I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a blog series, especially since in the last year I have met so many amazing aspiring writers whose thoughts I want to steal for my own blog! Then an idea came to me last night when I was falling asleep, and it didn’t sound stupid when I woke up. So I’m going for it.
The new series is called Four Book Friday. Every Friday, I will feature a different author/writer/friend who loves books, and they will talk about four books that changed their life. Or if that language is too intimidating, four books that had a substantial impact on their life. Not favorite books, mind you. Books that changed your life. They are two very different things.
Today that person will be me. Because, like I said, I just thought of this last night, so I didn’t really have a chance to plan ahead.
So, may I proudly present, the first in a summer series of….
FOUR BOOK FRIDAY
Four books that changed my life by Mackenzi Lee
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton – The value of this book to me is almost purely sentimental. This was my dad’s favorite book to read aloud to me when I was a kid—I think the construction themes appealed to him—and ever since, I have shared a bond with my father that passes through this book. For that reason it is very dear to my heart. It also captures that blissful experience of being read aloud to as a child. When I imagine myself small and listening from my dad’s lap, this is always the book that is being read to me. For me, this book is childhood, simplicity, and kindness. It is the sort of pure fantastical delight that all picture books should be.
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke – This was the first book I was ever obsessed with, and I think this is the book that made me obsessed with books. I can’t even remember what it was about this book in particular that spoke to me more than any other. Maybe it was the setting in Venice. Maybe it was the magical realism. Maybe it was Scipio Massimo, the first fictional character I ever had a crush on. But whatever it was, this book captured me and didn’t let go for years. I loved it so much I wrote a script of it and directed it at my middle school. As you probably guess, it was awesome. This book was also the first that instilled in me a deep and abiding love for setting, both as a reader and writer. For years and years, my number one place to see before I die was Venice, because of the way it had captured my imagination in this book. A city with canals instead of roads? That was too amazing to be real. When I finally went to Venice, it was every bit as magical as The Thief Lord promised it would be. And now I’ve written my own novel set in Venice. All thanks to this little blue book.
One Day by David Nicholls – This is one of those books that if I had read it at any point in my life, I probably would have liked it, but the timing of when I read it made it life changing. I had just come back from England and I was having a career crisis where everything I thought I was going to do with my life was falling apart. I had a few precious months to make big decisions about my future, and I was laboring under the delusion that I was the only person my age who did not have my life together. Then I found myself in this book, in the character of Emma Morley, the bookish rule-follower who wants to be a rebel and change the world. I have never identified with a character as much as I do with Emma—she even ends up writing children’s books after an initial failed career as an actress. Uh, that sounds familiar. I had also just come out of a relationship that mirrored Emma’s relationship with her best friend Dexter, and it was good to know that I was not alone in what I was feeling. I have never felt so strongly like a book was written for me. One Day reached out to me and said, “You are not alone,” just when I needed it most.
I definitely talk about his book a lot, but that is because it had such a huge impact on me. I read this when I was again in the throws of “what do I do with my life”. I was a few months away from graduating from college. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but my problem was I was having a hard time finding adult books that I liked. I had started returning to my roots in children’s literature, but vampire books were at their peak, and a lot of YA literature I read had me rolling my eyes. Was it possible, I wondered, to have a book with the playful escapism of young adult AND the literary merit of an adult novel? Yes. Yes it is. I found that in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. And more than any other book, it was the book that cemented my desire to pursue an MFA in writing for children. This book was so important to me that I wear a necklace almost every day with a wishbone charm on it, just like the main character Karou, to remind myself why I am in this field.
Want to join Four Book Friday? I need aspiring and published writers/lovers of books to take part! If you would like to join the fun, please email me at mackenzilee(at)hotmail(dot)com. I would love to feature you and your life-changing books!