This isn’t exactly timely, but it’s been on my personal discussion board for the past month and required time for me to sit back and evaluate.
Don’t worry. I haven’t developed a New Year’s Resolution list.
On Facebook, eons back in the social media world, there was this viral post-thingy where people listed the top ten influential books of their childhood. I read quite a few, which led to my ponderings about what my top ten books would be. Narrowing it down to ten seemed like a Sisyphean task.
But I did it and because it took so much brainpower, I thought I’d share. I’ve taken liberties. Series don’t count as three, but only as one. This list is in no particular order, mind you. It encompasses my very young years and has nothing to do with high school or college or even middle school. This is elementary school, my dear Watson.
If you’re curious as to how someone could even remember such things, I was one of those weird kids who liked lists, like an abnormal amount. I kept track of the books I read, the author, the publication date, and the date I finished it. I know. Weird.
- Dragonlance Universe
Okay, this is huge. My grandmother bought me the Magic of Krynn at a downtown bookstore in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. I remember picking it out randomly because it had a cover of magicians and warriors that looked remotely intriguing instead of the Diana Gabaldon book she was originally going to buy me (ironically, I got really into Outlander later in life). I read the short story collection on a canoe trip down the Judith Basin, where the poor book got wet and suffered under a microburst that ripped out tent apart and we spent the night huddled in a two man tent stuffed with six people and two very wet Labradors. Good times. I eventually gobbled up the Dragonlance Chronicles, the Raistlin Chronicles, only one of the New Generation Chronicles, and the Legends Chronicles. I was all about Raistlin Majere. Still am. Although he can be a real dick.
- Shade’s Children by Garth Nix
This book changed my world. It was dark and twisted and I will always remember the ending with Ella and Drum because it gave me so much heartache. And the part “little tyrannical shit,” was the most blasphemous thing I had read, so of course, I had to consume the novel immediately. It was my first step into an apocalyptic land of the abandoned. I actually sought out this novel a few months back, determined to find the nonresistant hardback with the golden eye on the cover and code streaming down. I ended up rereading the ending again in a used bookstore (a paperback with an unacceptable cover) and being just as moved.
- Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde
I actually stole this book. I found it packed away in the back of a long forgotten bookshelf in my 5th grade class. I had recently moved and found the whole place offsetting and strange. I asked if I could borrow the book, got permission (not sure if my teacher felt bad for me or not), and then conveniently forgot to bring it back. I remember keeping an ear out for anyone asking for it (because I have a terrible guilt complex) and even asked around if anyone would be interested in reading it (to my relief, all the answers were shrugs or suggestions that we go outside and play foursquare). I loved the parts between Selendrile and Alys, and after I got over my upset that she wasn’t an actual witch, nearly died of my first taste of fangirldom when Selendrile asked Alys to stay with him in the end. You have no idea how many times I reread that book. How much I craved a sequel.
- Sabriel by Garth Nix
Yes. Just Sabriel. Not the rest of the Abhorsen series, which I truly disliked. It’s also probably where I found an affinity for male protagonists who have no memory of who they are. And my love for necromancy. With bells. And my love for creepiness. I just loved this book so much I want to give it a hug.
- The Dragon Chronicles by Susan Fletcher
I read these books multiple times. I also remember reading something about how the author wrote this book in one sitting with her cat on her lap. I remember really wanting to do that someday. Kaeldra is like the Khaleesi of my childhood.
- The Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron
I had to wait for the library to get these books in. I checked every week for them until I had the whole series. It was just so good.
- The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.
I should add the Westmark series in here too. My father introduced me to this series and just like anything else, I ate them up.
- Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein
I found this book on a library shelf. I checked it out, rode my bike home, stuck it on the kitchen table for future reading and went out to play with my friends. When I came back, I found my father reading it and rather pleased, asked him how he liked it. He told me it was good and then later revealed (after I was almost finished with it) that he had picked it up and read it because he was worried it would contain content unsuitable for a young girl such as myself. And he was a librarian no less. There were adults pretending to be aliens and keeping children as pets. I could see his point later.
- The Animorphs by K.A. Applegate
Yep. I was one of those kids. I remember buying the book and then nearly finishing it on the drive home. It got to the point that my dad would take the books and imprison them in the trunk and only give them when we had gotten home. Such torture.
- Fern Capel Series by Jan Siegel
Probably the book where I realized what sex was. This baby had mermaids and Atlantis and time travel.
Some Honorable Mentions:
- The Dark Rises Series by Susan Cooper
The start of my love for brotherhood stories
- His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
I didn’t want to count this one because The Golden Compass really didn’t hit any of my buttons. The Subtle Knife and Amber Spyglass, on the other hand, are so much favorite it hurts. There’s a part in the Subtle Knife that still makes me cry no matter how many times I read it. If this was a ‘most-influential-books-of-middle-school, it would be on the list.
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
My dad purchased this for me at a bookstore in Kalispell. On the cover, Gollum stalked Bilbo in eerie black and neon green. I read it on a car trip to go hiking and I remember looking out the window at the mountains and trees as I passed. My dad has a spot in Montana that he always called the Misty Mountains. I agree fully with this sentiment.