Becky Bartlett Hutchison, Bill Lambrecht, Sara Ebenreck Leeland, Louis Llovio, Sandra Martin and Carrie Steele contributed to this story.
Books change lives. Sacred texts like the Bible or the Koran have mapped the course of history and, believers say, salvation. Our eras best sellers, the Harry Potter quintet, have transported millions to a magical alternate universe that relieves the muggledom of everyday existence. Epics have awarded immortality to heroes dead millennia ago. Novels have sung songs as distracting as Circes. Even books on demand, written by unknown authors wholl never meet Oprah, have set ones and tens of readers on new paths.
But you dont have to expect lightning as you pick, pack and peruse the books youve chosen as your companions this summer of 2004, when youre finally going to catch up on your reading.
You just have to open the covers and turn the pages. A good book will do the rest.
Thats the lesson youll see in the stories of three dozen Chesapeake Country readers from the governor of Maryland to Ted Levitt of Chick and Ruths Delly who might never have gotten where they are today without reading.
Adventurer and retired photographer and writer for National Geographic, of Shady Side Third-grade geography book
I cant think of any book that really changed my life. Each of them turns you a little port or a little starboard.
A book that comes to mind is my third-grade geography book. For a third-grade kid in Minnesota, that geography text book was like science fiction. It planted some seeds for when the chance came to see some geography.
Two years ago at a yard sale in Maine, there it was, and I bought it for 25 cents. It was interesting to page through the thing and look at the pictures. Among them was Basra in Iraq. I had made three trips to Iraq, staying as long as three months, most recently before we bombed them the first time.
Owner Hard Bean Cafe & Bookseller, Annapolis
Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership
by Laurie Beth Jones: 1996
Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership is the most influential book Ive read. I picked it up on a lark, thinking there had to be something there. The premise is to take everyday problems and apply similar problems from scripture thousands of years ago. Whether you are religious or not, it offers solutions and guidance. I keep it by my bedside. Whenever my back is against the wall, I go through there and find a solution thats relevant. It doesnt give the best answer, but it gives the right one.
Calvert County activist and coordinator: Why Bother With Religion at Asbury Retirement Center, Solomons, July 22Aug. 26
The Courage to Be
by Paul Tillich: 1952
Paul Tillichs focus on the freedom of a person within Christianity in The Courage to Be allowed me to drop some immature ideas still present in traditional churches and develop a more adult faith that was my own.
I didnt grow up part of any religious tradition, simply the teaching of the Golden Rule. When I married, I found myself living next to the house of a Presbyterian pastor whose four children were companions for our five children. We started going to that church. But I felt a strong need for the freedom to question and explore ideas. Tillich affirmed that path.
Senior scientist at Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Solomons
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
by J. R. R. Tolkien: 1956
When I was in my 20s, I worked at a summer camp in New Hampshires White Mountains. I did a lot of reading at night, and Tolkiens book drew me in. I was having a great adventure, and so were all the characters in the book. I loved it so much that I read the whole trilogy again in my 30s, and then in my 40s. Each time, I enjoyed it every bit as much, but different parts attracted me. Perhaps its because I like telling stories myself, and Tolkien is a great story-teller.
Philip L. Brown
Educator and writer who has carried on the story of African Americans as author of The Other Annapolis 1900-1950 and A Century of Separate But Equal Education in Anne Arundel County. Brown retired in 1970 after 42 years as a teacher and administrator in Anne Arundel County.
Up from Slavery
by Booker T. Washington: 1903
I came across Up from Slavery early in life, and it gave me an interest in how former slaves lived following slavery. It gave me an interest in wanting to preserve the story of slavery and a desire to carry on the story from when slaves were freed until today.
Executive director, Maryland League of Conservation Voters; of Annapolis
The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein: 1964
I really like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, because it makes you want to be a good person. It was given to me by a family friend, and I think it has a lot of messages about taking care of nature. In the story, the tree keeps providing for the kid despite his selfishness throughout his life, and it still helps when hes old. I think that has the message that if you take care of nature, it takes care of you.
