Wicked Wednesday–Thankful for Books

Thankful for Our Readers:  The Wickeds’ November giveaway continues. For a chance to win A Christmas Peril, by our own J. A. Hennrikus, leave a comment below.

One of the things all who read this blog have in common is a love of reading and books. Books can be friends when we’re lonely. They can open up a wider world for us when we are stuck in one place. They can sooth and distract us during times of stress. They can stimulate our minds, open our imaginations and make us think about people and places in new ways.

Wickeds, tell us a story about a time a book was particularly meaningful to you.

Liz: When I was in grad school, I read Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were the Mulvaneys. It’s a book about a family that imploded after something happened to one of the children. It was one of her best books, and one of the best books I ever read – one of the few that I would re-read. It’s so raw and emotional and is such a great window into the way family tragedies happen and how things affect people. Makes me cry every time.

poisonwoodEdith: When I lived in Burkina Faso for a year in 1998-99, it was difficult time for me personally on all kinds of fronts. My sister sent me The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. The book is set in tropical central Africa and I was in the arid west, but the writing, the storytelling, the depth of characters – Kingsolver let me lose myself entirely to the story, for which I was grateful. She writes so thoroughly in four different characters’ voices, the reader knows instantly in whose voice a particular chapter is, and I learned from that. Thank you, Ms. Kingsolver.

Sherry: When I was going through a rough period in my life I came across Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky. It is the first in her amazing V. I. Warshawski series. V.I. is a strong, independent woman who also has a vulnerable side. I thought if she can be strong and independent so can I. Fortunately, I didn’t come across any dead bodies, no one beat me up, and no one set me up. But V. I. helped give me the courage to face life full on. A couple of years ago, I met Sara at Malice Domestic and got to thank her in person.

Jessie: This is such a great question! I’m not quite sure how anyone survives life without books. Certainly how one would survive childhood! When I was six my appendix ruptured in the situation ended up being very complicated. The surgeon was not certain I was going to survive the ordeal. While I was in the hospital recovering my mother read to me every night from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I thought it was so delightfully funny that I couldn’t help but laugh which unfortunately tore at my surgical staples.  The book was so wonderful that having them replaced was worth the pain. I think knowing the world was full of as much magic as books provided gave me a great deal of incentive to  make a full recovery.

Julie: I love this question. During the summer of 1990 I was running the box office for the Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment exhibition at the ICA. On my commutes, I read The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. I would also read it during breaks in the box office. Soon other folks were reading it as well, and I had to leave it there once I was done so that everyone could keep reading. I remember my sister (hello nepotism) wouldn’t leave until she finished it, so she sat on the floor of the box office sobbing. I loved Pat Conroy’s writing. He painted water colors of emotion with words. Just an amazing book, and memory.

Barb: These stories are terrific and you’ve called out some wonderful books, too. I remember vividly turning the last page of Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry and sobbing and sobbing because the book was over, because I couldn’t live in that world anymore, and because I could never again read that story for the first time.

Readers: For a chance to win A Christmas Peril, tell us about a time in your life when a book was particularly meaningful or just say hello!




65 Thoughts

  1. Hello! I cannot remember how old I was when I first read A Wrinkle in Time, but it opened my eyes to a world beyond the cut and dried, memorized answers of my school day life.

  2. There could be so many, for different times of my life. I’ll stick with mysteries! I vivdly remember discovering around 11 or 12, Agatha Christie, and then plowing thru pretty much the entire oeuvre the next few years with my dad. I wanted to be all of them! Even a spinster in a small English village or Tuppence–there was never enough stories for them. My mom stumbled across Mrs. Pollifax when I was in college and I still have the few Fawcett paperbacks that took us thru her chemo together. I have read many of Gilman’s other books (even tracked down some of her 🙂 but Emily P, hats and all, remains a favorite.

    1. I also have memories of reading Agatha Christie from my grandparent’s living room shelves on rainy days at the beach. It always stays with you.

  3. Now I have found a few more books to add to my list. Thanks Wickeds for your choices.

  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was a kid. In some ways Francie was a lot like me when I was young and it was wonderful reading a book about someone who was so much like me – especially the part where Francie was a book lover like me. 🙂

    1. Yes, seeing yourself mirrored in another is so important when you’re a child. I’ve always thought strong, independent, ambitious Jo is the reason Little Women goes on and on.

  5. To Kill a Mockingbird. I read it in 9th grade and had to get my own copy that summer. Read it several times since.

  6. James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small series. I read them when I was about 10 or so and I remember just getting lost in his stories.

  7. Only one? For my 16th birthday my best friend gave me a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Book 1). Before I’d even finished reading that first book, I had ordered (by mail, in that pre-internet era) the next two books, which arrived on the last day of school. I was sucked in and didn’t come up for air until I’d finished them all. I reread them every summer for at least ten years after that, and of course, each time I found something new to admire in Tolkien’s scholarly yet exciting writing. (Runners-up: a different high school friend told me I should read Mary Stewart’s books, and a college friend handed me a copy of Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night–both life-changers, in hindsight.)

  8. When i had measles my dad read me The Borrowers.It was so special. My first time reading the Harry Potter books to live in his rich world. WOW. I am not one to read the books mentioned not deep enough person I guess. Although I read VI Warsarhski

  9. I recommended “Just Killing Time” for my book club. All said they liked the book and the discussion. My husband did clock repair during the nostalgia craze when we were young marrieds. Because of that, I understood the clock references—as did a guest who became a member of the club that evening—as her deceased husband also was an horologist. I had an old clock to show the “innards,” and recommended this website and the other books to the group.

