Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Favorite Books


I wasn't a big fiction reader as a kid (I mostly looked at pictures and captions), but there were three books that totally lifted me out of my world: "Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain, "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson, and "Paddle to the Sea" by Holling Clancy Holling. What books gave wings to your imagination when you were young?



26 comments:

C.via.SEATTLE said...

Dinotopia, of course.

Mr. Gurney, I’ve been meaning to tell you that your blog as been an enormous comfort to me during the pandemic. Being able to come to this little corner of the internet every day, and know that there was some beautiful, thoughtful insight about one of my favorite topics has helped me from being engulfed in worry and pessimism. Your reach and support to others goes a lot farther than you may know. Many thanks for what you do.

Stephen and Nyree said...

Treasure Island, Stuart Little, Encyclopedia Brown, were some of the ones I read on my own. I also read a number of biographies, I particularly remember one about Albert Einstein.

My father often read to us at bedtime, but we never picked the stories, he always read to us a novel or book he had just finished; and we loved it. We read a number of interesting books with him. It could be Star Trek novels, histories, books on puppeteering, or radio. Many nights it was reading from the Bible. If we wanted to pick the story, well-- we had to read it ourselves. But my imagination was always off somewhere interesting listening to Dad read to us.

James Gurney said...

Thanks. Posting each day keeps me sane, too. And I’m grateful for the good spirits of the people who come here.

Standby4action said...

I was so lucky. My Headmaster in the 60s read The Hobbit, various books by BB and others aloud but it was his no nonsense belief in books that convinced me to widen my reading beyond Superman and friends. God bless you Mr. Furnell where ever you are!

Daniel Potvin said...

Jules Verne :-)

Robert Michael Walsh said...

Like you, I read more non-fiction than fiction, but was attracted to Treasure Island and other Scribner classics illustrated by N. C. Wyeth and other books illustrated by Pyle and his students. Our local public library displayed the original Wyeth Treasure Island paintings in the children's room, and my grade school library featured a Frank Schoonover painting. While I always was a serious reader I loved illustrated books.
PS: Paddle to the Sea really is a lightly veiled non-fiction account of the Great Lakes.

willbrooks said...

James, it was, "Smokey sledge dog of Alaska" author unknown. Thanks for the great blog.

CatBlogger said...

My favorites were "Treasure Island" illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, "The Sailor Dog," by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Garth Adams, Beatrix Potter's books, and the Winnie The Pooh books by A.A. Milne and illustrated by Earnest Shepard. I was one of those kids that was attracted to a book by the illustrations.

James Gurney said...

Catblogger, we also had Sailor Dog, Mister Dog, a few of the Beatrix Potter books, and A couple of Pooh books. I almost forgot those, huge influences on me, too!

Robert Walsh, you're so lucky to have grown up with those originals.

Potvin, we had 20K Leagues and Mysterious Island with the Wyeth illos. I didn't read the whole novels until later, but I loved the illos.

CatBlogger said...

I'd forgotten "Mr Dog." Wasn't he Kispen Kispian, the dog who belonged to himself?

Corey Washbourne said...

I grew up on the "Goosebumps" series by R. L. Stein and the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling. But it was a picture book I saw when I was 5 years old of a girl who painted a tiger and it came to life that really captured my imagination ! Pity I cannot for my life recall or find the title of it.

Others that have fired my imagination were usually humorous in some way: Alice in Wonderland (absurdist/surreal), the "Discworld" series by Terry Pratchett (fantasy satire/parody), the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" series (existentialist/irony) and A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (space opera satire/absurdist).

Unknown said...

The Magic Pudding, Blinky Bill, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, Ajax the Warrior, Seven Little Australians and A Christmas Carol. Very much an Aussie bias there. The pictures in the first three were amazing, I still have copies of them just for that.

Krystal said...

I would say "Alice in Wonderland", "the Hobbit"...

Aljosa said...

I'm an avid reader. When I was a preschool kid my mom used to read to me Slavic and Greek legends and tales. That really inspired me and got my imagination going. Later, I delved into Fantasy & Sci-Fi and never looked back (Tolkien, R. E, Feist, Stephen King, Orson S. Card, Clive Barker, G.R.R. Martin, Frank Herbert, William Gibson, etc.)

