My British friend, Mark Bonington, challenged me on Facebook to select the 10 books which I remember having a lasting impact on me. It took me most of the day, but I eventually scaled it down to 13 books.
World book Encyclopedias
My parents bought the set of encyclopedias and some of the accompanying series that seemed to establish my deep thirst for learning, and my love for reading.
Childhood of Famous Americans series
I first discovered these biographies as a second grader (1972) at Washington Elementary School in Elwood, Indiana. I read every book in my school’s library, and all the ones at the Elwood Public Library. These books enthralled me, and to this very day, historical biographies are at the top of my reading list.
LINCOLN: THE PRAIRIE YEARS & THE WAR YEARS, by Carl Sandburg
In 1970, I read a book on President Lincoln as a kindergarten student. From that moment on, I was a Lincoln fanatic, In 1973, while visiting my Uncle Ron in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was stationed in the Navy, I found this book at the Military Circle Mall. I saved up my money (about $20) to purchase the book on my next visit. July 1974, I returned to Virginia with my grandparents, and was excited to purchase this book. Uncle Ron insisted he buy the book for me, but I was thrilled to spend my own money for such a valuable purchase. When we left my uncle at the naval pier, I opened my book, and there was a note from Uncle Ron stating how proud he was of me for saving my money for such a valuable investment. Included with the note was a $20 bill, and a post script: “Buy something a kid your age usually buys.” This book is still in my library, and one of my most treasured possessions.
GONE WITH THE WIND, by Margaret Mitchell
I began reading the book in December 1976, and finished it in June 1977. Loved the Civil War history, and the life of Margaret Mitchell. The movie’s score captivated me, and instilled my love for motion picture soundtracks and orchestrations.
FRANKLIN & ELEANOR, by Joseph Lash
I watched the movies, first, and then the book while in high school. I fell immediately in love with these two figures, especially Eleanor.
JOSHUA LOGAN: MY UP & DOWN, IN & OUT LIFE, by Joshua Logan
This autobiography was written, by my directing mentor, but I did not pick up the copy to actually read it until several years ago. However, I am always buying up copies for students, and former students.
THE BISHOP’S BOYS, by Tom Crouch
One of the books that inspired my love for the Wright Brothers. Although I’ve read at least two dozen more books on The Wright Brothers, I still return to Mr. Crouch’s authoritative study.
LOVE IS ETERNAL, by Irving Stone
This was the book that really launched me into playwrighting and writing musicals. As I read this wonderful work of historical fiction, I kept seeing characters on a stage in my mind.
LOVE, by Leo Buscaglia
My freshman year of college, my roommate and I found our next door neighbor after he hanged himself in his dorm room. The following Monday at the funeral, we were in the bookstore at Manchester College, and I discovered this book. I read the other books authored by Dr. Buscaglia, and eventually became pen pals with him until his death.
UNLIMITED POWER, by Anthony Robbins
I’ve read nearly every book by Anthony Robbins, and at one time had his cassette tapes. Energy!
THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING, by Norman Vincent Peale
Before Anthony Robbins, I read this book by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, after attending a service of his in New York City. After reading his books, I began reading works by Dr. Robert Schuller, and soon became a “Possibilitarian.”
YOU LEARN BY LIVING, by Eleanor Roosevelt
Wow… this incredible lady has always been a beautiful inspiration to me.