Think back — way back for some of you, not long ago for others — to the book you read growing up that still sticks with you today.
What was it? Why? Can you quote it? Have you re-read it lately?
Are you still dreaming of being Nancy Drew? Or living on the frontier? Roughing it in the wild with only a "Hatchet"?
Ann Hood's new book, "Morningstar: Growing Up with Books," talks about the lasting magic of a childhood spent reading. She joined MPR News host Kerri Miller to talk about her favorites growing up, and what we can still learn from them today.
Hood didn't come from a family of readers. "They considered me to be like an exotic bird," she said.
Still, she remembers spending all day on a beach blanket on the Rhode Island shore, lost in books. She finds herself all these years later still wishing she was a March sister, right out of "Little Women."
How did a book written in the mid-1800s resonate with her so deeply?
"I just realized a few days ago, in the opening pages of ['Little Women'], that they talk about their father being away at war," Hood said. "Jo comments that he won't be home for a while, and that she's too afraid to say he'll never come back at all. When I read that book, my father was in the Navy in Cuba, in Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis... I think the opening pages drew me in because it said the thing I was so afraid to say myself."
Hood became obsessed with every little detail of the book, wanting to literally live inside it: She wanted to carry a baked potato around to keep her hands warm like the March sisters, and she wanted to call her own mother "Marmee." (Her mother said "no," and "definitely no.")
The lasting power of stories from different times and different locations is still striking to Hood.
"It's amazing to me you can read a book about nineteenth century Russia or an upper-class Jewish girl in the New York City or a small town basketball star in Pennsylvania, and you feel like it's your story, like the writer was looking right into your soul," Hood said.
The books that stick with you
What book do you still think about today? Listeners shared some of their favorites. Add your own book to the conversation on Twitter @TheThreadMPR.
One caller, Marty, thanked his teacher for instilling a love of reading: "I didn't know I would become the avid reader that I am, but she gave me 'Brave New World' and 'Fahrenheit 451' and 'Animal Farm' and that's all it took. I've been reading three or four books at a time for the rest of my life."
Another caller, Josh, said he still thinks about S.E. Hinton's "The Outsiders." His own son read at the same age that he did: "It made a strong impression on him ... I think [Hinton] has a way of capturing the fragility and sensitivity and fierce bonding between young boys turning into men. It still resonates."
Other recommended titles:
• "Roots" by Alex Haley
• "The Giver" by Lois Lowry
• "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katharine Paterson
• The Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy by Sigrid Undset
• "Caddie Woodlawn" by Carol Ryrie Brink
• The Betsy-Tacy novels by Maud Hart Lovelace
• "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maud Montgomery
As a boy scout and kid growing up on the Iron Range, definitely Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.— Jared Mehle (@jrmehle) August 16, 2017
Nancy Drew taught me to pay attention to little details. And if a car is behind me for too long, I better memorize that license plate number— sarah kieffer (@sarahkieffer) August 16, 2017
Watership Down— Jenn Baumgartner (@jennbaum724) August 16, 2017
A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L'Engle was instrumental to my understanding of life and loss and grief as a middle schooler.— Sarah Haller (@WiscoDisco) August 16, 2017
My earliest eye-opener was "The Diary of Anne Frank". ❤📚❤— Anna Amundson (@AnnaAmundson4) August 16, 2017
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin— Ray Pang (@PangRay) August 16, 2017
"Up a Road Slowly" by Irene Hunt gave me context for the experiences of me& friends during teens.Still think of it in times of contemplation— Nancy Atkinson (@Nancy_A) August 16, 2017
I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as a middle schooler and that changed my understanding of literature, death, and the world.— Z 🌹 (@_Zmak) August 16, 2017
The Phantom Tollbooth, read daily by a 4th grade teacher! That was then, this is now. (I also have 3 or 4 books at a time going).— Pat Schaniel (@Trish101) August 16, 2017
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott ODell. First book that opened my mind to the power of books and imagination.— Enrique Olivarez (@EnriqueOlivarez) August 16, 2017
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. It revealed that part of what I was looking for was what defines being a man in modern society.— James Bedell (@JamesTheHydro) August 16, 2017
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and A Patch of Blue. I just re-read them in the past year.— Deborah (@Deborah105) August 16, 2017
Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage. The librarian told me I wasn't old enough to read it but I persisted. It showed me the horrors of war— Linda K. (@sissykenny) August 16, 2017
Black Like Me!!!— Gutshot (@Gutshot4) August 16, 2017
Boxcar Children,— Stephanie (@sdsinfofinder) August 16, 2017