The Old Man of the Chesapeake
The Best Loved Poems of the American People; 1936
The Best Loved Poems of the American People. I read it when I was in the Navy hospital during World War II, and I continued reading through college. It taught me the power of words. I learned from poems like Edgar Allen Poes The Raven and Oscar Wildes The Ballad of Reading Gaol how forceful small words can be. I learned that poetry flows, and if you write so things flow, youve mastered something. I never took any English courses after I was a sophomore in high school because I took shop courses, so I learned from poetry.
Speaker of the Maryland House of Representatives
by Bernard Malamud: 1952
I dont know that any books have emphatically changed my life, but the first book I read in prep school, The Natural, got me into reading.
Ive read a lot of history and biographies of politicians, and you take a little bit out of each of them.
Ive also read about all of John Grishams novels. I call them beach novels because you can read them on the beach at a fast pace, and theyll keep your interest till the end.
U.S. Congressman, Marylands Third District
Profiles in Courage
by John F. Kennedy: 1956
John F. Kennedys Profiles in Courage had the biggest impact on my professional decision to enter politics. I read it in college, just after the then-senator had written it, and it inspired me. I was star struck. It showed me how one person could make a difference.
I live by that philosophy. I know that one person can make a difference. If you can empower people, they can make the world better. You can make the world better.
Author of childrens books set around the Chesapeake Bay, including the Chadwick the Crab series, Autumn Journey, A Face Forward and Saving Grace; of Annapolis
by E.B. White: 1952
When I was a child, I received Charlottes Web and read it many times over. I love it as much now as when I first read it. Its beautifully written, its fun and its such a moving story about life. The life themes of loneliness, friendship, cruelty and greed, and accepting that death is part of the cycle of life are still important in my life today. Its about enjoying our brief time here on earth and appreciating the simple, good things in life. No matter what age you are, it cannot fail to touch your heart and make you understand and appreciate this wonderful world a little better.
This book had the greatest impact on my choice of career. Not only is it a model of lean and lovely prose, but theres so much power, wisdom and wonder packed into one simple story. After reading this book over and over, I realized that this is what I want to do. I want to grow up and write like E.B. White.
Press secretary over a decade to presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Call the Briefing
by Marlin Fitzwater: 1995 (Times Books,
Random House); 2000 (Xlibris). Fitzwaters first book of fiction is Esthers Pillow: 2001
The first book I wrote, Call the Briefing, a memoir of my life in government and particularly the White House, was such a catharsis that it ended my interest in political involvement. The process of writing this book and summing up my life at this point allowed me to turn my life around. I set about after that to reinvent myself in other ways. I got involved in fiction writing, some charitable work, some university work. I moved to Deale, and I even got married.
Administrator of Anne Arundel County Public Libraries, with an earlier life directing choral music and pursuing theater and dance.
Gone with the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell: 1936
Since Im from Mississippi, Gone with the Wind reminds me of my southern background. Scarlett OHara was a strong woman who survived civil war and established her own business. With me being a career person, she was sort of a heroine of mine not that she didnt make mistakes. In a sense she was an early feminist.
U.S. Congressman, Marylands First District
How Green Was My Valley
by Richard Llewellyn: 1939
In How Green Was My Valley, Richard Llewellyn tells the tale of a boy coming of age in a coal mining village in South Wales. Its a story about the strength of character and the love of family that truly inspires. It taught me about the core values in life family, faith and love that will get us through some of our toughest challenges. The book was turned into an Academy Award-winning movie, which I saw after reading the book. Both are excellent and will give you a sense of perspective on life.
P.S.: Log onto my website at www.gilchrest.house.gov and check out Rep. Gilchrests Recommended Readings, because its hard to pick just one book that has really influenced my life.
Robert Ehrlich Jr.
Governor of Maryland
The First Circle
by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1968
The Holy Bible, which Ive been reading since I was a child, still has a profound impact on my life.
Id also name a second book I read, in college, The First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. About prison camps in Stalinist Russia, it was an eye-opening look into the horrors of communist government in its worst form.
