Monday, August 25, 2014

The 10-Book Challenge

A fellow blogger challenged his followers to list ten books that had an influence on them. This really got me to thinking back to my childhood.  It took a while but I finally came up with a list. I decided I could just as well post it in case some other bloggers might want to take up the challenge

Here they are in no particular order:

1)  Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Suess.  I have loved this book for as long as I can remember. I puddle up every time I read, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful one hundred percent".

2)  The Book of Knowledge 1943 edition. I don't remember how old I was when my parents bought this children's encyclopedia set but I spent many hours browsing through it. I think it gave me my interest in travel, archaeology and ancient history.

3)  The Household Searchlight Recipe Book. As a child, I loved to browse through my mom's cookbook reading about fanciful things like hors d'oeuvres and souffles and other foods that never graced our kitchen table. I yearned to be a sophisticated grown-up and make all those exotic dishes. ( I do occasionally make a quiche or a bundt cake but I'm still not sophisticated enough to make anything really elegant.)

4) The Nancy Drew Mystery series by Carolyn Keene. I avidly read those gripping mystery stories, sometimes under the covers at night so my mom wouldn't catch me. After I read all they had in the library I moved on to other writers and subjects. The Nancy Drew series was updated in the 70's because the books were no longer PC (eg. all the bad guys were "swarthy") but I'm sure they are still luring girls into the love of reading.

5)  The Golden Nature Books series. These handy little paperback-sized books were just right for taking on family camping trips in the woods. They helped the kids and me to identify birds, wildflowers, trees and critters.

6)  All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriott and also his subsequent books. I fell in love with Yorkshire, the people and the English countryside. When I finally traveled to England and the plane slowly banked over stone-fenced fields dotted with sheep, I nearly wept with joy.

7)  Harbrace College Handbook. I was issued this English grammar book my first quarter of Community College back in 1982. I enrolled in an English composition class to recover from my combined divorce-and-empty-nest-syndrome collision. Ever since, this book has been my valuable resource when I need to check whether to use affect vs effect or who vs whom.

8)  How to Talk Minnesotan by Howard Mohr. Like most people, I grew up feeling quite ordinary and average. Sometime in the 70's and 80's, Mr. Mohr--along with noted humorist, Garrison Keillor noticed that we were kinda unique in our own folksy way. This book paved the way for our "Minnesota Nice" identity. So even though I may have a Minnesota accent, I can take some pride that along with that I also hold doors for people and defer to others in conversation, in elevators and driving.

9)  The Synonym Finder by J. J.Rodale 1978. I'm the sort who's always groping for words. I picked up this large book at a garage sale some years ago and I use it all the time. 

10) Family Cookbook and Memories by Janice Wagar 2007. It's probably tacky to include this among my favorite books since I compiled and wrote it, but allow me to explain. After I retired in 2005, I decided it was time to do the cookbook of family favorites I'd been thinking about for years. I collected recipes from family and friends which also brought back memories. I started including anecdotes and family history plus some humor in the book. By the time I was done, I had created something unique for my family. I sometimes re-read it and cringe at small errors or see things I wish I'd done differently, but all the same, it still gives me a boost to have actually created it.