tom
Robbins I fell in love with when I was 15 and haven’t looked back.
The Phantom Tollbooth. Whenever I find a copy I buy it to loan to friends. I learned a long time ago that for some reason they always keep this one 🙂
Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett would be good for you and your daughter. Tamora Pierce and Anne McCaffrey were major players iny book reading.
The Little Prince changes me every time I read it, no matter how old I am, and it reminds me every time that it’s okay to let the child in me come out and play every once in a while. It’s healthy, even!
Also, Harry Potter led me to meet amazing friends and rediscover my love for reading and I will always love that series with all my heart.
(Also, also? I adore Neil Gaiman but I have yet to read Sandman… I promised myself I would start this year, though!)
I told my kid that she had wait until she was older because a lot of it is based loosely on the Greek pantheon and is a little rapey. She accepted because she’s familiar with the actual mythology.
I occasionally threatened to only let her read an episode at a time the way I had to.
The series originally ended in March during my senior year in high school and was very, very cathartic. I have 4 volumes of the Giant collection and even got to have Neil Gaiman sign the first volume on his last signing tour. The whole series means a lot to me. I have Delirium on the back of my leather jacket. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/290834088410154602/
I approve of Overture. It was a very good ending and a very good beginning.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Can’t live without this series!
I’m a 5th grade reading teacher, and I have several YA suggestions for you and Hailey! If Hailey liked The Graveyard Book she might also enjoy The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier (it was so terrifyingly thrilling that I stayed up all night to read it). I also highly recommend The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly and its sequel: historical fiction about a girl living in Caldwell County at the turn of the century who explores the natural world with her scientist grandfather. I live in Austin and teach in Hays County, and it was exciting to read about a place I know so well.
Other YA suggestions: Harry Potter, The Giver, The City of Ember, Tuck Everlasting, Bridge to Terabithia, One Came Home, Ender’s Game, The Little Prince, Challeneger Deep, Moon Over Manifest, Beholding Bee
As far as books that have saved me, yours would top the list, Jenny. Thank you for helping me make peace with myself and for giving me a way to connect to my father, who has bipolar disorder. Allie Brosh has done the same. So very thankful for both of you ladies and your wit and wisdom.
At 12… my favorite books were “mandy” by Julie andrews, about an orphan who finds happiness on her own, and “don’t hurt laurie” about a girl who is abused by her mom as her step siblings stand by and see. As an adult, it has been “the bell jar”, “flowers for algernon”, and “the good terrorist”
A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. That book changed my entire outlook on life, faith, loyalty, destiny, and being who you were meant to be. I cannot say enough about it.
Also, Lamb by Christopher Moore. It is the most beautifully blasphemous, heretical, hilarious, and yet spiritually inspiring book. It came at a time when one of my closest friends had just died from liver cancer at age 28 (less than 2 months after diagnosis), and it gave me things I didn’t even know I needed to get through it.
Has Hailey read the Terry Pratchett YA series (A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight and The Shepherd’s Crown)? I can’t recommend them enough for girls in her age group. (And if you love Neil, you probably love Terry.)
When I was a teenager, it was definitely Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (comics). And because my mom is the most awesome person ever she once wrote a letter thanking Jhonen Vasquez for so perfectly channeling teen angst. That, and Altmann’s Tongue, perhaps the strangest most disturbed book of short stories ever written and so so dark.
It’s interesting because I have a son, and so I don’t know how he’ll respond to the books I loved. But the book that saved me as an adult is Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, and he will be forced to read that as a young man because as a mom I feel like it’s my responsibility to raise a boy that has some insight and respect for women.
My kids loved A Wrinkle in Time, and also The House of the Scorpion, which is YA with some mature themes. Coraline, of course, and The Graveyard Book. Too young for Hailey, but I read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler when I was 7, and it so informed my life that when I finally got to NYC at 24, the first place I visited was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And my daughter so loved it that when I took her to NYC at 14, the first place she wanted to go was MMA.
My own recent reads include Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Bone Clocks and also Slade House by David Mitchell.
There is a book called the dreamer. I recently lost my copy, and I’ve been searching for another ever since. I have no idea who wrote it, or who gave it to me, but that small, slender black and white book about Peter has stayed with me for as long as I can remember. I cried when I reached for it on the shelf to re-read it again and it wasn’t there.
When I was Hailey’s age my Dad gave me three books- Dragonsinger, Dragonsong and Dragon drums by Anne McCaffrey. I still have those three books (complete with still working scratch and sniff stickers that I put in them) and I will still occasionally read them. These three are intended for a younger audience than most of AM’s books and they are all about becoming who YOU want and are meant to be, not what is expected of you. It’s about being different and having that be not just ok, but celebrated even. A Wrinkle in Time was also one of my favorites, so if Hailey likes that one, I would strongly encourage this trilogy (which ties into AM’s Dragonrider of Pern series, by the way). I’ve been trying to find a dragon lizard of my own for 30 years now- if anyone can find one, it’ll be You and Hailey. 🙂
When I was Haley’s age I loved all of The Little House on the Prairie books. I moved up to S. E. Hinton in hs. The The Razor’s Edge was what really stuck with me. I got hooked on Mists of Avalon a few years ago.
Oh someone else mentioned Eleanor Cameron, and how could I forget? She wrote The Court of the Stone Children an awesome ghost story.
@Hannah! I’m so glad you gave the title and author of “I Capture the Castle”! I read it for the first time in about 1967, checked it out of the library. I have been thinking about that book for months, could not remember any searchable information about it, just the girl writer protagonist, the procrastinating genius father, the castle, isn’t there a sister? Thanks so much! I have it downloaded to my Kindle reader, ready for enjoyment!
Also, Jenny & Haley, what about all those Arthurian Legends by Mary Stewart? Crystal Cave, etc. Moving on to T.H. White when Haley is a little older? I loved that stuff when I was Haley’s age. My mom was getting her master’s in English about that time, and let us read anything we could wade through, so I read a bunch of stuff that was above my maturity level. Lots of it I didn’t grasp till I was 5 or 6 years older, re-reading it.
The Witches of Karres – for Haley. Old style space science fiction. Main characters about her age.
I find returning to books I read and loved as a child very soothing. After a bad break-up I reread Daddy-Long-Legs on the train home to my Mum, for the first time in years. I’d read her copy as a kid and loved it then.
In Gone With the Wind, I found another girl in Scarlett O’Hara who everybody thought was hard and fierce, but who was scared and lost underneath.
I Capture The Castle, for it’s dreaminess.
Like Hailey A Wrinkle In Time Quartet series was touchstone when I read that for myself in 7th or 8th grade. Anne Of Green Gables was another. So many others, books I remember and books I don’t.
In the recent years, 2014, a book that was a healing balm to me was The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth GIlbert.
It started out being a book that got me hooked, and I thought it would be about a story in a fictional setting all about botany and flowers. It ended up being about a woman named Alma who grew up in period of 1800s. Who was intellectually smart at just about all subjects yet it took until she was in her late 40s or early 50s to really start living. To really get out of her bubble and explore the world. It helped me with how I feel about myself, and how I don’t feel capable or smart in comparison to anyone. That even someone whose so smart, could fall short in how to do things, and I can be the smart for a change.
So many. All the Judy Blume books but especially Are You There, God? I read it when I was nine and a good Catholic girl and OMG. SCANDALICIOUS. I had never read a book like that and immediately went on to read Wifey. Then I turned into a whore and it’s all Judy Blume’s fault. Weee!
I also loved A Confederacy of Dunces because I’m from Louisiana. John Kennedy Toole is our national treasure.
Jenny, I love these kind of posts. Thank you for recommending Neil Gaiman at your Seattle reading. I read ‘An Ocean at the end of the Lane’ and fell in love with its delicate storytelling. I’ll read anything he wrote. I also bought ‘A Man Called Ove’ that day. I laughed and laughed and then I cried. You seem to read constantly, so here are my lesser-known favorites: Jane Kenyon’s ‘Otherwise’ because her poetry is so touching that I cried when I found out she suffered depression and had died young and would never write anything else; Anne Michael’s ‘Fugitive Pieces’ because it made my short list of important books; Alfred Lansing’s ‘Endurance’ because I love when nonfiction reads like a novel; Pete Fromm’s ‘Indian Creek Chronicles’ because both my husband and I laughed over it; and Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ because he wrote about music so eloquently and the book read like a contemporary novel. And maybe this – http://acatontheghettobox.blogspot.com/2015/11/latent-regret.html for a laugh.
The Last Planet by Andre Norton introduced me to Science Fiction. I wish I could find a copy of it now.
The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy introduced me to fantasy and impacted me tremendously. I have read all four books at least once a year for the last 40 or so years. There’s so much that’s basic in there, and yet so many layers.
Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody mysteries, P.D. James’ Inspector Dalgliesh mysteries and Dick Francis’ mysteries set in the world of horse racing – all are engrossing.
The worlds of science fiction and fantasy have offered me escape, entertainment and imagination for decades. When I want to slip the bonds of this surly earth, I can escape into another world and leave my mundane cares behind . . . at least for a while.
I read a LOT so I could go on forever, but these were the first that came to mind.
Oh, so many great books already mentioned! I adored Louisa May Alcott books, Five Little Peppers series, Johnny Tremain, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clark, Tolkien, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and Anne Frank and read as many Russian novels as I could find as a teen. I was incredibly shy, anxious and socially inept – I’d hide behind the curtains when I was very little to avoid people but always had books keep me company. And now Harry Potter books have gotten me through a really rough times. Try the Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois Bujold, with a wonderfully imagined character whose way of overcoming adversity is hilarious and poignant.
I love the saying, “I am a reader, not because I don’t have a life, but because I choose to have many.”
The book that saved me was “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown. It’s the story of a lesbian’s childhood, knowing she was different, and her subsequent coming of age.
Although I was a gay man in my teens (not out to anyone) when I read it, it made me realize that if there was one gay book out there, then there must be others and, subsequently, that meant there were also other gay people out there. The story saved me also because it was the first depiction of a gay person who was basically “this is who I am and to hell with you if you don’t like me”.
All of the gay characters in books and movies that I had read and watched before that were usually ashamed or bad characters in some way, so this book gave me hope for my future.
My first copy is long gone, but I still keep a copy and re-read it at least once a year.
“Year of YES!” for this year. #hope #empowerment
Have to think of the ones from childhood … but I was a voracious reader and the escape books provided – will never know how much that saved me. Also, since my parents never really paid attention (they intentionally raised “independent” kids – don’t recommend) I read waaayyyyy beyond my years.
You know … as I right this, I remember “Death Be Not Proud” as having a huge impact …
P.S. Independence is fine, when it is used as a “get out out of parenting” free card, not so much.
I have always loved Little Women. I don’t know why I find that book so comforting, but I do. For many years (well into my twenties), I read the book at least once a year. I think I need to get back on that. My 5-year-old LOVES the Little House on the Prairie series. We are on the last book now, and she is so sad for it to be over soon. Honestly, I am, too!
I can’t pinpoint just one or two books that have saved me. ALL the books have saved me. Some of my old favorites? Harry Potter, just about anything by Stephen King, but most notably 11/22/63 and Dr. Sleep. Little Women, of course. To Kill a Mockingbird, without a doubt. If I gave myself half a minute more, I’m sure I could come up with half a dozen more. But all in all, every single book I have ever read, whether I loved it or not, has saved me.
#1 Treasure Island. It introduced me to the novel, a story you could read without pictures and they appeared in your mind.
#2 The Hobbit. As a 14 year old kid who felt trapped in a small town it gave me hope for an adventure.
#3 Lord of the Rings. It took the innocence of The Hobbit and showed me the world wasn’t always a happy place and some adventures weren’t by choice.
#4 The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It opened my eyes to the idea that a book about history could paint an interesting, and terrifying, story. I’ve loved books about real history ever since.
I read the living crap out of Francisca Lia Block’s Dangerous Angels series, as well as many others of hers. I don’t remember the writer, but Juniper and Wise Child were favorites too. I also read Stephen King’s Carrie. Two that stuck with me were: Thirsty, I’ve unfortunately forgotten the author but it’s a pretty tragic teen vampire novel where no one gets the girl and it all just ends miserably; Uncle Vampire, which plays out like a vampire thriller until you realize it’s the story of a mentally ill girl’s sexual abuse by a family member. I’m fun at parties.
