Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Musings: March 22, 2015

Hey, hey, Musers...Family and Friends!

Hope you've had a great week and weekend and have even better plans for today.

On a personal note, I'd like to wish my mom and brother two very Happy B-days!

With birthdays on my mind, I had to ask my Musing family - what was the best book ever given to you?  Fiction or non-fiction, any age. Cause you know us writers love reading, too.

All right, ya know I have to go first, Lea. Mine would been Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. Yes, there's a joke there between Lea and I, LOL.  But, I have to send a shout out to my grade 4 teacher Miss Ainsworth. She was an interesting teacher...just ask my mom...but every Friday she would read The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Fell in love with that series and while in Scotland at age 18, I picked up everyone I could in the series.

And let's not blame television too badly, it was there I discovered Louis L'Amour. And Mickey Spillane.

But, my very first? Of course, Green Eggs and Ham.

My Aunt Mollie gave me a beautiful edition of Grimms' Fairy Tales for my fifth birthday.  I devoured it in fairly short order, and it opened my mind to the realms of fantasy, fairy, and folk tales where it has remained ever since.  It has surprisingly little competition as a "best gift book" since I've bought or borrowed most of my favorites over the years.

When I was about eight I had a long bout of sickness and I wound up staying in bed for days. I had exhausted the jigsaw puzzles and my other toys and books. I remember getting a gift of Alice in Wonderland and it was so long ago I don’t remember who gave it to me. That book changed my life. I read it cover to cover and then again and maybe once again. It kept me occupied while I got over the measles and it brought me to places I had never known existed even in the mind. It has always been and will remain my favorite book. I went on to read Through the Looking Glass too.

SJ SMITH, HOT author

The earliest book I remember was a hardback children's novel called Day of the Dingo; it was beautifully illustrated and told the story of a red setter who got lost and ended up in an Australian billabong, where all the other animals initially mistook him for the feared dingo. It blended nature and mythology, with all the wild creatures ruled over by a deity called the Bunyip (I think).
I loved that book. Brings back very warm memories.

LESLEY FIELD, new HOT author

I'm going to go way back in time on this one.  I read many classical books when I was growing up but the one that seems to always stick in  my mind is "The Children of the New Forest," by Captain Frederick Marryat. A tale set during the English Civil War and how the children of a cavalier officer killed at the battle of Naseby managed to survive and remain hidden until the monarchy was restored.


The best book ever given to me was Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. I was fourteen and just beginning to write. I didn't have any writer role models and hadn't yet grasped the notion writers need their own style.

But here was a novelist whose personal style was to write the simplest, most truthful sentence he could possibly eke out, and he ended up writing an epic battle of man against the elements (including age). I was reading The Lord of the Rings at the same time, and saw how two writers could tackle epic battles in a completely different way.

That sense of unique style forged by writers lasted years, and to this day, I try to pare down any extraneous sentences in my writing. It's hard! But if I am to be true to my writing, I have to do it.

The best book ever given to me...that's a tricky one! Most good books I have are ones I've found myself, at used book sales and such. But for a book given to me, I'd have to say it was The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (and the next two books in the Merlin series, but this was the first one I read). They were my mom's books when she was my age or a bit younger, and she gave them to me when we were looking through her old books. Wow, I am so glad that I found this series! It is such a beautifully written and haunting story, all told from the point of view of Merlin throughout his life. There isn't even that much magic in the stories, but the magic that is there is sort of an ancient power that fits so well in the tale. I think I might even like this series better than The Lord of the Rings. And that's saying something!

I'm with you Mary-Jean. I'll never forget the first time I read Mary Stewart's Merlin series. The day I finished the last page was the same day I started reading it all over again. They were all good, but the first one was...magical

I'm with you both. I still own that series in hardcover. Part of the attraction for me is my love of all things Roman. Roman Britain must have been a fascinating outpost of the Empire. The tribes weren't particularly enamored of the whole thing. However the fact remains when the Legion's were recalled to Rome, civilized life in Britain disappeared a couple of decades later. The historical Arthur was the one to lead them out of the darkness. Mary Stewart did an outstanding job of retelling "the matter of Britain." I think I'll read the series again when I finish my current wip.

I think the best book ever given to me was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of literature.

DAWN KNOX, author

The best book ever given to me was Enid Blyton's 'The Magic Faraway Tree'. It was read to us in infants school and I was completely enthralled in the magical world. I then received the book and read it to myself many times. Since then, I've read it to my son when he was young and he loved it too.

This is hard because I’ve bought most of my books, but thinking hard on it, I believe the best book ever given to me came from my husband and children. It was actually four books, part of the Star Wars Universe, the first four books of the Young Jedi Knights sub-series. I really enjoyed reading about Han and Leia’s children coming of age as Jedi Knights on their own.

I began reading at age 4. My mum said that when my dad was off work with a back injury, I climbed up on the bed and read him a romance story from Chatelaine. I have no memory of that event but I have been surrounded by books for as long as I can remember. 

 My favourite books as a child was a 22 volume collection called 'The Children's Hour. These were designed to 'grow' with the young reader and began with fairy tales and progressed through to more literary short fiction pieces.

Of all of those tales, my favourite was 'The Velveteen Rabbit' by Margery Williams. When my son was born, I bought the version illustrated by Donna Green (ISBN 10-1883746167). It is truly one of the most beautifully illustrated children's books I have ever seen. I still love the magical transformation of the little bunny brought about by the love of a child.

What an interesting question, Chris! I had to think hard about this one, actually.

My family wasn’t readers, so, try as I might, I can’t remember anyone giving me a book as a child. I mostly played outside until bedtime. We had about 3 PBs, bought for my big brother, but that was it. I’d rather be outside, anyway! I was a free-range kid before the government put a stop to such, but a non-reader, like my family.

SO…the first book ever given to me, for me, was Phillip’s paraphrase of the New Testament. I read it and highlighted it until the pages fell out.  Wow. I was thinking about ALL the thousands of books in our home library, and that was the book. Hmm.

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at


anne stenhouse said...

Really interesting series of answers. I didn't post because try as I could, I cannot remember the first book I was ever given. There were many books in the house(s) I grew up in and the whole family read. Maybe that's the answer - books were just there.

ChrisChat said...

Hey, Anne.

Yup, would say that is the answer :)

Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks said...

I also could not think of a book given to me, although I remember many books from an early age (Hardy Boys among them). The only book my mother ever read to us was a book of Bible stories.