As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
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February 15, 2011

Guest Blogger, Laura Madsen: How has literature affected your life?


Guest Blogger, Laura Madsen 


How has literature affected your life? We’ve all been changed by the books we’ve read, but how has that impacted your life outside of books? Have you named children or pets after characters or authors? Formed a friendship with someone because of a similar affection for a book? Gotten a literary tattoo?

I’ve named several of my dogs after characters in literature. I had two Norwich terriers in vet school; they both passed away after long and happy lives. One was named Calum, after one of the veterinarians in James Herriot’s ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL series. The other was named Harry Hotspur. “Harry Hotspur” was the nickname of real-life Henry Percy, a fourteenth-century English noble, indicating his brash, reckless temperament. He is a minor character in William Shakespeare’s HENRY IV PART 1, and in the play has a very terrier-ish personality. My Harry lived up to his namesake, always getting into trouble.

My current dog is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Pippin, after one of the hobbits in J.R.R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. In the trilogy, “Pippin” is the nickname of Peregrin Took, one of Frodo’s young cousins, who is careless and clumsy but always loyal to his friends. Like Tolkien’s Pippin, my Pippin is short-statured and devoted.

Books are also part of the reason I’m married to my husband. We both love fantasy, thriller and paranormal fiction. When we moved in together and combined our libraries, it was freakish how well our collections meshed. He had the early novels of Anne Rice’s VAMPIRE CHRONICLES series while I had the later novels. I had the first book of David Eddings’ ELENIUM trilogy while he had the second and third. And we both still had childhood copies of Deborah & James Howe’s BUNNICULA.

Six years ago we moved to a new home. I think our realtors were about to strangle us because we looked at over forty houses before finding one we both liked. The house we finally chose had several appealing features, but the one that particularly caught my eye was a certain space downstairs. It’s not quite a room, not quite a hallway, but we immediately saw that it was ideal for a library. Seven IKEA bookcases later, it’s perfect.

How has literature changed your life? Leave a comment with your own stories.


Links to other Gab Bag topics:
Do you Crush on Fictional Characters? 
Harry Potter Characters
Censorship 
Over-the-Top: Poetry with Pizzazz
Growing up with Harry Potter

13 comments:

Kim said...

I attribute my husband's and my shared love of literature for the reason we're together, too! :)

Literature is such a part of who we are, from the names we gave to our children to the places we visit. Someday we'll go to England, homeland of some of our favorite classic novels.

By the way, I love BUNNICULA. :) A long-time favorite.

Jessica said...

Let's see:
Our dog is named Maltese Mansions for Peregrin Took, and we call her Pippin.

My son is named after an early 20th century author (I prefer to keep the kids' names private, though), and my daughter's first name is from a character in my favorite Edith Wharton book, her middle name is from Greek mythology. (No, it's not Athena.)

My husband and I met doing a readers' theatre production of Bertholt Brecht's "Der Gute Mensch von Szechuan."

I've worked at crappy jobs in libraries (Not that the library was crappy, but one of my jobs was to dismantle and reassemble bookcases. That was the crappy part.), just so I could work in a library, and be NEAR the books!

Katie L. said...

I think of two main ways that literature has changed my life...

1)--It was in my AP English class in high school that I learned how to think in an organized and critical way. By reading and analyzing literature I gained an important skill that has served me well for my whole life.

2)--Literature has opened my eyes to the broad spectrum of the human experience, teaching me that while we are all very different, we are all very much the same. This allows me to interact with people in more compassionate ways, and helps me sharpen my imagination so that I can see other perspectives more easily.

I know these are kind of "big picture" benefits, but they've been profound for me. :-) Great post!

pie said...

After Deathly Hallows came out, the Harry Potter fans in my office ordered pizza at lunch one day, and we had an HP discussion in the conference room.

Practically the only social interaction I have outside of work is with my book club.