I echo the recommendation of “I Capture the Castle.”
Also, anything by Robin McKinley.
And there was this book…I think it was called “The Maze in the Castle.” I don’t remember the author. It’s a journeying book.
No one mentioned Nancy Drew books. ANYONE???
I highly recommend The Book of Flying by Keith Miller.
I read everything and loved all the books when I was young, but I wasn’t really “saved” by a book until I was at the end of my 20s and discovered the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris. That series has helped me multiple times through many rough patches. They’re not without flaws and I couldn’t even tell you what makes them so special, but they’re my ultimate literary comfort food.
Thank you, Google. Updating: “The Maze in the Heart of the Castle” by Dorothy Gilman.
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham; published in 1955. In a post apocalyptic world, there are animals, crops…and sometimes children who come into the world and are judged “not normal”. This is a story about the rules we learn as children; as well as the strength of friendships, formed by necessity, in the shadows.
The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan is pivotal for me. Those books have been my friendly companions for 20 years. I re-read the series every single year. My friend’s older brother gave me the first one when I was about 13.
During our snowed-in DVD binge, my 16-year-old daughter and I discovered The Secret Garden is on both of our best-books-ever lists. Aside from that I recommend Muriel Barbery’s Elegance of the Hedgehog. Blows me away every time.
I realize even mentioning it makes me sound like a pretentious douche, and it won’t particularly make you feel better, but god, did it make me feel profoundly understood: Infinite Jest. I’m still only scratching the surface of that on my first re-read.
Right now I’m reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, because I’m late to every party, even if it is a crying party. I find I’m doing that book hugging thing a lot where I want to just hold it against my heart and stare up at the ceiling (which is difficult with the hardback edition of Infinite Jest because that shit is like a ton of bricks, literally and figuratively! 😉 )
Please read Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, if you haven’t already feasted on such wicked weird beautiful haunting words. If you have, read again for the love of all that is unstable.
When I was 12, I needed very badly to believe in magic and kindness and being saved. I picked up a copy A Little Princess that had been on my shelf for my whole life, and finally read it. I fell in love and I felt something, I guess it was hope. I read that book every day for months. 26 years later I still read it every year or so.
Little Women was so important to me as a kid. It was like Jo March gave me permission to be me. I haven’t reread it since, I think because it did what I needed it to do for me already. I did just reread A Wrinkle in Time last year and it holds up!
“Jane Eyre” – made me believe that romance did not only exist for the beautiful – but for plain, smart girls too.
I discovered Sandman around the same time I started to develop anxiety and panic attacks. My boyfriend at the time was severely depressed and everyday I was worried about him while dealing with senior year madness in the shape of college desicions and financial aid issues. I found it in the library one day and it helped escape my problems for a bit while at the same time it helped me feel more grounded by getting myself into the plot of the story. It also introduced to Neil Gaiman’s work, which has been help me cope with big life desicions and uncertainty. The Graveyard Book helps me remember that theres so much stuff out there to experience that I shouldn’t avoid because its scary while The Ocean at the End of the Lane reminds me that it doesn’t matter if I screw up because theres no wrong way to live a life. There are others, Harry Potter helped make friend from the time they came out all the way to college, Little Women helped me realized frienships is important and Secret Lives of Great Artists helped me find my passion. Last but not least, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened reminds me that I’m not alone and more importantly it makes me happy when times are sad.
P.G. Wodehouse saved my sanity at several points in my life by making me laugh. But I always reread Anne of Green Gables every spring and a book called Island Wise by Janis Frawley Holler before every new travel adventure.
Imajica by Clive Barker. I come back to it every few years.
I’ve read “A Canticle for Leibowitz” every couple of years since reading it in high school…and that was 40 years ago!
The title is Manhatten. It’s written by the same guy who wrote The Man Who Fell To Earth (became a Bowie moovie). It’s about a robot who wants to die but can’t until there are no more humans. People take drugs out of street-side dispensers. They often set themselves on fire in a fast food restaurant. The main human character finds out why there have been no toasters since he was a little boy. Oh yeah, it’s a world that doesn’t (almost) have any books in it. A lot going on, but it leaves you feeling warm fuzzies.
I loved The Rook by Daniel O’Malley and am eagerly awaiting the sequel. Weird, supernatural, good vs evil – I definitely recommend it.
I always return to these two and tucked my copies safely away where they can’t disappear.
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
American Gods, by you know who
Guess I have a thing for magical realism. 🙂
Anything and everything by Maya Angelou. Ditto, Charles Dickens.
I sometimes refer to “Jane Eyre” as the book that ruined my life because I still want to be proposed to with a raging thunderstorm in the background. (They never get that scene right in the film versions.) Started to read it at ten. Continued to read it at twelve, with dictionary nearby. Still reading it.
Our third grade teacher read “The Secret Garden” to us and even the boys liked it. Alison Lurie nails the appeal of the book in her collection of essays “Don’t Tell The Grownups” but ever since reading that book, I’ve wanted my own walled garden and no grownups allowed!
Later, I picked up “To Kill A Mockingbird.” I was thirteen. A high school girl was shocked to see me with it and wanted to know if my parents knew I was reading it. My response “Huh? This is about an eight year old girl who was exactly like me at that age.” Yes, like many, I thought I was Scout — but I became Miss Maudie Atkinson, the neighbor lady who grows flowers and tells the children next door the flowers’s names. What I love about that book is that it gave me an idea of how to be a good grownup — I liked the way Miss Maudie told the children the truth, kindly, with humor and NO BULLSHIT whatsoever. So when K’maya asked me what compost was, I told her — it was aged cow manure.
“Up Front” by Bill Mauldin. I was sixteen, I wanted something to read, it was in the house and it wasn’t nailed shut. It is an excellent and realistic introduction to what it was like to fight in WWII. And it helped me a LOT when I dated an extremely bitter World War II veteran who once sneered at me “I took drawing lessons with Bill Mauldin — you probably don’t know who he is!” “Willie and Joe,” I replied. “Pissed off General Patton because he drew guys who hadn’t shaved. Still a prominent political cartoonist.” (shut HIM up!!!)
More recently — graphic novels. “Fun Home” and “Are You My Mother” by Alison Bechdel because I’ve had to learn to forgive my parents (particularly my mother) for a few things. “Stitches” by David Smalls — about how art can save your life and your sanity. (and boy howdy, did HE have a lot to forgive!)
Madame, you could start an entirely new blogspot on this subject alone…
Anything and everything by Maya Angelou. Ditto Charles Dickens.
As a kid it was Pippi Longstocking and later Harry Potter. In my adult life, it is still Harry Potter. And The Book Thief. And Good Omens. And basically anything Neil Gaiman has written. And then there are days when I read something old for the hundredth time and it speaks to me for the first time as something really beautiful. And that’s why books are amazing.
Sometime — start a “Movie that Saved My Life” thread. I’ll tell you the one that saved ME — “She Done Him Wrong” starring Mae West.
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. It’s a children’s book that one of my college English professors read to our class, and I was the only one in the room besides him who cried at the end because I was the only other person with a soul. For kids it’s a funny poem about a boy and his dog, for adults it’s a beautiful story about life and death and loving things.
I’m a 6th grade teacher, so I read a LOT of YA. I read the Rot and Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry this summer; they are the best zombie apocalypse books I’ve ever read. Scott Westerfeld is one of my favorite YA authors, so anything by him is good. I preferred his Midnighters series over the Uglies series. I just started the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger and it’s great so far. Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper is phenomenal.
Fahrenheit 451 was a profound one for me. I could not fathom words being taken away. They are such a huge part of my life, it would be like losing part of my soul. The book both fascinated and horrified me.
I love reading so much! Let’s see… In my early 20s, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffinegger made huge impressions on me. They made me (a mega-introvert with a super right-wing Christian background and a love of the outdoors and everyday magic) feel understood. More recently, I’ve been touched by The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, Jesus Land by Julia Sheeres, Leaving Time and The Storyteller (both by Jodi Picoult), The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout, Sharp by David Fitzpatrick, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway, and OMG I CAN’T STOP AND ALSO WOW I HAVE SPENT A LOT OF MONEY ON BOOKS.
OH! And I recently read an awesome thriller by Matthew Fitzsimmons called The Short Drop.
I’ll stop now. Really.
I just started Sandman a couple of years ago. I have had to pace myself because they affect me so profoundly.
When I was a kid, I read the three Jean Auel books that had been written at the time (don’t get me started on the ones that came later. Just don’t.) over and over and over. And wept for the underdog and cheered for the outcast who became something amazing.
I, too, loved Alice in Wonderland. I had a beautiful boxed set that a patient Antiques Roadshow appraiser informed me a couple of years ago were worth nothing on the market (insert sad trombone here) but are priceless to me. I didn’t enjoy Through the Looking Glass as much, but I loved AiW.
The Phantom Tollbooth was another. It’s funny that I thought I didn’t like fantasy, but many of my favorites from childhood were just that. For realistic fiction – Domina by Barbara Wood, The Dollmaker, The Jungle.
The Far Pavilions is another book I still read over and over again. I used to read The Mists of Avalon for comfort until I learned what a monster Marion Zimmer Bradley is. Now it’s not allowed in my house.
Currently, my favorite authors are Chris Holm (his Collector series is top notch!), Jim Butcher (because of course Jim Butcher), Justin Robinson (City of Devils sequel, please) , and Olivia R. Burton (she’s new on the scene, but Mixed Feelings is wonderful).
And of course, Harry Potter. It wasn’t written until I was a married adult with a house, husband, and kid, but it was my first real evidence that I don’t actually have to grow up. I am grateful. If I knew html, I’d treat you to a photo of myself as Professor Trelawney. Award-winning, yes I am.
S. A. Hunt’s ‘Malus Domestica’ if fricken’ awesome. Anything by Alex Bledsoe.
I love to read. There are so many books that have made an impact on my life. I have read everything by Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery. I somehow even talked my parents into a trip to Prince Edward Island as a kid so I could see where Anne of Green Gables was set. But the books that I go back to again and again are the President’s Daughter series. When I first read the books it was a trilogy. A few years ago I went to find the books for a friend’s daughter and discovered they had added a fourth book. Since my original copies were so worn (but still on my shelves) I bought a new set of the four books. The President in the series is a woman and the story is told from her daughter’s perspective. I still love them.
I also love that I have my mom’s original Nancy Drew & Cherry Ames books. I carry a list in my car, so that when I find a used bookstore with them, I can buy the ones missing from my collection.
Robin McKinley – the hero and the crown, and dragon haven are my favs but all are good. Anne McCaffrey’s YA trilogy. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Sharing Knife. Patricia Wrede’s frontier magic.
I loved the Arthur Ransom books about the Swallows and Amazons, and every Rosemary Sutcliffe I could get my hands on. They were hard to find here, so Granny had to mail them from Scotland. Her suitcases always had books in them when she visited.
Juniper and Wise Child by Monica Furlong. More medieval style mystery, witchery, both good and evil. Colman is supposed to be part of the series but it was published after Monica Furlong’s death. I personally don’t think it fits.
Could we do this two times next time? One for recommendations for pre-teens and the other for recommendations for grown-ups? And then maybe separate by fantasy/scifi and other? I find myself returning to posts like these when I’m looking for suggestions. For 11-year olds, Anne of Green Gables, Black Beauty and Misty of Chincoteague and other horse books, Nancy Drew (the old ones), Little Women, Judy Blume, Ray Bradbury. (Obviously I’m old-fashioned!) When I was 11 back in 1959, the librarian let me check out The Diary of Anne Frank (after calling my parents for permission). I also read scandalous stuff off of my parents’ shelves, including Peyton Place, Marjorie Morningstar, and things by Arthur Hailey. Mostly with a flashlight under my blanket at night. Also scared myself crazy with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Now I’m going back to read the rest of the comments~
“A Wrinkle in Time”…wow, it brings back memories. I was 4th grade I think. Science fiction was such a mind opener. I was probably an avid reader before that, but I don’t remember any particular books until that one.
