We went back to Taiwan for another 3 years when I was 10. The week before we left for Taiwan someone gave me the The Black Stallion and I read half of it late at night when I was supposed to be saving it to read on the plane.
As soon as we got to Taiwan, the kindest missionary lady, Donna Camp, took me out to the bookstore and told me to pick out some books. I promptly got the next few in the Black Stallion series, but I had to wait till I got back to a U.S. library to read the rest. Read them to my mom:
Loved the Sarah and Katie story (illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman!) I found in the waiting room of the Seventh Day Adventist clinic (the one all the Westerners went to at the time):
A few floors down in the same decrepit building was the YWCA where we sometimes got old books for next to nothing. I think that's where I got the Peggy books, by Dorothy Martin, and I would love to know how they got to Taiwan because I read all of them over and over aloud to myself in my room at my desk. The look of the print on the page and the feel of the words slipping off my tongue was intoxicating:
I can only find pics of two of the books and these are the covers I knew.
A New Life for Peggy
More Answers for Peggy
A Mystery Solved for Peggy
Hopes Fulfilled for Peggy
Heart's Surrender for Peggy
Wider Horizons for Peggy
Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard was another YWCA book I loved so much I read it to my mom and dad over breakfasts:
Pilgrim's Progress 天 路 歷 程 by John Bunyan [e-book and audio] was another YWCA book I read and re-read because at 10 I was in love with logic, and Christian's conversations with all those he met along the road were a mental massage:
Born Free I read to my mom and dad. More amazing pictures and background:
All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
The unforgettable true stories of James, Tristan and Siegfried. My mom read it to my Dad (and by extension all of us) at mealtimes, and I continued falling in love with Britain sight unseen:
Good Wives 好 妻 子 (the sequel to Little Women) I also read to my Mom. Not the cover I remember, but it's just as beautiful:
Then Calvert (the curriculum I was being homeschooled with) sent me King Arthur 亞 瑟 王 and somehow I got ahold of Grimm's Fairytales 格 林 童 話 [e-book and audio]. I was particularly enamored of the gruesome "Juniper Tree" story and my dad for years after complained about Calvert getting me started on fantasy, although I had devoured Bullfinch's Mythology in a church library a couple years previously.
Hans Christian Anderson fairytales. Here's a gorgeous cover illustrating one of my favorites, The Tin Soldier, (I cried over it). My other favorite was The Little Mermaid (which I also cried over).
Every Saturday and Sunday (after church) my dad took one of us three kids to town with him and let the child whose turn it was choose where to go. There was hardly any English fiction in Kaohsiung's public libraries at that time, so my dad and I always went to read at one of the two English bookstores in Kaohsiung.
My father bought me an old musty Norton Critical Edition of Jane Eyre 簡 愛 [e-book and audio], which was another one of my favorite books to read aloud to myself over and over at my desk:
When I was looking for a cover to represent Jane Eyre and saw this I thought: Lovely cover, but what does it have to do with the story, beyond referencing the secret of Mr. Rochester's mad wife being locked away?
Then I remembered the story is all about morality, what Jane Eyre feels free to do or not do... [More ...]
My Dad also bought me the The Complete Sherlock Holmes 福尔摩斯探案全集 and I read it straight through (probably over several days), one of those fantastic experiences like a summer of being in love:
[e-book: adventures, return, memoirs]
[audio: adventures, return, memoirs]
(Spoiler Alert!) I still remember my grief when I reached the middle where Sherlock Holmes "dies", I put the book down and cried on the floor for 10 minutes before I thought of picking it up again and reading the next story, and the wonder as I realized, silly me how could he possibly die halfway through a very thick book. Of course the people who read Sherlock Holmes when it was first published had to wait 10 years to get that next story where you find out he hasn't died.
I sobbed over A Tale of Two Cities 雙城記 [e-book and audio] and read the whole book aloud to my Dad:
I sobbed even longer over A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 亞 瑟 王 朝 廷 上 的 美 國 (by Mark Twain 馬克吐溫) which I read to my mom (and we both cried) and then to my dad: [e-book and audio]
Very first sob story: My earliest memory of a movie was 3 years old at a drive-in watching the The Fox and the Hound 狐 狸 與 獵 狗 and sobbing on my Dad's shoulder. My mom says I started crying at the beginning of the movie and didn't stop until the end. I used to think the movie had warped my brain, but my little sister saw it and laughed all the way through. Of course she has Down Syndrome, but it could just be that different personalities respond to the same things differently.
I also read and re-read The Prince and the Pauper 王子與貧兒 by Mark Twain, and imagined myself into every single scene. [e-book] Some day I'll find the movie... +/-
I was still being homeschooled with the Calvert curriculum and they sent a whole set of beautifully illustrated classics, including A Tale of Two Cities 雙城記, Treasure Island 金銀島 , Kidnapped 綁架, Pride and Prejudice 傲慢與偏見, and Wuthering Heights 呼嘯山庄; all of which I read to my mom:
Kidnapped 綁架 e-book
Treasure Island 金銀島 e-book and audio
This is more like the cover I remember:
Pride and Prejudice 傲慢與偏見 [e-book and audio] was my favorite Jane Austen for many years:
But when I discovered Wuthering Heights 呼嘯山庄 [e-book] it replaced even my beloved Jane Eyre 簡愛 because of its intensity and all the moors in the book. My imagination was still vivid and imprinting everything I read as pseudo memories:
We were living in the south of Kaohsiung near the airport in what often reminded me of slums. Facing the head of our alley was a movie theater with a three story high billboard with a topless lady. (Eventually they gave her a wisp of gauze and a year later a bikini.) The front of our apartment looked out into a narrow concrete alley. The back of our apartment overlooked a weedy lot where everyone threw their garbage. We had a tiny balcony and after Wuthering Heights I often sat up on top of the dryer looking out at the rust-stained buildings and aching for moors.
