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You always remember your first.

jaylake recently asked people to respond to a post asking about favorite books and stories. I didn't respond to this at first, because I'm always leery of "favorites" - I might feel entirely different later in the day!

Then I thought, "Hmmm, perhaps I could list the first 10 books (that I can remember) to influence me as a young reader." That's every bit as informative about people's likes and dislikes, methinks, and could be very revealing about who we are - if you accept the notion that what we read forms who we are.

So without further ado, here are the first 10 books that I read as a kid (I define that as pre-college) and that have stuck with me through the years:
  1. Dinosaurs! No particular book, but lots of 'em! One of the first I ever wrote a book report about, in Fourth Grade, was a 500-page tome all about dinos. The teacher called my parents in to consult because she thought I lied; no little kid would read 500 pages of nonfiction. Bafangu to her!
  1. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle

  2. The Grand Tour, Miller and Hartmann (SF art and astronomy - what's not to love?)

  3. Rocketship Galileo, Robert Heinlein

  4. Dune, Frank Herbert

  5. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov

  6. DAW Year's Best Anthologies, ed. Donald A. Wollheim (borrowed 'em all from the library)

  7. Survive the Coming Nuclear War, Ronald Cruit (Cold-War era nonfiction)

  8. 1984, George Orwell

  9. The Road to Science Fiction #3, ed. James Gunn

  10. Watership Down, Richard Adams
What are yours? Feel free to meme this!



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 1st, 2007 05:45 pm (UTC)
In order to discover new authors/books I would send an e-mail to a list of friends and ask them to suggest only one book for me to read. Well, I worded it as "If you could only suggest one book for me to read, which one would it be?"

I got a good list of books that way.

May. 1st, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
Aha! That's why people start those memes. Good idea.
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May. 1st, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)

I suspect you're being a bit dramatic here; I'd bet that at least four or five of those were out before you got out of high school.

I loved the Foundation books for their outliney-ness, but just can't read them any more. Kind of like Stapledon's Last and First Men and Star Maker: You read them for the ideas and huge spans of time. Writing actual stories into those books would mean tetraologies.
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May. 1st, 2007 07:37 pm (UTC)
Where I grew up, "high school" started at 7th grade (small town). I consider everything I put in my 10-list to be SF, even the nonfiction stuff *g*
May. 1st, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
I wasn't sure I could even remember 10, but once I started thinking about this, more books came back to me. These aren't in any particular order, although the Alcott is the earliest book I remember reading and loving (I read that when I was around 7 or 8). Looking at this list, it's funny, but I seem to have always been fairly eclectic in my reading tastes (as I am now).

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (I no longer have the copy my grandfather gave me when I was about 7)
2. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (I still have the copy my grandfather gave me for my 9th birthday, back when the earth was cooling)
3. A collection of all of Andersen's fairy tales. I still have this book, and have loved re-reading it many, many times.
4. Dune by Frank Herbert
5. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein
6. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (one of my favorite short stories of all time is in this book, although I cannot think of the title just this second).
7. Mourning Becomes Electra, by Eugene O'Neill. Not strictly a book, but I love O'Neill's plays, especially this one.
8. Rendevous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (I remember being disappointed with the ending)
9. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I loved, loved, loved this book!
10. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
May. 1st, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
Eclectic indeed! I didn't think I could do 10, either, but I ended up having to leave off several more that I remembered reading in high school.
May. 1st, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)
the first 10 books to influence me as a young reader
"What are yours?"

Hm, let's see:

1. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle

2. The Forgotten Door, Alexander Key

3. Knight's Castle, Edward Eager

4. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin

5. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

6. Mythology, Edith Hamilton

7. the original Johnny Quest novels

8. Roadmarks, Roger Zelazny (I'm not actually sure when I first read this, but it's one of my all-time favorite books)

9. Starman Jones and Doorway into Summer, Robert Heinlein

10. We had a set of Disney hardback books when I was a kid. I don't remember the title, but one was green and one was blue and I think there were yellow and red ones as well. They had a variety of stories, including Zorro and Robin Hood and the Jungle Book.

May. 1st, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
Re: the first 10 books to influence me as a young reader
L'Engle seems to have affected just about everyone!
May. 1st, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC)
Re: the first 10 books to influence me as a young reader
Definitely. I debated adding Andre Norton's Witch World to the list as well--I remember being underwhelmed by the book itself, but I read it around the same time as Wrinkle and Earthsea and it helped lure me into the genre.
May. 1st, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC)
Re: the first 10 books to influence me as a young reader
Yes, but I'm surprised that everyone's picking A Wrinkle in Time (not that it's not a great book). I'd chose A Swiftly Tilting Planet if I had to pick only one of her books.

I've answered a variant of this question (pick the three books you read as a child you'd take with you if stranded on a desert island) with:

A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott
Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther

My other seven? I'll have to think about it.
May. 2nd, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
Re: the first 10 books to influence me as a young reader
I bet it's because it was just the more-available book of the two.

That whole stranded-island notion is too tough for me! I would bring only one book: a solar-powered e-book with the Library of Congress in its memory *g*
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May. 1st, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
Dinos - I forgot a book! Editing my post....
May. 1st, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
Oooh, the Mushroom Planet! Is Winnie the Pooh speculative fiction?
May. 1st, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
This should be interesting.. here they are, in no particular order, and not necessarily sci-fi. :)

1. Ender's Game
2. Watership Down
3. The Hobbit
4. The Once and Future King (first book)
5. His Dark Materials (the Golden Compass trilogy)
6. Myst (all three)
7. Jurassic Park
8. Artemis Fowl
9. Anthem
10. Atlas Shrugged

Somewhat eclectic, I suppose, but they all shaped me at various points. I still consider myself to be 'growing up' (as I expect I will for the next many years). I mostly got these by picking the most influential ones out of the collection on my shelves, because anything that shaped me as much as these did I had to have as soon as I read it or found it myself in the first place. :)
May. 1st, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
Sure, they're not all hard SF, but they're all spec-fic.

You read Ayn Rand as a kid? Must've messed you up but good! (I mean that in a positive way *g*)
May. 1st, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
I actually read my first Ayn Rand when I left high school - I was considering doing the scholarship, but decided I was too lazy. It still had a big effect on me, though!
May. 2nd, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
Ayn Rand would have been one of the very very few mainstream authors I'd have been concerned to see in my kids' book bags. I never did. I wonder what I'd have done.

You know, it just occurred to me that I didn't include either Treasure Island OR freaking Mark Twain in my list (which I did in my journal - just to spread the meme). What the HELL was I thinking of? Also, what about the Norton Anthology of Poetry which I certainly read when I was pre-teen. I'll bet books I'd forgotten in my list will come at me all night now like jealous ex-lovers. Criminy.
May. 2nd, 2007 03:24 am (UTC)
You consider her mainstream? Hm, I guess I can see that, though I would place her work in the spec-fic category. Yeah, I can imagine that a parent would get a little nervous about that. Not exactly Mein Kampf territory, but more a "Let's talk about this book" sort of thing.

I love that "ex-lovers" thing! I know what you mean: It has been SO HARD to resist updating the list (note that I did add one)....
May. 2nd, 2007 04:39 pm (UTC)
I read The Fountainhead in high school, at my mother's suggestion. My parents never promoted certain world views, but I guess she figured I'd be horrified all on my own. It worked.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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