Not trying to be a kiss-@ss or anything, but this seems like a good time to tell you that your books saved me…They both made me feel less alone and know that there are others like me. Thank you so much!
I am trying to get my son the read the Phantom Tollbooth because I loved it when I was a kid. He is a graphic novel kind of kid though, so we recently found (and he loves) the Artimus Fowl series (and they have both chapter books and graphic novels, yay!)
I LOVE THAT BOOK BAG!!!!!!!
Think it was S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders that was a big one for me.
Books I read as a child and teenager that made a huge impact in my life were A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, a book no one else has ever heard of called Ronnie and Rosie, and Verses That Hurt.
“Love, Stargirl” by Jerry Spinelli is a great YA book – it’s one very very very long letter. It’s a sequel, but you don’t need to read the original to enjoy it.
I also love almost everything Caroline B. Cooney has every written (another YA author). My favorite of her books is “Both Sides of Time.” It is a fantasy, romance, mystery, historical fiction – something for everyone!
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I was leaving high school when I read it. It set wheels in motion in my head and mirrored a lot of my journey to self-acceptance. There are so many amazing books that have made their mark on me and I devour regularly, but that one has an almost religious place on my bookshelf. I very rarely read it, but when I do, it’s because I need to be reminded why it’s important to be yourself, no matter how weird people think you are.
I recommend Discworld and To Kill a Mockingbird, though it pains me to think of how many books I am leaving out because they weren’t off the top of my head.
I’m a big fan of Jasper Fforde. I found him by accident — his first book in hardback on a bargain book rack — but his subjects remind me that it’s okay for me to be weirdly into literature and to think about what it would be like if these characters who speak to me over and over were real.
I’m rereading Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron right now. It’s more brilliant than I remember.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Perhaps not for her age yet, but for getting lost in another world, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
One of my very first favorite books was King Of The Wind, by Marguerite Henry. I know she’s fallen out of fashion today, but her stories are wonderful, and that one’s my favorite.
I’m reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar again. First time I read it was almost 11 years ago. I so understood everything Esther was feeling that it scared me a little. But not. More like feeling sorry that her suicide attempt failed.
I picks it up again 2 nights ago. I didn’t remember all the detail. I still feel ambivalent about staying alive, to a degree, but I’m not looking actively to got off the ride, so to speak. It took this long to pick it up again because I was scared. Scared that if see myself to much in it, scared knowing Sylvia Plath checked out at 30, scared that I would relate too much. Again. But I’ve found myself feeling nothing so much as sorrow and empathy for Esther this time around. Her kind of life is too hard.
I discovered Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series when I was about 14, and it had been the first time I discovered fantasy with a female protagonist who was somewhat like me (and she could talk with her cat, which I wished I could do). Now that I’m reading Tamora Pierce, I wish I’d discovered her when I was younger, but I’m glad I’ve found her now. And I have to say, Ms. Marvel is the closest to my own upbringing I’ve found, and even though it took until nearly 30 for me to find her, I’m so excited that a new generation of nerdy girls will find such a fun fictional protagonist to identify with.
Oh, my. I’m even de-lurking for this. Soooo many books. Books that changed me & became part of me at different times for different reasons:
-The Narnia Chronicles, and everything by Roald Dahl, as a kid
-A Wrinkle In Time, as a tween
-Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, as a teenager.
-The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean. Such a different book for me (and a true story), but what a huge impact–that even now I’m not sure I can fully explain.
-definitely the Harry Potter books–as an adult, they reminded me of the magic I had discovered in the Narnia books.
– The J.D. Robb Eve Dallas/Roarke series was, is and continues to be a touchstone.
-Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie
-The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
-Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder
-Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet
This is such a partial list, but they’re among the first to come to mind. So excited for all of the books listed in the comments! So many to read, and to re-read!
The Wizard of Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin for me in 4th-6th grade. The power of naming things-and the idea of defining and naming something giving you power over it-has stayed with me this whole time. Defining overwhelming sensations, calling out depression, anxiety, and panic attacks for what they are and not just a confusing mass of sensations allows me to take action in the moment and for the long term.
I’m always so comforted when you talk about your love for Bradbury, Gaiman (esp. Sandman), etc., because as a 42 year old teacher, mom, suburban dweller, I don’t meet a lot of our kind in my day to day. And when I mention my loves, the ones that saved me that also saved you, I either get blank looks or raised eyebrows. It’s exhausting. Thanks for getting it. BTW, met Alan Cumming at a wedding last weekend. Are you a fan or did I miss the mark on that guess?
For me as a child it was Lord of the Flies then as a teen I would say The Outsiders. For a few years I’ve been trying to get my 12 yo dd to read since I’m such a book lover, to no avail except just recently . She’s a cat lover/maybe future crazy cat lady and she is obsessed with Warrior Cats books, which based on her description, seem like kind of a Watership Down but with cats. My favorite book in the last decade or so has been Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.
I know it’s been said but Code Name Verity is very good. I loved the Anne of Green Gables series as a kid. Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya sisterhood is one of my favorites. Anything by Carl Hiaasen when I’m feeling down. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I just recently discovered the graphic novel versions of the Artemis Fowl books. They are very, very well done. I read the books to my son when he was Hailey’s age and we loved them. The graphic novels somehow capture my distinct visions on how the books’ fairyland looks and feels. I highly recommend them.
And I second the recommendation of Code Name Verity. It’s a wonderful, strong-girl-centered YA novel that you will love.
let’s pretend it didn’t happen and furiously happy. the bell jar (but do NOT recommend for people going through a tough time. the sheltering sky. cry the beloved country. i don’t know how to narrow it down. i love to read. i haven’t read the sandman books though. doesn’t it start with graphic novels?
As a kid any Judy Bloom book as a teenager Stephen King as an adult the double bind by Chris Bohjalian really suprised me and of course furiously happy because there was someone who understood me
Forever and always Watership Down. Hazel-Rah rules!
A Wrinkle in Time was the beginning for me. Worlds beyond the world we live in? A female main character who is flawed and kind of obnoxious, but in the end pulls it together to get the job done? I’m sold. The Anne of Green Gables series and A Little Princess are also firmly in my comfort reading category, as well as just about anything by Terry Pratchett.
I have to second a couple of the less common choices- Mushroom Planet (for younger readers) and sequels and Catch-22.. After you read Catch-22, read the much earlier Good Soldier Schweik to see where the idea came from. These days my favorites are anything by either your pal Chris Moore or the late Kage Baker.. I was a devoted Jack Vance fan from the 50’s until his death. His Lyonesse Trilogy is one of the finest fantasies of all time. Nick
Watership Down. Not just because of the rabbits. Could have been wombats, ants or elephants. I think I read that when I was about 12 or 13. And Ray Bradbury, particularly The Halloween Tree (which I try to read every year before Halloween). The Once and Future King, which started me on my Arthurian phase. When I was older I discovered Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time series. Many of Powell’s characters have reminded me of my own friends and acquaintainces.
All of the Lucy Maud Montgomery books (all the Anne books, the Emily books and the Story Girl) plus all of Edward Eager’s Magic books ( Magic by the Lake, Half Magic, Knight’s Castle, Magic or Not, Seven Day Magic, The Thyme Garden) plus the Enid Blyton “Adventure”series (the Island, the Sea, the Circus, the Ship, the Castle, the Mountain, the River……of Adventure. Just the beginning for me books that saved my life.
Anything by Barbara Kingsolver. I love her.
Oh! The Once and Future King! Me too!
When I was a sad and lonely ten year old trying to process my parent’s divorce, I was sent to live with my grandmother who was very like Marilla in Anne of Green Gables. At the same time, I discovered Anne of Green Gables and all the L.M. Montgomery books. Anne has saved my life on more than one occasion. Ever since then (I’m 61 years old) when I’ve needed her, I ask “What would Anne do?” and she never has let me down. When I changed my name, I added an “e” to Ann so I could be also be Anne. Every year I taught (many, many) I introduced Anne of GG to my students. There have been so many books that have made a difference in my life. Anne was the first really BIG one.
The Secret Garden and A Little Princess both touched my heart and still do. Harry Potter mixed all my favorite fantasy elements together and taught me that friendship and love are magic.. A large tome full of myths and fairy tales from around the world showed me that there was a world outside my little town. Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series made me laugh and made me think.
My girl (13) loves A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. She has decided that she would be Ravenclaw if her Hogwarts letter gets to her. She wants to learn archery like Katniss in case she ever needs to protect her little sister. She adds Pratchett-esque footnotes to her reports for school and, though her student has asked me to tell her to stop, I never will.
I finished Alice By Christina Henry and am so said the second book is not out till July. I am currently reading her Dark Wings series. There is something about her that is hitting the spot right now foe me.
I have a question. One of the books that had a huge impact on my life was Mists of Avalon. It introduced me to the world of Goddesses and all sorts of other things. Several years ago, I learned the awful truth about Marion Zimmerman and her husband’s problem with young boys. So here is my question: Can you separate the beauty of the book from the repugnance of the author? Can I, in good conscience, still give copies of Mists of Avalon away? This has bothered me a great deal.
Neuromancer by William Gibson – its what i wanted the future to be, and even though it was the birth of cyberspace, I’ve read it at least once a year every year since, and it still holds up.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom is one that has stayed with me for years. It really taught me that we are all connected in ways we don’t even realize.
My favorite is still The Time Traveler’s Wife, but admittedly, it always makes me cry even when I re-read it knowing what’s coming. But as far as “life-changing” goes? I offer you a movie instead of a book and Hailey would enjoy it too. Last time I looked it was still on You-tube, full length. The Point. Totally find the version narrated by Ringo Starr. It’s absolutely loaded with morals and double-meanings. It was on TV , once, over 40 years ago. The story of Oblio, the boy without a point, still haunts me. The music from it was the first full length ALBUM I ever bought. Before that I only bought singles. I still have that album although somebody stole it’s accompanying comic book many years ago. I can still sing every word from the song “Think About Your Troubles.”
I second “A prayer for Owen Meany” and add “The world according to garp” and “the cider house rules” by John Irving. Also you and your daughter should read Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy – it really made me think, in the best way!!
In addition to many of the above recommendations (Anne of Green Gables; Harry Potter; Dark Materials trilogy; Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books), I also would suggest:
The original Nancy Drew series
Anything by Welwyn Wilton Katz
The Book of the Sword series by Diana L.
The Virals series by Kathy Reichs
The Shadow of Hawthorne Bay, Double Spell and The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn
The Druids Tune by O.R. Melling
The Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffery (though by 11 I was reading all of her books from all of her series)
The Xanth series by Piers Anthony
Try Shadows by Robin McKinley, which is geared towards a younger audience. All of her books are amazing (amazing!) but some of the subject matter is difficult (Deerskin…)
Kelley Armstrong also has some really great books for younger readers in her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies
Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha books are great, as is Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons and its sequals.
Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina was wonderful, though Shadow Scale wasn’t as fulfilling for me.
Swan Song by Robert MacCammon is one I read to shreds in high school.
Finally, I started reading Guy Gavriel Kay when I was 16. Tigana was one of the few English books I brought with me on an exchange to Germany and I read it at least six times in three months. It fostered a lifetime love of his writing… I’ve read his books, particularly his earlier books, to pages held together with elastic bands…
Books have always been a life raft for me – a source of both rescue and escape. I see the same is true for everyone here. Thank you.
I have had so many favorite books and authors over the years that I can’t pin down a single genre, much less author or book — but when I was 8 or 9 my very favorite book was “Mandy,” written by the famous Julie Andrews for her daughter. I also loved “The Secret Garden”. By the time I was a teenager I was 100% addicted to Harlequin romances, and even had a subscription. It’s as if I was addicted to them. It was terrible. Don’t let her near Harlequin, if they even still exist. Anything but that. Thankfully, I was able to break up with Harlequin after a year or two; boy oh boy was that ever an abusive relationship, but that’s what you get for falling in love with a clown servant.
Holy crap I forgot to mention in my comment-Diary of Anne Frank which I read in Jr. High, then reread several times in my teen years. How do you forget Diary of Anne Frank….
