The OF Blog: Reading over the years: Childhood through middle adolescence

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Reading over the years: Childhood through middle adolescence

This is inspired by a comment in the link provided. To the best of my knowledge, I have reproduced by the year first read several books that I consider to be important to me. Since I've read thousands of books, needless to say there won't be many of those listed here. This list ranges across all forms of literature and includes school reads and books that I really was too immature to read at the time that I did. But perhaps such a list will be of interest to those who might like a trip back into their own personal Way-Back Machine, minus Peabody, of course.


*Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
*Charles Schulz, Happiness is a Warm Puppy


*Crockett Johnson, Harold and the Purple Crayon


*Robert Lewis Stevenson, Treasure Island


*C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia
*"Victor Appleton," Tom Swift novels


*Alan Bullock, Hitler


*J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer


*J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings; The Silmarillion
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Johann Wyss, The Swiss Family Robinson
George Eliot, Silas Marner


William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
*Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles


Edgar Allan Poe, "Fall of the House of Usher," "The Raven"
Nevil Shute, On the Beach
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon
Herman Melville, Moby Dick (note: I didn't finish this book then and hated it because of the horrid way it was instructed; I read it in full at 23 at a history professor's urging and loved it)


Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Hamlet
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

The asterisks mark the books that I chose to read on my own; the others were books introduced to me at school. Looking back, it is interesting to see how many non-genre (i.e. sold in the "Literature" section of a bookstore) books that some today would claim as having SF elements (Swift, Shakespeare, Shute, Keyes, Orwell) that I was introduced to via school reading lists. Mind you, this list is very incomplete and I might be editing it multiple times in the next few days as I pore through my shelves and stacks of books. Will likely make a list for my university years later. Sadly, couldn't remember the names of those historical biographies that I used to check out from the local library when I was 8-13 years old, as those books influenced my decision to earn two history degrees.


Wm. said...

Interesting selections, Larry. Fascinating to think of the books that helped shape a person's intellectual growth.

Roald Dahl and Edith Nesbit were the precursors who lit the way for me. 'James and the Giant Peach' was my favorite. George MacDonald's 'At the Back of the North Wind' heavily influenced me, and Hawthorne's 'Tanglewood Tales' and 'A Wonder Book' jostled my imagination quite a bit.

Though I'm sure we've got numerous influences now buried under the weight of memories. I was very fond of the poetry of Tennyson when I was a boy (still am), especially the Idylls.

Dominic said...

Interesting exercise, I should attempt rebuilding that list too eventually.

Some interesting similarities and differences with your list.

I wonder how you ended up reading Bullock's biography at 10! Oh well, I guess a bit the same way I ended up with a Shere Hite book at around that age. :)

Martin said...

This is really interesting. I wish my memory was a bit better!

The Mad Hatter said...

Nice post. My early reading list would include about 100 Choose Your Own Adventure books. I wish I could remember the title of the book that really hooked me though. All I can remember was it was an apocalyptic book with the main boy character being about 14. It involved some sort of virus and had them scrouging around. Thinking back it may not have been a great book, but it pulled me into reading a lot of other stuff.

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