The importance of reading has been brought to my attention several times over the past week. As Cindy mentioned in her post, it is essential for those of us who write to be among people who read and it is a desirable quality in a spouse. But I believe that it is an important aspect for our culture as well as individuals.
There are two things that have stuck in my mind over the past week that underline the reasons we should read.
First, one of my children has been struggling with reading and just made a break through. It was like it finally all made sense to him, and he came to me one morning excited, “Mom! I read it!” He handed me a book which he has been trying to read on his own for a couple of months. “It’s about a cowboy…” He followed me around the house during morning chores and told me about what he had read, how he had felt, why he liked the cowboy and how excited he was to continue reading.
It was all I could do to keep the tears from flowing down my cheeks. This is how I felt about reading and my son had suddenly discovered the perfect contentment contained in a good book. He can now be taken to faraway lands while lying in his bed. He can discover the meaning of love before he even starts dating. He can be introduced to the beauty of the world through the eyes of authors who are aware of it. He can learn what it means to be a man of value. He can discover compassion within his heart for people who are different through the characters found in books.
This is what reading has done for me, my family, and my fellow group members. I couldn’t be happier and more excited to discuss books with him and hear his perspective.
The next thing happened in our writing class last week, our teacher said, “Illiteracy within a culture means that culture lacks imagination.” I find this to be true in the people around me whether it is actual illiteracy or willful illiteracy, where a person chooses to turn their back on the other worlds that books offer, the outcome is the same. Without imagination, we would not have innovation, invention, creativity, or exploration. Imagination drives our soul, the very thing that makes us human.
And so in the spirit of keeping imagination alive, I’ve started a list of books which have changed my life, changed the way I look at things, scared the h— out of me, given me great pleasure, distilled the beauty of life on my heart, or simply made me laugh.
Please comment! Add your books to the list! Let’s keep imagination alive!
- You Are Special by Max Lucado
- If Only I Had a Green Nose by Max Lucado
- You Are Mine by Max Lucado
- Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
- Plain Tales from the Hills by Rudyard Kipling
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
- James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
- The Witches by Roald Dahl
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery
- The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour (I’m not a western type of girl, but I love Johannes Verne. “My name is Johannes Verne and I am not afraid.”)
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- The Railway Children By Edith Nesbit
- The Fairy Books by Andrew Lang (Some purists don’t the like the fairy stories in these books but I love them! My favorite two are the Blue Fairy Book and the Yellow Fairy Book.)
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
- Anything by Shel Silverstein especially The Giving Tree (great way to introduce your children to poetry)
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (My favorite is The Last Battle)
- The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
- The Legend of
- Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- The Great Brain by John Dennis Fitzgerald
- Little Britches by Ralph Moody
- The Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card
- Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
- The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson
- Sherlock Holmes Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Anything by Jane Austen (My favorites are Mansfield Park, Northanger Abby, and Pride and Prejudice.)
- To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
- The Chosen by Chaim Potok (When I read this book in high school it was about friendship, as an adult I think it’s a book about parenting. I love multi-faceted books like that!)
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway (I don’t like Hemingway, but loved this book and the short story listed below.)
- The Writing Class by Jincy Willet (I love the protagonist in this novel! She reminds me of ME in parts.)
- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
- The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (You’ll be suspicious of everyone’s intentions for a while.)
My Favorite Shakespeare:
- The Merchant of Venice
- A Midsummer night’s Dream
- The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
- Backyard Ballistics by William Gurstelle (My husband and son LOVE this book. I mean, who wouldn’t love building a tennis ball mortar out of Pringles cans?)
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout (Will confirm everything you believe after reading Heart of Darkness)
- Emotional Vampires by Dr. Albert Bernstein
- The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
- The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
- The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis
- Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
- The Judges House by Brahms Stoker (Don’t read it in the dark.)
- The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
- The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe
- The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe
- The Gold Bug by Edgar Allen Poe
- Hills Like White Elephants by Earnest Hemingway (I hate The American, but I LOVE that this story can be interpreted many ways.)
- The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Chilling.)
Poetry: (I enjoy poetry, but I’m not well versed in it. There are, however, a few that I adore.)
- The Oxford Book of American Light Verse is a good place to start.
- A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- If by Rudyard Kipling
- Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer
- The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes
- Crossing the Bar by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
- I love Eugene Field and his poetry for my children.
Upcoming books that I’ll be reading in the next couple of months:
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
- Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
- Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- The Color of Water by James McBride
Okay, so there it is. What about you? What books have changed you? What stories do you LOVE?