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View Diary: Books That Changed My Life--What Was the Most Difficult or Daring Book You Read as a Child? (77 comments)

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  •  I grew up surrounded by books (7+ / 0-)

    And not just bestsellers and potboilers or airport paperbacks (though we had some of those too), but Big Important Books, some of them quite old, and a lot of them not really intended for kids. My mother was an English Lit major (going for her MA at the time) from a long line of book-collecting academics. Dad was also a teacher (history & civics, science) and a voracious reader; I read everything I could get my hands on as far back as I can remember. A lot of my really early reading was in the form of old Victorian-era Children's books and stacks of old (old old, like 11890s-1920s old) National Geographics.

    The first real adult book I read was Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, in second grade. I remember being able to follow the story and grasp the themes, but being a little overwhelmed by the complexity of adult relationships being depicted, and feeling just as awful for Lenny's poor squished mice as I did for Lenny. Around the same time, I read Flowers for Algernon, and thought at the time I'd just read the saddest book I would ever read in my life. I read some hard sci-fi, a lot of history, and even tried my hand at fantasy (I found Tolkien opaque and boring in third grade, and gave up on The Hobbit; I still stand by my initial observation), and I loooooved biographies. I also read some age-appropriate books (Little House, The Borrowers, the Narnia books). I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; it showed me that parents could be fallible.

    I was forbidden very little---around the time I was in junior high, I do remember my stepmother thinking I should not be reading adult romance novels (stuff like Sweet Savage Love) or The Thorn Birds (because of the sex) and Carrie (I think that one for the language?) but of course I read all of those---and more!---in secret. :-)  Banned Books Week is still one of my favorite things.

    "We are the sum of our experiences, plus a bit of biology tossed in." © grover

    by Vacationland on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 08:43:29 AM PDT

    •  What an adventurous odyssey of reading you've had, (3+ / 0-)

      Vacationland!Good on yer, as they say Down Under. I also have read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and now have quite a different attitude toward it from what I did at age 11.

      This:

      A lot of my really early reading was in the form of old Victorian-era Children's books and stacks of old (old old, like 11890s-1920s old) National Geographics.
      OMG! Did you read the Elsie Dinsmore series? The Harlem Globe Trotters? The Bobbsey Twins? To say nothing of Gene Stratton Porter, with Girl of the Limberlost, Her Father's Daughter (terribly racist), and The Magic Garden?

      If we ever meet in person, we could certainly exchange views on those!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 02:17:29 PM PDT

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      •  I read Elsie Dinsmore (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        No Exit, Diana in NoVa

        and the Bobbsey Twins, and the Five Little Peppers, and Gene Stratton Porter (Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost) and The Enchanted Barn by Grace Livingston Hill

        I thought Elsie Dinsmore was one of the most bizarre books I ever read up to that point. Little Elsie, always running around and telling everyone "No! It's the Sabbath!" if they contemplated doing anything other than praying, culminating in the scene where she faints at the piano after refusing to play a song her father requests which is too secular and Papa finally sees the light.

        We were talking about Daddy Long Legs and The Constant Nymph above - Elsie Dinsmore is yet another book of that era where Elsie marries her father's friend and contemporary - quite the fashion back then, I guess.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 05:29:47 AM PDT

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