Monday, August 23, 2021

A Book, a Book, My Kingdom for a Book!

 Q: Which book that you’ve read has had the most profound effect on you? And why? 


-from Susan


When I was 7 or 8, it was E.B.White’s magnificent Stuart Little. I lived in Manhattan, I knew the lake where boys and girls sailed miniature sailboats, this was my home! And if the storytelling hadn’t done it, the exquisite pen and ink drawings would have. That little canoe…It made me a lover of great character stories for the rest of my life.


At 10, I went through what seems to be a quintessential girl thing, a passion for horses that didn’t end until a pleasant old nag decided jumping over a really low wall was too much to ask and dumped me. But before then, Misty of Chincoteagueby Marguerite Henry was the book that showed me words and pictures could lift me into other worlds.


I did race through a lot of Nancy Drews, but she and her perky friends didn’t resonate with me except to make me realize solving story puzzles was fun. Maybe those books steered me to Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie steered me to Rex Stout’s terrific Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin mysteries, and it’s hard to say which one I like best. They did give me the seed of the idea that writing mysteries would be fun and that I might be able to do it. And, they were set in Manhattan – well, unless Nero had to venture to Montenegro – my hometown –  so what’s not to like?


I was and still am such a voracious reader that I really can’t say any one book had a profound effect on me. My parents’ extensive library with its strong, literate, one might say radical and avant-garde filter was important when I was growing up. Jane Austen’s novels are a great model for the examination of human foibles in a small, rigid society, and I thought specifically about them and the author’s clear-eyed humor as I was writing my French village mysteries. They may, in fact, be the closest I can come to books that have had the most effect. And among them, Persuasion is my favorite.






Dietrich Kalteis said...

Well said, Susan. It's interesting how books can shape us from an early age. Thanks for sharing.

Frank Zafiro said...

Well played, Susan - I made the mistake of trying to restrict myself to one book for this answer...

Susan C Shea said...

Thanks, Dietrich. Frank, you're more decisive than I am!