Heather's books

Sarah's Key
The Help
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
New Moon
Breaking Dawn
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Lightning Thief
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Notebook
Eat, Pray, Love
The Time Traveler's Wife
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Heather's favorite books »

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What book(s) have influenced me?

I just finished reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Yes, for the first time.  I never had to read it in school, but to be honest the reason I finally got around to reading it was because my daughter has to read it for school.  I had a perceived notion of this book. I never heard anyone say “The book was OK”. It was either “This book is great” or “That book sucked”.  Over the years, I also saw/heard people; especially celebrities state that Catcher in the Rye was the most influential book they read. Now after reading it myself – I can’t help but think “So you don’t want to do anything or go anywhere in your life because that was Holden’s true desire”.  His dream job was to stop children from falling off cliffs. Come on!!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines influence as “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways: sway”.  This could mean in a bad or good way, however when someone asks what influences you or who has had the most influence on you I believe this means in a good way. SO I ask – How has Holden Caulfield influenced you??  If someone ever tells me their most influential novel was Catcher in the Rye, I WILL ask them why. Honestly, I would love to hear their response. Don’t get me wrong, as stated in my review, I did enjoy the book but it hasn’t affected my life in any way, shape, or form. I thought it was an OK, enjoyable book, but I’m on to my next book.

 To answer the question: What book most influenced your life? I feel one should look at the books they have read and see which books had them change their lifestyle, caused them to have an epiphany, opened their eyes to a cause, or even just that they reference back to time after time. So maybe for these people who name Catcher in the Rye; it’s because it is the only book they have read (probably forced upon them) and they feel they have to give an answer.  Otherwise, I want to know the reason!

So what books have influenced me?  I feel there have been several self-help and non-fiction books that have helped or shaped me in some way throughout the years, but let’s stick to fiction novels. I will admit my answers are silly and no one else would probably answer the same way, BUT I have my reason; which is all I’m asking for.

Are you there God, it’s me Margaret?  by Judy Blume
            I read this book SEVERAL times as a child. I believe one of the reasons it influenced me was because of the timing in which I read it.  It’s a coming-of-age story about a 12 year old girl getting her period, wanting boobs and bras.  I was probably 9 when I read it the first time and it was like a secret world to me. I wanted the secret club. I wanted the boys – their cooties were finally getting cured. Basically, I wanted what Margaret had! This book has stuck with me through the years and I actually practiced “We must, we must, we must increase our busts” with a girlfriend. I recommend this book to all girls from 3rd to 6th grade. Judy Blume wrote an adult novel called Summer Sisters, which I also loved because of my fond memories of Are you there God, It’s me Margaret?  Summer Sisters does not have the same profound memories for me, but was a great book and I can’t help to think of the novel being the story of Margaret and her friends all grown up. If you haven’t read either of these two books, I highly recommend you do.

Jemina J: A Novel about Ugly Duckings and Swans by Jane Green

            This book is even a sillier choice – yes even to me! But it did cause me to change my life. Goodreads.com summarizes this novel as “Jemima J is the chronicle of one woman's quest to become the woman she's always wanted to be, learning along the way a host of lessons about attraction, addiction, the meaning of true love, and, ultimately, who she really is”.  Honestly, that is what it did to me. My personal issues of weight, addiction, love, etc. weren’t as extreme as Jemina J’s, but they did exist. I think a major factor for a book to influence your life is the time and place you ARE in when you read it.  I read Jemina J: A Novel about Ugly Duckings and Swans at that moment for me. I was very unhappy with my weight and was finding love in ALL the wrong places.  Life isn’t about being the skinniest, happiest, most successfully and beautiful person you know. It’s about loving yourself and being happy with whom you are in that moment.  This novel made me WANT to change.  I started walking every day, which caused my body to regulate itself (I was having several issues), eating better, and all-in-all change my life style. I plan on going back and reading this book again VERY soon. Even if it doesn’t influence you the way it did me, I’m sure every female will enjoy Jemina J’s story.

I would love to hear what books INFLUENCED YOU. Feel free to comment please.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you on "Catcher In The Rye". I greatly disliked it, but I probably wouldn't have disliked it QUITE so much if I hadn't heard so many people raving about it. I still wouldn't have liked it, but I would have just thought, "Meh", & moved on. I suppose I was more disappointed in it than I otherwise would have been simply because it didn't live up to what I was expecting based on the hype. As it is, I pretty much rage against it every chance I get, roll my eyes whenever someone mentions it, & make gagging sounds whenever someone (usually a celebrity) mentions it as one of their favorite books (which I suppose is very Holden of me, haha).

    As for books that HAVE influenced me, I agree with you - it's not about "favorite" books - it's about books changing your perspective about something, educating you about something, making you passionate about something, intriguing you enough to pursue further information about something, etc. For me, aside from the Holy Bible, I'd have to say "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" by Christopher Moore & "Left Behind" by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins. I read "Lamb" first, & absolutely loved it. It was funny, irreverent, quirky, & weird, but it also touched on some interesting themes. Despite the irreverence, I felt like it still actually treated the story of Jesus Christ with a great deal of respect. At the time I read it, I had fallen away from my Christian faith & although I had become a Christian at the age of 8, I knew I was not living up to it. I certainly didn't have a "relationship" with God. Reading "Lamb" made me break out my bible & start reading passages again, trying to compare the events as told in "Lamb" with the events told in the gospels. Doing this influenced me to start going to church again so I could learn more about what the bible was actually saying. As a result, I have reconnected with my Christian faith more than I ever have before, becoming active in my church, reading the bible regularly, trying my best (even though I fail miserably most of the time) to live according to biblical principles & just generally (and most importantly) having a much closer & personal relationship with my God. I am confident that my faith will be a guiding force for the rest of my life.

    I read "Left Behind" not too long after reading "Lamb". "Left Behind" influenced me similarly, but in a different way. It just plain ol' scared me! It was fast-paced & suspenseful, & while "Lamb" influenced me to read the gospels, "Left Behind" influenced me to read Revelation. If anything, I think this actually influenced me more to go to church than "Lamb" did, because with the gospels, I already knew the stories & parables & could understand it by reading it myself. Revelation was an entirely different monster - I wasn't familiar with it (it's not really taught in Sunday school, ya know) & the symbolism and prophecy is so intricate & involved, I knew I would need help to really understand it better. I guess you could say "Left Behind" was the fire & brimstone that put the fear of God into me, & "Lamb" was the love of Jesus that drew me to relationship with Him.

    But, anyway, those books are probably the ones I immediately identify as having the single biggest influence on my life. I will never be the same as a result of reading them - in a good way!