Former Annapolis mayor and sometimes thespian
by Stephen E. Ambrose: 1997
Undaunted Courage traces the westward path of the Corps Discovery led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, showing how they constantly were willing to challenge themselves despite their fears of what might lie ahead. If something needs to be done and its important enough, then you have to find a way to do it, because weve all got boats that carry us through life, and we have to find a way to carry them around the rapids.
Newly appointed Calvert County delegate
To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee: 1960
I was an impressionable child who read all the time. To Kill a Mockingbird really impressed me with its themes of fighting for the little guy, working through prejudices and taking the higher ground. One beautiful moment was when you expected a child to be afraid, and she wasnt. She had absolutely no prejudice.
Then came the movie, and Gregory Peck did the leading role just how I thought it should have been portrayed.
Its affected me in terms of giving everyone an equal shot at making a first impression, not predetermining what I think about them or what their reactions might be. It also revealed a strength in family that was and is encouraging.
Retiring managing editor of Cornell Maritime Press and Tidewater Publishers in Chester
The South Beach Diet
by Arthur Agatston: 2003
While I cant point to a specific book that changed my life, except perhaps The South Beach Diet, which helped both my husband and me return to our 1965 wedding weights, books have definitely had a great impact on my life. As a youngster I walked to the library twice a day because you werent allowed to take out more than four books at one time. Later, I spent long summer days in the backyard of my parents home in New Jersey with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Finally, Ive enjoyed 17 years as an editor for Cornell Maritime Press and Tidewater Publishers in Centreville and have participated in the making of more than 120 books. For me, books have been both my pleasure and my business. As I plan for retirement later this month, Ive been asked if I will be bored. Along with detailing plans for travel and more time with grandchildren, I say that with a shelf of books, I could never be bored!
Proprietor of Chick and Ruths Delly and the Scotlaur Inn in Annapolis, as well as founder of Uncle Teddys Soft Pretzels
Tuesdays with Morrie
by Mitch Albom: 1997.
There are many books I admire, but one that truly affected how I live my life is Tuesdays with Morrie. It just makes you think about who you are and what you are, and it helped me appreciate my life and family more.
My father, Chick, used to tell me all the time never look at somebody who has more than you, to look at people who have less than you meaning to appreciate what you have. He also taught me to work hard and look for ways to help others get where you are. This book reminded me of that. I try to live life in a good way and treat everybody in the right way. This book opens your eyes to whats important in life, and everyday Im thankful for family, friends, work and life.
Thomas V. Mike Miller
President, Maryland Senate
All the Kings Men
by Robert Penn Warren: 1946
All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren was a Southern book that everyone appreciated for the way it was written and also the theme: the politics of the South and all the human interest and human failings. Ive always loved politics, and it had some very pragmatic thoughts in terms of how to win elections as well as the subtle themes and messages. It won the Pulitzer Prize.
Ive reread it a couple of times, and even though you know how it comes out, its very stirring. Its a great book.
I was pleasantly surprised when in this months Washingtonian Bob Woodward also chose it.
Annapolis mayor and animal rights supporter
by Marshall Saunders: 1893
There are lots, because I am an avid reader. But the animal stories I read way, way back when I was young really affected me. Books like Bambi, Lassie Come Home and My Friend Flicka still bring tears to my eyes. But my choice is a book called Beautiful Joe. Its the story of a dog whose ears are cut off by his owner really by his owner with an ax so it brings up the issues of cruelty on the one hand and the love and loyalty animals develop on the other.
I am an animal activist, I do cat rescue work, and I credit those early readings with tapping into my sense of justice, which transcends animals and keeps me attuned to the dignity of humankind.
Anne Arundel County Executive
by Virgil, circa 19bc
When I was a child growing up in Southern Anne Arundel County, back when there were no organized sports for girls, books were my best friends. My first job was as volunteer at the Annapolis library, which was then in Reynolds Tavern, where I organized a collection of college catalogues. I was 11.
Not long after that, I read the epic poem The Aeneid and fell in love with the Latin language and literature. I took Latin in college and loved it and took Advanced Placement College Boards in Latin. Later this love led me to Crete, where I had to go to see where it happened. Someday, Id love to learn classical Greek, when I have my life back. Meanwhile, Im going to see the movie Troy with Brad Pitt.
