Jesse Altman’s “Books That Shaped You” at ages 5-10-15-20

Annie KennedyBooks

Inspired by Pitchfork’s 5-10-15-20 feature, we asked the WITS staff to talk about the books that shaped them as they grew up. From Kindergarten favorites to the novels that got us through college, we’re excited to take this walk down memory lane, five years at a time.

Jesse Altman, Program Coordinator
5 – Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon

I loved the creativity of this book as a child and how Harold solved all his problems through his incredible imagination and art. There’s something amazing about a story so simple that transports a child to such fantastic places with just one small crayon.

10 – J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

It’s hard to beat Harry Potter and this series of books. While I’m not 100% sure when I began reading them, I think it was probably around this time and I loved (and let’s be honest, still do) the incredibly detailed and fantastical world that was created in these books.

15 – Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

While I read plenty of other books as a teenager, I remember really enjoying these two books in high school. The richness of the text and unique story-telling styles of the authors really struck me.

20 – Christopher Moore’s Lamb and Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore

These are still two of my favorite books. I love the hilarious and creative satire that Christopher Moore invokes in his novels, and it is epitomized in his book Lamb. Meanwhile, the surreal and bizarre stories that Murakami tells and the inversion of reality he does as he flips a seemingly normal story on its head astounds me.