Friday, November 18, 2016

Five On Friday: Five Books That Shaped DOA Reader

This isn't one of those "most influential books I've ever read" lists.  It's about how a few books in particular shaped some of my reading habits.

Trixie Belden 

The Trixie Belden Mysteries were read and collected by myself and my friend next door in about fifth grade one summer.  We bought them and shared them and talked about them.  My friend went on to read other series, but this is the only one we both liked.

Reading about the series just now on

I see one of the series my friend became enthralled with -- Cherry Ames -- was also written by Julie Campbell, who wrote the first few Trixie Belden books.

Trixie lived in a rambling farmhouse and solved mysteries with The Bobwhites which included her brothers and her friends who lived nearby.  What could be more appealing than belonging to a mystery solving group and having adventures?   Trixie was bold and generous and unstoppable.

These books stayed with me, always, and made me want to read mysteries.  I just never found anything else like them, and was put off by the lurid covers on mystery paperbacks for adults.

A Wrinkle In Time

This is the first science fiction novel I ever read.  It was suggested to me by the school librarian in sixth grade.  I told her I wasn't interested in science fiction, with it's "spacemen and blasters." 

When I read it, I fell in love with Meg, who was much like me except that she was brilliant.  I could identify with her so well, which is probably what the librarian saw in her match of the book and the girl.

After I read it, we suddenly moved from the school I'd been in since third grade, leaving behind my best friends who were both in my class for the first time ever.  A great year turned into a terrible one when we moved to a new school, with truly terrible classmates, including a boy who peridoically turned around and slapped my face for no reason.  The teacher laughed it off when I complained.  Worst school year ever, and I wrote to my old friend that the people in the new school seemed as if they had been taken over by IT (the villain of A Wrinkle In Time).

Reading this science fiction book opened up worlds of infinite possibility.  I appreciated the mix of science and magic and faith and love that graced every page of the book.  Suddenly, I sought out as much science fiction as I could find, for the wonder and escape of it.  Somehow over the years "hard science" stories became my favorite, and my non-mathematical, non-logical self struggled at times to understand theory, but loved the idea, I think, that all of this could be.

Lord of The Rings Series

I don't recall why, but in the small college town where I got my degrees, for awhile everyone was wearing t-shirts that said FRODO LIVES and it would be scrawled in odd places as well.   A guy in one of my classes was not only an avid science fiction reader, but he read fantasy as well.   Naturally he recommended the Tolkien books.

I read the Hobbit first and loved it, never having read anything so detailed and fantastic before.

I had a very hard time when I started reading The Fellowship of the Ring because Bilbo and many of the characters I'd come to love were replaced by a host of unknown characters and I railed a bit at their intrusion into "my Middle Earth".  Then the Lord of the Rings calendars by the Brothers Hildebrandt came out and they helped bring the characters to life and I could get involved in the stories of these new people.

Just as A Wrinkle In Time set me on a grand adventure of science fiction reading, I read everything I could find in fantasy literature that even remotely seemed like Lord of The Rings for a very long time.

Before the Golden Age

Before the Golden Age edited by Isaac Asimov, offered by the Science Fiction Book Club, was another eye opener.

I had been reading short story anthologies of science fiction for ages, but nothing like these stories from the 1930s.  It is one of the best anthologies ever, with exotic worlds and beings beyond imagination.

This set me to looking for some of these authors, buying anything I could find by them.   I loved the autobiographical notes before the stories.  I wished I could have been a member of the Futurians.   This book probably did the last bit of broadening out my love of science fiction and made me the avid all-things-science-fiction lover I now am.

The Body Farm

I read Patricia Cornwell's  The Body Farm in 1994.  Then I went back and read all of the other books in the series, amazed at how intense they were and how compelling and driven the Kay Scarpetta character was.  Many of the novels were terribly suspenseful and even frightening for me.  They made a mystery reader of me at last.

After reading these, my old image of those lurid mystery covers went away and I just loved the trail of clues that mysteries provided.  Even though I seldom guess who is guilty, I love being led about by mystery authors.  Smart women detectives are my favorites, but I love any detective who shares his or her stories and becomes a character I want to spend time with.

I think my favorite Scarpetta was All That Remains, because I had spent a lot of time traveling to and from Ohio and slept at rest stops just to refresh a bit.  Eeek!


  1. Our tastes coincide well with these! I haven't read that Asimov book, but have devoured many of his stories.

    1. I love his Robot stories and many others. These are all other authors of the period that he read growing up himself.
      I'd love to see some of your favorite books, have you done that post already?

    2. No, I've never done a post like that. I like almost everything I read, so it would run into the thousands. I post on how what I've read has influenced me would be a good topic. Maybe I'll do that one day.