The Hitchhiker’s Guide series, Watership Down, The Joy Luck Club, Elfquest, The Raven Ring by Patricia Wrede (all-time favorite: a warrior woman finds herself in danger of a magical nature, and totally lacks the cultural framework to understand the concepts of “dashing prince” and “damsel in distress” so she spends a number of scenes irritated and confused by the theoretical hero while she handles the plot on her own)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide series, Watership Down, The Joy Luck Club, Elfquest, The Raven Ring by Patricia Wrede (all-time favorite: a warrior woman finds herself in danger of a magical nature, and totally lacks the cultural framework to understand the concepts of “dashing prince” and “damsel in distress” so she spends a number of scenes irritated and confused by the theoretical hero while she handles the plot on her own)
the book that made the biggest impression on me in my youth was the giving tree.
A Strong and Sudden Thaw by R.W. Day
oh! and the little prince.
“Celia Garth” by Gwen Bristow. It’s the story of a young seamstress who ends up working as a spy for the Americans during the Revolution. It’s historical fiction but when I read it at 13 or 14 it was the first book I ever read that confirmed my belief that women HAD to have had more of a role in history than just raising children & washing socks.
Hmm Dragonsong by Anne McCaffery when I was about 10. About a lonely, misunderstood girl and her pet miniature dragons. It felt like a secret when I found that book.
The first Terry Pratchett book I read which my mom picked up in a book store on a road trip and which everyone in my family devoured and bonded over. I was early teens then…
American Gods when I was 17 and then again 10 years later which made me feel contemplative and strange.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened which made me laugh and got me through the deepest depression of my life and kept me going and let me embrace my weird.
There are many more. Lord of the Rings which I first read completely when my now husband and I first became a couple sand fell in love and which in a way our marriage was built. (He introduced me to LOTR and I got him into Pratchett) Books are central to my life. It’s why I’m so happy to share that with my kid 🙂
In many ways, your books are the books that saved me recently. Before that, I would say Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, anything by Marian Keyes, Where the Heart Is.
Forever by Judy Blume
Patrick Rothfuss sent me Kvothe and a way to escape my life when I had no other way out. He created a beautiful world for me to sink into and I truly believe his writing is one of the reasons I handled my illness as well as I did. His books are amazing.
The Little Prince. I read in French class as a teenager. It is, at its core, in intensely positive and introspective book. It taught me the importance of looking beyond myself to understand the world. Plus the tone was so soothing to my turbulent teenage soul.
I am a huge fan of Margaret Atwood – she is a fantastic dystopian (and Canadian, I might add) writer. I first recommend reading “The Handmaid’s Tale”, then the “Madd Addam” trilogy, then her latest one, “The Heart Goes Last”.
So glad to see so many of my favorites mentioned, even some of the more obscure ones. But I was very surprised no one mentioned The Book Thief. It is considered YA but (after my daughter couldn’t stop reading it and crying about it) I loved it too. My 68 year old mother also thanked me for the recommendation. At 11 I loved Lois Duncan and Agatha Christie. My daughter loved Sarah Dessen all through her teens, but preread them. Some of them have more explicit themes but really seem to resonate with teen girls today.
Anything by Haven Kimmel, starting with “A Girl Named Zippy” and going through “The Used World” on to the rest.
the fountainhead. read it at 16 and I have spent my life being Dominque. have read it several times since. best story ever. it will change your life.
Jane Eyre saved my life when I was eight. I have a book blog and review 3 to 5 books a week for children, young adults, and adults.
Read A Man Called Ove if you haven’t read it yet. It is amazing – was my favorite read for 2015.
My favorite at 11 was actually the third book in the Wrinkle in Time series, A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I also loved (still love) The Young Unicorns and pretty much all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books.
The other YA series I loved, which I plan to get and reread soon, is The Dark Is Rising Series by Susan Cooper. So, so good.
The Outlander Series…all 8 of them. Seriously.
My favorite book when I was Hailey’s age was “Harriet the Spy.” It spoke to my outsiderness, and it was a completely accurate reflection of how mean kids can be. But Harriet was smart, smart, smart, and I loved her. And for full-on magic, you can’t do much better than “The Secret Garden.”
Imajica by Clive Barker. Oh my goodness. It was the most thrilling beautiful, fucked up book. Fantasy and sci fi and emotional minefield and the characters were elaborate. I didn’t realize end first time I read it that the main character I lived was a mirror for the bipolar I didn’t even know I had yet…
River God by Wilbur Smith, Wool (and entire series) by Hugh Howey, Gone Girl (cause wow those characters are messed up).
I grew up reading and rereading the Emily trilogy by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Like her, I was a writer, and I was also raised in a deeply religious community where women were seriously repressed (spoiler: I escaped when I came of age), so it was easier for me to connect with females in the early 1900’s than my contemporaries. Emily Byrd Starr is still probably the best friend I’ve ever had.
I adore almost anything by Terry Pratchett, but his Tiffany Aching series is one of my favorites. Start with “Wee Free Men” and go from there 🙂
Black Beauty – It just spoke to me about people and how they behave. I’ve been rereading it since I was 11 or 12 years old. I have multiple copies, including a second edition my husband found and gifted me. Plus I have it on my iphone now (I used to carry around a paperback all the time, and though I still prefer that I do have more room in my handbag now!).
“A Girl Named Zippy” by Haven Kimmel and the sequel ‘She Got Up Off The Couch’ will make you laugh. I always reread them if I want a boost and better yet, the audiobooks are read by the author and her voice is amazingly beautiful.
I was always drawn to the books with girls who were the lead character–Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, Judy Blume (I couldn’t have survived adolescence without them), Madeleine L’Engle (esp. A Swiftly Tilting Planet), To Kill A Mockingbird, and the now lost 1980’s Scholastic after school specIal-esque paperbacks (like Goodbye, Jellybean and You Can Get There By Candlelight). The school book fairs were my favorite part of the year.
Hands down The Giver by Lois Lowry, I only read it last year or the year before but it is my absolute favorite book. I remember reading Number the Stars by her in fourth grade and enjoying that one and then finding out she had written a book called The Giver but when I heard the plot I decided to pass on it. While part of me wishes I had read it back then most of me is glad I waited; I do not think I would have loved it as much back then.
A book from my childhood that I remember loving was Lyddie by Katherine Paterson about a girl working in one of the mills during the industrial revolution. I’m not sure what it was about this book that made me love it so much but I think it is the only book I have ever read multiple times though I haven’t read it in many, many years.
If you want to read something that will make you smile, Anne of Green Gables will do it. I skipped it as a child – I just didn’t think I’d like it. I read it in University for a children’s lit course and fell in love. My copy has been highlighted and underlined and I’ve folded over many of the pages. I always do that for special pages in books I read. (I’ve done the same with your books ☺️.)
I read it through a few times with my son when he was small. He loved it too. It’s a great story to read together. I think I need to read it again!
Living in the remote Far North, I learned to read very young and read so many books I can’t remember most of them. However, a few I’ll never forget are: The Incredible Journey (Sheila Burnford); Beautiful Joe, an 1893 book (Marshall Saunders) that, perhaps for the first time, made people aware of animal cruelty; Little Women (Louisa May Alcott); Just So Stories (Rudyard Kipling); and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith).
When not reading the crime novels that I’m addicted to, I tend to gravitate towards novels that show the human spirit and how people deal with their difficulties and rise above them (of course your books are among them!). Two of Lisa Genova’s novels are high on my list: Inside the O’Briens (Huntington’s) and Left Neglected (Left Neglect brain disorder). In addition, I was totally caught up in A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Ishmael Beah), and A House in the Sky (Amanda Lindhout), recounting her abduction in Somalia. Oh, and The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland (Jim DeFede)… a wonderful true story about a beautiful province and the incredible people who saved the day(s).
Never to be forgotten: Green Darkness (Anya Seton), maybe one of the first novels about time travel; Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte); Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte); and Cancer Ward (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn). I really enjoyed The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic (Emily Croy Barker), which wasn’t all that popular, and am impatiently waiting for the follow-up.
I am a 4th grade teacher and an avid reader myself. Recommended by me for students are:
The BFG…Roald Dahl, Black Stallion, Savvy, Secret Garden, anything by Andrew Clements.
My partial list: P.D. James and Louise Penny mysteries, read ALL Agatha Christie, and Rebecca. My latest obsession…your books!
There are too many to list.
Also, #shamelessplug … you could check my book blog if you’re looking for things to read 🙂 http://booksithinkyoushouldread.blogspot.com.
As a pre-teen, Anastasia, Again by Lois Lowry arrived at the perfect time (we were moving house and I had to change schools for the first time ever). As a teenager, anything by Kurt Vonnegut showed me what power words on a page could have. Timequake did the same for me as an adult; the simple idea of the need for extended families stays with me still.
For me The Secret Garden had a huge impact. I still have an old hardback copy I found at a yard sale when I was 10. It goes with me wherever I move. Also American Gods (Neil Gaiman), I’ve done the drive. I have so many books I love it’s hard to pick.
Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
1984 by George Orwell
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
All the Light We Can Not See by Anthony Doerr
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ozawa
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
The Kronos Interference by Edward Miller
Maus, by art spiegelman. The son of 2 holocaust survivors depicts his story and his parents via a serious of graphic novels depicting Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. Good novels. Seriously stuck with me.
One of my favorite authors when I was a little younger was Sarah Dessen, specifically “The Truth About Forever” and “This Lullaby”. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is one of the only books I’ve highlighted and read more than Harry Potter because each time there was a part that struck a chord or allowed me to gain perspective on life and high school at the time. The Harry Potter Series is my security blanket. I have two copies of the series and the illustrated version. I feel it is a series with layers and themes that anyone can relate to. I still recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it and that they shouldn’t be judged on the movies. As an “adult”, it would be Amy Phoeler’s “Yes Please”, the audio version helped me work through a terrible work situation and just what I should and shouldn’t take as a woman and a person. Then there was a book that I happened to pick up while waiting on my anxiety and depression meds in Target…your book “Furiously Happy”. When I found your book I was in an episode and having feelings about life and myself that didn’t make sense to any “sane” person , but your book had me laughing and crying and saying “that’s exactly how I feel” and you were able to capture and explain how parts of my life have been for the past 10 years. I have recommended your book to literally everyone that I know has or is dealing with an inner demon or has a close relationship with someone who has one.
“Nimona” and “Lumberjanes” are both fantastic and age-appropriate for all audiences
Luis Alberto Urrea…. Hummingbird’s Daughter or Into the Beautiful North. Also, anything by Hillary Mantel but especially Wolf Hall.
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Go Canada!
(And The Gunslinger by Stephen King.)
Oh yeah…Holes, by Louis Sachar!
Anything by Jacqueline Cary – the Kushiel series was amazing – I have them all in hardcover and re-read about every other year…
ocularnervosa at 115 – Your comment on Treasure Island is the most perfect description of reading a book I’ve seen.
Looks like lots of my go-to books have already been listed. Secret Garden, Little Princess, Phantom Tollbooth – all things Dahl, Gaiman, Barker, and Pratchett.
It’s less known, but there are 12 additional Oz books written by L Frank Baum (and even more after written by Ruth Plumly Thompson, John R Neill (most amazing art nouveau illustrator of the additional 12 by Baum) and others that I’m still collecting). They are wonderful (and most, I think, much better than the original), and I cherish all of them. If you’ve ever seen Return to Oz (much darker movie – with the princess who changes heads) it’s a compilation of parts of a few of the other books (the insane asylum was made up for the movie).
Loved Nancy Drew, The Giver, Where the Red Fern Grows, Harry Potter, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
I remember how disappointed I was when my daughter was younger (she is 18 now) and she had absolutely no interest in Anne of Green Gables series. I have been an avid reader since I was 4 and could read on my own. So books have been a constant companion. One of my most fond reading memories though was when we read Fall of the House of Usher at the beginning of 7th Grade and I went to my teacher and said MORE! I need more books like this. So I went and read all of Poe’s published works and, then LeFanu and then I went and read Lovecraft all by the end of 7th grade.
I work in a public library now in the children’s section and am surrounded by books. Part of my job is to do readers advisory for children and/or their parents who are looking for something to read. I also run the book club for 9-12 year olds our library has, so my list of book recommendations from classic to current for an 11 year old is vast and just depends on the 11 year old. Personally I can talk about books until my face turns blue and want to talk about them more even after that. However, I know some people just don’t find the joy of reading. Be glad that you and Hailey both enjoy reading, and even if you don’t like the same books you do have the love of reading in common.
