Books from Childhood

“When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.” – Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan),You’ve Got Mail

Today would have been Nora Ephron’s 73rd birthday. I can’t think about Nora Ephron without thinking about You’ve Got Mail (one of my favorite girly movies!) and I can’t think about You’ve Got Mail without thinking about the above quote.

I really couldn’t agree more with Kathleen Kelly. I read a lot now, but very few things stick with me the way books from my childhood have. Here are five books/series that I remember most. In all cases, I have re-read the books more times than I can count:

  1. Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Patricia C. Wrede
    This is my absolute favorite series. It’s the one I pick up if I’ve had a really hard week and just need to lose myself for a little while. It’s the one that I turn to when I’m sad or lonely or just plain cranky. I love that Cimorene hates being a princess because it’s boring and that she’d rather cook and learn Latin and be a dragon’s princess. I love the hints of other fairy tales and the witch that gets in trouble for having too many cats and not having a warty nose. I love that the King of Dragons is a job title and that gender doesn’t matter. Being curled up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, drinking a cup of tea, and reading any of the books in this series (though, Calling on Dragons is my favorite!) makes for a pretty perfect day.
  2. A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett
    I really wanted to be friends with Sara Crewe. In the blink of an eye, she went from having everything to having nothing, and still remained kind, imaginative, and full of joy. She gave me a new meaning of princess, one that didn’t have to have fancy dresses or jewels to be beautiful and special.
  3. Grimm’s Fairy Tales
    I have always loved fairy tales and folkore, and I especially loved reading the original stories that inspired Disney movies, no matter how gruesome they could be. Later in life (when wearing my anthropologist hat), I was particularly interested in what the myths, legends, and lore of a group could tell you about their culture. My favorite stories? Jorinda and Joringel and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
  4. Nancy Drew Mysteries, Carolyn Keene
    In elementary school, we had a library period at least twice a week. Each period, I would borrow at least one Nancy Drew book until I had read them all more than once. I wanted to be Nancy when I grew up; she was poised and feminine and respected and whip-smart. Plus, she was a detective which I still think sounds like an awesome job. I loved everything about her (even if her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, was kind of a lunk). The thing I remember most about the books? Hearing my mom read them to me; she loves them as much as I do.
  5. Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling
    Even though I didn’t start reading Harry Potter until I was in junior high/high school, I simply can’t leave them off of any list of favorite books. I still read the entire series every year and I still miss the hype and fervor that surrounded any new book release. There’s truly something in the books for everyone. They show you that sometimes evil is pink and fluffy, that the most unlikely hero can save the day, and that anyone can be capable of encompassing, enduring love.

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