What books influenced you as a child?

I loved TREASURE ISLAND and still remember the scene in JOHNNY TREMAIN when his injury occurred. THE WIND AND THE WILLOWS was a favorite too, as I recall.

I read the Hardy Boys, of course, but my favorite series was the Hitchcock-sponsored Three Investigator books by Robert Arthur. Can't remember the plot to a single one but I devoured them as fast as I could check them out of the library.

There was another series from that era (1970s) that I loved too, but I can't remember the names of any of the characters or the author. The books were about a group of boys who had a science club of some sort. In one story, they built a hot air balloon that everybody thought was a UFO. Hilarious hijinks ensued and they solved some crime along the way. That ring a bell with anybody?

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The Encyclopedia Brown series comes to mind. I loved the idea of a kid that was smarter than all the adults, probably because I thought he was like me.

Also, THE WIZARD OF OZ by Frank L. Baum. The book seemed so much more magical than the movie, and even at that age I was so happy not to have to listen to all those sappy songs.
I devoured Encyclopedia Brown. Loved 'em!
I didn't grow up in a book house. We had three books that I can recall - the Bible, a life of Jesus, and an abridged Shakespreare illustrated by Rockwell Kent. So with no guidance from home, my reading was scattered all over the place depending on what was in front of me.

My cousin suggested the Hardy Boys when I was 10 or so. I read all the paperback Alfred Hitchcock anthologies. When I was 13 Kennedy said he liked the James Bond books so I read every one of those. I wasn't allowed to see the movies, but the books were OK, my mom said. Around that same time I read The Caine Mutiny, a book I loved so much I read it three or four times. But the single biggest literary influence, from around the age of 8, had to be Mad magazine.

What an education.
I remember reading Mad Magazine as well when I was growing up but I think that the books that influenced me the most were books written by Enid Blyton However, I read my first crime fiction book when I was ten and that was the Mysterious Affairs at Styles. I have been hooked every since.
I could swear there was a series of books featuring a nurse named Cherry Ames that I credit for the interest in medicine that led to my career as a medical reporter and author. She also solved mysteries, which, along with both ELLERY QUEEN and ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S mystery magazines, ignited my interest in murder, mayhem and sleuthing.

But as I stated in the blog on my main page, the most Earth-shattering book I read, the one that turned all my notions upside-down, was William Faulkner's SANCTUARY. Probably read it too young, but I do believe I have recovered from the Faulkner-inspired belief that men are scary and unpredictable. Well, okay...I've recovered from the scary part. Unpredictable...not so much.

I also read a fine old romance called THE HEPBURN by Jan Westcott that pulled me all the way to the other end of the "unrealistic expectations of men" spectrum. It was set in Scotland, the ancestral home of one branch of my family, so...impressionable, goofy child that I was, I could easily put myself in the shoes of the tempestuous red-haired beauty who so besotted the men in Westcott's book.

Too bad real life isn't like that. Damn.
Yes, Cherry Ames, Student Nurse! She had a whole series, written by the stable that produced the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. My (very small, private, Christian) elementary school had a library that consisted of these books and children's biographies of great Americans, along with a handful of the classics -- JOHNNY TREMAIN, THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, Robert McCloskey and Beverly Cleary and Madeleine L'Engle.

I was always a reader, but discovering A WRINKLE IN TIME in third grade changed my life. JOHNNY TREMAIN came the following year, and I almost got into a fistfight with my classmate Doug Hunter, who insisted that the Walt Disney version was the "right" one, and wouldn't believe me when I said the book was better.
I can't believe you mentioned not one but TWO books I remember well. Quite a number of those encyclopedic readers over at DorothyL remember Cherry Ames. There was a long series, but the two I read (some family friend's older-than-us daughter must have handed them down) were Cherry Ames, Army Nurse, where she joins the army during World War II, and Cherry Ames, Chief Nurse, where she's in combat on a Pacific island with a very crotchety colonel. And The Hepburn (by Jan Westcott--she was a Swarthmore graduate) was one of the few novels lying around my Aunt Marta's country house on Long Island. I thought it was tremendously romantic and read it enough times to store on my mental hard drive stuff like the younger sister falling in love with an English spy but having to marry a Prince in the Tower pretender (it's okay in the end), and the Scottish king's mistress and her not very nice two older sisters all being poisoned. I found a copy in a library rummage sale a couple of years ago and was very disappointed to find it didn't hold up. (Some childhood reads do, some don't.) The language was very artificial and flowery, and I'm afraid the women's movement (and the intervening 50 years) kind of spoiled the romance for me. But fun remembering and talking about it.
I was (am) a geek, which should tell you a lot right there.

Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I can still read those things over and over again. Disturbingly I can quote far too much from them, especially the poems.

The Oz books, same thing. Lots of sci-fi, lots of fantasy. Oddly enough, I could never get into the Lord of The Rings. Got through Fellowship and never picked up the rest.

Encyclopedias and dictionaries. I used to randomly grab an encyclopedia off the shelf and read whatever the first thing was that popped up.

It's funny, I never gravitated to crime fiction until I was an adult. I always thought mysteries had to be puzzles you solved with a detective who wraps it all up neatly at the end. I hated those. I wanted chaos and violence, not neat orderly resolutions.

And, when I could steal them out between the Playboy's in my dad's closet, Heavy Metal magazine. Captain Stern, Tex Arcana, Den. Loved those stories. And the boobs, of course.
Encyclopedias and dictionaries. I used to randomly grab an encyclopedia off the shelf and read whatever the first thing was that popped up.

Yeah, I used to do the same thing. Spent hours wandering aimlessly through the WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA. Actually, I had favorite sections I used to read over and over.

I bet they have medicine now days that would fix that.
Oh, man, JOHNNY TREMAIN . . . . I loved Revolutionary War biographies. And the
World Book Encyclopedia, too. (Harry, we must be contemporaries).

PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, and a ton of girlie books--the Lois Lenski series,
KIND OF FAMILY (I learned how to write dialogue from those books), etc.
I remember All of a Kind Family. Five daughters, and they were Jewish, right? If so, I think that's where I read something that impressed me greatly: the mother hiding a penny inside stuff the girls had to dust. Housework motivation. ;)
And Lois Lenski wrote many books, but one I've remembered lately was about a girl named Judy whose family were migrant workers and who dreamed of having a real home. She had to wear a feedsack dress and got teased in school about it. Jeez, my age is showing--not just the books, but the fact that I'm beginning to remember more and more about my early reading. As we say in New York, oy vey!
Very young - started out with The Magic Pudding, The Adventures of Blinky Bill, The Muddle-Headed Wombat and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Still love those books.

Then moved rapidly onto Alfred Hitchcock's and the Three Investigators definitely as well as Treasure Island, along with Enid Blyton's Secret Seven and Famous Five. Nancy Drew for a while. Always loved Hans Anderson and Grimm.

At around age 10, Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh.

Bit older and War and Peace grabbed me.

John Wyndham's books (The Day of the Triffids scared me witless as a child and I still can't read it without a slight feeling of sweaty palms).


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