What book from your childhood contributed to your identity?

photoOn September 23rd, Dominican University will be holding its fifth annual Caritas et Veritas Symposium, and the Butler Center will be taking part in the festivities.  We’ve created library date-due cards with space for members of the Dominican Community to answer a single question: what book from your childhood contributed to your identity?  Participants are encouraged to bring their cards to the Butler Center on the second floor of Rebecca Crown Library, room 214, where we will collect your responses.

But for now, a preview: what book contributed to my identity?  To answer this question, I first had to ask myself, how exactly do I identify?  In the most basic terms, I classify myself as a reader, a writer, a geek.  If there was one work really started me down the path to becoming what I am today, it was Kevin J. Anderson’s and Rebecca Moesta’s Young Jedi Knights series.

Prior to reading this series I would not have identified as a reader.  I remember reading being a struggle for me until middle school.  But after reading the Young Jedi Knights series (more commonly known among fans as the YJK books) I suddenly wanted all the Star Wars literature I could get my hands on.  And since LucasFilm continually publishes Star Wars novels, there are always more Star Wars books to read.

The YJK books made me a reader first, but the writer and the geek followed in quick succession.  By the time I reached high school, I was writing and posting Star Wars fan fiction online, which led me to pursue a major in Creative Writing as an undergraduate student.  Eventually, I began writing original stories.  Reading the Star Wars books also steered me toward other science fiction works, such as Ender’s Game1984, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  I steadily became indoctrinated in other fandoms, making me the geek I am today.

The YJK also had a specific effect on the way I viewed myself as a young girl.  While it could be argued that although all five main characters were equally important, Jaina Solo (the daughter of Princess Leia and Han Solo) acted as the leader of the group.  She was introduced as an inquisitive, mechanically-minded girl who preferred grease stains to makeup.  She was always the character to stay cool when a situation heated up, and has continues to be my favorite character in the Star Wars universe.  The YJK books also featured Tenel Ka, an athletic, rustic girl from a backwards planet with a no-nonsense attitude.  Like Jaina, she wasn’t worried about her appearance, but rather about developing her abilities.  Four books into the series, however, she lost her left arm in a lightsaber training accident, and as she recovered it was revealed that she has a somewhat secret identity: she was really the princess of a 36-planet cluster.  Both girls were able to become strong characters without losing their their femininity and were displayed in leadership roles more prominently than the three boys who made up the rest main cast.

The YJK was a series filled with great role models, fast pacing, and valuable lessons.  Best of all, it was easy to read.  These were definitely high-interest, low-level books.  Although the characters began at the age of fourteen, the series was really written at a fourth grade reading level, which is just another reason why they were able to pull me in when I was a struggling reader.  Without it, I wouldn’t have become the reader, writer, and geek that I am today.

So what book from your childhood contributed to your identity?  Stop by the Butler Center next Tuesday and let us know, or fill out the form below!

KP

Adrenaline Fix

gravityI’m really not much of an adrenaline junky. Sure, I like a roller coaster as much as the next person (though I am now, sadly, too tall to ride most of them) and I’d follow Jason Bourne anywhere. But friends will tell you that all I catch of a screen thriller is what I can see between the fingers pressed firmly over my eyes. I hear even less (my thumbs are blocking my ears). And it takes a good nine hours to watch one from the comfort of my couch, what with all the pausing and walking around the living room shaking out my hands. And yet I find myself strangely addicted to the trailer for the new Alfonso Cuarón film Gravity. The first time I saw it in a theater the hair on my arms was standing up for a good five minutes, and I have worn out the various views on the YouTube (like this one and this one).

And it all has me wondering about a corollary interest in take-your-breath-away books. What are the reads that have left me gasping?

the white darkness The first thing that came to my mind is Geraldine McCaughrean’s Printz-winning The White Darkness which, quite frankly, scared the bejeezus out of me. This story of a shy girl with a hearing impairment and an historically accurate imaginary friend who accompanies her uncle on a mysterious trip to Antarctica compounds the menace of an unhinged villain with all of the terror mother nature can muster. Good night that book is scary.

the scorpio racesThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater raises hairs in an entirely different way. This is the story of the deadly races that happen every autumn along the shores of a Celtic Island where men capture and train capaill uisce, fierce, carnivorous horses that rise from the sea. And this time, for the first time, young Puck will be the first woman in the race. Much hangs in the balance in this taut drama, but it is Stiefvater’s evocation of the fearsome horses themselves, all teeth and muscle and blood and bone, that is so spine-chilling.

The_Great_Wide_SeaAnd then we’ve got something like The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong that delivers its fright straight through the realm of possibility. Three boys set out on a year-long sail around the world with their father, broken by the recent death of their mother and clearly spinning outside the reach of responsibility. Tensions on the little craft are bad enough, but when the boys awake one morning to find the deck empty and their father gone, fear sets in. Slowly the boys’ resilience weakens as life becomes increasingly precarious and survival starts to slip from their grasp.

And what about you? What are your favorite tales of terror? Hit us up!