Book Lover’s Day: Titles That Made Us Fall In Love
According to Twitter and a number of misc. websites, today is National Book Lover’s Day. Hopefully some of you have taken Elizabeth’s advice and packed a picnic, or are at least planning to curl up after work with whatever it is you’re reading now.
Clearly we love books here at Quirk. In order to properly celebrate this day-of-book-loving, several of us from the Quirk HQ have written about the titles that made us fall in love with books in the first place. From forced high school reading to childrens’ books, forbidden horror anthologies to American literary classics, our picks are certainly varied.
Enjoy, and let us know what books made you fall in love in the comments. We’d love to hear about them.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Ghostly Gallery – I first spotted this book when I was 8 years old, but my school librarian said I couldn’t borrow it until I turned 10 — its contents were simply too horrifying. Thus began an excruciating two-year wait. This was around 1979-1980 and I’d never heard of Alfred Hitchcock, but the cover of this book had me at hello.
Despite my sky-high expectations, Ghostly Gallery did not disappoint. It featured 11 creepy tales from Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells, and a host of mystery authors (including one of my favorites, Robert Arthur, who actually “ghost-edited” this entire anthology on Hitchcock’s behalf). What I remember more than anything about Ghostly Gallery is the experience of reading and re-reading it dozens of times, maybe hundreds of times. I wanted to live in these stories; I wanted to crawl into their illustrations and walk around and touch things. It occurs to me now that some of my favorite Quirk projects allow readers to have precisely that experience. – Jason Rekulak (Associate Publisher & Creative Director)
The Boxcar Children – It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when I fell in love with books. Some of my first words were “bow wow,” which I pronounced on the last page of my family’s copy of Old Mother Hubbard. However, I think that the first books I read and collected on my own were The Boxcar Children series. I’m not sure how many I actually read because borrowing from the library definitely supplemented the titles I owned. No matter how many titles it ended up being, I desperately wanted a boxcar playhouse as soon as I read the first one. – Melissa Jacobson (Production & Sales Coordinator)
Bread and Jam for Frances: The story of a little badger named Frances who loves to eat bread covered with jam. Her parents let her have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and in the end Frances gets sick of jam and has an egg for breakfast. I suppose the lesson is that variety is the spice of life. But what Bread and Jam for Frances really taught me was that you can never have too many good books or too many bread-and-jam sandwiches. – Margaret McGuire (Editor)
Catch-22 – In my senior year of high school, I began a long-term love affair with the book that to this day remains my favorite – Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. I had always loved books and had already discovered the joys of humor novels thanks to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, but Catch-22 was unlike anything I’d ever read: brilliant, ballsy, slightly batshit, and brazenly anti-authoritarian in an era that strongly frowned upon it.
Heller’s 1961 masterpiece was well ahead of its time in criticizing bureaucracy and war, and the ease with which they distort the meaning of words for their own selfish purposes. He was also employing a non-linear storyline before Quentin Tarantino was even a twitch in his father’s pants. And in the ultimate tribute, the phrase “Catch-22” became an English language shorthand for a senseless, illogical situation. As the main character, Yossarian, admiringly says, “That’s some catch, that Catch-22.” To which he is told, “It’s the best there is.” Couldn’t agree more. – John J. McGurk (Production Manager)
The Drifters – After I graduated from college, I spent the summer of 1998 backpacking through Europe. During that trip, a friend had given me The Drifters by James A. Michener. It’s a 1960s story of “six young runaways adrift in a world they have created out of dreams, drugs, and dedication to pleasure.” And, while it didn’t completely embody my motivations and experiences, it certainly spoke to the sense of wanderlust and freedom that I enjoyed during that trip. It was the first book that I can recall really connecting to while I was reading it. – Brett Cohen (Vice President)
Ella Enchanted – This is the first book I ever read for enjoyment… you know, when I was 10 years old. It’s a wicked fantasy for a kid, and it makes you feel so adult for reading it. I mean, what 10 year old doesn’t think every boy has cooties? And this book is saying that’s okay? Is that legal? It was my first big girl step. I got to read on my own and begin to think that boys might not be so bad after all. In retrospect, it was probably my first step towards becoming a snotty teenager and challenging everything my parents said. Good from my point of view, bad from the parents’. It’s all relative. – Meg Falasco (Publicity Intern)
Little House on the Prairie – I am thinking of my first series, and I must have started with Little House on the Prairie, and worked my way back to the beginning of the series, Little House in the Big Woods, and through all of them. I remember that I read the whole series, often a book a day! Previous to that, I had been read to and really loved certain stories, but once I began reading on my own, I was really hooked. Because then I had my own choice, at my own pace, and could escape, escape, escape into another world. I think it’s key that fiction can take you out of your own life and really fuel the imagination. And series almost always hook you into finding out what’s going to happen next! I was addicted. – Robin Klinger (Senior Subsidiary Rights Manager)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – As a kid I really liked to read but going into high school I really couldn’t be bothered—that was until mandatory summer reading was assigned and I absolutely had to read. I remember feeling so annoyed that reading was being forced upon me. School was out. How dare they assign me homework? Reluctantly, I began to read Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Although my childhood was nothing like Francie’s, I was pulled into her story and the era that she grew up in. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn helped me find a genre of books that captivated me and opened the door to a love of reading. – Nicole De Jackmo (Publicity Manager)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – When I was little, my Mom picked me up a boxset full of classic fantasy and science fiction; books by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc. Little did she know that by doing this, she was turning the kid my Father (foolishly) dreamed would be a football player into a total geek. I became obsessed with stories of time travel, outer space, dinosaurs, and in the case of Twenty Thousand Leagues… undersea exploration. Verne’s classic opened up my imagination, sparked my love of adventure books, and made me daydream of being Captain Nemo for years to come. – Eric Smith (Social Media & Marketing Coordinator)
ERIC SMITH is the cofounder of Geekadelphia, a popular blog covering all-that-is-geek in the City of Brotherly Love, as well as the Philadelphia Geek Awards, an annual awards show held at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He’s written for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Weekly, and Philly.com