A year or so later, circumstances would take us to England for two weeks, and it was completely otherworldly, from the language and the weather, to their living rooms and sinks, to scones and Dartmoor and tea and I discovered The Lord of the Rings there, but more on that later.
20 years later I would finally be walking in Skye, and with every step I wanted to lie down on the heath, fold my hands and give up the ghost. It was like a deep vibration through my chest saying I had lived long enough to see this, I could die happy without accomplishing anything else.
I love, love, love, love, LOVED The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton [e-book or audio], which I promptly read to my Mom and then my Dad. A year later after discovering The Lord of the Rings (story in the next section), if anybody had asked me who my favorite authors were, it would have been the triumvirate of C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and G. K. Chesterton, with Wuthering Heights an honorable mention:
This was also when I discovered Tintin:
I'm indebted to Tim Alexander because he had just come to Taiwan to teach English and got me my first job at the age of 10 or 11 as assistant English teacher once a week in a public school. Ended up with a private tutoring class after that to a boy named Elmo who owned a stash of Tintin comics. He and I both hated the class which was him repeating after me through a picture dictionary in excruciating boredom; (my imagination was fresh enough to soak up story atmosphere like a sponge, but not mature enough to start springboarding sentences off my favorite ideas). When his busy mom was often called away by the phone we would plunge into the hypnotic world of our respective Tintin comics (he had both Chinese and English versions). Wonderful were the days when she was too busy for class but still let me in to read the comics. I lived for losing myself in Tintin comics, and I bought an SLR camera with the money I earned.
Tintin has been translated into about as many languages as The Lord of the Rings:
I can not remember which version of Seabiscuit 奔 騰 年 代 (true story of a famous horse) I read so I've just used this photo off the web, but it was sent to me by the St. John's in Lake City, Florida who (bless their hearts) often sent me boxes of books from the States:
Winston Churchill's A History of the English Speaking Peoples four-in-one volume:
At mealtimes my mom read my dad the true story of The Inn of Sixth Happiness by Alan Burgess:
And I read my dad How To Win Friends and Influence People 人 性 的 弱 點 by Dale Carnagie ...
as well as Fighting Angel - Pearl Buck's story of her father:
At some point I read The Hiding Place (true story of Corrie Ten Boom) to my mom:
The Liberation of One, by Romauld Spasowski, was so good my mom read it to us around the supper table for weeks:
Wild Swans 鴻 had a similar impact on me years later, but where that book took place in China, The Liberation of One takes place in Poland.
Spasowski's father was a sincere atheist who wanted to be "a citizen of the world" and committed suicide when he saw the real face of his beloved Communism. It is the story of Romauld Spasowski, from his travels across the breadth of Poland (when Poland was being squeezed between Germany and Russia) to volunteer to join the Soviet "liberators" and barely escaping with his life, to becoming ambassador in the puppet state that Poland became. Spasowski's son also committed suicide because he could not take what his father was doing.
The Oak and the Calf 牛犢頂橡樹, autobiography of the famous Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 索爾仁尼琴 who lived through the Gulag and composed and memorized an entire novel (Cancer Ward) in his head before he had a chance to get out of prison and write it down.
The next few decades (?) he spent continually finding wily ways to convince the government publishing company who recognized his genius to actually publish his books instead of just paying for them and stashing them away in the safe by the well-intentioned editor Tvardosky who was waiting for a more politically correct time. He also got his books out by by "samizdat" (an underground network of writers and readers).
He was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize which he refused to go accept in person because he knew Russia would never let him back in once he left. He was eventually arrested and put on a plane for West Germany where he received a hero's welcome, and later went to live in Vermont. However, in recent years he went back to Russia, and most recently he died.
Woohoo! Can you imagine having so much impact (for good) that your government has to put you on a plane out of the country?
Here is a an excerpt of his tongue in cheek humor ... MORE +/-
It's hard to believe my parents let me read China: Alive in the Bitter Sea by Fox Butterfield but I did, over and over.
The Jungle Book 森林王子 - Rudyard Kipling e-book
The Second Jungle Book - Rudyard Kipling e-book
I actually got my first brief read of the Jungle Book just before we came back to Taiwan, but the whole book was only properly savored in Taiwan. The chapter that struck deepest was Mowgli's spring running when he's grown up and running sad, wanting something he doesn't know what.
I longed to be as foot-loose and fancy-free as Rudyard's Kipling's Kim 吉 姆） (e-book), a street boy who could melt into any pocket of the hustle and bustle of India.
The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray. A satirically funny fairytale. I read it to my Mom. e-book and audio
I loved Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen. Extremely moving story. The version I read was in a now vintage Children's Illustrated Treasury book or something like that. Couldn't find a book cover I liked so here's a DVD cover.
Edward Short gave me A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, another book I read to my Mom. When we went back to the States I promptly looked up the sequels, The Wind In the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which ought to be in the next section but I've listed them here.
The Lady of Stonewycke
Sorry, no picture for this next story: Maupassant's 莫泊桑 short story A Piece of String [e-book] stuck in my head because I was such a logical twit I thought fiercely I would never depend on what other people thought of me, and thought why doesn't the peasant just leave, go to America, wash his hands of the villagers.
Now that I'm older I think why didn't he just state the truth and leave it at that, just raise his eyebrows when people tried to accuse him of stealing, and look calmly at them until they're finished talking, and continue on with whatever it was he wanted to talk with them about. They would soon become the ones frustrated.
beloved books (1 - 3 years old)
beloved books (4 - 7 years old)
beloved books (8 - 9 years old)
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beloved books (13 - 14 years old)
beloved books (15 - 30 years old)
books (30 years old to present)
books I want to read