The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce
My mother and I have a saying. When someone seems to have an odd viewpoint, or they seem to be shallow in some way, we excuse their lack of depth by saying, “They haven’t read the same books we have.” I’m sure many people could say the same thing about us in several areas.
The wonderful thing about books is that you have the whole of a person inside of them. They contain another person’s thoughts, feelings, wisdom, faults, frustrations, fears and everything else that makes a person uniquely them.
Each Monday, I am going to write about a book that has designed the tapestry of my life. I thought I’d start with the first book I remember reading: The Giving Tree. My parents, being the Christian hippies that they were, helped with a Christian night club on Friday and Saturday nights. It was called Night Light. Night Light had concerts regularly, but the most common form of entertainment was a group of talented Saturday Night Live style performers. Before I even read the book The Giving Tree, I saw these talented actors perform it.
One of the things I like most about this book, and others like it, is that the story, written by Shel Silverstein, goes beyond any age group. I love it when a children’s picture book, becomes a universal picture book. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and You Are Special by Max Lucado are two other books that supersede any age group.
I remember my first response to this story was to feel sorry for the tree, and to hate the boy for taking advantage of the tree. As I grew older, I admired the tree. I wanted to be able to selflessly give like the tree. Now that I am older still, I think the question of motive comes into play. The motive of the tree seems to be to genuinely want to help others be better. After all, my first intention to be a selfless giver was really for myself…so that I could be perceived a martyr, or a very nice person. This book helped me to see that it is truly better to give than to receive, and to recognize the value of a life poured out and emptied in order to make the dream of another come true. Another value that I’ve found in this book, is how empty it is to live for the purpose of accumulating things. The boy does this, and is never fulfilled. The tree gives her all, and she is happy.
Even though it was written in 1964, this book continues to change hearts and lives to this day. It is truly a classic.
24 thoughts on “Books That Have Shaped My Life – The Series”
Very eloquent post! Looking forward to future ‘Monday’ posts.
Thanks for the encouragement. I have so many books that have shaped who I am today. I’m looking forward to remembering and reliving them with my blogging friends.
I’m so excited about your Monday book series!!!! We are ‘kindred spirits’, I think (name that book?), and I can’t wait to hear more. Your graph starting with “The wonderful thing about books is … ” spoke to my heart deeply. Thank you.
And thanks for stopping by today!
Great idea! Looking forward to learning about the books that are special to you. Books that have withstood time might give me ideas for gifts to the next generation.
I originally stumbled across this book in German. I was in the middle of my second year of German in college, determined to get some practice outside the kind I could find in textbooks. I visited our public library and found this book, in German. I read for practice, at first, but was so captivated by the book I went out and bought a bunch of copies for family and friends.
I continued to love the book. Unlike one of my brothers-in-law, I don’t see the message as being about supporting abusive relationships. I see it more akin to what you’ve described, which is that true joy is in giving. It’s sad that the boy doesn’t see that better, but it’s irrelevant to the ultimate truth. IMHO, of course. 😀
My 30 yr. old asked for “A Light in the Attic” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends” this past Christmas expressing how much these books by SS had meant to her. I wasn’t even aware of them until she asked…
I’m going to need to reread this book now Kimberly. It’s funny because lately I have been to mood to reread my favorite children’s books and just wrote a post about “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” I am also looking at “A Hole is to Dig” here on my writing table. I too am one of those people shaped by the books I have read over the years. What a great idea to do a Monday feature dedicated to your influential books!
“The tree gives her all and she is happy.”
I love the way you summed it up. Thanks for sharing this book. I look forward to more. 🙂
Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite authors. I believe I have all of his books of poetry, my fav poem is “Someone got Inside my Skin Today.” I have THE MISSING PIECE which is another favorite book. And LAFCADIA THE LION, which is a longer book, but a wonderful story about opening our horizons, seeing life from a different vantage point, and what that ultimately does to us.
I too, look forward to future Monday posts.
I can’t say that I remember anything other than the Giving Tree. Maybe I’ll explore a little more over the summer. I look forward to your dropping by on Mondays. Should we make it a tea? A standing date for Monday morning tea. You should do some posts on books you’ve enjoyed as well, and we’ll make it a tea and coffee thing…
Somehow I had managed to completely forget about Silverstein’s books… I just loved them when I was a kid…
I think The Giving Tree is the only one that I’ve read. I’ll have to try a few others during my summer…
It is one of my favorites. I did not come across it until I was in college. I still read it from time to time and am looking forward to reading it to and buying it for my grandson. what an example of giving and not getting offended…
I am so honored that you “stopped by” and took the time to comment. I love the value you take home from this book. That tree could have definitely been offended! I know I used to be offended for the tree! You are an inspiration to me…
The first time I read LOVE YOU FOREVER by Robert Munsch I cried, and the second…and still get a bit choked when I read it to my preschoolers.
I love kid’s books and am very blessed to have my first picture book being published by WinePress Publishing, hopefully this year! All proceeds will go to Compassion First-Numbers to Names, to help stop trafficking.
I cry every time I read Love You Forever outloud. It’s embarrassing. I’m so excited for you with your book! I have two picture books and a YA novel that I’d like to get published.
I have many favorite books-it would be hard to choose the best out of them all. I love reading, its now finding the time to read-as my newest novels are gathering dust on my nightstand. Excited about your Monday book series. There are so many good books to read.
Every time I read this book I come up with a different conclusion about what it all means. And I think that’s why I like reading it so much!
Good series idea. Is it interesting that for a book to be profound and impact others, it doesn’t have to be a thick, classic!
I love The Giving Tree! 🙂
Me too…Check out my next book here… See ya soon!
Well, both the books you’ve shared so far are on my list of favorites too! I loved The Giving Tree and can’t wait to read it with my son 🙂 I love books that teach life lessons in a simple direct way and this book certainly does both. That’s what I call great writing 🙂 I’m enjoying your book posts coz reading = breathing in my book! I wonder whether To Kill A Mockingbird is a favorite of yours? It’s been my all time favorite book now for a long long time.
Thanks for sharing! I am a lover of books also, and there are some that have deeply and richly influenced my life. The writings of CS Lewis, Oswald Chambers, Jan Karon, Kalthleen Norris, among many others, have enlightened, broadened, strengthened and nourished me. I look forward to your posts!
Your favorite authors are so similar to mine…I’m not familiar with Kathleen Norris. What does she write?