For some reason today I found myself reminiscing about the books I read as a kid. And I am not talking about Books like Jelita and Mulenga, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, or even Cinderella. I am talking about books that I picked up from the library out of my own volition – not because school or my mother wanted me to read them.
I am looking back at how innocent I looked at things then. Back then it was always about the good and the bad guys from the book or if there was a happy ending. It was such great fun seeing a plot unfold right in front of your eyes…or should I say through the imagination? It didn’t matter then the complexities of characters, the plot devices employed by authors or how an author’s life might have impacted his/her written works. I didn’t know what symbolism meant or such things as style, diction, themes, motifs, and point of view yet somehow the stories still managed to make a lot of sense!
But now, reading has become a little more complicated because of so many things I have come to be aware of. At some point in high school during a ‘Literature’ class, I remember thinking…I think from now on am going to hate reading novels. Why was the teacher trying to make everything so complicated? Fortunately, that was never the case. As it turned out, I became even more absorbed in reading books it was insane!
Before my mind became corrupted by the hideous plots from most Mills and Boon stories, I think I read quite a number of impressive books that are somehow still embedded in my schema. Here’s me looking back to those old beautiful days when literature was simply….what’s that word again…? Anyway, I have decided to revisit all the novels I read as a child…simply because I am curious and I think it would be fun! Here’s a list of the most notable ones whose titles are still stuck in my head:
Anne of Green Gables – by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Dear Lord! This was my very first novel and I will never forget this title. I had picked this particular one because of the name, obviously! However, one look at the synopsis and I was completely taken in! I was drawn in by how so similar and yet how not so similar the character Anne Shirley was from me. Unlike her, I was not talkative as a kid yet I found myself celebrating every time that kid opened her mouth and spoke her mind. I was strangely inspired without knowing exactly why. I can’t remember much of the details of the story but there are scenes that are still play out in my head…images of a little red-haired girl overcoming life’s challenges in her young life until she gets her happy ending. Suddenly, I am curious about Anne’s character, how did she manage to set her two worlds apart – one her imagination and the other her reality. I want to revisit every scene and look at it with these very eyes…after so many years.
Little House on the Prairie – by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Although this one came from the Little House Series, I only got to read this particular one. I can’t remember what attracted me to it but back then if it was not about a namesake, it was mostly about the picture on the front cover if the synopsis was not as captivating as I expected. I remember having a little trouble with this book because there was so much history involved. Looking back, I think I enjoyed reading dialogues the most and not additional information from authors that sought to give more meat to the plot. I only got to the end of the book because I was never one to give up half-way through. I wanted to see events unfold all through the end! But since I will be reading it again, I look forward to gaining an in-depth understanding and possibly delve a little more into the mind of Wilder.
Oliver Twist – by Charles Dickens
Now here’s a reason I fell in love with Charles Dickens! I remember for the first time back then wanting to know more about an author because I was impressed by the things that went on in his head. I was totally hooked! Oh, I remember hating Fagin and how scared I would be every time Oliver was caught up in one of his criminal activities. I had never despised a character like this before. Even Cinderella’s evil step-mother and sisters had nothing on this nefarious nitwit and growing up, those three (Cinderella) were the epitome of evil itself in my very young mind. I think it was after reading this book that I slowly began to appreciate literature in a deeper sense. After this one, I went straight ahead to read Great Expectations. And I don’t know why I am smiling right now. I am sooo looking forward to reading this again!
Sherlock Holmes – by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I honestly think that this collection of Doyle’s works really robbed me of my childhood! Seriously! I found his stories intriguing, captivating, and extremely funny. Once I started, there was no stopping me. I hated being anywhere else but in the bedroom reading my life away. If before I had been anti-social, after this book I became a “high-functioning sociopath…” but without the violent aspect of the definition of course! I started reading this collection of stories in my search for effective ways of dealing with a father who had psychopathic tendencies. Of course I didn’t know much about Google then…and we thank God for that! Here is where I fell in love for the first time with a character – Sherlock Holmes. To this day, these stories still hold the same place in my heart and because I have read them over and over again over the years…it wouldn’t hurt to read them again, right?
Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
…my very first African authored novel. Oooh, such a good read and very informative too! I started reading this one because I had heard my older siblings talk a lot about it. I hated not being in the ‘know’ when others were talking about literary works. I was very young then but my curiosity was bigger than both my older brothers put together. I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about this Okonkwo. I read this book with as much innocence as can be expected. I loved and hated Okonkwo at the same time. There were some aspects of him that hit close to home and for the first time I started to understand a bit about the role of tradition in societies outside Zambia. At that time I didn’t care much about the themes Achebe was trying to drive home. It was only after studying the book in high school as well as at varsity as a literature text that I got to really appreciate exactly what was trying to communicate through his works. After this one, I went straight to reading his other novel – No Longer at Ease, another great read I still hold dear!
Right now I am wondering, to what extend did my choice in novels I read as a kid influence my character or personality? Would I want my kids to read these books too? I have a strong feeling I already know the answers to these questions! Do you remember the books you read as a kid? How did they influence your childhood or rather, your life in general? Would you read them again to read them to your kids?