This afternoon PVLD Adult Services Department Manager Sylvia Richardson sent an email to our Librarians encouraging us to quickly jot down and share lists of books that "made a lasting impression, or were best-beloved, when we were young" and several of us spent a pleasant 20 minutes or so doing just that.
We've had fun seeing what childhood books our colleagues found most memorable and each person's list sparked memories for the rest of us, and I thought others would enjoy seeing the consolidated list too.
Here it is - unexpurgated, and with titles for all ages from toddlers to precocious teens! If it sparks memories for you, or you want to add a best-loved book from your own childhood please post a comment and share with the rest of us.
Taylor, Sydney – All-of-a-Kind Family series
Gilbreth, Frank Bunker Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey – Cheaper By the Dozen, Belles on Their Toes
Alcott, Louisa May – Little Women and subsequent books (Little Men, Jo’s Boys, etc.)
Lindgren, Astrid – The Children of Noisy Village, Pippi Longstocking
The Bobbsey Twins books
Webster, Jean - Daddy-Long-Legs, Dear Enemy
Cleary, Beverly – the Ramona books, Otis Spofford, also her memoirs
Johnston, Norma – the Keeping Days series
Smith, Betty – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
O’Dell, Scott – Island of the Blue Dolphins
Levitin, Sonia – all of her books, especially Journey to America
Frank, Anne – The Diary of Anne Frank
Ji-Li Jiang – Red Scarf Girl
Dahl, Roald – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches
Blume, Judy – all of her books
Hyman, Trina Schart – Self-Portrait
Anderson, Hans Christian – fairy tales
Zwerger, Lisbeth – anything illustrated by her
Avi – The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Konigsburg, E.L. – anything by her, especially From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and About the B’nai Bagels
Lowry, Lois – Number the Stars and The Giver
Dodge, Mary Mapes – Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates
Lowrey, Janette Sebring – The Pokey Little Puppy
Potter, Beatrix – Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin
Holling, Holling C. – Pagoo
White, E.B. – Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, Trumpet of the Swan
Kipling, Rudyard – Just So Stories, Jungle Book
Henry, Marguerite – all of her horse books
Sewell, Anna – Black Beauty
O’Hara, Mary – My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead
Gipson, Fred – Old Yeller
King Arthur – Howard Pyle edition
Robin Hood – Howard Pyle edition
Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan – The Yearling
Spyri, Johanna – Heidi (also Heidi Grows Up and Heidi’s Children by Charles Tritten)
Graham, Kenneth – The Wind in the Willows
Twain, Mark – Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Stevenson, Robert Louis – Treasure Island, Kidnapped, A Child’s Garden of Verses (illustrated by Tasha Tudor)
Verne, Jules – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Sperry, Armstrong – Call It Courage
Michener, James – Hawaii, The Drifters, The Source (for teens!)
Nordhoff, Charles – the Bounty trilogy
Heyerdahl, Thor – Kon Tiki
Doyle, Arthur Conan – the Sherlock Holmes series
Buck, Pearl – The Good Earth
Burroughs, Edgar Rice – Tarzan, the Mars books
Puzo, Mario – The Godfather
Kjelgaard, Jim – Big Red books
London, Jack – Call of the Wild, White Fang
Burton, Virginia Lee – Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Landmark Books biographies of Washington, Jefferson, Stonewall Jackson, U.S. Grant
Kessler, Leonard – Mr. Pine’s Purple House
Dr. Seuss – Horton Hears A Who, Horton Hatches An Egg, Hop On Pop, Ten Apples Up On Top
Piper, Watty – The Little Engine That Could
The Nancy Drew series
L’Engle, Madeline – anything she wrote!
Snyder, Zilpha Keatley – Black and Blue Magic, The Velvet Room
Burnett, Mary Hodgson – The Secret Garden, A Little Princess
Saint-Exupery, Antoine de – The Little Prince
Cameron, Eleanor – the Mushroom Planet books
Rawls, Wilson – Where the Red Fern Grows
Streatfield, Noel – the “Shoes” series (Movie Shoes, Ballet Shoes, etc.)
