Welcome back to the bookish version of Six Degrees of Separation. Here’s how it works: Start with the book suggested by Kate over at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, and see where you end up by linking it to six other titles. It’s easy and it’s fun, and no two chains are the same!
This month’s starting point is Beezus and Ramona, by the beloved children’s author, Beverly Cleary, who recently passed away at the age of 104. Unfortunately, I didn’t read a ton of her books growing up, so I can’t really say that her death affect me too much; however, I can certainly recognize the impact she had on children and their love for reading. The world mourns an amazing author with an incredible career that spanned many generations and will continue to do so for years to come.
Because I’m not totally sure how to connect my post into Cleary’s work, I decided I’m going to create my chain around the books I read that made me fall in love with reading.
First Degree: The first book in the chain is the first book that comes to mind when I think about my childhood reading: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. While I cannot relay the details of the book, I know that this was the very beginning of my love for reading.
Second Degree: I remember going to a garage sale with my grandma and picking up Forever by Judy Blume. I just knew I enjoyed Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret so I thought I’d give this one a try. Thank goodness my grandma or mom didn’t vet it for me because this book, for my age, was risqué! I had never dove into a romance and certainly not one that talked about sex so openly. And while those parts of the book are the ones I clearly remember, I also remember loving the relationship between Michael and Katherine. It made me hopeful for what my first love might someday look like.
Third Degree: Next, I absolutely adored The BFG by Roald Dahl and I was so excited when it became a movie recently and I could relive that world of the BFG again. The world of the giants was big and magical and Sophie and the BFG just made this story come alive and jump off the pages. I remember reading and re-reading this one…fully immersed in the reading experience.
Fourth Degree: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls was the first book that made me feel. And despite that heartwrenching sadness, I loved the story so much. Most of us had that beloved childhood pet and so I think kids could easily relate to that aspect. The country setting was also reflective of my own upbringing, so this book just felt extra special.
Fifth Degree: When we read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton as a class, I was enamored by bad boy, Ponyboy Curtis. I loved the themes presented in the book and think they’re still totally relavant today. In fact, I think The Outsiders was the first book I remember being a reflection of society and social norms. I found that books can teach us about situations and experiences we may not be privvy to, and that we can learn from those reflections in a really effective way.
Sixth Degree: Last, but certainly not least, is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling. I know there is a huge amount of drama surrounding J.K. Rowling and her problematic stance on transgender issues, but because this book was instrumental to my love of reading (long before she made her remarks), I chose to include here. I’m truly sorry if that’s offensive to anyone. Chosing one book out of the Harry Potter series is nearly impossible, but if I were forced to, I think I’d go with the Deathly Hollows because it is there where Snape’s true loyalty is revealed. I love Snape with all my heart and this revelation made me stop, wipe the tears from my eyes, and give the book a big ol’ hug.
And that – the urge to hug a book – is is why I read in the first place and what keeps me reading!
Next month (June 5, 2021), we’ll start with the winner of the 2021 Stella Prize, The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld.