The very best picnic
This was the first book I ever read. It was one of the "Little Golden Books" by Eugenie Fernandes. It's not being published anymore, but you can still get a used copy. It's about a little girl and her mother who plan for a picnic outing, but suddenly the little girl gets sick on picnic day. While the little girl is sad, stuck in bed, her mother tries to cheer her up and eventually brings the whole picnic to the little girl's bedroom. The mom brings in tree branches and ties them around the bed post, puts the gold fish in a little pool to represent the pond, brings the picnic blanket and snacks, etc.
What stuck with me though, was how creative this mom was and how much the mom in the book reminds me of my own mother. It's always inspired me to use creativity to find a way to make any situation better and remember that when all hope seems to be lost, there's always a way.
Grimm's Fairy tales
I'm sure most people have read Grimm's Fairy Tales before. This was one of my favorite collections of stories because they inspired me to imagine. As far-fetched as some of the stories were, they were magical to me and introduced me into a world very different from our own. It made me dream.
This is one of those series that I'm not sure are in circulation anymore. They were quick reads about a maid who always, always made mistakes - especially comical ones. While they made me laugh, it made me realize that it was ok to make mistakes. I appreciated how she dealt with failure and how the other people in the books still loved her.
I think this was the first time in my childhood, I was introduced to the idea that sometimes parents or adults could be wrong. This is a tricky subject for parents as I can imagine, but in some way, it made me more comfortable forming my own opinions and not just what people older than me told me to believe.
Dealing with Dragons
This quartet series by Patricia Wrede was one my favorite and most enjoyable reads growing up. It's about a princess who breaks the stereotypes of a damsel in distress. Rather, she takes control of her own life and actively shapes it. In a strange way, I found this reassuring to my eight year old self because it helped reaffirm that it's ok not to want to be a damsel in distress or follow the stereotypical expectations of being female. It was the first book I encountered among all the Disney princesses at the time that showed a strong female lead who took the reins to her life and celebrated it.
Alanna (song of the lioness series)
This was also a quartet series starting with "Alanna" and followed by "In the Hand of the Goddess", "The Woman Who Rides Like a Man", and "Lioness Rampant". I think it's safe to say I was enthralled with non-traditional female heroines at this point in my childhood. I loved reading how Alanna, the main character took on a traditional male role, succeeded in surpassing all her male peers by finding her own way, but also gained their respect. It also went into some of the very real prejudices and even physical challenges women encounter in typically male dominated roles. It introduced the importance of developing male advocates as allies and that you can be feminine, but strong and respected too.
I don't think this was a single book, but perhaps a biography of Socrates. From my readings, I took away "question everything". Never take something for granted, assume, or remain unknowing - ask.
To Kill a Mockingbird
“Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets." This quote stayed with me for a very long time. It gave me the courage to strive to be truly genuine and not afraid to bring my true self out not only at home, but outside the home too.
Many people would likely not believe me, but this was truly one of my favorite books. It took me a second read in high school to fully appreciate it. This book gave me the strength to try something hard and challenging, despite everyone's opinions, but also the strength to get back up and not be discouraged if I failed along the way. It taught me not to feel discouraged or disappointed by lack of success when trying something hard - that trying for something hard is better than settling for less. My favorite quote:
"Give not thyself up....There is wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar."
There was a time in my young adult life where I struggled with how much I should share what I created with others for two reasons. One - my work was being copied by others, in some cases submitted for competitions. Two - I feared that someone else would simply do it better and make my efforts somehow seem less. But, this book gave me a sense of peace. It showed me that I should always continue creating and inventing. Don't worry about everyone else. Our value is not about what we create, but rather that we continue and can create.
"Nothing is given to man on earth. Everything he needs has to be produced. And here man faces his basic alternative: he can survive in only one of two ways--by the independent work of his own mind or as a parasite fed by the minds of others. The creator originates. The parasite borrows. The creator faces nature alone. The parasite faces nature through an intermediary. The creator's concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite's concern is the conquest of men. The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is with himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive"
Thanks for reading my lengthy post! What book(s) have shaped your life?