Don’t be alarmed. It’s Tuesday, not Sunday. I know that I usually write Weekly Blogs on Sundays, but I thought that I’d start the month with a special Weekly Blog. Quick side note, I can’t believe that’s already May. Soon it will be June, then July, then Christmas. Time sure flies. Anyway, back to what I was saying. I thought it would be a cool idea to talk about some books and book series that have influenced me throughout my childhood and young adult life. Not too long ago, the hashtag #GameStruck4 talking about what four video games defined you or influenced you the most. There was also a similar hashtag for movies and books. Well here I wanted to give you five (sorry, couldn’t narrow it down to four) books that really stuck with me and influenced me making me into who I am today. Of course there will be some honorable mentions as well. I should quickly mention that these will be in chronological order from when I read them/what parts of my life they influenced, not in order on how much I love them. Enough explaining, let’s just jump into it.
#1 – “Magic Tree House #1 Dinosaurs Before Dark” by Mary Pope Osborne.
To get us started, I want to bring you back to my childhood and the first book/series I fell in love with. The Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne basically defined my childhood. I loved these books. I also loved dinosaurs when I was a kid, and still love them now, so this was the perfect combination. Not only did these books completely engross me in the story of Jack and Annie, these books were so informative. I learned so much about history and science from traveling with Jack and Annie in the Magic Tree House. Also I got to learn about King Arthur, Morgan Le Fay, and Merlin from those books. Sure Mary Pope Osborne’s interpretation doesn’t exactly line up with the agreed upon Arthur mythos, but I didn’t care. I loved being whisked away to new worlds full of mystery, magic, and a little bit of learning. That’s why “Dinosaurs Before Dark” and the rest of the Magic Tree House series helped shape my interest in so many subjects and helped spark my love of reading.
#2 – “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
Now for my number two slot has to go to “To Kill A Mockingbird.” This was a book that I didn’t necessarily love at the time, but eventually really ended up loving it. I had to read “To Kill A Mockingbird” in my Freshman year of High School (9th grade) for my College Prep English Class. This was the first year that I was placed in advanced English classes and the big project in this class was to read “To Kill A Mockingbird” and write a huge paper on it. It was something that every Freshman taking the class had to do year after year. The year before us did it and the year after us would have to do it. The paper focuses on character archetypes such as The Hero, The Female Hero, The Wise Old Man, The Wise Child, The Trickster, The Serpent, etc. I’m sure you have heard about these character archetypes in some way or another even if they didn’t have those specific names. Anyway, for my paper I wrote abut the connection between Jem Finch as the Hero and Atticus Finch as the Wise Old Man. Let me tell you, my paper was horrible! Like reading it now makes me want to throw up. But I also wrote the paper almost a decade ago (…man I’m old), so I can confidently say my writing has approved since them. The paper didn’t really influence me. It was my wonderful English teacher who taught me all four years of High School and the information I learned from this book that pushed me towards English as a college major and my love of reading and writing. Reading this book as an adult makes me realize how amazing this book is, but it’s also my memories from that class and the wonderful lessons instilled in me that made me who I am today.
#3 “The Fire Within (The Last Dragon Chronicles)” by Chris D’Lacey
Now there are a ton of different Young Adult Fantasy Series that could have taken the #3 spot. During High School and even now I read a ton of different Young Adult books. Basically I was reading whatever you Teenage Daughter was reading during the years 2010-2013. I read Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Divergent Trilogy, and The Mortal Instruments series. Basically everything besides Twilight. I tried to read it, but got a few pages into it and had to put it down. Also tried to read the Maze Runner trilogy. Again read a few pages of it, but couldn’t get into it. Anyway, any of those series could have gotten this spot because all of them had a huge influence on me throughout High School. However I want to focus on a series that might be a little bit more obscure and was the standout for me among so many others. “The Fire Within” is a fantastic book and a part of a fantastic series. I don’t want to give too much away just in case you missed out on this series and want to go back to it. It’s Junior High level reading, but I’m like 90% sure it would hold up if you went back and read it. All I’ll say is that over the course of the series you go from a chill story about a new tenant, named David, and his love for writing about squirrels to world-ending events surrounding magic, dragons, witches, polar bears, global warming, and two kinds of mind aliens. It’s crazy how much stuff is covered in these books. They are really amazing and Chris D’Lacey’s writing style really stuck with me throughout High School. Writing this makes me really want to find my old copies of the books and read them. I know he has gone on to do other series’ so maybe I’ll have to check them out. Or I could just go back and read “The Fire Within.”
