Monday, 9 February 2009

An interesting finding.

So I got this list in my email box last week (thanks honey.). Where the Book of the Month club and the Library of Congress' Center for the Book were asked to name a book that made a difference in their lives. 

Look at the list, and see if you see what I see (that you see. HA!)
  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  2. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
  3. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  4. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  5. The Bible
  6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  7. Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
  8. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  9. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
  10. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  11. Hiroshima, by John Hersey
  12. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
  13. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  14. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  15. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery
  16. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
  17. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  18. Roots, by Alex Haley
  19. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  20. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  21. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  22. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
  23. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
  24. What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard Nelson Bolles
  25. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
Now, did you see what I saw? Look at my interpretation of this list. 
  1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain - YA
  2. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand - Adult
  3. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Adult
  4. The Autobiography of Malcolm X - Adult
  5. The Bible - All ages. 
  6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger - YA/MG
  7. Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White - MG
  8. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank - MG/YA
  9. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes - Adult (although I read this when I was like 12)
  10. Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell - Adult (Ditto above)
  11. Hiroshima, by John Hersey - Adult
  12. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie - Adult
  13. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou - Adult
  14. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison - Adult
  15. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery - MG/YA
  16. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott - MG/YA
  17. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien - All ages (IMO)
  18. Roots, by Alex Haley - YA
  19. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett - YA/MG
  20. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - MG/YA
  21. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson - YA/MG
  22. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau - All ages (IMO.)
  23. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy - Adult
  24. What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard Nelson Bolles - Adult
  25. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum - YA/MG
11 out of 25 are, in my august opinion, MG/YA books. Some others can (and are) read by children as young as 10. (though not War and Peace, shudder). 

I think this gets down to the bare bones of why I write what I write. I know you get asked that a lot, what you write, and all I had before was a feeling. "It's how I feel when I write the book that matters." 

But I think I'm remembering feelings and images from when I read the books I loved as a kid that make me write now. The hope and laughter and tears that were spent through many a good book on the plains of Oklahoma. When I had a good book I wasn't quite as alone. The feeling that my book's characters were as close as any friends I had in the real world. 

I think (well, as of today) that's exactly why I write. To that kid I was, in the hope that kids I will meet will feel the same way about P, and Jakob, and Shad, as I felt about Scout, and Sterling, and Billy, and Jay Berry.

I hope so at least. 

Why do you write what you do?

6 comments:

Heidi the Hick said...

It makes sense, because those are the formative years, and some memories from that time will be burnt onto your inner eyelids forever, good or bad.

I just finished The Catcher in The Rye. NOw that's voice. It wouldn't have been the same if written from a 40 year old man's point of view. That's the other thing: honesty. Adults really try to lie to themselves and I think that's a learned behaviour. Writing a story from a kid's POV requires honesty and that makes for good storytelling.

It all gets murky for me though, because I don't think I'm strictly a YA writer. But I read Atlas Shrugged at 17 and To Kill A Mockingbird at 37, so I don't know what that says about me...

Patti said...

I think I write YA because that's when I fell in love with books. Although I enjoy reading adult books, I always come back to my favourites. A few of which were on that list.

Heidi said...

I love your comments on here, and why you write what you write. I think it also explains why, when the publishing industry is hurting, MG and YA are still going pretty strong.

I write what I write because that's what comes out. I can't explain it much better than that.

And I think To Kill A Mockingbird is certainly not limited to a YA. It has some kid themes in it - being written from Scout's perspective - but it deals with some pretty heavy adult topics too.

pseudosu said...

I agree with Heidi Hick that the list isn't surprising because young exposure = impact, but it is interesting.
I write a teen main character because that's the voice that's stuck in my head. Sometimes I question that I may be an arrested adolescent, but I really identify with that age. My dream would be that someday some completely screwed-up kid would read something of mine and go, "Huh, maybe I'm not altogether horrible. There are others like me out there."

JKB said...

Heidi TH - I agree. Formative years, and all that. Plus somehow to me the emotions seem so much nearer the surface during that time...I really remember it.

Patti - Thanks for having the guts to post! :) I'm with you - I really like YA books as well but something in my brain doesn't click, so I can't write them. I like The Hidden Path, btw! (I voted!)

Heidi, I love TKAM...I think that, as well as Catcher in the Rye, are my two favourite books of all time. I love Holden. :) and Scout. :)

Pseu, I agree. That's exactly the feeling I want too. Before they get all angsty. :)

marsh to the fore said...

I love this list. I think I'll print it up so I have a list of books to read. I'm terrible on reading good literature.

As to what motivates me to write--anything, but I guess it mostly comes to where I am at any particular time. I can remember when I wrote about nothing but cats.