Top 10 Tuesday REWIND – Ten “Gateway” Books/Authors in MY Reading Journey

Top TeNTop 10 Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the lovely people over at The Broke and The Bookish. This week, the theme was: Top Ten Tuesday REWIND — go back and do a topic you missed over the years or recently or a topic you really want to revisit. I technically haven’t done a lot of them because I just started my blog a little over (or under?) two months ago. After looking through all of the topics I decided to do: Top Ten “Gateway” Books/Authors In My Reading Journey. I felt as though it might help getting to know me a little bit more and it would be fun to talk about the books I’ve enjoyed throughout my life and what books made me a reader/contributed to my love of reading.

001. Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss – Technically, I guess I could say any Dr. Seuss but this one is particularly important because I remember this being the first book I read by myself. I think the story in my family is that I taught myself to read at like four, which I think would be bragging if I knew whether or not that was true. I don’t remember not knowing how to read, honestly, but I do remember being sent to my room to read because I was in trouble. We had a lot of Dr. Seuss picture books but this was the one that I used to show my dad that I could read..or something like that. I just know that this is what I consider to be the first book that I’d ever really read.

002. The Cam Jansen Mysteries series by David A. Adler or Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park – So, we had a lot of these in my kindergarten and first grade class (although probably more first grade because they were chapter books) and every week, we were allowed to pick one to take home. My staples were either Cam Jansen or Junie B. Jones. They weren’t the longest books but we didn’t really have super lengthy chapter books and I thought they were really fun and the main characters were female so they appealed to me. I wanted to be Cam Jansen and have a photographic memory and help solve mysteries more than anything.

003. The A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler – So, this was essentially my Harry Potter. One of my fourth grade teachers (I moved schools in the middle of the year) used to read these books to us every day after lunch and this was really the first series I got into. I mean, I read the Harry Potter books when everyone else was reading them, but the A Series of Unfortunate Events books were so much more fun to me. I felt like they were books for kids who wanted to be treated like adults and I was the kind of kid that really liked that.

004. Anything by Shel Silverstein – Shel Silverstein was a very special author to me. The Giving Tree was a book I remember fondly as reading with my dad (and that I believe that my dad read with his mom). Mostly, though, I loved all of his poems. They were so much fun and I remember that my 4th and 5th grade teacher let me read a couple of poems to the class after lunchtime so I always tried to pick the best ones. His last collection, Everything On It, I actually just read a couple of years ago for a class. There’s a poem in it that I can’t remember the words to but that’s about his death and it makes me sad now, mostly because he was such an important part of my childhood.

005. Mandy by Julie Andrews-Edwards – This book is one that got me started with my love of description. I stayed up all night reading it and I may or may not have “borrowed” it from my teacher’s bookshelf in 6th grade (but it was promptly returned, I promise). There was just something about this book and something that endeared me to Mandy, the little orphan who just wanted a family.

006. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery – My friend brought me every Anne of Green Gables book from her house in a Ralph’s bag to borrow and I carried them with me on the bus and read them all the way home. I don’t remember how I ended up borrowing them, but she had a lot of books at her house and was very eager to share them with me, which is probably why we were friends. I think I finished the series in about a week and a half because I literally did nothing but read. I wanted nothing more than to be Anne, especially with her pretty read hair (I really wanted red hair as a kid).

007. Dear America/The Royal Diaries books – I read a lot of historical fiction as a kid. For example, I really loved the American Girl books. Now that I think about it, the fact that 90% of them were white and the only black was, of course, a slave, was sort of irritating, but as a kid, all of them were interesting. After I ran out of those, the librarian led me to the Scholastic Dear America/Royal Diaries series. I really wanted all of them to be real, despite the fact that most of them probably didn’t keep diaries, but I loved reading them. In fact, the Cleopatra started my obsession with Cleopatra and later my obsession with woman kings.

008. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – I read this book for the first time in 10th grade. It’s what I ended up writing my Common App supplement on. I think the question was something like “Think of a fictional character who you relate to” or something like this and I felt that I could really relate to Francie Nolan and her family, along with some of the feelings she had growing up in less than ideal circumstances but working to overcome them.

009. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – I read this along with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in 10th grade for a class assignment. Once again, I used Jeanette Walls’ autobiography as a way to see my life circumstances less as a series of unfortunate events (oops) and more as building blocks to who I am.

010. Wither by Lauren DeStefano – So, I included this one because it is literally a gateway book. Wither was the first YA book I’d ever read and while it was, in no way, perfect, I did enjoy it and it did get me into a lot of pieces of YA. It was this book and Anna Godberson’s The Luxe series, actually, that made me want to even read YA.

Bonus Entries

011. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – This book was just spellbinding. It got me out of a reading slump, as well as a writing slump. It reminded me that books could be interesting and whimsical but also have a good story, plus the fact that it was written during NaNoWriMo is just so inspiring to me, although I’ve never done NaNoWriMo, but it makes me want to do it (fingers crossed for this year).

012. The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block – Francesca Lia Block is a genius when it comes to feminist fairy tales. I had never read anything by her before but it did really help me fall back in love with fairy tales and spark my obsession with YA retellings. There’s something about her writing that naturally works into fairy tales. I especially loved her Red Riding Hood retelling. I wrote a paper on that one, as well as her Cinderella retelling. Both actually made me cry. In fact, a lot of these made me rethink fairy tales and my life experiences as a woman.

013. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – I had been meaning to read this book for awhile, but had never done so. Everyone around me had figured that it’d just make me more depressed. Honestly, The Bell Jar didn’t make me feel sad, though, it made me feel better and less alone. Sylvia Plath’s story is tragic, but I related to a great deal of her writing in this book and to this story as a whole. I loved this book and I feel like it helped me out of a dark place, even if just for a little bit.

014. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – This book also made me cry. Apparently, it’s a children’s book, but I couldn’t help but think that maybe it wasn’t. I hated that I hadn’t read this book sooner, but there were so many feelings and emotions in this book and so much wisdom behind it that applies to all stages of life. I would give this book to everyone if I could. I understand now why so many people have The Little Prince tattoos. It’s just such a beautiful book.

015. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison, illus. by Dave McKean – This one is a graphic novel, specifically a Batman graphic novel, but honestly, I think that as a person struggling with mental illness, this book was somehow helpful. The Batman villains have been called caricatures of mental illness, but I think Arkham Asylum makes them seem all that more human as it raises the question of what sanity is anyway. I think it’s why I have such an affinity for Batman and his rogue’s gallery. Maybe it’s just me being weird, but I think that this book was helpful in my learning how to think of my mental illness.


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