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Jantrix

What books influenced you as a kid?

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I realized that this is an unusual question on this forum, but it's literally the only place I frequent where most everyone grew up before the video game generation and may have had a well used library card. My mom was a big reader and I fell in love with it as soon as I got past Green Eggs and Ham. I read kid stuff until the age of 9 or so, when I picked up a paper back, Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. To call it a life changing moment is an understatement. I devoured everything I could find by E.R.B., Tarzan, John Carter, Pellucidar, Carson Napier. Then I dove into Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian, Alexandre Dumas musketeers and Count of Monte Cristo, and from there into Mr. Tolkiens world of Middle Earth and C.S Lewis' Narnia. I also tried my moms book stacks, Peter Benchly, Alex Haley, Robin Cook. Sadly, my reading has fallen off as I've gotten older, with so many other time sinks in my life, but Stephen King has been a favorite. 

But it was definitely the early adventure books that influenced me the most. Heroes, nobility, brotherhood, self sacrifice, love and honor. These were the finest things a person could aspire to and I filled many, many hours with them. It had a great impact into the kind of person I wanted to be, the person I became and the decisions I have made. I will say though, in our world today, those six virtues seem as outdated as those old pulp novels themselves. And it makes me sad. 

So what literary works influenced you the most and why?

Edited by Jantrix

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Ivanhoe comes immediately to mind from my younger days, for reasons you mention.

And when I read The Fountainhead the first time at about 18, and a little later Atlas Shrugged, the truth of the themes resonated with the world view I'd already developed.

When you write "...in our world today, those...virtues seem as outdated as those old pulp novels themselves. And it makes me sad", remember that those virtues are never out of date. There are many people who operate as though they are, but they are the foundations of civilization, and it's your decision and yours alone to live by them.

But I'm pretty sure you understand that completely.

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I have always been a voracious reader. Since I was a little kid right to the present day.

As a kid growing up in the 80s, for me it was all Stephen King. The first I had heard of him was The Dead Zone. Was on a break from school, long weekend or Christmas break or something, and the movie was on Superchannel or something.  Thought it was creepy and cool, went with my mum to the library and found the book. And from there, I read everything he did. Christine has been my fav book of his since I first read it, and The Body is hands down his best short story, if not his best story period. Probably the best movie adaptation as well.

I also was really into Clive Barker's books. Books of Blood is still an absolute classic. The Great and Secret Show as well.

It was books like those though that got me into exploring the classics. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, anything by HG Wells, I got really into horror and sci-fi from all eras. Those are still my fav fiction books to read.

 

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I can think of two. 

The first was Roger Freeman's The Mighty Eighth, a well-illustrated history of the 8th Air Force in WWII. I guess I chanced upon it as a junior in high school. My local library had two copied and I almost always had one of them checked out. (Years later I bought a copy of my own.) I'd always liked airplanes, but since about 6th grade I'd been mainly into cars, and modeling them exclusively. The Mighty Eighth book got me back into airplanes, and I didn't build another model car for about another 15 years. 

The second was The Sunshine Soldiers by Peter Tauber, an extremely talented writer's account of US Army basic training. It was SO good that it made me decide to major in Journalism, whereas before I'd never had the slightest interest in writing, and in fact pretty much hated the very idea. 

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The series of Nick Carter books. If you do not know ( and most likely do not )  he was a spy for the most part.

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 The Story of the Flying Tigers sparked an interest in the CBI theatre of WW2 that I still have to this day and started me building airplane models. For adventure it would have been Mysterious Island, Mutiny on the Bounty, King Arthur and his Knights, Battle of the Bulge , King Solomons Mines and Fighting the Flying Circus. Later on I got into Steven King stuff.

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22 hours ago, iamsuperdan said:

I have always been a voracious reader. Since I was a little kid right to the present day.

As a kid growing up in the 80s, for me it was all Stephen King. The first I had heard of him was The Dead Zone. Was on a break from school, long weekend or Christmas break or something, and the movie was on Superchannel or something.  Thought it was creepy and cool, went with my mum to the library and found the book. And from there, I read everything he did. Christine has been my fav book of his since I first read it, and The Body is hands down his best short story, if not his best story period. Probably the best movie adaptation as well.

I also was really into Clive Barker's books. Books of Blood is still an absolute classic. The Great and Secret Show as well.

It was books like those though that got me into exploring the classics. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, anything by HG Wells, I got really into horror and sci-fi from all eras. Those are still my fav fiction books to read.

 

Always thought "It" was his scariest story but Christine is my fav and the movie is pretty good as well. The It movies did not impress me.

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I haven't read too many books in my life, mostly fiction. One good read I remember was called "The Fog" no, not that zombie pirate film from the 70's. Another book I enjoyed was "Where Eagles Dare"

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I've read a few Stephen King books (I really liked 'Needful Things')...... The writer I enjoyed the most as a youth was Edgar Allen Poe! His stories were more surreal than scary.... The Cask of Amontillado is my favorite of Poe's works.

I had a set of World Book 'Children's' encyclopedias that I liked a lot when I was really young.... Each book was a different theme.

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Biggles as a 7 year old, then Alistair Maclean and Len Deighton as an early teen (I still go back to Deighton these days ). Arthur C Clarke and some Heinlein — Troopers, Glory Road and MiaHM. Dick Francis. Bond and Philip Marlowe. Spenser, Modesty Blaise, Flashman, and The Aubrey/Maturin books are regularly revisited, and anything by Terry Pratchett is worth reading and re-reading...

best,

M.

Edited by Matt Bacon

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I really started reading a lot as a kid in the late 50's.  The school I went to had a book vending area in the lunch room and my parents gave me an unlimited budget for those books, but I couldn't have more than two unread at a time.  The ones that really stuck with me were Dam Busters, Hurricane, Flying Tigers and 30 seconds over Tokyo.  All books of WWII flying exploits.  These and my Dad lead me to 10 year flying in the USAF.  Other books of interest were all of Ian Flemings Bond series.  Radically different from the movies.  I remember reading Mutiny on the Bounty and then seeing the movie with Marlon Brando.  At that point I learned that books were always far better than films or in the case of the Bond book, the only thing left of the book in the movies was the title, characters and the setting.   

Unfortunately, in the early 70's I spent 3 1/2 months in an Air Force hospital.  I sent the time there reading all of Kurt Vonnegut's books and Catch-22.  It made the time go faster. Good reads but I never want to spend that much time in a hospital again. 

In the 80s I was introduced to James Clavell's novels when TV created a mini-series of his book, Shogun.  Since I have read all of his Books, which is an epic task in itself and all are full length novels except King Rat.  Extremely entertaining read because all  the books tie together and the series of books runs from the 1600s to 1979.  The man could spin a great yarn of intrigue, mystery mixed with historically accurate times and cultures.  

  Unfortunately as my eyesight has forced me to stronger and stronger glasses, my reading has declined.  I do miss it!

Edited by Pete J.

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Biggles! Swallows and Amazons, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Dambusters by Paul Brickhill, WO Bentley's and Fangio's autobiographies, Speed Six by Bruce Carter. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Lots of books about WW2 flying. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. Mike at Wrykin and Mike and Psmith by PG Wodehouse. The Moomins series by Tove Jansson. How to be Topp and Back in the Jug Agane by Geoffrey Willans. Metamorphosis and The Castle by Franz Kafka. Lots more, but gave up on Sartre and Camus.

And you're right Pete the book is better than the film, can't watch any Lord of the Rings films. Maybe the Dambusters is the exception because they had real Lancasters and a great cast. Not too shabby a plot either!

Edited by DonW

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I read a lot when I was a kid, whatever we had in the house - according to my folks, I taught myself to read when I was four. I have an early memory of picking up one of my mom's magazines (maybe Woman's Day or Family Circle) and reading a short story about a lady taking her little daughter out for a drive in the family's '57 Chevy and getting into a tragic accident with a dump truck; the daughter is killed and she's in the hospital with her husband consoling her.

We also had the ubiquitous Reader's Digest Condensed Books, where I first read Flight of the Phoenix long before I saw the movie - or read the complete book. There was also The Third Day, which had an illustration of a '62 Dodge four-door hardtop smashing through a stone fence, headed over a cliff.

Got Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a Christmas present (1966 IIRC); later it was my first example of "the book is better than the movie".

Later got into Henry Gregor Felsen's novels (Hot Rod, Street Rod, Rag Top, etc, all pretty dark... and Crash Club, which to me was very dark and twisted) and some other more enjoyable car-related novels like The Red Car and Road Racer.

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My Dad had a collection of Louis L'Amour westerns that I discovered around the age of 7 or 8.

I think I've read all them many times over. To this day, a well-written western will get me lost every time.

Other early favourites are Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe., and Earl Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason.  Still re-read them.

And, of course, National Geographic, though it doesn't really fit the "book" description. 

 

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Two authors from my childhood that really remain with me through today 60+ years later are Henry Gregor Felsen with his series of Hot Rod, Street Rod, Crash Club, etc. books about teen-agers growing into the car culture that was so prevalent at that time in our country's history.  The second one is Jim Kjelgaard a writer of stories of again teen-age boys growing up in a rural farm setting and most included a dog.  However his book that impacted me most was "Wildlife Cameraman", a young man beginning a career camping in the wilderness photographing wildlife.  I have added a few of these to my library today, they are quite simple reading, the plot line is thin, and it is fairly easy to detect the direction of the finish.  But they do take me back to a time when life was not so stressful or complicated, and a teen-age boy could dream glorious dreams.  Thanks for opening this thread.

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I was never much of a reader and I'm still not, but I remember being pretty into the some of the S.E. Hinton books in high school.

"The Outsiders", "That Was Then, This Is Now", and "Rumble Fish" were the ones that I remember.

 

 

 

 

 

Steve

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Back.  1966/68 I lived in Izmir Turkey when my father was assigned to NATO there. I was 8-10 then. At the time there was no TV in Turkey!  So we became big readers.  We did have a US military library. I remember the Felsen books. And the Beverly Cleary titles of Henry Huggins and his clan of friends. 

Once we got back to the US we binged on TV!

 

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On 9/12/2020 at 11:54 AM, oldscool said:

Always thought "It" was his scariest story but Christine is my fav and the movie is pretty good as well. The It movies did not impress me.

I quite agree. The book was utterly terrifying and try as they might, they never got as good as my imagination for bringing it to life.

On 9/12/2020 at 2:44 PM, James2 said:

Playboy

I think most of us would argee Playboy (and other associated periodicals) had an influence on us growing up. 

On 9/12/2020 at 11:40 PM, Pete J. said:

IOther books of interest were all of Ian Flemings Bond series.  Radically different from the movies.   At that point I learned that books were always far better than films or in the case of the Bond book, the only thing left of the book in the movies was the title, characters and the setting.   

Oh yes. I read through these in my mid teens as well. Bond was not a nice guy. There's no comparison between the books and the movies, though I do enjoy the films as well.

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As a kid, Treasure Island, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn were lots of fun because I could imagine being the young main character in each and the adventure they lived. Had the 7 novels of HG Wells and to this day think they were the best I ever read. That's about it for fiction as I mostly read every WW2 book I could get my hands on to learn from but did read some fictional WW2 books my Dad had.

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On 9/13/2020 at 5:49 AM, ChrisBcritter said:

I read a lot when I was a kid, whatever we had in the house - according to my folks, I taught myself to read when I was four. I have an early memory of picking up one of my mom's magazines (maybe Woman's Day or Family Circle) and reading a short story about a lady taking her little daughter out for a drive in the family's '57 Chevy and getting into a tragic accident with a dump truck; the daughter is killed and she's in the hospital with her husband consoling her.

We also had the ubiquitous Reader's Digest Condensed Books, where I first read Flight of the Phoenix long before I saw the movie - or read the complete book. There was also The Third Day, which had an illustration of a '62 Dodge four-door hardtop smashing through a stone fence, headed over a cliff.

Got Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a Christmas present (1966 IIRC); later it was my first example of "the book is better than the movie".

Later got into Henry Gregor Felsen's novels (Hot Rod, Street Rod, Rag Top, etc, all pretty dark... and Crash Club, which to me was very dark and twisted) and some other more enjoyable car-related novels like The Red Car and Road Racer.

I have read the The Red Car multiple times and my grandson who is now 17 has read it multiple times.

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As a young reader I  would have to say that the book Hot Rod by Henry Gregor Felsen had influenced me the most. As my dad or any other family members had NO interest in cars and I had got my automotive interest on my own.In my earlier years I had some car buddies and worked on cars yankin' out engines and transmissions, rebuilding and modifying carbs, exhaust work, maintenance, etc. Today I still build model cars occasionally and still attend car shows and cruise nights. I can't really spend the whole day at the drag strip anymore  because of health issues.

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2 hours ago, Jantrix said:

I quite agree. The book was utterly terrifying and try as they might, they never got as good as my imagination for bringing it to life.

I think most of us would argee Playboy (and other associated periodicals) had an influence on us growing up. 

Oh yes. I read through these in my mid teens as well. Bond was not a nice guy. There's no comparison between the books and the movies, though I do enjoy the films as well.

Yes, he was a hard nosed secret agent and his adversaries were not above some pretty graphic violence to get what they wanted.  The movies created the suave gentleman rake with a ton of gadgets from Q.  Oh, in the books his car was a 1931 blower Bentley.  The movies would not have been the same without the Aston!

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1 hour ago, High octane said:

As a young reader I  would have to say that the book Hot Rod by Henry Gregor Felsen had influenced me the most. As my dad or any other family members had NO interest in cars and I had got my automotive interest on my own.In my earlier years I had some car buddies and worked on cars yankin' out engines and transmissions, rebuilding and modifying carbs, exhaust work, maintenance, etc. Today I still build model cars occasionally and still attend car shows and cruise nights. I can't really spend the whole day at the drag strip anymore  because of health issues.

I actually found this book a couple of years ago. My late father in law had a ton of old books, comics, and magazines stacked in the attic in the garage. Hot Rod was one of the books. Appears to be the original first printing too. I read it, and was amused. :)

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