My Bookprint

by Kathryn on November 18, 2012

I just saw a post on twitter from writer friend Kate Messner that made me stop and think: What five books have left a mark on your life?

The titles popped into my head one after another, and I found I had much more to say than a 144 character tweet. These are five books that I read when I was young that helped me become who I am:

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I read this book at least 6 times as a child, and possibly more than that. When I was reading that book, I felt like I could stare at a piece of chalk and make it move. It must be possible! I also learned that  goodness and kindness can overwhelm evil, and that kids have the power to make a difference.

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss

According to my parents, this was the book I requested again and again at bedtime. They both had it memorized. I don’t know what I thought of the book as a toddler, but when I read it as an older child and teen, it still fascinated me. I loved the idea that there could be tiny worlds we don’t even see on the very tip of a bit of dandelion fluff. I remember thinking, these little tiny worlds could actually be real and we wouldn’t know!¬†

Talk about perspective. I was learning to see a situation from a totally different and almost unimaginable point of view.

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

I read this book in high school, so it comes into my life much later than the first two. This book had me questioning religion, faith, science, and morality. The thought experiments it posed helped me to see that world in a new light and made me realize that the religion I was raised with was only one of many possible paths.

Drawing with Children

Ok, so this wasn’t really a book that I “read” but it was certainly a book that left a huge mark on my life. My mom used to do the drawing exercises in this book with me, and I loved it more than anything. By the end of elementary school, I was using the book by myself – working through project after project, honing my drawing skills and learning to see the shapes, forms, and colors of the world.

Godel, Escher, Bach an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter

For my fifth choice, I was torn between Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury (which would easily make a list of my five favorite books) and this one. But this is not a list of favorite books, it is a list of books that changed me somehow. Dandelion Wine certainly resonated with me and made me lose myself in wonder, but it didn’t really change my life. This book, on the other hand, taught me that math, music, and art really aren’t so different. It scratched at the surface of things beyond my intelligence or understanding, and I found myself thinking about science and math in ways that I didn’t know were possible — as pictures, games, and fugues. This book turns a complex proof into art, and whenever I see my copy on the shelf I feel like it’s challenging me to pick it up, read it, and finally actually understand it. I’m not sure I ever will!



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