Four Book Friday: Krista Van Dolzer

Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Krista Van Dolzer, a writer, blogger, and my mentor from The Writer’s Voice contest. Read on for the four books that have inspired her.

When Mackenzi first asked me to participate in “Four Book Friday,” I was admittedly a little nervous. Four books that changed my life? I could barely think of one. So I wouldn’t say these books literally changed my life so much as they forced me to look at books—and myself—in a whole new way. But I guess that’s life-changing in and of itself! Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this book for the first time as an annoying, know-it-all thirteen-year-old. It was the first time I ever had a visceral reaction to a book, and in this case, that reaction was hate. I hated that Jonas was obviously a metaphor for Jesus Christ but lacked some of His more prominent characteristics (such as His perfection). I’d never read a book that featured a Christ figure (at least that I recognized), and it drove me crazy that my friends neither noticed nor cared.

I read the book again as a (slightly) more mature grown-up, and this time, it moved me to tears (probably because I was reading it as a mom). But the thing that really struck me was how this book had engaged me as both a child and an adult, how it had made me feel. In the end, I think that’s the highest compliment I could ever pay a book—that it made me feel something I didn’t expect.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This is another book I read for the first time in junior high, but unlike The Giver, this one instantly landed on my all-time favorites list. I loved the setting and the story and Scout and Boo. Especially Boo. I read this book again as a grown-up, too, and the thing that stood out to me was how little I’d understood it the first time around. I might have loved it as a kid, but I really appreciated it as an adult—and especially as a writer. In fact, I think it’s a shame that we teach this book to younger children as if it’s a children’s book (it’s not), but that’s another post… by Jerry Spinelli

I first heard about this book during my first (and only) year of teaching. (For those of you who might be wondering, I taught in a middle school, and no, it wasn’t as bad as you might think.) I saw a lot of students reading it, and something about the cover must have stuck, because when I was walking through the library a year or two later and saw that cover on the shelf, I picked it up. And promptly fell in love. I didn’t spend a ton of time in high school trying to fit in, but Stargirl made me wish I could go back and do it over. I thought I had to be effervescent and exciting to be of any worth in high school, but really, I didn’t have to be. I could have just been myself. Which brings me to my last book…!/image/549105954.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_804/549105954.jpgQuiet by Susan Cain

I read this book last year, and it completely changed the way I saw myself. In high school, I was outgoing, opinionated, and not afraid to show it. If you’d asked me whether I was an extrovert or an introvert, I would have answered extrovert, no hesitation. But as I grew older—and less interested in impressing my peers—I noticed that I also grew, well, quieter. I was more content to sit and listen and not introduce myself to everyone. For years, I thought that I had lost an essential part of my personality, that I had somehow diminished.

But then I read Quiet, and besides making the point that introverts are of no less worth than extroverts, it also helped me see that not all introverts are shy or slow to speak up in a crowd. As it turned out, I had always been an introvert. (Case in point: I spent hours and hours as a teenager sitting alone at my computer, creating characters and writing stories that no one else would ever read.) I’m just an introvert who’s learned how to act like an extrovert in a society that values it, and it’s okay to go back and forth.

If you haven’t read these books, I highly recommend them, and if you have, I’d love to hear what you thought of them in the comments!

kristaKrista Van Dolzer is a stay-at-home mom by day and a writer by naptime. She holds degrees in Mathematics Education and Economics from Brigham Young University but tries not to talk—or write—like a mathematician. If she’s not typing away on the computer, she’s probably watching college football or wiping someone’s nose. She lives with her husband and three young kids in Mesquite, Nevada, and blogs at Mother. Write. (Repeat.). Her debut novel, THE REGENERATED MAN, a middle grade historical with a dash of science fiction, will be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (Penguin) in Winter 2015.

Want more Four Book Friday? Here are more posts in the series:

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10 thoughts on “Four Book Friday: Krista Van Dolzer

  1. Thanks for having me, Mackenzi! This was even tougher than I thought it would be (but in the best possible way, of course).

    • MackenziLee says:

      So glad you were willing to play, Krista! You picked some great books–Stargirl is on my top ten favorite ever books list. It narrowly missed being on my own life-changing books list.

  2. heidikins says:

    Krista is definitely the one who most has my reading preferences, of all of the posts in this series, she is the only one who posted more than one title I recognized. :)


  3. Billy says:

    I don’t know Krista but this sounds like something I could have written; probably not as well as she did, but at least with a similar sentiment. I have read and loved all of these books, even Quiet, which interestingly enough I read last year too. It is interesting how books change and shape our lives and I am not sure that I have ever read a book that didn’t change or at least affect my life in some way. Even easy, shallow, non-mind bending books have an effect on us. I would be interested if the other readers of the blog have similar feelings about books and their continual shaping of the lives of those that read them.

    It all reminds me of one of the best things I ever read by Garrison Keillor about our best friend….the Book.

    “…..a few lines about the great and ancient invention you hold in your hand, the Book itself. Slow to hatch, as durable as a turtle, light and shapely as befits a descendant of the tree. Closed, the object d’book resembles a board. Open, its pale wings brush the fingertips, the spore of fresh ink and pulp excites the nose, the spine lies easily in the hand. A handsome useful object begotten by the passion for truth. The apostle Paul was not the host of a talk show, or else we’d be worshiping famous people on Sunday mornings; he wrote books, a Christian thing to do. The faith of Jews and Christians rests on God’s sacred word, not on magic or music, and so technology burst forward into publishing, Gutenberg and Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer making books similar to ours in the fifteenth century. Ages before the loudspeaker and the camera, came this lovely thing, this portable garden, which survives television, computers, censorship, lousy schools, and rotten authors. Along with the Constitution, the blues, and baseball, the democracy of letters is a common glory in our midst, visible in every library and bookstore. These stacks of boards contain our common life and keep it against the miserable days when meanness operates with a free hand and save it for the day when the lonesome reader opens the cover and the word is resurrected. The day can come next month or a hundred years from now, a book will wait.”

    —Garrison Keillor

  4. Oh, I loved QUIET. I was labeled an introvert at an early age and wish every person who urged me to “speak up” would read that book. I think Cain’s insights are especially relevant today, given the onslaught of social media. What a difference it would make if we all took a little time to sit and reflect.

  5. […] Krista Van Dolzer “I didn’t spend a ton of time in high school trying to fit in, but Stargirl made me wish I could go back and do it over. I thought I had to be effervescent and exciting to be of any worth in high school, but really, I didn’t have to be. I could have just been myself.” Read more of her thoughts on Stargirl, as well as The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Quiet […]

  6. […] Krista! The Gryffindors are cheering for you. (Remember her totally awesome Four Book Friday post? I’m kind of obsessed with it.) I will email you for which of the Four Book Friday books you […]

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