Early Bookworm Days

Do you, reader, remember any books you read while growing up, books that really touched you? Perhaps a story stoked your imagination. Or a book on a certain subject fueled your knowledge that became a career or serious hobby.

I read adventures, mysteries, animal stories and science fiction novels. This was in addition to the books on dinosaurs, information I have mostly forgotten.

A small collection of Nancy Drew books that I read now sit on top of my livingroom bookshelf. Some actually were my mom's, then read by my older sisters before I got them.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell; of course I read this as a horse lover. In my teens, I actually got to take riding lessons, although never could afford a horse. Another genre classic for slightly older kids is The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. Francis Ford Coppola made a very good film from the book.

Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards (Sound of Music star) captured my imagination and heart. The book was a present from my mother. It is the story of a young girl who explores the grounds of her orphanage and discovers a small cottage. She cleans it, decorates it and starts a garden. I loved it. I particularly remember her excitement when gathering her change to buy seeds, then watching them grow into flowers. Even when she becomes sick, Mandy goes to the cottage, but passes out there. Little did she know that a concerned someone had been watching.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. It's science fiction. Children of missing scientists follow their parents' tracks. They discover what the author calls "tesseracting", a method of time travel, that leads them through some discoveries of their own while locating their parents.

In my late teens I read The Valley of Horses by Jean Auel, because it involved horses. I liked it so much that I read the preceding book The Clan of the Cave Bear. Ayla, a child orphaned by earthquake in pre-historic Europe, wanders until she is adopted by a clan of prehistoric humans: slanted forehead, copious body hair, hand signals instead of verbal communication, etc. She looks like contemporary humans from what I guess, and experiences rejection, but also a lot of love and learning from the clan's healer, Iza, and from its spiritual leader, Creb. I like the character of Ayla, a strong and intelligent female who must deal with a lot of difficulty.

I also read the other books, which don't carry the appeal of the first two. But it's escapist for some, although Auel uses too much repetition. The process, in detail, of flint-knapping, for instance, was written over and over and over. Ayla is also a little too great, too. This becomes obvious in the other books. She has no imperfections.

I also read War of the Worlds and The Time Machine as well as various short stories by H.G. Wells. Those don't really need an explanation. I liked The Time Machine best of the two novels.

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