Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Guest Post: Kathleen McCleary

I am just thrilled that Kathleen McCleary is joining us at Booking Mama today. Yesterday, I reviewed her new novel HOUSE & HOME which I enjoyed very much.

I absolutely love the topic that she chose to blog about -- My Great Books of Childhood. I have so many fond memories of books that I read when I was a kid; and it's fun to reminisce with Ms. McCleary -- she's listed some great ones!

My Great Books of Childhood

Okay, so I was bookish as a kid. I was NOT a nerd; I just loved to read. And there were certain books I read over and over again, to the point where I’m sure I could recite large chunks of them to you completely accurately to this day. I believe that those books, which are so thoroughly ingrained into my conscious and subconscious, must influence my writing even now in subtle or not-so-subtle ways. Here are five that I would happily re-read again today. (And as for the fact that many of these are well-known classics, it’s because they’re so dang GOOD, like the old saying about clichés being clichés because they’re true).

Mrs. Mike, by Nancy and Benedict Freedman

This book ruined me for life. I read it in seventh grade and it absolutely set the standard for what I expected my future husband to be—handsome, strong, resourceful, compassionate, loving, tender, sexy, and with a wicked sense of humor. I know my own sweet husband suffers sometimes because he doesn’t always respond like Sergeant Mike. A fantastic account (based on a true story) of one young woman’s adventure in Canada’s Northwest Territories in the early 1900’s, the book is full of unforgettable characters and events.

Emily of New Moon, by L.M. Montgomery (along with Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest)

These books were actually out of print when I was young, poor cousins to Montgomery’s better known Anne of Green Gables series. But I LOVED Emily. She wanted to be a writer (like I did); she was moody sometimes (like I was); she even had a close male childhood friend who turned out to be something more (like I did!). She’s a much more real, intriguing, complex character to me than Anne, although I love Anne dearly and read all those books dozens of times, too. And Emily’s friend Ilse is one of my favorite characters in literature.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
I don’t know what more I can say about this, except that I believe the strong values portrayed here really influenced my own personal value system. The March family set a standard for kindness, compassion, generosity, tolerance, and forgiveness that made a huge impression on me. And it’s a fun read!

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
Another book about a girl who longs to be a writer, this is one of the most beautifully written books ever. It is so achingly honest and true. It’s also (more than sixty years after it was originally published) amazingly relevant. The characters wrestle with issues surrounding sexuality, poverty, addiction, and unplanned pregnancies, to name a few. My daughter’s book group read this when they were 13 and it provoked one of the liveliest discussions of the year.

The Enchanted Castle, by E. Nesbit
I loved this book because it’s about children playing a wonderful pretend game in which magical things happen, as I loved to do, only then a magical thing really DOES happen. I read it out loud to my daughters when they were younger and they were entranced. All of Nesbit’s books are terrific, but this is my favorite.

What are the childhood books that have influenced you the most? Do you share my passion for any of these? I’d love to know.


Feener said...

Lord of the Flies


The Outsiders

Mary said...

I read Mrs. Mike too!! Also, the Katie John series (author's name escapes me) and I remember my 3rd grade teacher reading The Mystery of the Pirate Oak everyday after lunch/recess. It was wonderful.

Serena said...

Wow, books I read as a kid would be Lord of the Flies and Ordinary People. But I don't think those were very influential until I started reading Wuthering Heights and Pride & Prejudice on my own. Hmm those are weird books to start reading as a young kid. I also read the dictionary...I guess I was and am a nerd.

Yasmin said...

Little Women and a Tree Grows In Brooklyn were a couple of my favorite childhood reads as well!

Amy said...

I love Little Women. :)

Julie P. said...

I also loved Little Women and Little House in the Prairie books.

Stacie said...

My favorites were the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I loved their strong family values, their faith in God, and their hard work ethic. I easily read through them and often played that I was Laura with a bonnett and all.

lisamm said...

The Secret Garden, Little Women (and others in the series), all the Little House books, Charlotte's Web, Anne of Green Gables, and Black Beauty are a few standouts.

Thanks, Kathy, for this great post! And thank you, Julie, for hosting Kathy's tour!

I'm going to go to amazon now to look at The Enchanted Castle.. I still read aloud to my girls, even though they are readers too at 9 and 10 yrs of age, but we still like that special bedtime ritual.

lisamm said...

OH, I forgot to mention the Narnia books. I've read these to my kids and we love them.

Dawn (sheIsTooFondOfBooks) said...

The *Little House* series, Nancy Drew :) , E. B. White's books ... There were two I posted about a while ago (now out of print): *One Kitten is Not Too Many* an "Easy Reader" which I found on ebay, and *What the Witch Left* which comes up on ebay every once in a while.

Anna said...

I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but I didn't read that as a kid.

I think my favorite books back then were Charlotte's Web and all the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary...and as a pre-teen anything by Judy Blume.