As most of my readers know, I am a Christian, so the Bible is big for me. It is tempting to give you a list of all of the secular books that impacted me as a child and young adult and save the Bible for the end, highlighting how it's power is greater than all the others. But, things like that, as least coming from me, always seem a bit self-serving and obnoxious. Like when I say to Hubband, "I just want you to be happy." So, I am going to mention the Bible up front. The Bible matters, but in a way that is outside the scope of this list.
The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, with pictures by Garth Williams were a pre-teen favorite. The television show was on at the same time, so I really got carried away by the idea of wearing long skirts and riding in buggies. I remember pulling my knee sock up as high as they would go so that they looked like Laura's stockings.
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl was haunting. I can't quite put into words the way it changed me. It was personal and historical and universal all at the same time, and I think it was the first time that I could imagine those things intersecting. I guess, you could say, it gave me perspective.
Some book by Jane Austen, probably Pride and Prejudice. I can't actually remember which book of hers it was, but it used words like countenance and terms like three and twenty. I found it very confusing, and I had to admit that, for the first time, I was out of my depth. This was not Hop on Pop or Fantasy Island. It was good for me. Rather than give up, I learned that countenance means face and three and twenty means twenty three.
Seventeen Magazine, September 1984. I read every inch of this issue of this magazine. I have no idea why, but this back-to-school issue was like my life for six weeks in the late summer of 1984. I still remember that the cover girl was named Gracie Santana. I can conjure up a few of the photo lay outs. Nuts! But, for better or worse, this is what passed for influence on the fifteen year old me.
Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss is a true crime book about a Marine doctor who kills his family. It was the first true crime book I ever read. I was riveted. This book probably played a roll in my future career in law enforcement. Have I ever written about my police years? I don't think I have. Oh, well, I will let you imagine it for now.
Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein and George Plimpton was an oral biography of Edie Sedgewick. She was a socialite, model, drug addict in the Warhol culture of New York in the sixties, and her story is told through interviews. This was fascinating to me. A world I had no idea existed, laid out in vibrant detail. Drugs, orgies, electroshock therapy, the state mental hospital. It was not pretty. It satisfied a primal teenage need to dabble in counter culture, without straying too far from the safety and comfort of my pleated skirt life.
Those Who Love by Irving Stone, was assigned reading for my high school history class. It is a biographical novel about John and Abigail Adams. It was so rich and detailed. I fell in love with John and Abigail, and it had a lasting impact. My undergraduate degree is in Early American History, and no matter what the fashion of the day becomes, I will always prefer Adams to Jefferson. So, there.
Well, that's it for now. These are the books I can remember as really having an impact on me.
What about all of you?
What books do you remember from your history?