Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, January 01, 2007

When the Magic Began

As I thought about what I wanted to write to start out the new year, I went back and reviewed some of our past blogs. It was fun to see how many different areas we’ve covered and how many regular readers we’ve picked up over the course of the year. I love Kerry’s witch story and the way everything she writes comes out like a sonnet, Rob’s peeping tom story and Coke insights, Julie’s standing up for Canada and for kids who have to go at the post office (way to get those childless folks riled up!), Sariah’s amazing Book of Mormon knowledge and constant reminders that it doesn’t snow in California (not to mention her new babe and book on the way), and Stephanie’s insights on everything from plot twists to Christmas bells (oh and mouse droppings in the bathroom.

So first of all, a big thanks to the other bloggers for letting me be a part of your group. (I haven’t really decided if we’re the cool kids who all eat lunch together at the front table or the un-cool kids who stick together at the back table and make fun of the cool kids, while secretly wishing we were a part of them—but I have my suspicions.) And a huge thanks to all our guest bloggers.

Second, thanks so much to those of you who read this blog and make it so much better with your great comments. You are a huge part of this group—cool or un-cool. Mean Aunt, FHL, Jennie, Amy, Dewd, Tristi, Trixie, Matthew, Kent, Annette, evil HR lady, Chilly, Keith, Marsha, annegb, sweebler, anon, and the rest of you, you guys are great.

While a lot has happened over the last year from Stephanie joining us, to Kerry’s boys protecting those in need in Iraq, to The Acquisition (which must be referred to in capital letters), to Rob’s hula skirt, and of course all the new titles, I thought I’d focus on the one thing that ties us all together—no not Stephanie’s mouse droppings—books.

I was thinking back and trying to remember the books that started things off for me. Probably like most of you, I read a ton of books growing up as a kid (wonder how many I would have read if we’d had cable TV, the internet, computers, video games, VCR/DVDs, etc? Makes me shudder.)

But what books started the magic for you? What books took hold of your imagination like a kite and pulled you so far up from earth you couldn’t see the ground? Also do you have any specific memories or where you were when you felt the magic? Hiding under your blankets with a flashlight? On the back lawn under a shady tree?

Here are a couple of mine. The first book I remember just flooring me was “My Side of the Mountain.” After finishing that book, I was all set to run away, go up into the mountains, and live in a tree for the rest of my life. That’s the first book which caught me so completely up that I totally lost track of time. I’d sit at my desk in class during reading time and completely forget I was at school until the teacher told us to put away our books. Thanks Jean Craighead George.

The next really strong memory I have is of “The Outsiders.” Did anyone of my generation not read that book? For me it was in the garage attic of my family’s Pleasant Hill, CA house laying on a fort up in the rafters, eating cherries like crazy, and following the Socs and the Greasers. I also think that was the book that made me think I might be able to write something myself. Thanks S.E. Hinton

Speaking of eating fruit, another strong memory is of a summer spent at a cabin up by Tahoe, when Tahoe wasn’t like it is today. I hadn’t brought any books, but I discovered a huge tome of Aesop’s fables. Every afternoon I would sit out on the second story deck under the shade of a big pine tree and eat apples while I read about foxes, and dogs, and ducks, and pigs. To this day it is still my best vacation memory. Thanks Aesop.

Finally I couldn’t get away without mentioning, LOTR. Wow! I had no idea fantasy could be so immersive. I wonder if anyone has ever read Lord of the Rings and not come away with the life altered at least a little. I imagine it’s probably like how today’s kids feel about Harry Potter. But for me, Tolkien will always be so much more grand. Thanks J.R.R.

Of course there are lots more. Asimov’s Foundation trilogy showed me how cool SF could be. Dune enthralled me. To Kill a Mocking Bird opened my eyes. The Lottery scared the pants off me. Poe introduced me to terror and King, Straub, Koontz, and company took me all the way inside. Thanks one and all.

Now it’s your turn gang. Fess up to Uncle Jeff. What did it for you? And where did it happen? Come on, Rob, you must have been reading something under that bed.


At 1/01/2007 5:02 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

I can't remember a time when my mother didn't gather us around the cook stove at night after chores were done to read to us. Sometimes she made fudge or taffy or my older brothers popped corn, but there was always a book or a continued story in one of the magazines. I remember Old Yeller, Flicka,The Black Stallion, the Hound of the Baskervilles, The Yearling, and a lot of Hardy Boys, Tarzan, and Lassie. Probably the first book I read by myself was the Bobbsy Twins. I read those books everywhere--at the kitchen table, curled up on the couch, on the school bus (My Dad was the driver so I started accompanying him when I was about four), in the tree house, and the backseat of the Willy. When I finished the Bobbsy Twin books I read every Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, and Cherry Parker book I could get my hands on. When I was nine I had rheumatic fever and spent several months in bed, that's when I realized that whatever else I did with my life, books, newspapers, magazines, printed words were my destiny.

At 1/01/2007 5:41 PM, Blogger FHL said...

I've always been an avid reader since I was little - trips to the library were like trips to the grocery store, something which should be done often!

My fun book story is that my mom acquired a large box of Hardy Boys books from her boss. (I should ask what the circumstances were.) But it was like 80 books starting with the very first one. I remember they were blue hardcovers (smallish) and I had them all lined up on several bookshelves. I think I ended up reading through the whole series twice. Sure, they were formulaic, but I still loved reading them. It instilled in me a love of mysteries that continues to this day. (Maybe it helps to explain my bear claws and UFO lights, too.) When I found that the the same person wrote the Nancy Drew series - and - SCANDAL - it was a woman, I didn't feel bad. Instead, I thought, how cool is that?

