For this Themed Thursday, Haley and I are going to be chatting about books that inspired our love for reading. BUT! As you can imagine, since these are some of our ABSOLUTE FAVORITE books, we got a little talkative. So, lucky you, this will be a two-part Themed Thursday with my books today and hers tomorrow!
Books I Absolutely Adore
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Published by Warner Books on December 11, 1982
See alternate cover edition
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.
So when I was a kid, my dad would read me books every single night, but he typically didn’t pick the standard “kid” fare. When I was about 9 years old, my dad read me To Kill a Mockingbird over the course of a few weeks, and I fell hard. I loved the father-daughter relationship in the book, and Atticus’ strength and moral compass. This novel opened my eyes to issues of racial injustice and questions about what it meant to be a family and how people should be treated. I think it sometimes gets a bad rap for being “assigned reading,” but I love this book with all my heart. I did a book report on it in the fourth grade and wrote my Honors Thesis about it in college. I am sure it was part of why I went on to become an attorney. This book not only helped me fall in love with reading, but helped develop me as a person. Plus, it makes me think of my dad, who is the real reason I love reading so much.
The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay PenmanThe Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
Published by Ballantine Books on January 14, 1990
A glorious novel of the controversial Richard III - a monarch betrayed in life by his allies and betrayed in death by history.
In this beautifully rendered modern classic, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III - vilified as the bitter, twisted, scheming hunchback who murdered his nephews, the princes in the Tower - from his maligned place in history with a dazzling combination of research and storytelling.
Born into the treacherous courts of fifteenth-century England, in the midst of what history has called The War of the Roses, Richard was raised in the shadow of his charismatic brother, King Edward IV. Loyal to his friends and passionately in love with the one woman who was denied him, Richard emerges as a gifted man far more sinned against than sinning.
This magnificent retelling of his life is filled with all of the sights and sounds of battle, the customs and lore of the fifteenth century, the rigors of court politics, and the passions and prejudices of royalty.
Like a lot of people, I got into historical fiction through reading Phillippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. I liked that one, but also really wanted to find historical fiction that — while still presenting a great storyline — was a bit more closely based in the actual history. Lo and behold, I found Sharon Kay Penman and never looked back. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction — it makes me wish I had cared more about history in high school! I’ve tried to get great historical fiction into my kids’ hands as early as possible so they realize how interesting it can be! SKP is one of my absolute favorite historical fiction authors, and since this one is a standalone, it’s a great entry point to her writing. Ugh, now I want to reread it!
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin HobbAssassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1) by Robin Hobb
Published by Spectra Books on March 1, 1996
In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.
Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard, cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility.
So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin.
This is one of the first fantasy trilogies (this series is actually a bunch of related trilogies) that I can remember reading and TRULY falling in love with. I remember gasping at the end and just dashing to the Internet hoping there was more to come. It’s such a beautifully written book with characters that I still think about many, many years later. It opened the door for me to the beauty of a fantasy trilogy, and was incredibly formative in my reading development.
The Princess Curse by Merrie HaskellThe Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
Published by HarperCollins on September 6, 2011
Merrie Haskell’s middle-grade fantasy novel Princess Curse is an imaginative retelling of the fairy tales The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Beauty and the Beast. In the fifteenth-century kingdom of Sylvania, the prince offers a fabulous reward to anyone who cures the curse that forces the princesses to spend each night dancing to the point of exhaustion. Everyone who tries disappears or falls into an enchanted sleep. Thirteen-year-old Reveka, a smart, courageous herbalist’s apprentice, decides to attempt to break the curse despite the danger. Unravelling the mystery behind the curse leads Reveka to the Underworld, and to save the princesses, Reveka will have to risk her soul. Princess Curse combines magic, suspense, humor, and adventure into a story perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine.
I was out of reading for a really long time as an adult, especially having my first son. One day I was on YouTube and stumbled upon Misty over at The Book Rat (http://www.thebookrat.com/). I loved the way she talked about books and shared what she was loving to read. This was way before BookTube was a huge thing and I just found it all so approachable. Anyway, one of the books she shared about was a middle grade retelling called The Princess Curse, so I picked it up after a long spate of basically reading nothing or feeling like when I did read it had to be IMPORTANT or something. And this little middle grade novel just blew my mind. I loved it so dang much. And from that day on, it was like a switch was flipped. I was a grown up and I could read WHATEVER. I. WANTED. Middle grade, YA, Adult, Non-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, who cares! I know this sounds ridiculous, but it truly was a life changing moment and changed the way I read forever. I went on a spree of reading fairy tale retellings and then fantasy YA, and here we are. I’m so thankful for this little book and I really want EVERYONE to read it. It’s so good.
Storm Front by Jim ButcherStorm Front (The Dresden Files, #1) by Jim Butcher
Published by Penguin ROC on April 1, 2000
HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.
Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he's the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the "everyday" world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.
So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get interesting.
Magic - it can get a guy killed.
This is the only book on this list that I didn’t actually rate 5 stars, but it’s no less formative for not being my favorite standalone read. I picked up Storm Front on a whim one day, not really knowing what to expect. I liked it well enough, and was intrigued by the way magic was mixed in with our everyday lives (something I would later learn is called Urban Fantasy). It took a while, but I eventually picked up book 2 and then book 3… and book 4 (Summer Knight) is where the magic (no pun intended) really starts up. I devoured it and haven’t looked back. And I’ve expanded my urban fiction reading to include Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs and Anne Bishop and Kevin Hearne Seanan McGuire and Faith Hunter and so many, many more. It’s a comfort genre for me and I know that if I’m in a slump I can pick one of these books up and be off to the races again.
What About You?
We’ll hear from Halie tomorrow on some of her favorite books, but I also want to hear from YOU! What books inspired your love for reading? Let’s chat in the comments!