Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Four Books

Four Books

Oh, right. Like I can really pick just four books...

{1} The Oz books by L Frank Baum - I can clearly remember walking through the tiny Paintsville Walmart as a little girl. Mom and Grandma were shopping for something specific, I'm sure. Mom has never been the "just browsing" type. On display in the middle of an aisle I spotted books advertised two for a dollar. They were like magnets and I could not resist. Mom said no. Grandma said, "Aw, now, Carol, buy them for her." And, because she knew Grandma would spend the money if she didn't, Mom bought four of them. I have three left. I leant one out, against my better judgment, when we lived in Tallassee, and it was never returned. I am a bit of an Oz purist. I prefer Return to Oz to The Wizard of Oz. I am not a Dorothy fan. Ozma is more my cup of tea, and I am planning a tattoo of her on my shoulder blade. Honestly, this topic is a whole entry in itself, so I should probably leave it at this.

{2} Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - In 8th grade, we got to choose a book from a long list instead of reading exactly what every other student was reading. I chose Rebecca, though I cannot tell you why. I don't even remember what the other options were. I fell in love with the book and have reread it a handful of times. I am not a rereader in the general sense, but I do return to certain books again and again. I have read a few of the sequel attempts. In 8th grade, I wrote my own. As you can imagine, my english teacher loved me. My friend, Kimmi, sketched beautiful portraits of my characters and we would hand them to Ms. Robertson to ooh and ah over. My copy of Rebecca is an old volume discovered at The Gnu's Room on Gay Street in Auburn, Alabama. That is my favorite book store of all-time. It was labyrinthine and smelled of old paper heaven.

{3} Harry Potter (but not for the reason you think) - A girl named Anna convinced me to read the first Harry Potter novel. I was reluctant. At that point, all seven had been released and a few of the movies were out. I had even seen the first and fourth movie. Neither tempted me to try the books. But the majority of the teen girls in my small group loved Potter, and I always try to relate to what my girls are passionate about (this is also the reason I am currently watching Gossip Girl). I was hooked as soon as I started and sped through all seven books in four weeks (while working full-time and caring for a house and two children and volunteering at church). I was, shall we say, obsessed? My husband grew to loathe Harry for stealing me away. It probably didn't help when I claimed Sirius Black as my fictional husband with whom I planned to have many fictional babies. (I am prone to hyperbole and have a wild imagination, so sue me). The reason I list these books however has little to do with the story itself. For me, reading Rowling's novels marks a return to children's literature. Since then, I have gone back and devoured all sorts of wonderful books I missed as a child. I was in such a rush to grow up; I thought such books beneath me. In hindsight, I would have been so much better off with Anne of Green Gables than I was with V C Andrews, but I can't undo history. Now, as I try to launch a career writing for children and young adults, I am ever grateful for what Ms. Rowling has done for this generation of readers. When I was in school, reading was something only nerds did. I was teased for it. But now I see the coolest of kids carting around books and discussing characters as though they are real... because they are real, aren't they?

{4} Poemcrazy by Susan Wooldridge - I happened upon this little gem on a bookstore shelf a few summers ago. After years of trying to fit my writing style into someone else's mold and forsaking poetry because other people so often belittled it, I had decided to let myself write. No more attempts at journalistic topics I didn't really care about... No more writing for people who hated the word "I" and didn't want my personality to show through any of my words... I purchased Poemcrazy on a whim and spent that summer flipping the pages, highlighting, underlining and - most importantly - writing poems. I still turn to it when I am teaching poetry workshops or just need a pinprick of inspiration to get me going. My worn copy is ink stained and soft-covered. It feels more like a friend than a book, and I have to say that is one thing my Kindle can never do for me.

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