Monday, January 05, 2009

Creating a Viewpoint

A dailyKos diary last week got me thinking about books that made an impression on me when I was young.

The writer was a junior high teacher who was dismayed by the lack of awareness among students and asked readers which books had had an impact on us when we were twelve or thirteen. I read a lot as a kid, probably two or three books a week in addition to school assignments, but it took me a while to remember what specifically I was reading when I was in junior high.

Junior high was when I worked my way through the science fiction section at my local library. I read Asimov and Andre Norton and scores of books I don't remember well any longer, except there were a ton of creepy BEM stories (that's Bug-Eyed Monster books, for those who don't recognize the technical term). SF appealed because it was full of exotic "what ifs?"—lots of interesting technology that hadn't yet been invented, alien worlds and species, all sorts of possibilities.

But the book that probably affected me the most was arguably the least science-fictiony of the bunch: Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. Bradbury's appreciation of his own midwestern youth turned ordinary, everyday life into the stuff of fantasy and magic and adventure.

From Dandelion Wine I learned to pay attention to the infinite possibilities of everyday life.

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