Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Magic, Part 2

I have come up with another area of my childhood that gave the same feeling as Santa Claus. This has actually been bugging me since I wrote my last magic post, so I have been mulling it over and the answer was so obvious I might as well have dropped a 50 ton weight on my head:


Duh Heather. There are some books (or series of books) that I think about almost every day. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, since after all they are just BOOKS. But I had a fairly odd childhood. I was extremely (painfully) shy. I didn't have very many friends. My family moved around several times when I was growing up, and I make friends slowly, which is not a good combination for a little kid. On top of that, I remember the summer when I was 8 all of the sudden I could READ and I read everything I could find. I was homeschooled and we went to the library on a really regular basis so that wasn't too difficult. These are the books that have that magic. I feel like I know these characters personally, to the point where I find I get slightly offended (in the manner of an 8 year old) when people talk about these books like they know the characters as well as I do. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite books from when I was a kid.

#1 Little House on the Prairie. Yes, the entire series, by Laura Ingals Wilder.
SIGH. I LOVE these books. I watched to TV show too when I was growing up, but that was so sanitized and, well, diabetic compared to the books. I think my mom read the entire series aloud to my sister and me about three times through the course of our childhoods. These remind me that being a kid never changes, no matter what century you are living in. There will always be a Nellie Olsen. There will always be the teacher you don't get along with. You will you will play and you will hear stories from your parents and you will get in trouble. These are timeless. But when you go back and re-read them as an adult you see that LIFE never changes either. There will be times of financial stress, fires, death, sickness, moving, wondering if winter will ever end.... The descriptions of food alone reinforce the fact that Laura didn't have much when she was a little girl. Who ever thought that an orange would be such a luxury? Or a new dress? Or paper? They are books about growing up, sometimes growing up fast, and gaining strength and character and integrity.

#2 Narnia. Yes, the entire series, by C.S. Lewis.
I was totally obsessed with these books for several years. Did anyone enter a closet growing up and NOT secretly wish that the back would be missing and you'd be transported to another world where it was prophesied that you'd be a ruler and you'd get to ride Aslan? I didn't think so....

#3 The Dark Is Rising. Yes, the entire series, by Susan Cooper
Screw Harry Potter, this is the original magic stuff. These books are amazing. Oh, and I never saw the movie because I didn't want to ruin the image in my head, and I'm glad I didn't.

#4 Anastasia Krupnik. Yes, the entire series, by Lois Lowry

#5 Beauty: A Re-telling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, by Robin McKinley
Wow. I love this book. I still go back and read it. The descriptions, the language, and the creative plot combine to make a really amazing story. This is not your typical Disney version of being the little woman to a monster. This is good stuff.

#6 Camilla, by Madeleine L'Engle.
This book broke my heart a little bit.

#7 A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. (Okay, really anything in the Murry/O'Keefe family of books.)

#8 Meet the Austins, by Madeleine L'Engle. (Okay, really anything in the Austin family of books.)

The last two are really special series. The Murrys are the family that the weird quantum/spiritual stuff happens to, and the Austins are more "normal". I really like how if you read far enough into the Austins the Murrys come back into the stories. Madeleine L'Engle is one of my very favorite authors, and I have yet to find a book of hers that I didn't love. Her adult writing is also amazing, particularly the Crosswicks Journals. I also LOVE Many Waters, An Acceptable Time, and The Arm of the Starfish. They aren't exactly kids books. Her writing speaks to so many people. When she died earlier this year I felt like I'd lost a friend.

I'm sure there are more, so this one might warrant a follow-up post later. There are several I could write about from an adult point of view as well.

1 comment:

Meredith said...

I would have to agree with every book on this list!

I think we would have been good friends, had we been in junior high together : )