As a side note A Wrinkle in Time has a graphic novel edition and so does The Graveyard Book. Both count as great books in both formats in my opinion. The Graveyard Book is one of the arsenal I pull out when kids or parents of tweens come looking for a fantastic spooky read. If she likes spooky I’d suggest Doll Bones by Holly Black. I could go on for a LONG time talking about books, but the fun is in the reading and figuring out what you like.
The Little House on The Prairie series and Charlotte’s Web. The Cay. Bridge To Terabithia. Tales of A 4th Grade Nothing, Superfudge. I learned about resilience, the importance of family, never giving up, and what friendship should be like. For my children, they weren’t so interested. I guess growing up in the decade I did out in the country in the Midwest was a different launching pad where those books his home. All wasn’t lost, though, we discovered together the Harry Potter series and the Narnia Chronicles. Even the Hunger Games Trilogy. . Same lessons. I’m very blessed that both my children have a love of reading. Additionally, it’s the Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Sons, and The Shack that have stood out. Any Bill Bryson books too – love his African Diary!
The book I look for over and over but have yet to find is Cobbler’s Knob by Eleanore M. Jewett.
I might eventually find it and read it again and wonder “what was I thinking?”, but I borrowed this book over and over from the public library when I was young (can’t remember for sure, but am guessing ages 8-12). At the time I knew it’s exact location in the library- exact section, shelf, how far it usually was in the row depending on how many books were out, which sadly, never seemed to change much.
I will never give up my search until I can feel it in my hands again and even if it somehow sucks, I will still appreciate the joy it once brought me!
Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? It is delightful! And I love Jonathon Strange and Dr Norrell so much as well (magic!).
As a child it was Anne of Green Gables and The Sweet Valley Twins (quite a disparity now that I think about it).
Illusions by Richard Bach. I’ve read it over and over. I hope my now 4 year old will read it when she’s older and love it as much as I do.
Um – my personal opinion is, if they are old enough to ask about reading a book, they are old enough to read it. They’ll just sneak it in any case if they are smart kids. Let her read Sandman.
Holy cow, so many great books in these comments. About to go fill up my Amazon wish list like a library.
I love, love, love Charles DeLint. He writes urban fantasy and his n.books make me laugh and cry and FEEL. I always tell people to start with Dreams Underfoot which is a collection of short stories. His words inspire me to be a better me. And they inspire me to create things with other people. He also has a lovely young adult series going. Oh and your daughter might like The Cats of Tanglewood Forest!
P.s. If you are a bad tablet typist and you accidentally leave the “t” off of the word things it autocorrects to Hingis. Who knew? (Also, what is Hingis?)
My early books: Heidi by Spyri, The Dark is Rising series by Cooper, Janet Lennon at Camp Calamity by Meyers. Teen books: St. Camber of Culdi series by Kurtz, Judy Blum teen books, Anne McCaffery books. More recently: Outlander series, Neverwhere by Gaimann, Harry Potter series (over and over)
Strangely, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.
i LOVED The Ghost of Opalina by Peggy Bacon. i was the only kid in my school who checked it out, and i checked it out every time i could. hmmm…that may be why i was the only one who read it – because i kept it checked out all the time. owell. i look for it all the time, but i can’t afford it because it’s out of print and even the old school library copies are too much for me to afford. i hope someone reads this book, though. it’s such a beautiful dream.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all time favorite books. The Good Earth is also a book that touched me as a pre-teen, I think because it was one of the first “grown-up” literature books I read and the more times I read it over the years the more I understood the book. There are so many.
If you and your daughter have not read Wonder, I highly recommend it. It puts feelings and emotions about dealing with uncomfortable and awkward interactions with someone who is different into words in a way that not many authors can.
I would recommend The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen if you haven’t already read it. It has been out a few years but it is an amazing and quirky book that is well worth your time.
Bunnicula was first. A Wrinkle in Time was second. Then came middle school, which was a dark, horrible time of nothing. Then came Sandman.
Delilah’s Mountain by Gloria Jahoda. Sadly, it’s out of print. But a library might have it. Favorite book of all time.
Also loved, at an early age:
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Katherine by Anya Seton
Weaveworld by Clive Barker. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Tintin by Herge. Clan of the Cave Bear (and the follow ups). The Red Tent. Handmaids Tale. Everything written by Iain Banks. Mary Poppins.
“Hatters Castle”. Read it at 12 and it still sticks with me. I’m now 65.
Your books changed my life. They taught me to celebrate my crazy. Thank you.
I love the Sandman series. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. I love Good Omens, and I’m disappointed that Terry Gilliam decided not to make the movie.
Mists of Avalon got me through high school in a small Baptist East Texas town.
My daughter loved the Divergent book series but hated the movies. She wants me to wear all grey because she thinks I belong on Abnegation .
The Wind in the Willows took me to another world and I remember how wonderfully happy I felt there!! I think it was the first time I realized that there was an amazing portal I could walk thru any time I wanted. ❤️
Anne of Green Gables and Christy are my two.
The first issue of Sandman came out towards the end of my first semester of college, which was exactly the right time for me to start reading it. I think the closest that a comic or graphic novel has come to affecting me like that series is Jamie McKelvie & Kieron Gillen with “Phonogram: The Singles Club” and then again with their “The Wicked & The Divine”.
As far as straight prose, Charles de Lint’s books (not just the Newford ones, but the Santo del Vado Viejo ones and The Little Country, as well), Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody mysteries got me through some really rough times in law school and in the two decades since. Also Arthur C. Clarke’s Green Shadows, White Whale; the first two books in Lev Grossman’s Magicians series; Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale; Pamela Dean’s “Tam Lin”; Alan Gordon’s Fools’ Guild mystery series; and Patti Smith’s Just Kids.
Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles changed me. Taran, the Pig-Keeper, Eilonwy, Gurgi with his “crunchings and munchings”…these books are just breathtakingly good. I read them to my kids as bedtime stories, and they both still ask for them.
And Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series–I discovered it in 7th grade and read and re-read it. Think Narnia meets Arthurian legend. This series was my Harry Potter before HP came along.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman led us to the Graveyard Book, which we loved, and then discovered the audiobooks narrated by him as well. And speaking of audiobooks, the Peter and the Starcatchers series written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and narrated by Jim Dale is phenomenal–on a recent road trips, the whole family got hooked!
Finally, another shout out to Robin McKinley–The Hero and the Crown and the Blue Sword blew me away, but I love everything she’s done.
I still love Possession by AS Byatt and Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett. I found that the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King, the Maisie Donna series by Jacqueline Winspear and the Hunger Games series all came to me when I was dealing with PTSD and trying to make a new life for myself. It was so comforting to have these strong heroines helping me along.
Oh, and the Wee Free Men (in fact, the entire Tiffany Aching series) by Terry Pratchett. These on audio are just wonderful–another roadtrip discovery that the entire family loved. Plus, Tiffany is a fantastic role model!
‘Calvin an Hobbes’ by Bill Watterson
‘Loving without losing your self’ by Bonnie Kreps
‘Goddesses in everywoman’ and ‘Gods in everyman’ by Jean Shinoda Bolen
‘ That’s not what I meant!’ and ‘You just don’t understand’ by Deborah Tannen
The first books that saved me were by Judy Blume. There have been so many over the years since that I can’t even begin to list them. My kids started loving reading with Harry Potter, and my daughter went on to the Maximum Ride series, Twilight and Divergent. My son went down the Sandman Slim, The Dresden Files, The Iron Druid. Their books, in turn, ended up in my hands and began my affair with Urban Fantasy. I am anxiously awaiting the latest Iron Druid Chronicle (#8) called Staked that comes out this Tuesday!!! I have no money for books right now, but I am hopeful that it will work out that I can convince someone else to buy it and then let me borrow it…
Well, I just finished “Furiously Happy” this weekend and I have to say that it changed the way I think about myself and my thirty year long manner of living with depression in such a positive way. And it gave me solid ground to turn to on the worst days (those pages are already bookmarked), a promise that I can pick it back up and find comfort. So that is why it will stay on top of the book pile. I thank you with all of my heart, Jenny.
I am so excited to go back and look over this list. My memory is pretty wonky (yay, meds!) so there have been quite a few titles that I have already seen that have elicited a “Yessss” (oh my gosh, “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” is why I fell in love with reading). But I would say that for me, especially when I was an adolescent and young adult, the Vampire Lestat trilogy by Anne RIce was hugely important. I found refuge in the state of complete “otherness” which echoed so much how I felt at the time…
Anne of Green Gables
Little House on the Prarie
Among the Hidden (I had to sneak it and read it because my mother thought it was too grown up for my third grade self… She was probably right)
All the Sherlock Holmes stories
But who really got me into a lifelong love of fantasy was Tamora Pierce. Started with Alanna and read every single book she had written then read them again. Engaging female heroines that are going against the grain and adding in magic and a medieval setting and mythical creatures and… Just wonderful. Now I need to go buy all of the books I don’t own (libraries were my friend) because now I want to read them again just thinking about them.
So many books… The big ones for me are the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop. Those remind me that there IS an end to a bad period in my life and even if it takes a long tim, it will arrive. They also give me hope that someday I might find a partner for my life who has waited as long as I have to find their wished for, longed for, and always missed, other half.
The Lost Queen of Egypt (good luck. It’s been out of print since a bazillion years, no libraries have copies anymore, and buying a copy is several hundred dollars at best.). This one was one of the books that rekindled my love and fascination with ancient cultures and Egypt in particular. And reminds me that no matter what history says, there were other stories for that same time (every story has two or more sides.)
Narnia was also a big love of mind, except for when the religious doctor one overwhelmed everything else right at the end of the last book… So I ignore that bit. 🙂
Hyperspace be Michio Kaku is a love. It takes quantum mechanics and string theory and makes it mostly understandable to a lay person. It is a hard read because the subject is so complex, but I love it.
I’ve collected various copies of both Dracula and Sherlock Holmes since I was early teens. Both were things I read over and over. They were comforting and the voices of old friends. I still collect them, and even have both as audiobooks for when I don’t feel well. Then I can have someone read me a book and it doesn’t matter if I fall asleep. I KNOW the story.
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder was a book that changed my life as a teenager, because it got me interested in philosophy.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli was another one, because it’s a beautiful book about being an outsider.
A Long & Happy Life, Reynolds Price
The Loop, Joe Coomer
Furiously Happy,p (natch)
As a kid, Harriet the Spy. A little older, The Sound & the Fury set me on path of writer/English teacher.
Nothing better than having a child who reads & most likely will be life-long reader. Wait til she catches up & gives you recommendations. I started my now 25-yr old son young w/ books like The Mouse & the Motorcycle, Sounder, A Cricket in Time Square. He moved on to Harry Potter & Stephen King & developed his own style. He likes Bukowski, Vonnegut, Hemingway. He has hard time admitting that his mom is right & he does love some of her recommendations & fav books (Monkey Wrench Gang, for example) b/c he’s bull-headed (no idea where THAT came from). Almost every Sat bookstore & lunch, a mom & her son,
I was discovering my love of history and genocide (I’m not genocidal… Just particularly fascinated with that aspect of war. I have a Master’s in human rights now…) at that age so I particularly liked Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. But I also read anything I could get my hands on so that ranged from my mom’s old Honey Bunch, Bobbsey Twins, and Nancy Drew series to The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. My favorite book of all time is Voltaire’s Candide. He’s just so snarky. I love it.
The book that was magic to me when I first read it, that I needed to own, that I still read now and again when I need to is LM Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe. It’s about the magic of stories and storytelling and how real they can be.
The Crysalids by John Wyndham. It was required reading in grade 9 English but I couldn’t get into it. I kept the book though and read it years later and love it. I always felt a kinship with the mutants and how they were treated.
AS a young person Hawkmistress, Thendara House and Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Dragonriders of Pern by McCaffrey. Later, Grey is the Color of Hope by Ratushinskaya. If you ever need a book about overcoming and maintaining humanity in the midst of hopelessness, that’s the one. I reread it at least once every year.
I am from the Netherlands and aren’t you lucky: my favorite book has been translated into English after being a top hit here for more than 50 years. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/tonke-dragts-the-letter-for-the-king-has-finally-been-translated-into-english-50-years-on-9826857.html
And speaking of translations: for me as a girl Pippi Langstrumpf from Astrid Lindgren has been the best role model ever!
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy saved my perspective of the world when I was younger – taught me to see the absurdity of life as something to enjoy rather than fall apart over. More recently, your books have helped me understand my wife and our relationship. Again helping with perspective.
As a kid: A Dog Called Kitty (VERY popular when I was in 4th grade)
As an adult: Stephen King’s Dark Tower series–some very broken people learn to trust each other and “Stand and Be True” (a theme of many of Stephen King’s books).
A +1 to Maus (I and II) if you can get your hands on them. Amazing work.
Asmiov’s Foundation series and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series really helped me through my teen years.
Sandman’s always been a favorite, along with Strangers In Paradise and Bone; those all get re-read about once a year as-needed.
For books without pictures? Stephen King’s Night Shift (the first King I remember reading) and- not to knock the others- but the Discworld books about the City Watch or the Witches; generally they were about adapting to change or getting pissed off enough to affect it, usually a bit of both.
If I dig way back, the Trina Schart Hyman-illustrated versions of St. George & the Dragon and (inexplicably less known) The Water of Life. That’s where I got my deep roots in art and fantasy.
I’m almost 42 and I JUST discovered comic books. I recently DEVOURED the Sandman series (from the library) and the TPB are the only thing on my birthday list. I also love Wolverine (any of them) and Invincible. But, my go to book is Mrs. Mike, which I discovered in 6th grade and have re-read numerous times. It has been my life saver.
Weetzie Bat is a brilliant little YA book about love, acceptance, forgiveness and happiness. A very worthwhile read for everyone.
Forests of the Heart, Charles de Lint. It put beautiful thoughts about what power is and is not into words for me. Confession: I have read every Gaiman or de Lint that I can get my hands on, and if you haven’t read the Books of Magic original four part series you really should, and the spin-off is quite good, too.
Anything by Christopher Moore (Lamb, Fool, Island of the Sequined Love Nun). Any of them are wonderful (Fluke, not my fave). The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle, Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins, House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag, The Book of Joby by Mark Ferrari. By the Light of the Moon by Dean Koontz. Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett. All of these are fun 🙂
I have read the entire 19 book Master and Commander series by Patrick O’Brian FOUR times, and I still don’t know anything about sailing and it doesn’t matter. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin are my friends! Also for wonderful, weird characters, strong women, gritty but possible (well, some of it) science fiction, no one beats William Gibson.
Anything by Robin McKinley – but I love and re-read Sunshine and Beauty the most.
It would be nice if no one needed “saving.” If books could just be wonderful portals to another world, time machines, glimpses of other worlds like a National Geographic special. But I guess we’re just not wired like that. We’re wonky.
Bradbury and Asimov, early and forever (despite having found out recently that Asimov was, in reality, a real prick). And for that special, gothy-without-the-eyeliner (just the deep dark angst!) part of teenager-hood, Anne Rice’s Lestat.
The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike. I read it so much as a teen that I had to buy a second copy. It’s still the book I buy as a gift for any teen in my life. And every person I’ve given it to has come back and said they had to buy a second copy because they wore the first one out.
It’s the story of a group of teens dying in a hospice. They meet at midnight to tell stories. It’s a coming of age, but with the twist that these kids will never get much older. Dealing with sickness and death the way most people deal with exams and new clothes.
Ooooo I love book threads, hooray!
Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver
Charms for an Easy Life – Kaye Gibbons
I’m sure there’s more… I need to think.
I love that so many of the same books keep popping up in the answers. The Sandman, Ender’s Game, A Wrinkle in Time all had a profound effect on me, too… seems I have indeed found my tribe. The very first book to hit me where I lived was Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson. Dorsal! is old school military sci fi, but like most of the other fiction books on everybody’s lists, that’s not what it is about; it’s about mercenary Donal rising up through the ranks by learning to acknowledge, then accept, and finally embrace what made him “odd.” Being the weird kid that kept wrecking the bell curve for his classmates got a lot easier after accidentally discovering Donal’s example.
Mists of Avaon by Marion Zimmer Bradley! (I was in college at the time.) It’s feminist, Pagan reworking of the Arthurian cycle. I re-read it a few years agiand ended up in tears at the end, like always.
Have to add:
Kitchen God’s Wife – Amy Tan (I’ve re-read so many times)
Snow Flower and the Secret fan
any Kaye Gibbons book really
Just Mercy – Brian Stevenson
A Wrinkle in Time was my absolute favorite when I was her age, and I still read the series every so often to check in with Meg. I also loved this book (I can’t remember the name of it) where this girl learns she is a witch when she makes a wish that lands her back in the civil war era. Stephen King also played a huge role in my upbringing.
“Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc” by (get this) Mark Twain!!!! He wrote it under some pen name, but I think most editions have his name on it now.
“A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth. This is a behemoth and totally epic – it’s about family and love and politics and marriage and death and heartbreak.
“The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey.
Completely changed my life was Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. It’s that book that you have to be carful whom you recommend it to because it can fuck them up if they aren’t prepared! I read it every single year. I just sat down Neverwhere by Mr Gaiman (which is glorious of course) because I heard the call of Stranger. I had to drop everything to read it again. As a young adult, it was Harry Potter. Magic was a subject that was strictly forbidden in my parents house, so the minute I got out, I devoured every book in a two week span. And now my daughter is reading Harry for the first time and my son is reading everything by Terry Pratchett he can get his hands on.
Another vote for The Bone People by Keri Hulme. I read it regularly. It uses parts of your brain you didn’t know were there.
Andrew Davidson (The Gargoyle),
Sharyn McCrumb (the “ballad” series) She’s just a good storyteller.
For you and Hailey:
another vote for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransome Riggs
Alan C Bradley (the Flavia de Luce series; Flavia is Hailey’s age and she’s a treat),
I get a lot of recommendations from the reviews in the New York Times, that I get emailed to me (free!)
I have to mention that I recently found Neil Gaiman and am collecting all his works but the one that affected me the most was The Graveyard Book.
And how I discovered your books I don’t remember but they are firmly ensconced on my bookshelf of favorites. Thank-you.
(And thank-you also for this post. I shall be referring to it regularly!)
Around age 11, I read the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. It’s fantasy, vs the science fiction of his Total Recall. I have all 20 some books that I’m saving for my daughters. I’m excited for when they’re old enough to get into them!
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, also, I got my “good enough” fathering from Atticus Finch.
So many books from my past reach out to me to choose from, but a few stand out..
Swiss Family Robinson – Helped me to understand how wonderful knowledge is and how knowledge and independence go hand in hand
You can’t take Mickey – A young girl who is very unsure of herself yet takes her sibling and cousin to save them: I still have my old copies thank goodness because this one is nowhere to be found
Maniac Magee – Independent naive young white boy who shows up in a black neighborhood with no past or understand of race issues.
Valley of the Horses (Jean Auld) – All of the Earth Children but this one especially
Dicey’s Song (Cynthia Vioght) – Again have my old copy so would probs be hard to find : another one about independence.
I am beginning to think that there may be a trend here. I wonder if this has contributed to the way my life turned out. As in I am only happy when I live alone. Hmmm just realized something about myself…weird
My mom was an elementary school teacher so if a book won an award for children’s/YA no later than the 1980’s I’ve probably read it. When she retired she donated her entire extensive book collection to the school where she spent the last years at – such an awesome thing to do IMO. She gave me her hardback edition of Jane Eyre, the book she says was an invaluable tool in learning what kind of man she wanted to marry. I had to get my dad’s ok to read Stephen King’s “It” and other books written by King, I think it was because I was 12 and the library didn’t want to be responsible should I turn out to be warped as a result – little did they know that being warped isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can occur without reading books with adult themes and situations. I first realized that a book can make me feel a little ‘stabby’ when I had to read “The Once and Future King” for 9th grade English – to this day I think I’d prefer to give myself a lobotomy with an ice pick than read it again. I learned to read by the time I was 4, so there are so many books I’ve read over the years! The ones that opened up the world outside of my middle class white experience such as Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Number the Stars, or Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment were just as valuable as Jacob Have I Loved, Island of the Blue Dolphins, A Clockwork Orange (which I read for an 11th grade English project and began my existentialist-styled thinking as much as the Nietzsche works later solidified) and The Last Yakuza though in different ways. The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang, A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood along with A Song of Fire And Ice etc are some recent reads on my iPad – it’s a more affordable way to get books to read for me and requires a lot less space on shelves which I have a distinct lack of. Just because the books are on a screen rather than the heavy weight of bound pages in my hands doesn’t make me want to let myself be fully engrossed in reading any less.
Childhood books: Harriet the Spy, The Teddy Bear Habit, Jane Eyre, A wrinkle in Time.
Lost books? Hester Burton’s “In Spite of All Terror” about London during The Blitz.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin- Although a book of fiction it was written by someone who put to paper what she saw around her. “Harriet Beecher Stowe’s most famous introduction took place on or around Thanksgiving Day, 1862, when she was introduced to President Abraham Lincoln, who allegedly greeted her with these memorable words, ‘So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Talk about a must read.
oh and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”
Sabriel and the rest of the Abhorsen Triology by Garth Nix.
The Doomsday Book — an really anything by Connie Willis. Try Lincoln’s Dreams for something eerie and wonderful.
The Dispossessed by Le Guin. I love her and everything she writes.
Completely changed my life was “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein. I read it every single year. I actually just sat down NeverWhere (glorious by the way) by Mr Gaiman because Stranger was calling. I have to be careful with whom I recommend it to though. It can fuck people up if their eyes aren’t opened enough. I’ve seen two people that it turned their world upside down.
Harry Potter of course! I grew up in an incredibly strict household and magic was very much forbidden. As soon as I got out, I devoured the whole series in two weeks. Now my 9YO is reading the sorcerers stone for the first time by herself and I get to see the magic in her eyes every day when she tells me of something she just read that wasn’t in the movies.
The “Discworld” series by Terrey Pratchett. I found them through Neil Gaiman. They are great and now my 13YO is on to them. Hailey would love them!
Alexi Panshin’s Rite of Passage
Robert Heinlen’s Stranger In A Strange Land
Jean Craighead George’s My Side Of The Mountain
One I just recently ready and thoroughly enjoyed is Ready Player One. If you grew up a computer nerd in the 80’s you’ll love it.
WOW! So many great books I have read and so many more to try! I also loved the Little House series, Wrinkle in Time and all of the sequels, and Anne of Green Gables. That is the series I am most excited to introduce to my eight year old daughter. She is a redhead too! I also loved my mom’s 1940/50s original Nancy Drew novels. Some aspects are so old fashioned, but at the same time this gal drove her own car, made her own adventures and helped people, often putting herself at risk. That’s pretty darn progressive for that time. They are very delicate now, but I still have them.
I haven’t seen it mentioned, so I am going to go out on a limb and say the Gone with The Wind is the novel I have read the most and gone back to again and again. Part of it is the writing, the beautiful/horrible imagery, a big part is Scarlett and Melanie who as a tween/teen I felt represented different parts of my personality. (I am a natural Scarlett, but always striving to be a kind Melanie). And before anyone gets judgy about the way it portrays the antebellum South, let me say that even at 12 I knew it was one perspective and went seeking others. Toni Morrison, Zora Neal Hurston, and later WEB DuBois, and many others filled in the reality and led me to be an American history major in college. Long story, short, I still love the book and the movie too.
OMG just reading the comments and so much love I missed in my comment. Thumbs up for the Crystalids, Mists of Avalon (A commenter said something about the author being a monster but I don’t want to know so don’t tell me), Xanth yay awesome books for YA and his Bio of a Space Tyrant secured my Liberal leanings early on (which is weird in the ultra conservative area I am in), Ender’s game & shadow.. actually the entire series. Fahrenheit 451 how could I have missed it! and Time Machine! Obernewtyn! Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy! Artemis Fowl! Odd Thomas too which I just remembered and didn’t see posted.