Pyracantha said...

ODD JOHN by Olaf Stapledon, THE ILLUSTRATED MAN by Ray Bradbury, THE SECRET GARDEN

Rafal Ziolkowski said...

The most memorable book for me was "The Neverending Story". Sadly I only saw beginning of movie and just couldn't stop thinking about it. This was in 80' in Poland so I couldn't just watch it again but I found out it was a book! Finally my sister's friend she had a copy and I read it cover to cover. I might have been 10 or 11. Oh and I finally saw movie last year and it still fueled my imagination.

debraji said...

Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte's Web, Little House in the Big Woods, The Hobbit, Harriet the Spy, D'Aulieres' Book of Greek Myths, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Arabian Nights.... I remember the illustrations vividly.

One of my happiest summers was when my mother went back to college for a teaching degree, and left my sister and me in the college's air-conditioned children's library every morning.

Pierre Fontaine said...

I wasn't much of a fiction reader as a child. Most of my time was spent building model kits or making my own toys out of cardboard. Most of my reading was confined to Science Fiction media magazines such as Starlog, Cinefex and Cinefantastique.

I was (and stil am) a huge Star Trek nerd so the non-fiction paperback book "The Making Of Star Trek" was a huge influence and was something I was consuming avidly by the time I was 10 years old. The James Blish and Alan Dean Foster Star Trek novelizations were popular with me as well.

As far as fiction books, I grew up in a religious household so when I was young my parents bought me a series of bible stories retold for children and published by Arch. Each book was printed in a similar square format and while I enjoyed the stories, I was most taken by the various art styles, many done in a very contemporary manner for the time.

The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings books were another huge influence. I got the entire set one Christmas and read them straight through so I consider them one "book" or continuous story.

Hannah F. said...

Beatrix Potter's "Tailor of Gloucester" is the first book I remember loving as a child. The tiny intricate world of sartorially elegant mice who ran behind the wainscoting and sang songs to taunt Simpkin the Cat intrigued me. But it was Holling C. Hollings's "Pagoo" that hooked me on imaginative realism. I grew up on a sailboat on the West Coast, and Holling perfectly captured the rocky world of tide pools where I played. His delicate line drawings showed me that my environment was magical and contained endless drama if I just looked closely enough!

Stephen and Nyree said...

Cory Washbourne, I believe the book is called "the magic paintbrush," I just read that to my daughter last week.

BY the time I hit high school it was Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" and the following series that really took my imagination places. I still try to read at least a book a week. Sometimes it's just a Louis L'Amour, or a how to book, but still a good read.

Forrest said...

C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia did it for me. I still have my original paperback box set.

Hinkley said...

"The Turf Cutter's Donkey" by Patricia Lynch

nuum said...

Treasure Island by Robert L. Stevenson.
My first classic book.

Pete Salwen said...

Could you be thinking of "Liang and the Magic Paintbrush" by Demi?

Rowleyj said...

Its wonderful to be reminded by the readers of the books I'd forgotten I'd read. One my early favorites was the Hardy Boys mystery series. A fifth grade teacher read the Narnia Books to us in class, which may have been my introduction to fantasy.Of course later was The Hobbit and The Lord of the rings which I can safely say sealed my fate as a lover of fantasy. Later it was Douglas Adam's Hitcher hikers guide to the galaxy. I had never laughed so hard at a book. Wonderful topic James.

Warren JB said...

The Hobbit. Above all The Hobbit. Like Standby4action, our teacher at the time distributed copies to the class and read it aloud.

Also, Dominic by William Stieg, the wildlife 'Adventure' series by Willard Price, and - by way of their TV adaptations - The Wind in the Willows and The Moomins.

And then there was the Ladybird series: small-format books for young children, lavishly illustrated. They covered diverse topics in fiction (fairy tales) and non-fiction.

https://www.goodreads.com/genres/ladybird-books

(Recently had a revival as parody books for adults, so don't be surprised by topics like hangovers and brexit if you go googling for them!)