#4 “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks
What can I say about “World War Z?” Only that it’s one of the best books ever written and if you think the Brad Pitt movie can hold a candle to it, you are wrong. I mean you’re allowed to have your opinion, but let me tell you about “World War Z.” Honestly it’s one of my favorite books and I try to read it at least once a year. It’s that good. The world building alone is magnificent. Like even if you don’t like zombie stuff or are burnt out on the zombie genre, I suggest you pick up and read “World War Z” if you haven’t already. This might revitalize that zombie-loving part of you or just give you some insight into world-building done right. Sure there are other books that world build really well like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, but Max Brooks really hits the sweet spot for me when it comes to world-building. While you might bore at Tolkien naming every single type of grass that grows in Middle Earth, Brooks doesn’t throw any wasted details at you. He gives you just enough to show you that he’s thought of everything and he fills the world with tons of details. To give you a little insight into World War Z, it’s a collection of stories put together into a book by the main character/narrator who is an unnamed agent of The United Nations Postwar Commission. The narrator is tasked with putting together a series of reports that outline the zombie war. He collects stories of the zombie outbreak from all over the world, but the final reports had half of his work deleted because it was too personal. So he takes the original stories he used for the reports and writes a book about the zombie war, nicknamed World War Z. This book is essentially that book. A collection of first-person accounts from eye-witnesses that were a part of the initial outbreak, first wave of battles, the fall of humanity, the slow crawl back, and the final comeback over the zombies. Again I cannot praise the amount of detail and world-building put Brooks put into World War Z. That’s why it’s one of my favorite books and why it’s on the list.
#5 “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
Now I don’t try to pick favorites, but I think “The Book Thief” may by my favorite book. Right up there with “World War Z.” I must add that it’s for very different reasons. I mean Zusak does a fantastic job world building and flushing out characters but the settings of Nazi Germany versus possible zombie-filled future are very different. “The Book Thief” follows the story of a young girl name Leisel who grows up in Nazi Germany in the middle of World War II. She is sent away on train with her brother to a new family because her biological mother cannot take care of her. Along the way, her brother passes away and they have to bury him at a graveyard along the path of the train. There one of the grave keepers drops his manual in the snow and Leisel steals it. This starts her on the path of being a book thief hence the title of the book. Also the whole thing is narrated by Death. Did I leave that out? Because that’s a big deal. The way that Zusak talks about Nazi Germany and the way someone like Leisel might live her life in this world really blows me away. He shows the Nazi perspective as well as the reluctant German perspective. He shows the horrors of The Holocaust and of World War II all while following the life of a little girl who loves to read. You get very personal moments from Death as he watches the life of Leisel unfold. I could easily recommend all of the books on the list, but I would recommend “The Book Thief” most of all. Markus Zusak is an amazing author and this book just blows me away with how good it is. Also this book has a pretty decent movie as well. It’s not as good as the book, obviously, but the movie does a pretty good job of telling this story. “The Book Thief” is a book I first read in High School but I have continued to re-read it ever since. Not only is it a book about one of the darkest time periods in world history, but it also talks about the importance of books and words. It talks about censorship and the power of ideas. It;s message gets real deep and left me with a lasting impression. That’s why it’s number five on the list and probably my favorite book of all time.
Sorry that this special Weekly Blog was so long. I didn’t think I’d write that much, but once I started writing about my favorite books, it was hard to stop. Really quick I want to give a shoutout to some honorable mentions:
- Anything Rick Riordan has written including the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, The Kane Chronicles, The Heroes of Olympus, and Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.
- The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
- The Mortal Instruments and The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Claire (not a big fan of her Infernal Devices series.)
- “The City of Ember” by Jeanne DuPrau and the rest of the series
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- “The Book of Lost Things” by John Connolly
- “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
“The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree” by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I’m sure I could add a bunch more, but I think you see the picture. Those are all wonderful books that have influenced me in one way or another. Some during my childhood, some during high school, and some in my young adult life. All of them hold special places in my heart. Sorry again for writing so much, but I just couldn’t stop. I could gush all day about all of these books. I hope you enjoyed this insight into me and the books that have influenced my life. Are there certain books that you really enjoy and/or have influenced your life. Tell me about them down in the comments. Also feel free to give this a like or share it. I really appreciate all the support from the community I’m building her on WordPress. Also if you have a minute, why don’t you spend some time on the website checking out the other stuff I’ve written and published. There are over 200 pieces published here on my website, so I’m sure you can find something you’d enjoy reading.
Thank you again for all the support and I hope you have a fantastic week!
Header Photo Credit to Leaderonomics.com
Dinosaurs Before Dark Book Cover Image credit to Good Reads
To Kill A Mockingbird Book Cover Image credit to Wikipedia
The Fire Within Book Cover Image credit to Scholastic
World War Z Book Cover Image credit to Wikipedia
The Book Thief Book Cover Image credit to Good Reads