“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” — Edward P. Morgan
“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” — James Bryce
The First 10 Books That Popped Into My Head
I’m always coming across best book lists. While they often have many of the same books on them, they also can differ tremendously depending on the genre of the list or the compilers.
So on reading one of these lists recently, I decided to put together my own list of “10 Books that Influenced my Life.” I came up with the list in just a couple of minutes, and afterwards I could probably have listed another 10 books.
But here is the list of the first thoughts that scrambled through my little grey cells.
“I Married Adventure,” by Osa Johnson. This was the first travel book I ever read, and it gave me my first inkling that I was born with wanderlust in my soul. I checked the book out of the library, from the adult section, when I was about nine years old.
“Forever Amber,” by Kathleen Winsor. I found this book in the bookcase of my grandfather’s book cabinet, the same place I found the works of Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Fennimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, and many more of the classic writers, all of which I read at quite a young age. “Forever Amber” sticks out in my mind because when I reached junior high school,, I overheard a group of girls calling it a “dirty book.” I didn’t know what they meant so I went back and reread it – and still didn’t know what they meant. I was a late bloomer. The book, by the way, would almost get a G rating in today’s world. It was this book, however, that prompted me to never censor books my children read.
“Gone with the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell. I so loved this book that I read it three times in the same year. Each read gave me a different meaning to the ending. It was this book that taught me that readers put their own interpretations to writing, and that there is more than one interpretation – and not always the one the author visualized.
“Blue Highways,” by William Least Heat Moon, the second most influential travel book I read. It was this author’s van travel that started my own travel dream, which I fulfilled when I spent 9 years living and traveling full-time in my small RV, Gypsy Lee.
“Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand, Wayne Dyer’s “Your Erroneous Zones,” and “The Women’s Room” by Marilyn French were read at a crucial turning point in my life. From one I learned that there was more than one way of looking at life, and came to the conclusion that the one and just about only true evil was to harm another person. From another, I realized that only I was responsible for my life and what I allowed in it, and from the third I accepted my strong feminine self that social expectations had dampened. As far as forming the core of my being, these three books are significantly responsible.
“The Snow Leopard,” by Peter Matthiessen. This is one of the books that fed my passion for the outdoors, travel and the natural world. It turned me on to environmentalism and gave me a new way of looking at things.
And “On the Road with Charles Kuralt,” and “Road Fever” by Tim Cahill helped define my travel writing style. I wanted to capture both the simplicity and joy of life that Kuralt brought to his writing and TV segments, and I identified with Cahill’s love of the outdoors and adventure and understood his understated sense of humor. I wanted to write like Cahilll, but with a feminine voice and eyes.
Just off the top of your head, what 10 books most influenced your life?
Bean Pat: Where’s My Backpack, http://tinyurl.com/lkxupke and Incidentally http://tinyurl.com/oyjp95f These two blogs let readers travel from their armchairs, a pastime I indulge in frequently when I’m not actually on the road. The first blog takes you on a walk through Rome, and the other lets you enjoy the beauty of stained class art if you are in the vicinity of Chicago.