Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: A few weeks ago we wrote about books we’ve reread, which led me to this question: What are the three books that you still think about, even though you haven’t read them in years?
Diane MacKinnon, MD: I still think about Wally Lamb’s book, I Know This Much is True, and Of Human Bondage, by W. Somerset Maugham. I think about Pride and Prejudice, which I hated the first time I read it. (I was 11.) On rereading it in college, I loved it, and have continued to think about it (plus I saw the movie!) Night, by Elie Wiesel, is another one I still think about. There are so many more, but these are the first ones that come to mind. To me, the best works of art, whether they are books, paintings, or films, are the ones that stay in our minds long after we’ve seen or experienced them.
Julie Hennrikus: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I read it when I was fairly young (it must have been right around the time it came out), and it had a real impact on me. John Irving’s The Cider House Rules is also a book I still think about. On a lighter note, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. She made some bold choices in her storytelling.
Wendy Thomas: The Princess Bride – is never far from my mind. That’s the story that first taught me about voice in writing. Unwind – it’s a young adult book, but I can’t listen to any discussion about women’s right to choose without thinking about that disturbing “what if?”. I also don’t go more than a few days without thinking about Harry Potter. While my kids see Harry as a good friend, I spent so much time with him (reading the books out loud to my children) that I almost think of him (and the rest of the gang) as members of the family.
Lastly, like Diane, Night had a HUGE impact on me. It’s because of that book that *every* single night as I get ready to retire, I send up a prayer of thanks for being able to sleep in a warm and safe bed.
Jamie Wallace: The first book that came to mind when I read this question is one I barely remember. I cannot recall the title or the author or the storyline. I know only that I borrowed it from our public library when I was a kid, and that the protagonist was a girl with the ability to talk to animals. I have a vague sense that she traveled through the forests with a panther-like cat, several other four-footed companions, and perhaps a bird of prey. The second book that stepped out of memory’s mist was a small, antique tome that contained a natural history of unicorns, complete with maps of home ranges, lists of behavioral traits, and sketches of tracks and other signs. This book was also found on a library shelf.
I cannot name, off the top of my head, any book that has stayed with me in its entirety. There are stories I know well, such as the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. But even much loved stories fade around the edges with the passage of time. Rather than details – characters names, the sequence of events, etc. – I tend to recall sensations, feelings, and images. They are less like photographs in an album, more like a scent that comes to you and whisks you unexpectedly back to a time and place you thought you’d forgotten.
Like memories of life, my memories of stories evolve and devolve over time. They shift and mingle, creating my own personal literary mythology that is made up of many glittering, shadowed pieces from many different books and stories. And, I like it that way.
Deborah Lee Luskin: The Little Red Light House and the Great Gray Bridge; The Little Engine That Could, and Are You My Mother? Great children’s classics!