Sidney, Margaret – The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
George, Jean Craighead – My Side of the Mountain
Kroeber, Theodora – Ishi: Last of His Tribe
Jackson, Helen Hunt – Ramona
Edwards, Julie Andrews – Mandy, The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles
The Tom Swift series
The Hardy Boys series
LeGuin, Ursula – Wizard of Earthsea series
Tolkien, J.R.R. – The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings
Godden, Rumer – anything she wrote!
“Miss Read” – Chronicles of Fairacre and other books about English Village Life
Lewis, C.S. – The Chronicles of Narnia
Rey, H.A. – Curious George
Bemelman, Ludwig – Madeline
Joslyn, Sesyle – What Do You Say Dear
Eastman, P.D. – Go Dog Go
Lang, Andrew – The Violet Fairy and all of his other books
MacDonald, Betty – Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
Baum, L. Frank – the Oz books
Sachs, Marilyn – Amy Moves In (and her other books)
The Happy Hollisters series
The Trixie Belden series
Travers, P.L. – the Mary Poppins series
Richardson, Grace – Apples Every Day
Hawthorne, Nathaniel – Tanglewood Tales
Mazer, Norma Fox – The Solid Gold Kid
Du Jardin, Rosamond - Pam and Penny series
Lee, Harper – To Kill A Mockingbird
Wilder, Laura Ingalls – Little House in the Big Woods and all of her books
Smith, Dodie – 101 Dalmations
Brink, Carol Ryrie – Caddie Woodlawn
Barrie, J.M. – Peter Pan
Brooks, Walter – Freddy the Pig books
Lofting, Hugh – Dr. Doolittle
Haywood, Carolyn- the Eddie books
McCloskey, Robert – Centerburg Tales, Homer Price, Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal
Robertson, Keith – Henry Reed books
Juster, Norton – The Phantom Tollbooth
As e-readers become more ubiquitous one of the most common questions I get when I am out and about in the community is about the future of books. My response is always that while digital technology is going to grow in importance, I think physical books will still be with us for the foreseeable future.
I do sometimes struggle, however, to articulate why I think this is so. Today Nicholas Bate, in his inimitable style, put his finger on it:
Most of us discovered long ago that we buy books (especially in a 1-click world) at a greater rate than we are able to read them; and so the book pile grows. And it does so until it becomes so alarming that we stop purchasing for a while or are saved by a vacation which allows us to increase our consumption of sentences. What stops us being entirely systematic and matching purchase to reading time? Or switching to an e-reader where the back-log is not a physical thing? Or simply using the wish list that the nice people at amazon kindly provide? Because any serious book-reader knows that the simple presence of a book pile makes him feel more secure and knowledgeable. Sure there is money and floor space tied up in that pile. But what price reassurance?
Maybe it is not just about the content, it is about the package. I know that I sure derive a certain sense of security from the teetering pile of books on my nightstand....
Several of the blogs I follow have featured this video from design firm Ideo, which demonstrates three conceptual models for "books" in the digital age (you may need to double click on the video to see it full-sized, or click on this link :
I'm a long-time Ideo fan and think they are some of the smartest designers around, but I admit I have a bit of trouble getting my head around the idea of a non-linear plotline that evolves based on the readers activities. Of course as we know, and this image from the Paleo-Future blog via Execupundit reinforces, not all predictions get it exactly right. On the other hand, if you read the text that accompanied the cartoon some of the predictions weren't so far off after all!
Whether the Ideo designers are right or wrong I think it is great that they are willing to direct some of their creative energy to the discussion about the future of the book.
From the always enjoyable Nicholas Bate:
As my many blog posts on the subject prove, I've been wrestling in my own mind about what the future of books might be, so I found this article by Hugh McGuire about the inevitable (at least in his view) blurring of the line between "books" and the Internet from today's O'Reilly Radar very interesting.
