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5 Books That Shaped Me: Childhood Memories

January 16, 2016

I am going to start a small series of posts about books that changed, shaped or otherwise have had a big impact on me as a writer or as a person. Each of these posts will feature five books that played a role in a certain period of my life.

The first post is about five books that I read as a child. Here they are:


I could easily include a lot more books because I loved being read to and (when I was old enough) reading as a child, but I’m limiting myself to five, and I think these were the ones that had the greatest impact on me.

  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is one of those books that I’ve read first (a couple of times) in Danish and later in English. I clearly recall the magical feeling of entering this wonderful fantasy world. And I had such a crush on the wizard Howl.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is, of course, a classic. It’s also a book that can be enjoyed on several levels, so when I read it again later (at the university), it showed me new depths. The Danish translation did a wonderful job with the puns, as far as I can remember from back then.
  • Mio, Min Mio (Mio, My Son in English) by the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren was one of my absolute favourites as a young child. It was sweet, scary, sad and funny. I could have picked a number of Astrid Lindgren books for this, but Mio was the one I loved the most overall.
  • I had to include the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. They probably need no further introduction. I remember having them read to me in Danish when I was really small and then later reading them on my own on a vacation in Sweden in a cottage in a forest that had just one wrought iron lamppost outside. If I had to pick one favourite, it would probably be Prince Caspian, but it’s a close one.
  • Michael Ende’s Die undendliche Geschichte (here in the Danish version, Den uendelige historie, probably better known in English as The Neverending Story) may be better known in its film version (all of these books have been turned into films, come to think of it), but the book is lovely too. I would actually have put one of Ende’s other works, Momo, on the list instead because it had an even greater impact on me and inspired a subplot in a story I wrote years ago, but for some reason I don’t own it (I need to do something about that).

So four out of five of these books are about someone going from the regular, mundane world and into a fantasy world (in a way, the last one is too, but I’m not going to spoil how). I wonder why I grew up to be a writer … Or not.

Which books have changed you, helped you or shaped you? Please feel free to join me in the comment section or on your own blog (or other social media) using #5booksthatshapedme – I would love to hear which books mean something special to you!


11 Comments leave one →
  1. Maggie permalink
    January 16, 2016 1:46 pm

    The Chronicles of Narnia series was one of mine. Lois Lowry’s The Giver was probably the number one book that changed my way of thinking, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne Eriksson Agger permalink
    January 16, 2016 2:47 pm

    I’m gonna list my top five by the author (because then I can fit more in):

    Diana Wynne Jones:
    The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones. This was my first book by DWJ and I just fell in love with her writing. Then I read Howl’s Moving Castle and just loved DWJ even more. Who didn’t fall in love with Howl and Sophie after reading this? Currently I’m reading The Islands of Chaldea.

    Tamora Pierce:
    The Wild Magic series by Tamora Pierce. I loved the way TP wrote strong female characters and Daine was my favourite by far. I had the biggest crush on Numair and his sassy behaviour. Also the Circle of Magic series was some of my favourites.

    Meredith Ann Pierce:
    The Darkangle by Meredith Ann Pierce. I really detest the ending, but I so loved the story. The first book in the series is the best, I think.

    Ursula K LeGuin:
    A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K LeGuin. I just love Sparrowhawk and the trouble he got into. He was a character who was deeply flawed and caused trouble for himself.

    Lloyd Alexander:
    The Chronicles of Prydain. I loved reading about Taran and Eilonwy.

    I really loved book about magic and finding out who you really are. I still enjoy reading these books but with Uni it’s not easy to find the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 17, 2016 10:23 am

      Thanks a lot for playing along! I have never read Lloyd Alexander, but the books sound great, so thank you for mentioning them.
      I only read the Chrestomanci books much later, but I did love them too. The same is the case with Earthsea. Funnily, I just had a conversation with a friend about the two Pierces recently and how much we both enjoyed their books when we were kids. 🙂


  3. Andre Clemons permalink
    January 17, 2016 6:33 am

    It’d be a little hard to pick just five books (because there are several books that shaped me), but I’ll try:
    1. Forged by Fire by Sharon M. Draper
    I first came across this book at my school library when in 7th grade. I’d never read anything by this author but I was enamored by her prose, the way she grappled with such rough emotional content in a voice that was raw, dramatic, & real. I remember being so hooked by this book I read the book all in one day.
    2. Short Stories by Langston Hughes
    People know Hughes primarily for his poetry, but he’s such a master at deep prose. His prose is transformative, funny and frightening and tragic all at once, rich with vivid imagery. My copy of this book is well-worn with all the times I’ve read this.
    3. Anything that Walter Dean Myers ever did
    Walter Dean Myers was (and remains) my primary inspiration as a writer. As a young black man, works like his were so important to me in the way they depicted urban life for young people, depicting young people that didn’t feel like words on a page. They weren’t stereotypes. They lived and breathed. Their struggles were real. Their passions were alive.
    4. Maus by Art Spiegelman
    As a hardcore comic book fan, there are pivotal works that really shape the foundation of graphic storytelling, that really makes you think of the form in more than just superheroic terms, that makes you think of them as a template for telling dramatic stories. Mays made me feel that way when I first read it. Haunting. Dramatic. Bittersweet.
    5. Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia Butler
    One of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy authors, Butler had a gift for how terrifying and grotesque her prose could be. Her prose was as colorful and transformative as her plots. Her fantasy stories were so character-driven. Her other works are just as imaginative but it was Bloodchild that made me fall in love with her. You don’t read her work. You EXPERIENCE it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 17, 2016 10:28 am

      Ooh, thank you for bringing those to my attention. I have not read some of them (as for Hughes, I didn’t know about his prose), but you have inspired me to look into them. I love your description of how those authors/books made you feel and experience and relate. I think that’s what I’m after in reading/writing the most. 🙂
      It was hard for me to pick five too, really. Even after I decided to split the post up into a series. Next one will be about my teen reads.
      Thanks a lot for contributing, Andre! I really appreciate it! 🙂


  4. January 20, 2016 1:46 pm

    I’m not affected so much by books, as I am by stories. Games, movies, television, basically anything that tells tales. But I guess, for books, my top 5 are;

    Velocity by Dean Koontz
    Though Koontz have a lot of supernatural in his books, when he steps away from the religious undertone and magic, his realistic thrillers are the best I’ve ever read. I got a lot of my action scene chops from this. The way Koontz vividly describe each excruciating detail, dragging a two minutes scene to a full chapter, is masterpiece.

    Sable by Garth Nix
    Fantasy away from the classic, done earlier than most. I guess my pull is towards realism. Those that challenges the status quo, because they are hard to do. But when done right, are always amazing.

    Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane
    I like how Lehane rarely ends with a happy ending, and find that his best works are value neutral in finales. They are thinking books that questions good and evil.

    A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
    Another on of those hit close to home books. I like how the innocence turns damaged tone of the story, and the underlying hopeful fluff.

    Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman
    A book I was told to read during English Literature classes in school, but I loved tremendously. It’s a children book not for children. It’s a big reason why I like putting younger kids and teenagers in noticeable roles for my stories. It showed me that children have world views too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 21, 2016 10:02 am

      I get what you mean. I think I’m influenced by characters and words if that makes sense. 🙂
      Anyway, several new books for me to look into on that list. From your descriptions, a few of them really have me interested. I’ve never read Nix, but currently I’m reading a short story anthology in which there is a story by him. 🙂



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