PaperBackSwap Blog

8 Years, 8 Members, 8 Books

For PaperBackSwap’s 8 year anniversary, we asked 8 members

to tell us about 8 books that have mattered to them.

Today we feature Vicky T. (VickyJo)





Books can be dangerous.  The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.”~Helen Exley


“I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.”~E.M. Forster


It’s true.  Books can change your life, or shape your outlook on life.  It’s happened to me, when I least expected it.  It’s probably happened to you too; think back to your childhood and the books that changed your thinking, opened your eyes or ignited a spark in your soul.


I grew up in a house that had a fireplace in the living room.  On either side of the fireplace were built-in bookshelves, full of books to which I had complete access.  I can remember roaming through those shelves, looking for something to read.  Reading was a compulsion right from the beginning.


            I was about eight years old when I first found Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.  I was horse-crazy at eight and I’m sure that was my inspiration for picking Black Beauty.  Little did I know that Anna Sewell would forever change the way I looked at horses, and in fact, all animals.  I am far too tender-hearted where animals are concerned, and have always been that way since reading about Black Beauty’s life.  I grew up to work with dog/cat rescues, providing transportation for animals on their way from kill shelters to a foster home or hopefully a forever home.




Fifth-grade found me bored and turning to the fireplace shelves yet again.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte spoke to me with a cold shock of recognition and delight.  Jane was the underdog—someone I could root for, someone who knew how it felt to be lonely, to be put upon.  Ms. Bronte was describing my life! (With only brothers in my family, and embarrassing parents, I might as well have been an orphan; my life couldn’t possibly be any more grim as far as I was concerned!)  Not to mention the spooky mystery of Mr. Rochester and his wife.  It was a lovely combination of heartache and fear.



            That was the same year I found a copy of The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone.  His account of Heinrich Schliemann discovering the lost city of Troy hummed through my veins, and created a life-long love of ancient Greece, Homer and archaeology.  I can remember telling my mother that I was so afraid every archaeological treasure would be found by the time I grew up and was ready to be an archaeologist!  Sometime later, I read Pauline Gedge’s wonderful novel about Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh in Ancient EgyptChild of the Morning fascinated me, pulled me back to a time so thoroughly and completely, it felt as though I was remembering another life.  Another passion discovered!  I went on to college and obtained a degree in Anthropology with a minor in Ancient History.


While some of the choices from the fireplace bookshelves influenced my career choices and calibrated my moral compass, others created a love of genre fiction and specific time periods in history, loves that remain with me even now, 45 odd years later.


Edgar Allen Poe’s brilliant tales left me feeling spooked and wanting more; mysteries are still a favorite pick of mine.



Ray Bradbury’s works of short fiction, such as The Martian Chronicles or The Golden Apples of the Sun, instilled in me a strong love of science fiction. One of my favorite books of all time is a science fiction award winner by Connie Willis, Doomsday Book, a book I would never have picked up if not for my early forays into Bradbury’s world.



Historical fiction was an early favorite, as I’ve mentioned, but some books led me to become fascinated with certain time periods of history.  Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff turned me from being mildly interested in the story of King Arthur to realizing that he could have been real, and Sutcliff showed me quite clearly what his life might have been like by showing me the ‘reality’ of 5th century Britain.  I grew up collecting books, both fiction and non-fiction, about the Once and Future King.



  I could go on and on.  Books have been my constant companions since the age of four, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  As I examine my reading life, I can clearly see the threads traveling from the present back to the exact book that started it all; the book that made me care about treating animals with kindness, the books that made me want to travel and discover ancient mysteries, the books that made me long for knights and castles and heroes and glory.  Books have enriched my life and I’m grateful to my parents for stocking those fireplace bookshelves so well.  I think that’s why I settled into life as a librarian; I too want to share my love of reading and books with others.




“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.”~James Bryce


Tags: , , ,

3 Responses to “8 Years, 8 Members, 8 Books”

  1. Bonnie S. (Bonnie) says:

    Out of no where I suddenly decided to sit down and see what is happening at the PBS blog. I do not sit down and look at the PBS blog, ever, except for when I once read that Greg was featured. So I checked. What a great surprise to find you here. I loved reading about you, Vicky, and your fireplace, and your books. I am so damn proud too, to be your friend.

  2. Ani K. (goddessani) says:

    Child of the Morning. How did I ever miss this (especially since I also have a background in Anthropology?) I will be getting my own copy now.

    Thanks for introducing me to this!!

  3. Vicky T. (VickyJo) says:

    Ani, you will love Child of the Morning. It’s one of the few books that has ever made me cry. It’s excellent!

    And Bonnie…you are such a dear, and one of the best things that I found here at PBS!!

Leave a Reply