McGuire notes that "Ebooks to date have mostly been approached as digital versions of a print books that readers can read on a variety of digital devices, with some thought to enhancing ebooks with a few bells and whistles, like video" and goes on to talk about all of the things that you can do with the Internet that you (deliberately?) can't do with e-books in their current form and about the unkown, but likely immense, value that could be tapped if books offered the same kinds of accessibility and functionality as a well-designed website. He concludes:
"I don't know what smart things people will start to do when books are truly of the Internet.
But I do know that it will happen, and the "Future of Publishing" has something to do with this. The current world of ebooks is just a transition to a digitally connected book publishing ecosystem that won't look anything like the book world we live in now."
The conundrum for me has always been not that the Internet will enable some new "digitally connected book publishing ecosystem", which in my mind is inevitable, but about what that means for the ink-on-paper, physically-bounded books that so many of us cherish today.
I keep coming back to is the idea that we will not see the end of the "book" but rather the evolution of a world in which there are in fact two publishing ecosystems - the Internet-based, API-enabled one that McGuire foresees (and by the way his layman's explanation of what an API is and why it is important is as good as I have seen), where what is published won't necessarily be recognizable as and may not be called a "book" and one where the "book" continues to be published much as it currently is. [I should note that when I say "book" I mean some form of words on a page...which could include magazines and other forms of "print" media as well].
I first encountered this idea in a NY Times Op Ed piece by James Gleick back in December 2008 - that the book much as we know it today will continue to exist "as a physical object, and as an idea, and as a set of literary forms."
At the end of his essay Gleick urges publishers to "Go back to an old-fashioned idea: that a book, printed in ink on durable paper, acid-free for longevity, is a thing of beauty. Make it as well as you can. People want to cherish it."
Where I perhaps differ with Gleick is that I think we need expand the idea of "book" to encompass both the physical object "printed in ink on durable paper" and the electronic version where the same words are printed in e-ink on e-paper and read on a screen...the "e-book" as we know it today.
Why? Because as much as I love the experience of reading a traditional, physical book I can see the advantages of having the option to read that same book digitally - you can carry around multiple books on a device that weighs no more than a single physical book, you can read in bed without having the light on, you can adjust the font size and contrast so you can enjoy reading even if you are visually impaired.
In my mind "books" will be with us for a long time to come, although our definition of what constitutes a book is no longer limited to the physical object. Whether physical or electronic, however, they will still be structured to support the contemplative act of reading described in this essay by David Ulin that appeared in the Los Angeles Times about a year ago.
At the same time, the Internet will enable new ways of "reading" - where ideas and information may not be structured into sentences, paragraphs and chapters; where hyperlinks and global positioning systems allow you to travel from a place name on a screen to a map or satellite image of that place, where you and others can collaborate to change the outcome of a story.
I tbelieve that these two models of "reading" can co-exist. I also believe that it is important for libraries to understand and participate in both models, but that our value will continue to be in what we do to support and sustain the former...because no matter how exciting the new world of Internet reading might be, it is not a substitute for the process and structure of organizing ideas within the constraints of the printed page, and then giving others access to those ideas through the act of focused, contemplative reading.
From SFGate.com via my friend Deborah Doyle's Facebook post - Print is Not Dead - Libraries Booming
That's not news to us here at PVLD where our 09/10 door count and circulation matched 08/09's record levels per hour that the libraries were open, our Summer Reading program for kids and teens is on track to meet or exceed last year's record 3600 participants, and it is almost impossible to find a parking space in the afternoons....
A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk to the Southwest Manuscripters about the future of books and reading. I only wish I had come across this video of Mark Pesce from his The Human Network blog before I prepared my remarks.
In it he talks about how the act of reading is changing in the digital age, and asks the question "What is electronic about the electronic book?" His answers fascinated and intrigued me...and scared me a bit too!
If you are interested in books and reading, watching the entire video is a worthy investment of 35 minutes. I suggest grabbing a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and a notepad and a pen, setting the video to "full screen" (just click on the little symbo with arrows radiating out to the edges of a square at the bottom right of the video screen), and then settling in for a real intellectual journey!
