- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jul 16 2007
I was thinking recently of how lucky I am to have had so many inspirations in life. I truly wouldn’t be where I am, working a job I love, if it weren’t for those people who always inspired my love for books. In their own unique ways they gave me a passion that I’ve been able to build a career on. So I asked Jacky and Kim to join me in sharing the names of those people who inspired us in our love of books. . . .
Ms. Marjorie Johnson, my sixth grade teacher. She was able to pick a book that would hold the attention of 12-year-old boys while bringing the girls to tears. I still love The Outsiders.
Mrs. Rosemary Mickelson, my eighth-grade teacher, who told us that we are never too old to be read to, but if we couldn’t behave she would stop. I can still remember her voice clearly, and waited impatiently each day to discover what was going to happen next.
Grandpa Dick, who loved nothing more than a good book. I remember sitting on his cozy lap while he read to me. He is still waiting for me to write that next bestseller.
My parents (a cheat since they share a slot), who bought me endless books and let me read long into the night and all morning until I finished what I’d started.
My Aunt Becky, who bought me (and continues to buy me) a book for every birthday, Christmas, and special event from the day I was born. In my mind there has been no greater gift.
My mom: She took me to the library every week when I was a kid. We’d each get a huge stack of books and stop for an eggroll on the way home.
Those first authors whose books I picked up, who showed me I could travel anywhere in the world just by reading, such as Barbara Cartland (I was young!), Enid Blyton (who had 800 books to choose from!), Beatrix Potter, Carolyn Keane, and Stephen King.
Then later, the Romantic literary wonders like Mary Shelley, Samuel Coleridge, and William Blake.
My husband, Alex, who shares books with me all the time. At home, on the road, over the phone, by email . . . Thanks to them all!
My grandma and mom first come to mind. We all shared my grandma’s Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt collections and would pass the books back and forth to one another, reading and rereading them. I guess we were all a bunch of romantics. Total suckers for gothics.
Next, I think of my book club: Amy, Michele, Robyn and Betsy. All friends from my college days, we live many miles away from one another, but we decided to hold book club meetings via instant messenger. It’s been a great way to stay in touch, but it’s also reinvigorated my love of books. We have the most wonderful discussions, and often one of them will point out something that I totally missed. It deepens my reading experience and makes me appreciate the written word even more.
Finally, I’d have to say my son, Nicky. He’s only two, but I’m determined to pass on my love of books to him. So far, it’s working. He just loves to sit around and flip through his books, staring intently at the photos. We read Curious George, Dr. Seuss, or one of his other favorites before bed every night. I know that as time goes on and he’s able to read the words all by himself, his sense of wonder will grow and I’ll discover the joy of reading all over again.
So, who has inspired you?
Kim, my son’s name is Nicky, and he is 2 too! Our favorite book is Custard the Dragon. He absolutely adores it, and it’s the only thing that keeps him still for more than three seconds.
Besides my little guy. The one’s who inspire me are Anne Rice, who has just some of the most beautiful writing on the face of the Earth and writes exactly what she wants even when most of her fans turn on her.
My mother who made me love the language of Shakespeare, handed me my first Anne Rice book, and never once tried to censor anything I wanted to read.
And all those writers who I read and whose endings I hated so much that I decided I just had to write so I could make the stories end just like I wanted them to.
My mom and dad read to me pretty much since birth, so I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t reading. I grew up on comic books, Peanuts comic strips, Erma Bombeck’s columns, and Sherlock Holmes and the Hardy Boys and a thousand other books that still make me smile to think of.
Like everyone else, I was inspired during my formative years.
Erma Bombeck No one has ever been so funny with the mundane. Her way of looking at an ordinary life and making it into sheer hilarity amazed and inspired me.
Comic Books Every character has to make a choice, and the difference between a hero and a schmuck is that decision.
Peanuts Heroes shouldn’t be perfect. A loser can be the best character of all.
Sherlock Holmes Without the characters, the mystery won’t mean much, and vice versa.
And of course, my mom and dad, who always suported me, and still do. I’ve got then reading rough drafts and trying to help me find the right agent for my novel.
I’ll get there. I have to, I’m part of a team and they wouldn’t let me down.
I’d have to say my parents and the bookmobile. My mom and dad belonged to a book club and we all would read the selections that came each month. I was just a little kid when they got me started on their favorite authors: Thomas Costain, Frank Yerby and later, John D. McDonald and then all the science fiction authors (my dad’s favorites) I had special permission to take more than the allowed number of books from the bookmobile, and remember walking home with my arms stretched as long as they’d go to hold my week’s selections. My mother still teases me about my favorite reply when she asked me to do something: just a minute…let me finish this chapter.
My dad read to me for years. When I was little he’d read me Pooh stories. Each character had their own voice. Eeyore, of course, was very gloomy. Piglet was excited and high-strung. And Pooh . . . well, Pooh was Pooh, of course.
As I got older he read the Little House books. We called them “Ma and Pa” stories.
I always read to my kids. I was sad when they didn’t like the Pooh stories, but we found our own favorites: Goodnight Moon, Frog and Toad, Go Dog Go! Later there was the Phantom Tollbooth. I could go on and on. They both began to devour books as soon as they could and they continue to be *huge* readers.
One of my great joys is that they are also exquisite writers.
My parents always read to us and encouraged us to read. We could beg and plead for toys and not get them, but books were ours for the asking. Some of the first books I remember really being excited by were my father’s collection of ’60’s era John D. MacDonald. I started reading them very young because they were the shortest books on the shelves.
My first grade teacher, Mrs. Aspenes, helped me write my first book: “The dog who went to the oshun.”
