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!
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.
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…
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…
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!
Krista 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:
- Hannah Thompson on Rumble Fish, Harry Potter, Chris Crutcher, and John Green.
- Clarissa Hadge on A Wrinkle In Time, Tamora Pierce, North to Freedom, and Mi Revalueshanary Fren
- Mackenzi Lee on Laini Taylor, One Day, The Thief Lord, and a book about a man and his steam shovel