Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chapters In My Life -Week 5

This week on 'Chapters In My Life', Melissa from 'This Too...' is sharing the 5 books, which make up the chapters of her life....

The first book I remember being enamored with is Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. I read it as a young girl and the story set my imagination free. I wanted nothing more than to discover a hidden key that opened up a place to call my very own. The story has always stayed with me. Its message, so simple and beautiful, it remains one of my firmest beliefs: We can help things grow.

I knew I wanted to be a writer after I read The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank. I was thirteen, the same age as Anne when she began her diary. And I spent most of my young life wondering what so many young people wonder, why will no one listen to me? This book taught me that writing is a way to be heard. That, even after an unimaginable tragedy, words can hold on tight to a too-short life and find their way into the hearts and minds of so many.

At this point in my life, my reading habits became a little strange and unfocused (a Bronte sister one day, Stephen King the next). But I liked it that way. I read anything I could get my hands on and I became fascinated with reading (rather than seeing) plays.

Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee changed everything I thought about the way you could tell a story. All of these extraordinary conversations were happening over bottomless glasses of scotch. People were yelling and crying and playing terrifying mind games with one another. One story was unfolding on the surface and another, an even darker one, was quietly marinating beneath. This play taught me that the best stories are not straightforward. That people say one thing and mean another. I had never read anything like it and when I finally saw it performed…well…I was blown away.

I’m going to admit that things got pretentious in my reading life when I started college. I took postmodernist literature classes, read Dostoyevsky, and convinced myself that I was really something. To be honest, I did not understand anything I read over those years. Very little of it has stayed with me and I really struggle to find a book that captures this time.

I sat with Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and knew that what I was reading was just so epic. So very huge. There was too much of her philosophy that I did not understand or necessarily agree with. But it didn’t matter. I was so caught up in the detailed world of this book that I dreamt of it, feverishly, for weeks afterwards. I put it on this list because it represents that time in my life best. I thought I was a lot bigger than I was. I wanted a book like that to mean something to me. I’d like to think it does even if I’m not smart enough to know why.

After school, I began to take my writing and reading much more seriously. I wanted to truly understand the kind of stories I loved. It took a while but I found it when I read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. She tells quiet stories that have loud consequences. She takes small moments and makes them life-sized. Her words take my breath away because she always says things exactly the way I wish I knew how.


Melissa is a writer and producer living in Brooklyn, NY. After working in television production for several years, on the sets of live televised events, promos, commercials, and reality tv, she made the switch to children’s media. Now, she writes and produces content for toys and interactive games. When she's not writing elegant prose for preschoolers, she writes novels and short stories. She blogs at 'This Too...'

12 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post. Thank you Melissa! Oh! Oh! I said as I realised thatI, too, had begun writng in earnest after reading Anne Frank at thirteeen (but long before your time I fear). Also, as I came to the Edward Albee.

    As you have been influenced, I am sure that others will, eventually, be influenced by your writing. I do admit that I enjoy your blog and that it does influence and encourage me with a spark of life if my own writing is flagging!

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  2. Thanks for hosting me Spangle! And Aguja, thanks for your kind words. Your blog and beautiful poems always inspire me. I hope we can continue to encourage one another. And I'm glad we share a love of some of the same books!

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  3. For Spangle and for Melissa .... yes, let's go for the encouragement!!!

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  4. Now I know (even more than before) why this Melissa and I are such good friends.

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  5. Wow, these are all great. I've read everything but The Namesake. Nice reco.

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  6. I LOVED The Secret Garden when I was a kid - I can remember roaming around, looking for a locked away place. I liked A Little Princess, too. Just the whole idea that there were surprises everywhere.

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  7. Wow, I think I stopped in my personal progression at the Secret Garden. ;) But it was fun learning about you this way!

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  8. Great choices, and the connections to your life. I remember "Little Women" as a turning point. Then a James Michener book in high school. Definitely Anne Frank. There are so many; it IS hard to chart a life in only 5 books.

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  9. I love Melissa's blog. What a great interview. Thanks :)

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  10. Love your picks, my friend. You rock. I don't think I could do it. I think I'll try though. Just for myself. The Secret Garden is one of mine too. :-) (((hugs)))

    Thank you Spangle for having Melissa over. *waving*

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  11. So cool.
    Anne Frank made me a dedicated journal writer. I still love that story.

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  12. Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm so glad we all love the same books. :)

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