Friday Fun – Books You Still Think About

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, Master Certified Life CoachDiane 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.

photo of Julianne HolmesJulie 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-shotWendy 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.

JME5670V2smCROPJamie 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.

M. Shafer, Photo

M. Shafer, Photo

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!

30 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Books You Still Think About

    • Ahh – The Fountainhead. I remember reading that one. I held on to my battered paperback copy for quite a while, too. 😉

  1. 1. Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart, the first book I every bought on my own. His way of telling a story has always influenced my writing.
    2. Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, the way she tells the story is thought provoking.
    3. Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana, written in 1840, tells the story of a young man signing on as a sailor bound for the California coast. Kind of ties into my love of 1840’s sea shanties.

    but, don’t get me singing – could take hours to get me to stop.

    • Gilead is on my list, but the other two are new to me. Thanks for sharing.
      Oh – and definitely sing some sea shanties!

    • My beau loves reading fiction and nonfiction about WWII. Though he has no ties to the war, he feels a close affinity with the people who experienced it. Thanks for sharing this one.

  2. I agree with Jamie here. A whole book has never been at the back of my mind but a character, a specific part of the book have had such an affect. As I am a beginner, I imagine very often the sequence from Alchemist, where the boy talks to wind, earth and sun etc etc. Also, sometimes at night while I am trying to go to sleep, a few pages from Dracula run through my eyes, like the count walking on the walls of the castle, which is terrifying.

  3. Summer Of ’42 by Herman Raucher
    A Woman Destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir
    The Phantom by Susan Kay
    Please Love me by Keith Miller
    Billy Straight by Jonathan Kellerman
    A Rock and a Hard Place by Anthony Godby Johnson

  4. Tess of the DUrbervilles, Thomas Hardy – thinking about this book still brings an aching sense of loss & helplessness though I read it in my teens at school.
    Through gates of splendour, Elizabeth Elliot – made a huge impact on me, inspiring courage & integrity
    The peninsula, Seamus Heaney – & lots of his poetry, so hauntingly beautiful & grounding
    – completely agree with the idea of books evoking a scent memory, I don’t remember detail so much as emotions, seeing something as it is for the first time, or the moments with books where deeply held convictions are forged

  5. Oooh, I love this blog post, and all the responses. Three books that have always remained with me are:

    1. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
    2. The Blue Orchard, by Jackson Taylor
    3. Daughter of Persia, by Sattareh Farman Farmaian


  6. This was a wonderful post/query. Thank you. My three:
    1. Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew Mysteries – my first books as a teen
    2. James Michener’s – Hawaii – high school
    3. Emily Bonte – Wuthering Heights

  7. Hello all. While I admire all those who grew up reading and assimilatiing the classic literature, it simply was not my experience. Unless you consider Marvel’s the Incredible Hulk a classic.

    1. Marvel’s the Incredible Hulk (not impressive, but this was the extent of my reading back then).

    2. An unknown Sci-fi novel of which I read only a third (It was boring to say the least). Although I thought the spaceship and galaxy warfare was pretty awesome.

    3. Stanley the mosquito. This was actually my first write. It was a quasi-comic with some simple drawings.

    Honestly never heard of most of the author/books mentioned above minus a few. Ugh. I’m jealous. Playing catch up now as an adult! But I do love to read!

  8. One most remembered book is No Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boon another Out into the Arena of Fire – (not sure who wrote this but remembered for its graphic portrayal of ordinary life with its need to have internal fortitude and courage) Thanks for posts.

  9. Pingback: Lasting Impressions | Getting Lit Fit

  10. Not in any particular order …
    1. The Railway Children – Edith Nesbit
    2. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe
    3. The Lord of the Flies – William Golding
    I have always enjoyed reading and still do!

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