I've had to become an amateur architect to keep the piles of books in my room from falling over and blocking the last path to the door. Although now that I think about it, being stuck in my room with my books doesn't seem like such a bad fate.

Laura said...

Jessica: That's funny that we both have Peregrin Tooks! I debated between Samwise Gamgee and Peregrin Took for my corgi, and re-read the books as I awaited my puppy. I decided Pippin's happy-go-lucky attitude is more corgi-like.

Laura Howard said...

Books have always been a huge part of my life, being a shy child is much more pleasant when you can escape into a book at the end of the day! I've met so many friends in my Adult life through great book sites and book events. I wonder where I'd be today if I hadn't nurtured my love for the written word?

Amy Finnegan said...

I could take up pages answering this question! To begin with, I wasn’t much of a reader until I was in my mid-twenties. Seriously. I don’t remember reading a single book while I was growing up that wasn’t required for school (I know, it’s sad!) Both of my parents were big readers, and so was my older brother, but for some reason, that didn’t transfer over to me. And then . . . Harry Potter.

The Harry Potter series was recommended to me by a very serious-minded adult, and I couldn’t believe that he was so hooked on a CHILDREN’S series. So I reluctantly gave it a try, and wow. I’ve been obsessed with reading ever since (though I’ll admit, I have yet to find another series I like even close to as much as HP).

Not only did HP get me reading, it also sparked such a literary passion in me that I eventually started writing as well. And that hobby/addiction has DEFINITELY changed my life. Then came this blog.

So whenever my house is dirty, or my kids are feeling neglected, I can turn to them and say, “Hey, it isn’t MY fault. Blame J.K. Rowling!”

Amy Finnegan said...

Oh! One more thing: my daughter is named Ella! I fell in love with that name after reading Ella Enchanted :)

Laura said...

As a veterinarian, I've treated a lot of pets named after literature characters: Harry Potter, Romeo, Juliet, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and an orange tabby named Ronald Weasley :)

Lady Thought said...

I can't recall a time in my life when I wasn't an avid reader; my mother used to punish me by grounding me from books. We have 2 literary pets, Galadriel the snake and Shelob the tarantula (the frog & bearded dragon are named Jin & Claire, from Lost).

I've tried to quantify how reading is a more worthwhile pursuit than watching TV, and other than the positive brain building I really can't. Both involve immersing myself in another world (usually fictional, but not always). Yet if I go more than a few days without reading I feel dizzy and breathless, and slightly off-kilter. Literature has given me hope, catharsis, escape, and an imposing vocabulary of which I am prideful to the point of hubris.

Anonymous said...

We named our gerbils Matthais and Mattimeo after Brian Jacques' Redwall characters (although the gerbils were brothers, not father and son). Pippin seems to be a very popular name for small dogs; our neighbors had a Pippin (also named for Peregrin Took)

Valette M. said...

I'm terrible at seeing from other people's perspectives, but literature definitely allows me to look at things differently.
"I want to win a book."

Jaina said...

Well, I don't have a husband or any children, my sole job is being a student (and doing chores), and our animals are named after a flower, and something they resemble (respectively). But I have to say, there are so many times I've viewed the world differently after reading a book or did something different because of one.

Once I was determined to communicate with my brother by thought through humming a song and touching the dirt. Yes, that's from Princess Academy. No, it didn't work.

Another time we spent an hour saying absolutely nothing, except for two words when adults asked us a question, like the kids in No Talking did.

When we moved (well, every time we've moved), I've comforted myself at not having any friends within a hundred miles by alphabetizing my bookshelf, re-reading a few favorites, and getting a library card. A girl needs friends, but a girl also needs books.

There are so many other examples of books giving me ideas, etc, but I don't want to list ALL of them now. When I started coming online more as I got older I had to pick an online name. I often use Jaina now, but I use Jenna in many places still, a reference to my favorite character in the Septimus Heap books. I'm sure my husband will love to read, too, I just haven't, um, met him yet. I think I'm still a few years short of hitting that mark. :)