Books: YA that changed our lives

CNN posted this article about young adult books that changed our lives. "Our" being respective. Maybe these books changed many lives . . . And I agree with some of them, though just as many of these I haven't read.

Which led me to consider the books of my youth that did impact me. Certainly, the Judy Blume and C.S. Lewis and Douglas Adams of CNN's list. Also, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, particularly her book The Changeling, though also that well-known Egypt Game. And there was a book called Cadbury's Coffin, too, which was something in the Gothic nature of the Bellairs books.

Animal books were big with me: Watership Down, Where the Red Fern Grows, Lassie Come Home, Old Yeller, Tailchaser's Song.

I had a penchant for fantasy. In addition to the usual fairy tales (my favorites being "King o' the Cats" and "Tom Tit Tot"), there was a book called The Seventh Princess that I read many times over when I was really young, and I recall another book called The Door in the Wall as well. I read King Arthur stories in various forms, and lots of mythology, and I read Lewis Carroll. (It would be much later when I discovered The Chronicles of Chrestomanci.)

Mysteries, too, were good. Sherlock Holmes, of course (though I read Nicholas Meyer before I read the original Doyle), but also The Dollhouse Murders and The Secret of Gumbo Grove. Snyder had a few good pseudo-mysterious books like The Velvet Room and The Truth about Stone Hollow. August, Die She Must by Barbara Corcoran gave me chills, not for being spooky, but for turning something as sunny as summer camp into a place of darkness and murder.

There was a book called A Band of Angels . . . No idea who wrote it, but I remember being quite moved by it.

By around fifth grade or so I'd graduated to Dean Koontz's Lightning and fare of that sort. But I still went back to old favorites. Anne of Green Gables and that whole series, for instance. I needed to balance the dark with the light, the fantastical with the more real, the futuristic with historical.

I read Isabelle Holland's Man Without a Face and (of course) Amanda's Choice. And once I'd found Sara Hylton, Victoria Holt, and Judith Tarr, well, like a child given a box of bonbons, I devoured the works of all of them. Those three aren't YA, but they impacted my youthful reading and early writing a great deal.

My mom gave me a copy of Austen's Pride and Prejudice when I was about nine, and though I initially struggled with the writing style, once I "got the hang of it," I enjoyed it very much. But I wouldn't read more Austen later, picking up Emma and Sense and Sensibility when I was a teen, and only now (as you know if you read this blog regularly) getting around to the others.

There was one book, and I wish I could remember the name of it, which told ghost stories from all over the U.S., and another similar book with ghost stories from around the world. And there was a book called Take Warning! which was a compendium of superstitions. I found those things fascinating.

One book that I pulled off the shelf at home very regularly was titled Strange Stories, Amazing Facts. I would freak myself out over things like the Faces of BĂ©lmez and Spring-Heeled Jack. God only knows why my parents even owned such a book, but I loved it.

Having grown up a voracious reader in a house full of books, it's difficult for me to pinpoint only a few that "changed my life." They all influenced me in their own subtle ways. Some remain on my shelf; just as many were library books that I might never find again in this day and age. But they live on in memory.

No comments: