Confessions of a Geek: Literary Influences, Part 2

I lived a very sheltered childhood, and so books have been the staple influence in my life.  My mom read to me when I was very small (we started the Little House on the Prairie series with her reading to me, and ended them with me reading to her).  I was off and running into the wild world of books that ended up taking me all over the world and beyond it.  Some of the authors and books that have influenced me (and this is only a partial list) are below.

  • As a girl, I was obsessed with horses, and thoroughly enjoyed Marguerite Henry’s White Stallion of Lipizza and of course, Misty of Chincoteague, as well as Cinnabar, the One O’clock Fox (although this one was more about the fox than the horses).  I preferred the less well-known books.  White Stallion of Lipizza had me sitting backward on kitchen chairs for months, because that was how the Lipizzaner trainers would stretch the inside of their thighs to fit over the extra wide barrel of those gorgeous horses.
  • The Colored Fairy Books were another huge influence on me.  Andrew Lang took me all over the world, from the snowy, troll infested forests of Germany to the oyster beds off the coast of Polynesia.  I can’t wait to introduce my nephews to this series.
  • C.S. Lewis was a huge influence on me very early on in my life.  I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe so early that I cannot remember reading it for the first time.  I lost count of my rereads at number nineteen.  I also read and enjoyed the space trilogy.  Perelandra  was a beautiful picture of an idyllic world that made me ache for a place I had never been.  That Hideous Strength was a book that I read long before I was ready.  It was terrifying, but beautifully written.  Till We Have Faces was amazing and profound.
  • I was also really interested in all of the classic authors; Dickens, Austen, and the Bronte sisters were high on my list.  Unfortunately, thanks to the Great Illustrated Classics, abridged books for children, many of these books were ruined for me.  I couldn’t even get through David Copperfield until I was in my late teens.  That abridged series taught me to loathe spoilers.  I guess the children’s versions had some influence on me as well as the original versions.
  • I continued to read books that I could technically comprehend, but was not old enough to properly digest.  I read Jane Eyre when I was fourteen, and I was not particularly impressed.  I felt that Charlotte Bronte got lost on her way to the conclusion.  On the other hand, after I read Wuthering Heights, I wandered around the house in a funk for a couple of days.
  • One of the greatest influences on my life was a series called The Young Underground, by Robert Elmer.  These books were about a young brother and sister, Peter and Elise Anderson, who smuggle underground newspapers, and later humans, in Nazi occupied Denmark.  These books influenced me, not because of their content, but because my mom used to read them to my siblings and me to keep us close as a family after she had to go back to work.

This can only be a partial list (it’s not even CLOSE to a full one), because there were so very many books that influenced me growing up.  I am happy to say that I continue to find books that change the way I see the world, so the list continues to grow. -t


Filed under Books, Editorial, Geek Life, Tracy Gronewold

6 responses to “Confessions of a Geek: Literary Influences, Part 2

  1. My mom read to me when I was young, too, she read me the Hobbit and I begged for over a year for LOTR, so she read those to me, too.

    I never could get into the Little House books – at that age, I was reading those biographies with orange covers that they had in the elementary schools for good boys who finished their work very quickly.

    Loved Lewis as a Child, but I find him impossible to reread now. My sister still love him enough to mention him in a post now and then. (You can find her at

    A fan of different classics – never the Brontes or Austen, but I loved Dickens and Shakespeare, and I read a lot of poetry. One of the first pieces of creative writing that ever worked for me was a poem about A Tale of Two Cities.

    Your description of the Elmer book intrigues me. It is the one reference in this post that I know nothing about, so perhaps I should go and read it.

    all the best 😉

    • I used to beg and plead for “just one more chapter” from my mom. She usually complied because she wanted to find out what happened too! I forgot to mention Sherwood Smith as a favorite childhood author, although I think her more recent work has gone downhill. I used to write letters to authors that were still alive and usually got some very nice replies. The only one who didn’t answer, to my disappointment, was Robin McKinley. I may have to scan and post some of their replies. -t

    • My mother use to read Hardy Boys mysteries in the car.

  2. Pingback: Editorial | When is a Spoiler a Spoiler? | Therefore I Geek

  3. Pingback: Therefore I Geek Podcast Episode 43, Literary Influences Revisited | Therefore I Geek

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