I wish my son liked to read, he doesn’t and that is okay because that is who he is, but he does like to listen to the Series of Unfortunate Events so I bought them and put them on his tablet to listen to as he goes to sleep.
As an Adult, not life changing but amazing reads are anything by Anne Bishop and Brandon Sanderson.
Mandy, by Julie Andrews, made me realize that my wanting to be quiet and alone a good part of the time wasn’t too weird. Silver, by Norma Fox Mazer, made me think about how lucky I was growing up and what it takes to be a true friend. Just As Long As We’re Together, by Judy Blume, helped me navigate the changing friendship dynamics that happen in junior high. The Tommyknockers by Stephen King is the first book that scared me so much I didn’t want it to be in the room with me anymore. Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy led me to studying abroad in Ireland and looking for small miracles in every day life. And, I didn’t read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn until after I was married, and it became one of my all time favorites. Sometimes the right book is right at a totally different time in people’s lives. Haley may still love it – just later.
I’m with Hailey. ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ was kind of my be-all, end-all book when I was about 11.
Sigh… I feel like I should be able to name 2-3 significant titles because books/stories have been my salvation, but my brain isn’t cooperating. The one thing that does jump to mind is Ursula Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters). It broke open my childlike brain and made me consider success vs suffering, many vs one, the affect of conscious choice as a member of society/community, and to question the meaning of happiness/success. It was read aloud to a group of us on a camping trip when I was about 12, which I told Le Guin during a signing was the perfect age. In general, it’s about questioning social norms, which is the preteen/teen wheelhouse. This also planted the seed for my adult obsession with dystopia.
Shrinkage: Manhood, Marriage, and the Tumor That Tried to Kill Me by Bryan Bishop. It’s hilarious, terrifying, and wonderfully lovely all at the same time. It’s all about Bald Bryan’s (from the Adam Corolla Show) diagnosis and battle with Brain Stem Glioma, an inoperable brain tumor. My favorite chapter title is “Our Honeymoon — or — The Time My Wife Drugged Me at a Kids Pool in Maui”.
The Hobbit was one I first read at about 9 years old. I get something new feom it every time I reread it.
Timeline by Michael Crichton – There are some heart-breaking moments, especially at the end that resonated.
Lamb by Christopher Moore – Funny and sad.
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series – Hilarious. They got me through some of the worst times in my life. I feel about Pratchett the way you (and I) do about Alan Rickman’s passing.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s not a funny, happy book, but I think it’s one of the most important books written and it doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. I read it for the first time when I was 13 and I really connected with it because I was depressed and lonely and I always got in fights with my friends so eventually they stopped talking to me. I read it many, many times in high school, and then put it away until my senior year in college. I had been assaulted by my boyfriend the previous semester and realized I could connect with Speak in a different way. It had me in tears and it’s still one of my favorite books ever.
I hate to be cliche, but reading “On the Road” (the original scroll) changed my life as a teenager. When I was younger, the Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison made me laugh out loud much like your books do today http://www.amazon.com/Louise-Rennison/e/B001HD1C42
Especially if she likes English authors, these books are fantastic.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Vanishers, Paula, Olivia, The Poisonwood Bible, The Little Stranger, The Bean Trees!
Robert Heinlein taught me that there were other ways to be, besides “normal”, and that not all relationships are male/female. I needed that desperately as a teen. Then, I fell into Mercedes Lackey’s Herald series and rejoiced. I still buy the new ones, even though her writing has deteriorated because Valdemar will always be a beloved home.
OOH ALSO!! The “Alanna” Series by Tamora Pierce http://www.amazon.com/Alanna-First-Adventure-Song-Lioness/dp/1442426411/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453749352&sr=1-1&keywords=alanna+the+first+adventure
So, so many things… I was actually just writing a week ago about how much Harry Potter meant to me growing up. There were so many books that meant so much to me as a kid. It’s amazing and a little scary to share those books and experiences with the next generation – hopefully mostly amazing!
It started with The Secret Garden giving me hope that there was still a redemption out there for anyone. Next, A Wrinkle in Time told me that conformity was bunk and, cool or no, a critical mind was a good thing. Finally, i stumbled upon Heinlein and suddenly felt like i was safe at home with my people. I have mixed in others who touch me profoundly and offer new perspectives but I still re-read these stories when it all gets too black and they comfort me.
I read The Wizard of Oz over and over when I was a kid. The book is much better than the movie. I then read it to my younger siblings several times as well. I loved scary stories and murder mysteries as a kid. I read every Fear Street book by R.L. Stine I could get my hands on. So much birthday money spent on those books. As a teen I read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre which quickly became two of my all time favorites.
At Hailey’s age a Wrinkle in Time was definitely important to me – as were both the Alice books and ALL the Ray Bradbury books I could get my hands on. As an adult, it became Alice Hoffman novels and everything Douglas Adams ever wrote, then along came Neil Gaiman (and Bradbury was with me, always!). Now, in late middle age (I could too live to be 116 – if I want to!) I’ve become hooked on Terry Pratchett. Though I read Good Omens, when it first came out (Neil Gaiman – of course, I read it!), I resisted the draw of Terry Pratchett. Why? I have no idea. Then, when he left to join Bradbury and Adams in sci fi cosmic heaven, it dawned on me, if I ever want to read them, I better start now, while they’re still in print and available. I have been gobbling them up since last summer. In a way, I’m glad I waited to read them – now is when I needed them beside me. They’ve gotten me through so many of the strange and terrible events going on in the world, this past year. If you haven’t read any of Pratchett’s DiscWorld books, try them – you’ll like them!
oh how much I would love a Rory raccoon plush
I swear by the Belgariad/Malloreon books by David Eddings. My mom introduced them to me when I was leaving middle school/entering high school, and I’ve read both series at least a dozen times. They’re a little hard to find– I can’t seem to find them at Barnes and Noble– but they’re sold on Amazon, and I see them in small bookstores now and again.
My books that saved me genesis: Dr. Seuss, pretty much everything but especially the Sneetches short story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Wrinkle in Time trilogy, Narnia (I checked out that series from our library so many times!), Lord of the Rings, then Stranger in a Strange Land. Stranger altered me & I re-read it every year or two.
Very soon after reading Stranger I discovered Neil Gaiman (Terry Pratchett was the gateway drug & I picked up Good Omens) and Charles de Lint.
I actually started reading Harry Potter because I of a little bookstore near my office. The third book had just been released & when I stopped in just to browse they had a display touting “If you Love Harry Potter You’ll Like These Books”. Every book I loved as a child was on the display. I pointed to Wrinkle in Time & asked the clerk if Harry Potter was really THAT good, she nodded slowly & told me it was. I asked for the first book & she handed me #1 & #2 and dared me to return them if I didn’t like them. I went back 3 days later & got the third book, then I ordered all 3 online and had them shipped to my brother.
I totally grok the concept of not exposing your child to something too soon. I was exposed to the movie Harold and Maude at the precise moment I needed it, and it’s been my favorite movie ever since. I don’t want my 15-year-old step-son to see it too early in case it also Speaks to him. He’s not a reader but is a huge fan of movies and has recently started to ask for comic books. We’ve been happily taking him to comics shops since he expressed interest. He’s asked about Sandman but I’m reluctant to hand him my copies – for now.
We rented the movie Life of Pi and he announced the next day he felt different because of the movie and the story. The movie was purchased so he can watch it whenever he wants and he’s revisited it a few times already.
A STREET CAT NAMED BOB…..it is awesome
Oh Alice, yes! I bought The Annotated Alice (http://amzn.to/1SHgVEp) a few years ago, more than a few, like six, thinking I’d find the story from a different entry point. I’m reluctant to read it because I don’t want to spoil the magic in my memory. I remember each little illustration my old edition, too. My other fascination was The Hobbit. When I was in fourth grade, my favorite aunt gave me an illustrated, full-text version of the story, and I read every night, terrified and joyous. This aunt also gave me the Alice stories.
Anything by Diana Wynne Jones. Howl’s Moving Castle and Charmed Life are good ones to start with, but I loved A Tale of Time City and Fire and Hemlock and Homeward Bounders and Archer’s Goon as a kid. Her plots tend towards the twisty, so they work great for rereading.
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede!! I still re-read these books as an adult to remember that politeness and hard work will get your farther than greed and laziness. Oh, and screw the prince – far better to be the Chief Cook and Librarian who marries the King because he’s a wonderful person than because he has a title.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was the first book that spoke to me, made me feel not quite so weird. I’m an English teacher now, I need to read The Sandman books, never read them!! I also loved A Wrinkle in Time. It was the first fantasy/sci fi stuff I loved. I have obviously added to my life saving books, I read Harry Potter every time I am stressed, I read The Outlander series when I need an escape, and your books are handed out to my students often. I remember sneaking The Godfather the summer after my sophomore year of high school. I felt so mature and ridiculous. 🙂 My dad loved that I read it, so he gave me some more :).
As an awkward, introverted, lonely child who grew into a slightly less awkward, less lonely, but still introverted adult, books have been my constant companions, and I will read pretty much anything I can get my hands on. It’s hard to pick the most important ones, but a few that stand out:
As a young kid, I adored Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, and the Black Stallion. As I got older, I moved on to the Wrinkle in Time series. I also read 1984 long before I should have and was blown away by it.
As a teen/young adult, I didn’t find many books that I truly adored, with two notable exceptions: Outlander (by Diana Gabaldon) and To Kill a Mockingbird.
My most recent obsessions (the books I finished and then immediately started over): The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Gaiman) and Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel).
The older book I periodically look for: Z for Zachariah, by O’Brien. I read it when I was very young, and I barely recall it at all, but I remember being deeply moved by it. I don’t actually know if it’s out of print, but I’ve been trying to find it in ebook form with no success. And I know it was recently turned into a movie, but I still haven’t seen that.
My love is the Harry Potter series. I found it at just the right time in my life, and there are messages that spoke to me then, and still do now, I suffer with anxiety and depression (like so many of us here) and the concept of Dementors hit very close to home. I actually have the Patronus charm tattooed on my foot to remind me that I have the power to chase them away.
First of all, this is a thing
it starts tonight, so i have no idea if it’s any good. But when I saw the preview, my first thought was “hmmm, it reminds me very much of Neil Gaiman’s Lucifer” so I was not shocked when I discovered, YES, it IS indeed Gaiman’s Lucifer.
On a book note, a book that has always stayed with me, and that I read around Hailey’s age, is “As the Waltz was Ending”. It was a true story of a young Austrial ballernia caught up in World War II – not fully understanding much of why her ballet had to stop, or why she couldn’t join Hitler youth with some of her classmates (her father was very anti-Hitler), or why her dad eventually had to join a war he opposed. It resonated with me because i was a little ballernia, and i still cry thinking about how her life was turned upside down, by a war she didn’t comprehend. I think because, as Americans, war has not really been on our doostep, not since the civil war. She also tells stories of going to clean out bombed buildings looking for bodies in place of school, and trying to bake her father a welcome home cake on rations, only to have a bomb hit nearby and ruin the cake. It’s so easy to read history books and not have it hit home the same way.
Also, recenty as an adult, YOUR books have touched me, as have Caitlin Moran’s. And Good Omens a few years ago.
A wide range of my favorites and books that seem like you will like them:
War For the Oaks – Emma Bull
Memory – Lois McMaster Bujold (in fact the entire Vorkosigan saga)
Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marisha Pessl
Silent Spring – Rachel Carson (one of the best pieces of well-structured argument and passion bolstered by fact I’ve ever read. Ever.)
Serving Crazy With Curry – Amulyah Malladi (Trigger warning: suicide attempts frankly discussed and described)
Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The Anthropology of Turquoise – Ellen Meloy (beautiful essays full of the love of nature and what it brings the author)
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
The Last Samurai – Helen DeWitt
On Beauty – Zadie Smith
both the October Daye and InCryptid series by Seanan McGuire
also Indexing by Seanan McGuire
Blackout and All Clear – Connie Willis
The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer
Dark Lord of Derkholm – Diana Wynne Jones
Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
A Natural History of Dragons – Marie Brennan
the Revivalist trilogy – Rachel Caine (a little bit uneven, but one of the most original takes on zombies I’ve ever seen)
Thank God for Rick Riordan because my son found a passion for Greek gods:). That makes him oh so happy. The Imaginarium Geographica series is also really cool for kids who are advanced readers–he loved those. Me? I love books like Zen and the Art of Making a Living–one of the few “self-help” books (a workbook, really) that was truly helpful. And who can’t love Harry Potter, right? Only those not to be trusted:). So glad your daughter loves to read. If we can raise a generation of readers, I feel like the world will be OK>
“Atlas Shrugged” was a pivotal book for me in my early twenties, living alone in a city where I knew no one, and hated being there. Once I finished it, I immediately started re-reading. Seriously, was a life-changer for me.
The books from my youth I’m always on the lookout for: “David and the Phoenix” and the “Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek”. I think they’re both from the 50’s, and just wonderful.
Mitch Albom always pulls at my strings. The Five People You Meet In Heaven is always a favourite. His new one ‘The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto’ is wonderful.
My favorite children’s books were/are Shadow Castle, by Marian Cockrell, which is great to read at any age, and Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass.
Other favorites: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg, which I read twice right after my ex-husband and I separated and I was extremely depressed; The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, which made me feel better about my weird family; and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which is about writing but so much more.
Another favorite that I grew up reading was a collection of 18 science fiction stories called Tomorrow’s Children, edited by Isaac Asimov. It was my sister’s book and had started to fall apart from all of us reading it so often, so as an adult I began looking for another copy and found that it was very rare and expensive, at least for the hard covers. I was finally able to get a paperback version. Now it’s a little easier to find and not quite as expensive (just found a copy on eBay for $54, instead of the $300 it used to go for). That book was a big influence on everyone in my family.
I came to The Sandman series quite late only about a year ago, but I have absolutely loved every single one of them, Overture included. Amazing stories, intriguing characters, and beautiful artwork I was a little sad to turn that last page. As far as a recommendation Life after life by Kate Atkinson its been around for a couple years now, a wonderful story of a women who relives parts of her life from birth to adulthood. The ultimate do over.
As a child I adored the Winnie the Pooh stories, The Wind in the Willows, Little House on the Prairie, and anything by Shel Silverstein. Then Animorphs, Goosebumps, and The Babysitters Club were books I collected faster than Pokemon. 🙂
I love rereading Harry Potter too, mostly the 1st-3rd books.
I’ve been obsessed with Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy since high school and now I read every book/series she releases.
My more recent book obsessions are Gini Koch’s Alien series because it’s actually laugh out loud funny and you’ll care about all of the characters. Then there are books by Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins which are more than awesome and have a plethora of unique characters.
Right now I’m immersed in the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown, it’s so very good (if you love science fiction, really strong world building, and stupendous characters than this is the series for you.)
The Thief of Always and the Abarat books by Clive Barker we’re incredibly significant to my son growing up.
t 7 it was Alice & The little Prince…at 10, every female in my extended family reads The Princess Bride…and we all adore it…At 14 it was everything Anne Rice and The original Sandman comics
When I was your daughter’s age, it was the Alanna books by Tamora pierce. Girl pretends to be a boy so she can become a knight. Romance, adventure, and awesome female role model-Ing ensue.
Everything by John Irving. Everything by Sue Monk Kidd. Everything by Barbara Kingsolver. And you. Everything by You, my dear Jenny!
At 12 or 13 I read The Count of Monte Cristo for the first time and I still love it fifty years later, although I know every word. It’s like getting to leave today and go back to nineteenth century France. Very comforting. I discovered The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings just after that, and they also had the power to take me away from a dysfunctional life and put me somewhere wonderful. I’ve read many awesome books since then, but those saved me as a tween and teen.
My favorite book of all time is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. That story is everything. If you like thrillers, anything by Gillin Flynn is good, especially Gone Girl. I’m reading House of Mirth again and I’ve been reading the G.O.T series. Remains of the Day is an all time favorite. So many good books out there. I am a writer and there is one of mine that I am really proud of. It’s called Through the Cane Fields.
If you want to read it, I’ll email you the digital version. Not trying to promote my work, it’s already published. I just really think it’s a sweet story and I think you’d like it. I’m not looking for an endorsement or anything.
(Here’s the blurb, if you’d like to read it, let me know and I’ll email it to you) Through The Cane Fields is the story of two young sisters living a life of privilege in Apartheid-era South Africa. Delia Hallowell is content with her carefree, luxurious life until she meets a boy named Thomas. As the son of the cook, Thomas is separated by the divide of class and race. As their friendship grows, so does the realization that they cannot be together. Delia must make a choice between her true feelings and her family’s expectations.
Oops, that was supposed to be Gillian Flynn. Excuse the typo.
I think the books that meant the most to me were Lemony Snicket’s “A Series Of Unfortunate Events.” I started reading them before the big move that sent me into the worst of my depression, and the series didn’t finish until after, so it sort of provided a sense of continuity. More than that, though, the books themselves are wonderfully written – dark and funny and sad and devastatingly clever. They’re written to be accessible to kids, but they pull absolutely no punches, and there’s a sense of honesty to them that makes them ring true despite the absurdity of a lot of the situations. So many bad things happen, but there’s a common thread that runs through all of them – yes, awful things will happen in your life. Sometimes they’ll break you. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re not going to make it through. Sometimes you’ll be separated from your loved ones and left with no support, no resources, and nothing to rely on but yourself in the face of forces that mean you nothing but harm.
And it’s okay. You’ll survive. You can make it through. You have the power and strength that you need to do anything, as long as you get up, do your best, and just keep going. You’ll make friends, and you’ll lose friends, and sometimes you’ll find them again and sometimes you won’t; you’ll grab moments of peace and comfort where you can, and they won’t last forever, but you can draw strength from them anyway.
I didn’t see all of this in so many words until years later, of course, but a lot of it just sort of nested into my subconscious and seeped in gradually over time. Either way, they told me what I needed to hear.
At your daughter’s age, my favorite books were THE GIRL WITH THE SILVER EYES, about a girl who could freaking move things with her mind (I still believe that this is a skill I will one day get a handle on) and LIMBO, about a boy who lives in an abandoned subway tunnel. I don’t know what these choices reveal about me, but truthfully I’m sort of terrified by my 12-year-old self.
Books for Haley that I have not yet seen mentioned: Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl is wonderful science fiction with an anthropological bent, and I suspect it piqued my interest in that discipline. Joan Aiken’s Wolves novels have plucky children often in trying circumstances working together to thwart the adults who are doing things such as smuggling and regicide. And finally, Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville, in which two girl friends discover an underground version of London, where one of them is destined to be the savior of the city.
The book that left the deepest impression on me was “A Prayer for Owen Meany” It took so much out of me I only read it the once.
The World According to Garp. It was the first “real” book I ever read. I’ve since read it multiple times and every time it punches me in the gut. All the beautiful broken people, going through life together, trying to fit. I’ve read it several times when I was very low and every time it gives me hope and makes me smile.
Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson was life-changing for me starting at about age 10. It’s one of the only books I’ve been able to read multiple times, and it’s wonderful. It’s for anyone who has ever lost themselves in their imagination and went too far imagining and wishing things were different. It shows a beautiful, yet chilling contrast between a harsh reality and the kind of love, comfort and stability we all desire as children (and adults too, for that matter).
Haley may have to wait a year or two, I’m not sure how old she is, but I really loved a series of books by Libba Bray, starting with A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and then A Sweet Far Thing. It has been a while since I read them but I believe I was just startin high school when I read them. Lots of dark magic and the exploration in to other worlds.
Oh there are so many. This will be my last comment! For adults, certainly not children, if you’ve never read Beloved by Toni Morrison go buy it now with a box of tissues. It is incredible. It is raw. It hurts. It strips you bare and takes every last piece of dignity you had and then it wraps you in a warm blanket and makes you whole again. It gives you a mission. It leaves scars you can’t always see but will never forget.
Can I add anything by Elizabeth Gilbert? I’ve found her books speak to whatever is going on in my life.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has been a book that speaks to me in a different way every time I read it (which is a least once every couple of years) it is definitely one of those books that makes me feel a special kinship to whoever else loves it as it seems to be a quite small pool of folk!
The first book that truly made me think — about life, the universe, my beliefs, humanity, diversity and so on, was Sati by Christopher Pike, a novel set in the late-80’s-ish about a young woman who claims to be God. These days I like romance because of the guaranteed happy ending, but I still come back to Sati over and over because as a teenager it so profoundly expanded my worldview. There are two copies on my shelf… just in case. I also have all the Harry Potter books in both hard copy and ebook. I read them to my kids, and sometimes find myself reading even after the kids have gone to sleep. 🙂
“The Sparrow” – by Mary Doria Russell. It destroyed me the first time I read it. It is beautiful and tragic and fascinating. A story about love, loss, language, and the nature of faith – that just happens to occur in part on another planet.
“saved me”, well not entirely and I also don’t believe that our classics apply to well to our kiddos (just my observation and believe me I wish it were different).
as a youth:
as an adult:
life of pi
the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society
anything by barbara kingsolver (but especially animal, vegetable, miracle and lacuna)
kitchen confidential (love the irreverence)
anything by ruth reichl (fine, yes, I’m a foodie)
unbroken (shared this love with my youngest son and he loved it too and that made me love him even more which I didn’t think was possible)
how perfect is that (sarah bird, so funny, tears running down my face)
river of doubt (roosevelt bio)
sisterhood of the traveling pants (I know, but dang she can write)
good god, what an all over the map list…need something new, the last several books I’ve read have been meh. Getting desperate…
Goodbye Mr Chips. I wept. To Kill a Mockingbird: read during study hall…last sentence…sighed…turned back to first page. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. One of the BEST sci-fi books ever! All I could think of at work was getting back home to read it.
The Tiffany Aching books from Terry Pratchett. The best ruminations on what it means to be a woman, a human, what it means to age…heart wrenching. And
gut bustingly hilarious.
This is fascinating – I’m getting good recommendations for books and seeing some of my favorites here. Someone commented above that reading is very personal – very true. Some books mentioned are ones I didn’t care for. But adding my two cents to The Dark is Rising series, as well as the James Herriot books and Narnia chronicles, which are all ones I read when I was younger. In terms of books that are life-saving worthy, one that sticks with me is Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher. I read it when my mom was in the hospital, and it was so comforting that I still envision the beach and ocean described in that book. Also loved the Marguerite Henry books as we were all horse crazy when I was younger. Wild by Cheryl Strated and even better, Tiny Beautiful Things.
My favorites as a teen and angsty 20-something was anything by Kurt Vonnegut. I love him, and he formed my view of the world (although orobably not in a good way.)
Best recent read: The Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
Thing that had an effect on me more recently: The Reason I Jump by a 13 year old autistic boy
Best “someone gets me” book: Sylvia Plath,The Bell Jar. Sad, huh?
Alice Hoffman has some great YA books. Green Witch and Green Angel are two of my favorites. I love her writing (I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read The Probable Future), whatever the age it’s meant for. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is wonderful, too. (Don’t be put off if you saw The Golden Compass movie – the books are much better!)
My all-time favorite book is “The Lovely Bones”. I also love EVERYTHING written by John Greene and Gillian Flynn. I’ve recently enjoyed chick-lit by Lianne Moriarty, as well! Check them all out! I think you would really like Gillian Flynn if you have not yet read her novels…they are dark and twisty:)
Soonie and the Dragon by Shirley Rosseau Murphy is one I still have and encourage people to get for their daughters. its a kids book (one of those thats hard cover like frog and toad, or danny and the dinosaur) with pen and ink drawings. It follows in three stories the life of a girl named soonie who is out on her own. she saves princesses, solves riddles, and looks past appearances. its great.
The Way of the Witch by Jan Siegel is another one (thats the name of the collective series, its also known as the fern capel series) Its way more grown up, deals with dark fantasy, and is one of the only book series (like sandman) to have enough of a OMG THIS ALL TIES TOGETHER at the end that it made me cry.
The sad tale of the brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington is a very well written DARK fantasy. Its one of the only books that had a scene that made me actually want to throw up. And I read a LOT of dark and twisted things.
Books I loved at Hailey’s age and don’t see mentioned yet:
“My Family and Other Animals” by Gerald Durrell – about a young man interested in animals and his eccentric family.
“All Creatures Great and Small” by James Herriot.