Maybe you guys can help me find a series I read as a kid? I remember checking them out from the school library. The main character was a science geek and he was always using inventions or science stuff. The image that has stuck in my head all these years was that he used helium balloons (?) to carry his books to school. Anybody remember reading a series like that? I'm pretty sure it wasn't Jonny Quest. Unfortunately, there's not much here to Google or Wiki. I would have been reading them in the late 1970's. My mom has kept some amazing stuff from my childhood, but I doubt she kept a "what he was reading" list. That would have been a full-time job all by itself!

At 1/02/2007 2:05 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I'm going to completely ignore the fact that you spelled my name wrong and concentrate on the fact that I know you love me because otherwise you wouldn't have mentioned me at all, right?

At 1/02/2007 2:35 AM, Anonymous Amy said...

Your welcome, Jeff! Thanks for everything you do as well!

Well, since I'm only fourteen you would think I would have a totally different list of favorites but they're quite the same. I'll admit that I didn't like reading in elementary school because I wasn't a good reader, I actually had to be tutored in reading and English for quite I few years.

I guess the first book that started me off was Harry Potter. One day when I was nine I picked it up and started reading. I struggled with it and often had to ask for help but by the time I finished the first one I had learned to love reading. For the next few years I loved fantasy and read Lord or the Rings soon became a favorite.

After the first Work and the Glory movie came out I decided to read the books despite the fact that I thought I wouldn't like them since they didn't have magical wizards or three headed dogs. I read them and fell in love with Church History which let me to writing a historical fiction.

In school I just To Kill a Mockingbird and I don't think I've ever read a book that was more of a eye opener.

Now I read mostly books in the LDS market. My favorite genres are mystery, suspense, humor, and romance. At night my dad has to check on my often to make sure I'll not reading when I should be asleep. (He blames Rob when I'm in a bad mood because I didn't get enough sleep. He's the only author he knows the name of that I read. I guess it’s because I mentioned Rob likes Coke and that's my dad's favorite drink.)

At 1/02/2007 6:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Danny Dunn?

At 1/02/2007 10:13 AM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Sorry Tristi. I've only written your name like a thousand times. Oh, well, it's fixed now.

At 1/02/2007 1:14 PM, Blogger Marsha Ward said...

The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew was an early book that my mother read to us. I enjoyed biographies at the school library, and all the fairy stories with the colors in the titles. Who was that author, anyway?

An especial favorite was Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. I was a tremendous tomboy in my youth, and spent many hours with my little brother (Little John), having cudgel fights over a brook.

In high school I was deep into sci/fi: Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, et al. I hit romance, fantasy, historical, thrillers and westerns. Now I'm into mystery. I guess now you'd have to call me an eclectic reader.

At 1/02/2007 5:54 PM, Anonymous Marnie Pehrson said...

I think you guys are the quasi-intellectual-lunch table. There was this group in our high school who were the intellectually popular -- not to be confused with the seriously popular football players and cheerleaders, and definitely not to be mistaken for the party table. You're the group who got the symbolism in "Paradise Lost" and read "To Kill a Mockingbird" because you wanted to, not because you had to. That's you guys... thanks for letting me occasionally leave my computer nerd table to lunch at yours. :)

At 1/02/2007 6:12 PM, Blogger ChillyGator said...


There was a happy little walk down memory lane this morning when I read your blog instead of leaving for work. (o:

I learned to read a little late (my poor mother didn't know what to do with me!) but I remember her reading The Doll in the Garden to me when I was youngish and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I read it again when I was older. It wasn't all that awesome. Ah well.

Now there are just so many, but, that's the first I remember. Also The Boxcar Children. Those crazy kids....Good times.Jeff,

There was a happy little walk down memory lane this morning when I read your blog instead of leaving for work. (o:

I learned to read a little late (my poor mother didn't know what to do with me!) but I remember her reading The Doll in the Garden to me when I was youngish and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I read it again when I was older. It wasn't all that awesome. Ah well.

Now there are just so many, but, that's the first I remember. Also The Boxcar Children. Those crazy kids....Good times.

At 1/02/2007 6:15 PM, Blogger ChillyGator said...

Sorry, I'm struggling with this thing today and pasted that twice (o:

Maybe it's someone telling me to pay attention to working while at work? I can't imagine why, though...

At 1/02/2007 7:58 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

You're officially forgiven, Geoff.

At 1/03/2007 1:58 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Ooooh, thanks, Anon - I think that might be it!

Gonna have to see if I can grab a few of those on

At 1/09/2007 5:43 PM, Blogger Karen Hoover said...

I think it was Nancy Drew and the mythology of different cultures that first got me obsessed with reading. The first Sci-Fi book I read was A Wrinkle in Time and shortly after that The Chronicles of Narnia. I was lost in those books for a long time, reading them over and over. I discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars series when I was 11 and couldn't get enough of the fantasy/sci-fi stuff after that. I was hooked. It's still sci-fi and mysteries for me and I've got several hundred books in both categories.

Yeah...I'm a junkie. I'll admit it. I live for McAffrey and Lackey, Clark and Jance like Rob does his Coke. It's good stuff, man.


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