Thursday, 4 September 2014

10 Books That Have Had An Impact On My Life

2 of my choices - put them on your reading list!

Two things - As the White Rabbit said "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" - and for me that would be writing for the Worldwide Genealogy Blog before my midnight deadline! Oops - this has been a crazy couple of weeks and I am completely off kilter (but slowly righting myself!). However, sometimes it is a good thing to be running late because - I saw a blogpost where one person challenged another to come up a list of 10 books that have had an impact on her life. Wow - that challenge is interesting and deep (and does not require getting doused with water!). I am a huge reader and always have been - and I mean one or two books a week, except while in graduate school (lots of reading, just not much fun stuff).

So with credit to the blogger (Judy from Australia) who wrote about the challenge, as well as a link to her list found at Jottings, Journeys and Genealogy, why not make up your list and then see if you share any books in common with her (I know I did). Perhaps you share a few books in common with me.

Here is my list:

(1) Thumbelina (Hans Christian Andersen)- the first book I got to purchase. I loved the story and the artwork - it fed into my sense of adventure and possibilities. When my mother told me I could pick out a book at the school fair, I thought I was taking it home. Sadly we purchased it for the school library - and when I did not have it checked out, I hid it so others could not find it to check it out. I was a bit naughty as a first grader in Catholic school (the story of my life). This book began my lifelong love affair with books as well as strong, smart heroines.

(2) The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment (trilogy by Mary Stewart) - I first read these books on our family summer vacation - we might have gone to Eastern Washington, but I went back in time and was transported.

(3) Black Like Me (John  Howard Griffin) - a must read for anyone who wants to understand what life was and sometimes still is like for a minority in the USA.

(4) To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) - I read this book in high school but did not really grasp the full importance of it until I read it (and watched the movie) for a legal ethics class. Every single one of us should aspire to live our lives with integrity and honor (when everyone is watching and more importantly, when they are not). What is not to love and admire about Atticus Finch, and didn't we all want to be friends with Scout?

(5) Gone With the Wind (Margaret Mitchell) - I immediately bonded with Scarlett in spite of all her faults and I never understood what anyone saw in Ashley. I was team Rhett from the get go. This book reminded me that so much in life is neither black nor white but various shades of grey. We need to understand an individual's background and motivations. My grandmother left me her second edition of the book (the one with all the movie photos) because I always snuck a peak whenever we visited for monthly Sunday dinner. GWTW created a bond between my grandmother and me that I will always treasure.

(6) Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning (trilogy by Sharon Kay Penman) - I picked up this trilogy while in Glasgow and read the books while I spent a summer in the UK. Fascinating historical fiction and wonderfully written. I am throwing in The Sunne in Splendour because I picked it up with the trilogy and loved the redemption of Richard III (unfair of Shakespeare to paint him a villain).

(7) In the Garden of Beasts (Erik Larson) - one of my favorite authors, as I love how he researches and shares truth that is stranger and harsher than fiction. As the world failed to pay attention, Hitler and his bully boys rose to power. What was it about the world powers, their leaders, and foreign service personnel that they stood by while Berlin and the rest of Germany slid into such horrors? Why did the German people turn on their neighbors and turn a blind eye to what was happening to the Jews and other "minorities." Why do we not seem to learn the lesson of what happens when a people, country or political group is intolerant - why when we said "never again" do we continue to have ethnic cleansing, massacres, and religious zealots/terrorists on the world stage?

(8) The Lymond Chronicles (a six part series) and The House of Niccolo (the eight part prequel) (Dorothy Dunnett) - my all time favorite author, someone who kept me thinking throughout each book in both series and she took me on an adventure all over the world. An absolutely brilliant series of books that once you reach the end of each series, you have to go back and start all over to catch all those clues you may have missed. Her books made me delve into the history, language, literature, religion, geography, and politics of the times she wrote about - she was a wonderful author who encouraged her readers to learn more about so many subjects. When I traveled throughout Scotland, Europe and the Mediterranean, oftentimes I knew I was traveling where my favorite characters traveled.

(9) The Reason I Jump (Naoki Higashida) - if you want to understand one person's journey living with autism and rethink your response to those who are different, this book is both eye-opening and heartbreaking. Whether you know an autistic person or you simply want to be aware of what an autistic person goes through and expand your understanding of humanity, read this book.

(10) The Boys In The Boat (Daniel James Brown) - Seattle in the 1930s and 1940s, working-class American boys with a dream, the history of crew both in England and America, the hard work, dedication, and hopes of the boat builder (George Pocock), the coaches, and the crew members of the University of Washington 8-man crew, all in the context of the events that shaped history - the depression and the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I was on the edge of my seat cheering those boys on and learning life lessons from Mr. Pocock. Reading this book, you can't help but cheer for Joe Rantz (it is also a story of families - those you are born into and those you choose to join, and it made me thankful for mine).

Next month, I will share my list of 10 genealogy or family history books that have had an impact on my genealogy life.

And now - what are your selections?


  1. Delighted to hear that I'm not the only one who listed Mary Stewart's trilogy! Those books are very different from what I would normally read, but the stories fascinated me.

  2. My list is all over the map and from very different periods of my life, but all of these books are in a pile by my bed and re-read frequently:
    1) Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
    2) Aubrey–Maturin series better known as the Master and Commander series, Patrick O'Brian
    3) Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
    4) Far Pavillions, M. M. Kaye
    5) The Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar
    6) Too Close to Call, Jeffrey Toobin (best political book, ever)
    7) On the Origins of Species, Charles Darwin
    8) Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
    9) Man Who Would be King, Ruyard Kipling
    10) Lost Horizons, James Hilton

  3. >I also love Mary Stewart's books - I read the Arthurian trilogy whenever I need comfort, which probably sounds odd and I will soon need new copies.
    >Sharon Kay Penman is brilliant and I agree with everything you said, Tessa.
    >On the serious side - Think a Second Time and Happiness is a Serious Problem by Dennis Prager. Good manuals for daily living.
    >Night and Dawn by Elie Wiesel
    >Winds of War/War and Remembrance by Herman Woulk

  4. So interesting to see what others choose. I need to think long and hard on this one.


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