Z for short

"To write more, write more." This is my writing notepad.

My favorite books

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Writing prompt: Name a book that changed your life. What influence did it have on your thoughts, attitudes, and actions?

I wouldn’t say that one specific book changed my life. The life-changing moment for me was when I learned to read and a whole new world opened up.

I like well-told stories, and one of my all-time favorites is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. This is the story of seven generations of the Buendía family. José Arcadio Buendía founds the village of Macondo, whose history reflects that of Colombia itself.

This novel also has one of my favorite first lines ever: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

The line makes me curious. You wonder whether he is about to be executed, and in that one sentence, that one moment, you sense an entire lifetime that requires reflection.

Two other novels on my top list are The German Lesson by Siegfried Lenz, and The Tin Drum by Günter Grass. The Tin Drum is about drum-playing Oskar who decides to stop growing at the age of three. In The German Lesson, young Siggi, who is an inmate of a juvenile detention center, is given the assignment to write an article about the joys of duty. That makes him think about his father, a police officer who during the Nazi Era saw it as his duty to prohibit famous painter and childhood friend Nansen from painting, while Siggi takes it upon himself to preserve Nansen’s “forbidden” paintings and steals them.

In between these giants in my bookshelf, I have a rather thin book that warms my heart and makes me smile: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. In the opening chapter, the little prince asks the narrator to draw a sheep. The prince is not satisfied with the first drafts, but when the narrator draws a box and explains that the sheep is inside it, he is content. “That’s perfect,” he says. The tone for the book is set. The book is dedicated to Léon Werth, but since Werth is a grown-up and the book is a children’s book, de Saint-Exupéry dedicates it to him, “when he was a little boy.” Small details like that make me a happy reader.

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Written by Solveig Hansen

March 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm

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