Director, Alliance for Sustainable Community, of Edgewater
Dream of the Earth
by Thomas Berry: 1990 (Sierra Club Books).
Thomas Berry gave me hope that human beings could come of age and become the voice of the Earth. I had been so caught in a sense of the depletion of the Earth that I hadnt experienced much hope. I began to feel called to communicate the thoughts in Berrys Dream of the Earth to others.
Now, when I despair of the difficulty involved in trying to instigate change, the beauty of Tom Berrys soul returns to me as I once experienced it during a visit.
Id called him to ask if I could stop by on my way from Maryland to Maine, and he answered the telephone himself, saying Im here. I found him living at a place overlooking the Hudson River. I felt as if I had been taken into a sacred space, a refuge.
My brother, Drew Pearson, and I went back and interviewed him for our film A Place Called Home.
Director of The Graduate Institute, St. Johns College, Annapolis
by Plato: circa 360bc.
Platos Republic, which I read at 19 in my first college experience. By reading it, I learned how to read a book by interacting with it, developing a kind of dialogue, and I think thats exactly the kind of thing Platos Dialogues invite you to do. I fell in love with that kind of philosophy and felt it invited me to inquire right along with him into things like the nature of the human soul.
What happened to me as the result of reading a Platonic Dialogue in this way was that I got hooked on a certain kind of inquiry that eventually led to my coming to St. Johns College as a 23-year-old who already had a bachelors degree but started as a freshman.
In a way, each book we read in our Great Books curriculum requires a relearning about how to read. No one of us can completely plumb their depths. Being a tutor here, I get to keep learning more and more.
Lieutenant Governor of Maryland
The only book that has had a significant impact on my life is the Bible.
Chesapeake educator, song writer and singer
The Earth-Sea Trilogy
by Ursula LeGuin: 1975.
When I first read Ursula LeGuins set of three books, in the 1980s, they opened my mind to wonderful possibilities. In her trilogy, wizards wont give you their real name because with it theyd give you power over them.
All this made me think about names and naming. I began to see that squirrel is just a social name for a critter. Id ask children to think about what theyd name different creatures we worked with. One little boy came up with many-footed worm as the name for a polyclete. He acted it out by getting down on the floor and surrounding himself with shoes. Another child called a blue crab a 10-legged paddle swimmer.
LeGuins ideas helped me see that there are so many different ways of connecting to the universe, each expressed in different ways of naming.
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Bay Weeklys Picks
Book choices by staff and writers
Bay Weekly advertising rep
Who Moved My Cheese?
by Spencer Johnson, md: 1998
Who Moved my Cheese? is about change: life altering changes and how they affect you. Its an excellent book for explaining life to a teenager. I knew that aspect well because I created presentations on the book for teenagers when I worked for the author. Im learning the lesson now, as its helping me accept that change isnt always bad. Now that Im going though a serious illness, Ive found that change can lead to good things.
Bay Weekly advertising rep
How to Be an Assertive (Not Aggressive) Woman In Life, In Love, and on the Job: The Classic Guide to Becoming a Self-Assured Person
by Jean L. Baer: 1976
I can remember taking out How to Be an Assertive (Not Aggressive) Woman as a freshman in high school. I am not a believer in self-help books, but for me this was a way to understand how to get something done without being aggressive. I was an athlete, and as a ninth grader, it was important for me to learn that there is a fine line between aggressive and assertive.
Bay Weekly classified manager
by Charolotte Bronte: 1847
Reading Jane Eyre changed my perspective, because it was so tragic. I read it my freshman year in college. I was 19, and I thought my life was so awful. When I read it, Jane gave me hope. She went through such a hard time growing up in orphanages, and she had to clean up after these rich girls, but finally she found love and happiness. It was as good a happy ending as Jane was going to get. It gave me hope for my own life and taught me not to be such a drama queen.