  10. For me the book that just warms my heart thinking of the title, is E.B.White’s Charlotte”s Web. I so loved the characters and reading it always brought to mind, my beloved Aunt Charlotte. She was an amazing woman who loved me and her 3 children unconditionally! Also have to agree about Pat Conroy’s work. What an amazing author! His mastery of language and scene setting is utterly breathtaking.

    1. My kids and I used to listen to EB White himself read Charlotte’s web (on four cassette tapes) in the car on our annual trip to see my sister in Quebec. Such a special story – and in his laconic voice, it was perfect.

  11. Edith, I loved The Poisonwood Bible — I listened to it as an audiobook, and the narrator was amazing, and it left such an impression on me. When I was having chemo, one of my wonderful sisters had her independent book store send me a book a month, and one month I got the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I was a bit like, “what on earth?” but it turned out to be an excellent book with such wonderfully written characters. It definitely took my mind off of things.

  12. I have always been a reader but one of my best memories is from the fourth grade. My teacher read to us for 30 minutes everyday after lunch. The book she read that made the greatest impression on me was Charlotte’s Web.

  13. I’m thankful to my mom for instilling the joy of reading in me. It’s been a life long thing for me. She always kept us in books even if it was the Archie’s comic books. She would trade them in every month and get a fresh supply. Things were tight in those days but we managed and there was always the library. Where ever I have moved to one of the first things I do is get my library card.

    1. Yes, thank goodness for libraries. When we moved to the Philadelphia suburbs when I was 10, the library was right in our subdivision and for the first time I could walk there by myself. Some of my happiest childhood memories.

    1. My sister-in-law who lost her mom when she was in college loved that book.

      Hope Edelman happened to speak to my daughter’s MFA class when I was in London visiting and I got to go. She is a warm and fascinating woman, exactly as you would expect.

  14. I’ve used books as a means of escape all my life so it is impossible to choose just one since so many books have had a profound influence on me at different times of my life. But for pure escapism, the first two books of the Gormenghast trilogy take me to a strange and fascinating world I hate to leave.

  15. So many book related moments. Finding the last Trixie Belden I needed to complete my series. Getting my friends to read and play Narnia during recess in 3rd grade. (I’ve always been a reviewer at heart). Standing in the doorway of a cabin at a remote camp in Utah praying I could finish The Man from Shadow Ridge by Brock and Bodie Thoene before the sun went down because I knew I couldn’t finish the book after dark since electricity was so scarce up there. Even now, I need my lunch hour reading breaks many days to be able to face the afternoon madness at work.

  16. When I was young I was able to borrow all of the Zane Gray books from the library of a friend. I got so ‘lost’ in the world of cowboys and horses that my parents had trouble getting my nose out of them. I will never forget the feelings his books gave me.

  17. To kill A Mockingbird . I read in 9th grade English class . I loved it so much I bought my own copy with my own money (not a lot at fourteen)

  18. Being a retired children’s librarian, it warms my heart to read about all the children’s books listed. As a second grader, our teacher read to us from the Raggedy Ann and Andy books by Johnny Gruelle and I was fascinated. Then the next year the librarian at school recommended A Wrinkle in Time to me since I had just gotten glasses and I identified with Meg Murry right away. As a teen I read Gone With the Wind one summer, barely taking any time to do anything else. And, the list goes on and on!

  19. I think it was the books I read as a child that permanently imprinted themselves on my mind and heart. I read many of them so early there is a good chance I did not know someone had made the up! Very few adult books ever have that effect, that feeling you are living inside the story. I can name one that did change my life though- Susan Isaacs Compromising Positions. I wanted to write, and was attracted to mysteries, but felt I had nothing much to say. I’d had a boring, ordinary life. (Except for college in Boston in the Viet Nam era – and I wasn’t ready to tackle that) No mean streets, so foreign adventures and no St. Mary Mead. And then Isaacs wrote a very good and very successful mystery about -of all boring places – the Long Island suburbs. What a revelation. And an inspiration.

  20. Books have always played a hug part in my life. My love for the library was born in Beatrix Potter – the great illustrations, glossy pages and books that fit perfect in my small hand. When I was a bit older my sister bought me (with her own money) The Cat that Went to Heaven. It spoke to me on so many different levels. As a young reader I found Tristan and Isolde and fell in love with those books. Then when I thought I would not be able to read anymore, my friend introduced me to cozy mysteries. Unfortunately my brain does not remember the first one I read, but it meant the world to me.

  21. When my dad died, my mother and I were reading the Anne of Green Gables series. That world was very comforting.

  22. I read The Help the summer I took an English class with the source of learning was the same time period. Totally made me stop and think. This was also one book where I actually enjoyed the movie as well! Great casting!

  23. The Nancy Drew mysteries were very important in my life. That’s when I discovered my love of reading and it still exists today.

  24. Every book I’ve ever read has given me something. Travels to wonderful places & times, new experiences in career possibilities, new friends & just pure entertainment.

  25. When I was 11 I snuck Erle Stanley Gardner’s “Case of the Duplicate Daughter” out of my aunt’s suitcase and read it overnight. I was fascinated–not only the story, but the fact it was the first adult book I’d read that had a real-world setting. For a couple of hours I was in the grown-up world! And the story was so absorbing I went on to read every Perry Mason I could find in the library.

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