Now...tell me what you think!
Driving to a meeting today I heard this little piece about "The Sweet Smell of Literature" on National Public Radio's The World.
It reminded me that if, as some predict (although I don't actually believe it), books as we currently know them will be replaced by digital versions more will be lost than just the experience of turning a page.
I've read about new technologies that enable "smells" to be attached to digital experiences, but that has been in the context of associating the smell with the content - for example the smell of food with a description or image of a meal, or the smell of pine trees when the content is about someone walking through the woods.
This radio piece reminds us that the smell of the book itself is part of the multisensory experience that is reading, and can also tell us much about the origins and history of the physical object. It's hard to imagine how the olfactory dimension of "reading" a book can be replicated in the digital world...one more reason that I remain a committed reader of real, physical books!
Over the past few weeks I've come across several though-provoking blog posts about ebooks and how they relate to, or maybe even change, our concept of what a book really is. I put them aside for a rainy day, and since it is pouring outside it seemed like the right day to re-read and share them.
"Will Books Survive - A Scorecard" by Everything Is Miscellaneous author David Weinberger, asks whether there is anything about the value that paper books (which he calls pbooks) provide that cannot be replaced by ebooks when (according to his hypothesis) -
"...at some point we will have ebooks (which may be distinct hardware or be software running in something other device we carry around), with paper-quality displays that are full-color and multimedia, that are fully on the Net, with software that lets us interact with the book and with other readers, that are a part of the standard outfitting of citizens, and within a physical environment that provides ubiquitous Net connectivity."
Weinberger lists about a dozen attributes of books, and gives his views as to which of these will be better served by ebooks and which by pbooks. His conclusion? Pbooks will continue to provide greater value than ebooks as aesthetic, sentimental, and historic objects; as source of specialized content (Weinberger implies this is particularly true for older books that are unlikely to be digitized); as religious artifacts; and as a reading vehicle that promotes singlemindedness and focus where ebooks lend themselves to distractions.
He gives the edge to pbooks in the areas of readability (noting the ability to customize font and typesize for example), convenience, annotatability (particularly given the ability to share annotations and commentary), and affordability (given the tiny marginal cost of replicating and distributing ebooks) but notes that as what he calls a "social flag" and I would call a status symbol the two formats have different but equal value with ebooks lending themselves to being an indicator of intellectualism, taste, etc. in the world of online social networks, but not replacing the ability of a physical book on a shelf in your living room or on your lap to convey these same messages in the physical world.
The point that I found most interesting, however, relates to the value of books as posessions. Weinberg refers to a very interesting and compelling argument made by Cory Doctorow that I also came across in a link on The Travelin' Librarian blog. The link was to a transcript of a speech titled An Elegy for the Book given by Doctorow at the National Reading Summit and reprinted on theVarsity.ca. You really should read the whole speech, but I'll try to summarize it here.
He starts by giving an incredibly evocative description of "the people of the book"...
"We are the people of the book. We love our books. We fill our houses with books. We treasure books we inherit from our parents, and we cherish the idea of passing those books on to our children. Indeed, how many of us started reading with a beloved book that belonged to one of our parents? We force worthy books on our friends, and we insist that they read them. We even feel a weird kinship for the people we see on buses or airplanes reading our books, the books that we claim. If anyone tries to take away our books—some oppressive government, some censor gone off the rails—we would defend them with everything that we have. We know our tribespeople when we visit their homes because every wall is lined with books. There are teetering piles of books beside the bed and on the floor; there are masses of swollen paperbacks in the bathroom. Our books are us. They are our outboard memory banks and they contain the moral, intellectual, and imaginative influences that make us the people we are today." [It sure describes me and many of my family members, friends and colleagues!]
