Copying my fellow blogger and new friend Jo Bryant, I want to write a list of books that really shaped me as a child. I was a voracious reader, as most intelligent children are. Here’s my list:
- World Book Encyclopedia (1970 edition)
- A book on Greek and Roman mythology for children
- A French language anatomy textbook
- Stuart Little
- Complete Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- Winnie the Pooh
- The Hobbit
- David Copperfield
- Edgar Allan Poe
- History of the English Monarchy beginning with William the Conquerer. (Each page was devoted to one monarch in a 2 column format.
- Old Yeller
- Peter Pan
- Watership Down
- Breakfast of Champions
- Charlotte’s Web (Added on February 7, how could I have forgotten it?)
I tell you, I poured over that Encyclopedia. I traced the maps. I memorized all the summary facts that were contained in a box. I’d grab a letter like ‘I’ and memorize the populations of India, Indonesia, Israel and Italy. I read up on people like Charles Darwin, or all the Philips that ruled over France, or the Georges in the U.K. When I was ten, the edition was only two years old, but as I aged into teenagerdom, it became less and less relevant. But it was interesting how much information remained stable. The Viet Nam war wasn’t over and it was very Cold War-oriented. It showed people begging for food along the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. A lot of it was propaganda, but even so, what they said was factual, none of it was fictional.
I became obsessed with Stuart Little. How could a human have a mouse for a child? The question haunted me and I figured if I read the book enough times, the answer would pop out at me like some encrypted message.
Sherlock Holmes was incredibly cool. He knew everything and wasn’t afraid of fisty-cuffs.
I must admit that I wasted a lot of my reading time on D.C. and Marvel comics. The draw was too strong. One of my favorite comic books was Weird War. It combined my love for scary stories with war stories. I loved it. C’mon. Almost every issue had ghost pirates. They were made for each other- as Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean proves all too clearly. Superman, Batman and Spiderman were my favorite heroes.