Becky Bartlett Hutchison
Bay Weekly contributing writer
Youll See It When You Believe It
by Wayne W. Dyer: 1989
I have read so many books that have inspired me, but the one that I cherish most is Youll See It When You Believe It by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. Every time I read this book, I have a more positive outlook on life and see more clearly how I can strive to make the world a safer, kinder place for all. Dr. Dyer is an enthusiastic motivator who encourages service to others and love of all human beings, and I look to his books for positive affirmations on how to live my life.
Bay Weekly production manager
The Harry Potter series
by J.K. Rowling: since 1997
Harry Potter! It lets your imagination go and reminds you how much fun things can be. Reading doesnt have to be serious; fun reading doesnt have to be bad literature.
J. Alex Knoll
Bay Weekly cofounder and general manager
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
by Mark Kurlansky: 1998
Cod. Its a nonfiction story written in a narrative style, chronicling the history of the fish that allowed the colonists to survive and prosper. Along with tobacco, cod funded the American Revolution.
Mark Kurlansky traces the fisherys rich history on the Great Banks to Vikings and other Europeans whod discovered the New World long before Columbus but kept secret the location to monopolize the fishing. In modern times, the fishery and the lifestyle was nearly wiped out through natural cycles, bad science and worse management.
Cod impressed me with how precarious fisheries are in the competition with human greed. Without incredible care, greed wins out. I hope all our fisheries managers in Chesapeake Country have read this book.
Bay Weekly co-founder and St. Louis Post-Dispatch Washington correspondent; author of Dinner at the New Gene Cafe: How Genetic Engineering Is Changing What We Eat. How We Live, and the Global Politics of Food: 2001 (St. Martins Press); Big Muddy Blues: Political Travels and Travails Along Americas River West: 2005 (St. Martins Press).
100 Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: 1967
100 Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquezs great novel, rekindled my belief in the magic of the human spirit and reminded me how little things, like little people, can make a big difference.
Sara Ebenreck Leeland
Bay Weekly contributing writer
Green Paradise Lost
by Elizabeth Dodson Gray: 1981
The book that changed my life helped me get a name for my intuitive sense of connection between the way a culture treats its women and the way it treats the Earth eco-feminism. The book is Elizabeth Dodson Grays Green Paradise Lost, still out in paperback after I found it 20 years ago.
Bay Weekly staff writer
The World According to Garp
by John Irving: 1978
My grandmother gave me my first copy of The World According to Garp when I was 16. From the first time I read it, I knew it was special. It taught me, first of all, that I really wasnt as different as I thought. But more importantly, it gave me a name: writer. The writers job to tell the story, and that even the bizarre can tell a sublime story. Ive read it as a student, a writer and a father, following in Garps footsteps. I still have my original copy tattered and torn, and I named my son after Garps first son.
Sandra Olivetti Martin
Bay Weekly co-founder and managing editor
Lad a Dog
by Albert Payson Terhune: 1919.
Whether or not my grandmother, Florence Martin, gave me Lad a Dog when I could first read on my own, I can no longer remember. Certainly she bought me the rest of Albert Payson Terhunes series about canine fidelity and human frailty. The book and she are woven together in the worn but warm blanket of memory. By telling me my earliest stories, they wrapped me round in the power of story, and I have never gotten loose.
Bay Weekly advertising rep
Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls: 1961
I read Where the Red Fern Grows when I was a preteen. Its about the adventures of a boy and his dogs. Hes very independent and developed a deep bond with these animals. The book showed how after the animals pass away, the bond doesnt go away. I had dogs, too, and I loved the adventures and the tear-jerk ending.
Bay Weekly intern
by Charles Dickens: 1860
I read Great Expectations in my first English class my freshman year in college at Ohio Wesleyan University. Its a long book to start college with. But I liked it because I got to know the characters through what they experienced. It made me see that people are more complex than I might perceive them to be. Everyone has different experiences, thoughts and attitudes much deeper than what we see on the surface. It makes us unique and different, but also gives us a shared humanity. Dickens showed me how history and experience make us who we are today.
Find all these books and more in local libraries and bookstores. Or go on-line to www.amazon.com. or www.bn.com for a delivered copy of even the oldest on this list.
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