(Jessica — no one helped me find The Outsiders, but I read it at the same age as you did and it had an incredible impact on me.)
George Lucas. When I went to see Star Wars at 13, I suddenly realized how BIG something could be. He’d planned a series of 12 movies originally, and that huge imagination showed.
(Jacky–I still have my copies of the Blyton books from my childhood. They’re dated, I know, but I can’t get rid of them.)
T.H. White, whose Once and Future King introduced me to Arthur. I went on to read everything I could get my hands on, including things from the 11th-14th centuries, which in turn sent me off to grad school to get a degree in Medieval Studies.
You can find my list on my own blog post from Feb 5. It’s more about writing than reading, but they kind of go together.
My father and my fifth standard teacher Mrs. Aranha.
In Mumbai, the city where I grew up I was exposed to all types of books but largely from the West. For the last ten years I have been reading Indian authors in English. And they do a good job!!!!!!!!!!!
My English teacher in my Jr year of high school Mrs. Inman.
She so loved books.
One day she closed the blinds turned off the lights and lit a candle on her desk. She proceeded to read us A Cask of Amontillado (spelling?). I still have chills thinking about it.
Our public library was around the block and across a busy street from our house. When I was old enough to cross that street was a great day. I’d come home loaded with books. Each week at least.
My father read the paper from front to back and my mother read and passed on Agatha Christie Mysteries.
As a shy child during the 40’s, every time we moved to a new town (I was a WWII Army brat as well as a minister’s daughter) I cringed at the thought of making new friends. My mother always headed to the library as soon as we arrived at our new destination. My library card became my best friend -the local library was my safe haven.
My mother loved Zane Grey, and I cut my teeth on the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew. We spent a lot of time reading together in those days when the world was in turmoil and my father and brother were in the Armed Forces.
As I entered the last years of high school and actually was able to finish the last three years at the same little Texas school, my English and Literature teacher, Lura Smith, impacted my life deeply with her encouragment. I loved writing and she was a wonderful mentor. Her belief in me has stayed with me all these years and when my first novel was published in 2005, I received a congratulatory email from a former classmate, stating that he knew I had made Mrs. Smith proud. That moved me to tears.
Books — a little girl’s best friends, a big girl’s best memories.
Definitely my mom – she always has her nose in a book and encouraged me to read for as long as I can remember. No matter how tight money was back then, a trip to the bookstore was a necessity, not a luxury.
My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Slaby, who introduced me to Judy Blume when she read “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and “Superfudge” to the class.
Judy Blume who taught that no subject was so taboo that it shouldn’t be written about, and who made adolescence a lot less traumatic =)
Kathleen Woodiwiss and Johanna Lindsey, for writing historicals I wanted to read, and for giving me a love of historicals that made me want to write them.
My daughter – who is discovering Judy Blume herself, and asking a million questions as a result.
My husband – who understands my Harry Potter nerdiness and is willing to take the kids for the day so I can sit and read the new HPs when they come out! =)
My stepmother always made sure we had a library card when we moved, which was often.
She also bought me books…and made us spend time reading each day.
My high school English Teacher encouraged me to pay attention to words and helped me find my writing voice.
My grandma introduced me to Erma Bombeck’s humor.
I’m proud to say that books are all over my house. My oldest son can’t even get in the car without one.
Trips to the bookstore and library are one of my most favorite things to do with my kids.
My mom! We always had books stacked around the house, and learned they were something to be treasured and respected. I grew up living the life of an Army brat, so we moved every three years or so. One of the first places we’d always visit was the local library, and load up on books. Somehow they helped with the transition of coming to a new place, and having to make new friends, etc.
My grandfather was the director of the Pickler Memorial Library at NMSU, now Truman State. I remember making trips into the library to visit and being fascinated by all of the books – they seemed to reach from floor to ceiling! He made sure that all of his grandchildren understood the importance of books and how to take care of them – no bending the corners, laying them face down, or throwing them….Sadly, his sight diminished and he went completely blind about fifteen years ago, but he’s always the first person that I think of when someone asks me about reading!
My middle school english teacher, Mr. Worley – who also happened to be my best friend’s dad! His enthusiasm for literature was contagious – and still is!
I remember reading all types of Harlequins from the age of about 12, and of course, the Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts. I also remember burying my head into a Loius L’Amour series – I didn’t come out for months!
I’m so glad that my daughters, Madlyn (5) and Ava (3) also love to read!
I’m inspired by practically everyone and everything…by all of you :-); though my earliest recollection goes back to before I could speak…watching and listening to my parents and sibs talk, sensing the importance of such a connection through words and wishing I could do that. I’ve been fascinated with words ever since; their power, their connection, their purpose; how they can bring one to tears and another to joy. I was fortunate to have a family of “readers” from dear ole Dad who sent books up to the cabin with instructions for them to be read to me while we summered on the lake and he worked in the city; and later to a mother who loved a good romance novel, western sagas, and puzzle books; to my sibs who were hooked on the Doc Savage series of whom I quickly and quietly became hooked on as well. To Sammy Davis, Jr. who showed us perseverance with his autobiography, “Yes I Can.” To Erma Bombeck who showed us how to see the funny side of the crazies we live with. To Harper Lee whose brilliance took us on a journey of accountability.
To all of you out there whose books will inspire, provoke to thought, make us laugh, or nibble on our lip as we grip the pages on this journey your book will take us on where the only requirement is a comfort place to sit and a good reading light…I thank you. 🙂
“A man only learns by two things, one is reading and the other is association with smarter people.” – Will Rogers