9 Books That Taught Me Something Other Than Spelling

From the archives….


Following is a non-exhaustive list (ie., written while watching my children in exhaustion):

1. Nancy Drew Mysteries—Reading these books are the first memories I have of needing to read–as in, I need to know whether Nancy figures out what the heck is happening on Larkspur Lane. Long after my mom called “lights out,” I sat hunched under the covers reading by the red light of my digital clock radio. It was not easy, and is probably why I now wear glasses.

In short, these books made me a reader.

2. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery has a way of describing nature that makes you want to be a tree. I think appreciating nature was inborn for me, but she put it in words. Before reading her, I wrote stories that were all action: “The Easter Bunny hopped down the street” and so forth. She taught me about…

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2 thoughts on “9 Books That Taught Me Something Other Than Spelling

  1. I assume I am allowed to list 9 or 10 of my favorite books and the reasons – not necessarily in order: 1. Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson – First book I ever read. I was approximately 9 or 10 years old. Pirates, gold, Long John Silver – all showed me at a fairly early age that reading can be fun. 2. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – also read at a fairly early age. When he convinced the neighborhood boys that painting a fence can be fun – I was hooked. They started painting and he went off and had fun. 3. Studs Lonigan by James T Farrell – story of an American Irish boy growing up on the south side of Chicago. He makes all the wrong decisions in life and ends up an embittered old man who is also an alcoholic. I read it when I was a senior in high school and it had a tremendous effect on me. It is still considered one of the top novels of the 20th century. 3. Killer Angels – As you said, every student should have to read this book. The title is a reversal of Shakespeare’s quote “what a piece of work man is………in action how like an angel”. Colonel Chamberlain remembered his dad telling him that if man is an angel he is a killer angel. Imagine a 23 year old teacher with no military experience being the deciding factor at the battle of Gettysburg. 4. A Little Girl Is Dead by Harry Golden – based on a true story of a girl named Mary Phagan who was raped and murdered in the basement of a factory around 1910. It appears that a black man named Jim was the killer but society at that time didn’t want to just lynch another nigger so they accused a Jewish man named Leo Frank. 5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – I agree with you. An interesting aside is that the book was released in 1966 and of course it was about the murder of the Clutter family in Kansas. At that time I was dating Nancy Lutter (in book the murdered daughter was named Nancy Clutter). The Lutters that I knew had a farm in Crystal Lake. Nancy Clutter in the book would have been a 1960 graduate from high school. We were just about the same age. 6. The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allen Poe – a forerunner of the modern detective story. The reader knows the guilty person but is reading on to see how he is caught. Very much like the Columbo TV series of the 1980’s. 7. Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky – A young man in Russia feels it is OK to kill if it is for a higher good. His real punishment is the anguish it causes him after the killing. A classic novel that has and will continue to stand the test of time. 8. Hamlet by Shakespeare – How can anyone not have at least one favorite play by Shakespeare? Mine is Hamlet because it has so many well known soliloquies. “To be or not to be” ….. “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy”……”frailty, thy name is woman”….. “alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well Horatio”. 9. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – Of course the title is from the story of Cain and Abel and the word “timshell” which means thou mayest. This is the classic story of how every person is faced with choices of good and evil. We all have free choice (timshell). It is a problem that is never solved. Each generation must face those choices. Evil is not passed down genetically from father to son. The son has timshell. I can’t imagine anyone not having a list of favorite books they have read.

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