CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Some weeks ago, retired Gazette staff writer Susan Williams invited readers to share their favorite books -- titles and authors who have had special meaning or endurance.
Readers responded, of course, always pleasantly reminding me of the depth and breadth of Gazette readers' intellectual pursuits. I expected great works, people wrestling with big problems and ideas. We got those. But I was also touched at humbler works and less deified authors who hold honorable shelf space in readers' minds.
Preparing another installment of "Books I have Loved" for tomorrow's paper set me thinking about important volumes living in my own mind.
There's "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster, the children's book that is not really a children's book. I've written about it at length before. When you get past all the puns, fantasy and silliness, the idea of the whole world getting a tiny bit richer every time one of us learns something has never left me.
"Hop on Pop" by Dr. Seuss is the first book I ever read all the way through, all by myself. I've used it and given to various children over the years as they learned to read. It springs to mind in any discussion of beloved books.
I read just about every one of those old "biographies" in my elementary school library, but the one that stands out is "Dan Morgan: Rifleman" by Ernest E. Tucker.
At some point I realized that a lot of those books were largely fictionalized. (Did you ever notice how many famous people seemed to have had some fractal moment at the tender age of 10 that so completely predicted the pattern and accomplishments of their whole life's work?)