...and goes on to talk about the profound differences between truly owning a book and having a "license" to use it as is the model for many e-books. Interestingly, Doctorow's argument is not about the differences between paper and digital media but about the different ownership models pertaining to each. As he notes, one can own a book on CD as surely as one printed on paper...but that when one "purchases" the use of an e-book one is merely getting the ability to use the book in accordance with the terms of a license agreement that can run to tens of thousands of words, usually on a device that offers its own technical limitations. Very different from a physical book that can be passed from person to person at will and is open to use by anyone who is literate in the language in which it was written!
Doctorow talks about his realization that -
"...the most important part of the experience of a book is knowing that it can be owned. That it can be inherited by your children, that it can come from your parents. That libraries can archive it, they can lend it, that patrons can borrow it. That the magazines that you subscribe to can remain in a mouldering pile of National Geographics in someone’s attic so you can discover it on a rainy day—and that they don’t disappear the minute you stop subscribing to it. It’s a very odd kind of subscription that takes your magazines away when you’re done [as is the case with most institutional subscriptions with Elsevier, the world’s largest publisher of medical and scientific journals]."
His conclusion -
"Anyone who claims that readers can’t and won’t and shouldn’t own their books are bent on the destruction of the book, the destruction of publishing, and the destruction of authorship itself. We must stop them from being allowed to do it. The library of tomorrow should be better than the library of today. The ability to loan our books to more than one person at once is a feature, not a bug. We all know this. It’s time we stop pretending that the pirates of copyright are right. These people were readers before they were publishers before they were writers before they worked in the legal department before they were agents before they were salespeople and marketers. We are the people of the book, and we need to start acting like it."
Why I Hate E-readers from the Fast Company blog reaches a similar conclusion by focusingon e-reader technology rather than the ownership question. The post raises concerns about the perpetual changes in technology that make an e-book distributed for one device useless when that technology is superceded and highlights all the reasons that a paperback book is superior to one on an e-reade (you can lend it to a friend, you can read it in the bathtub...) Like Doctorow the author isn't as concerned about the innate qualities of digital vs. physical media as about the means of distribution, and in fact come down in support of e-booksprovided they can be read on multipurpose devices like tablet PCs and provided the cost of ownership is favorable.
The bottom line for all of the writers referenced above is that e-books are here to stay, even if the ways in which the are "sold" and distributed needs to change, which is why I found this last post so interesting.
In Forget E-Books: The Future is Much More Interesting Adam Penenberg argues that e-books are just a step on a path to an entirely new format where
"Instead of stagnant words on a page we will layer video throughout the text, add photos, hyperlink material, engage social networks of readers who will add their own videos, photos, and wikified information so that these multimedia books become living, breathing, works of art. They will exist on the Web and be ported over to any and all mobil devices that can handle multimedia, laptops, netbooks, and beyond"
He goes on to say that he is not predicting the end of immersive reading, but rather that the experience of reading text will co-exist with "other literary, visual and auditory modes of expression" and that "Suddenly mere words on a page may feel a bit lifeless."
I have to admit I felt a shiver of self-recognition when I read his penultimate paragraph -
"Now, I realize that many can't imagine life without a good book to curl up with, but these may be the same people who might have thought they'd never forgo the pop and hiss of vinyl records, jettison the typewriter for a laptop, spring for high speed Internet access, or buy a BlackBerry or iPhone. In an earlier age they might have even resisted adopting the Qwerty keyboard (what's wrong with ink and feathered quill anyway?) And sure, there will be some books around. After all, even today there exist vinyl records--just not a lot of them."
While I am a great consumer of blogs and other digital media, one of my greatest pleasures is losing myself in the pages of a good old-fashioned paper book or magazine and I haven't even made the leap to audio books so Penenberg's prediction that books as we know them will be the equivalent of parchment scrolls or vinyl records sends chills down my spine.
And yet...part of me knows that he is probably right. Now I just need to find a way to get as enthusiastic as he is in his conclusion -
"As the author of three books, I'm excited by the possibilities. Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding newspapers, magazines, and books, I think all writers should be optimistic. Because where there's chaos, there's opportunity."