Katia Raina

The Magic Mirror

Thankful for Books, Part 1

I went to the library the other day to pick up my latest stack of holdings, and was reminded once again of what a junkie I am.

Yes, I am. My name is Katia, and I am a book junkie. 🙂

The library people know me. At my approach, they roll up their sleeves and retreat into the back room, from which they emerge carrying huge stacks of books I have requested. They smile at me and say, “thanks for keeping the circulation going.”

I am amazed that they thank me, because as much as I love to support fellow writers and buy their books, if it weren’t for my local library, I would be broke. 🙂

Anyhow, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to tell you about my favorite books of all time — those early ones that got me hooked. The ones that started it all.

Okay, I have an ulterior motive. One of my fave authors, Beth Revis, is hosting this incredible month-long giveaway, in which she blogs about her favorite books and asks us to do the same, for the chance to win one ginormous prize containing fifty-three gazillion books. Okay, actually, nineteen, but that’s A LOT OF BOOKS, right? With all the people participating in this, the chances of winning are . . . ahem . . . not necessarily in my favor, and I’ve never won a giveaway contest before — EVER! I am not one of those contest people who win prizes — never been, really, but then again, when has that stopped me from trying? 🙂

So, I hereby take up Beth Revis’ “thankful for books” theme. I can’t possibly fit all the important ones in one post — all the books that affected me deeply in those formative years, the books that made me the reader and writer and dreamer and person that I am today. Here are some of them. Watch for the follow-up at the end of the week!

1. Old Soviet picture books

Nope, those weren’t anything like “The Little Engine that Could” and “Goodnight, Moon.” I remember a story about a good doctor who travelled to Africa to cure hippos with chocolate. There was also one about a fly that married a mosquito. And something about a mailman. I loved that one, though I don’t remember it too well right now. Also, I loved the one about the mean capitalist, a clueless American named Mr. Twister, who traveled to the Soviet Union and learned better ways there. 🙂

I remember turning the same pages over and over. I remember the comfort they gave me — the words settling into familiar patterns every night, the pictures like old friends waiting.

2. Fairytales

The Russian folktales featured lots of animals, and moody pale princesses. There were also sets of three brothers, with the youngest being the stupidest usually, who was the nicest of them all, and ended up winning the girl — and the crown. I also loved Christian Andersen’s tales — the tricky soldiers, the abandoned Christmas trees, matchboxes that talked, the sad story of the poor little mermaid (not at all like Disney’s Ariel)… Those fairytales didn’t always have a happy ending, but they did open up a universe of possibilities.

3. Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas

This was my great love at age 11. I read it, then re-read it, about six times, dreaming of one day meeting a brave and passionate D’Artagnan who’d love me. Each time, I cried at the exact same spot, you know the one, at the end. 😦 Over the pages of the book, my heart broke, over and over. Maybe this was mental practice for my turbulent adolescence that followed.

How about you? Is there a title or two that stands out, a bunch of images, or a storyline that calls from your past? Do you want to take up Beth’s challenge and blog about it?

P.S. Just looked at Beth’s contest link again and realized I haven’t done this right, exactly. She wants us to blog about A SINGLE book that made a difference, and, in addition to including a link to her contest, she wants us to include this cool graphic as well:


So, I guess I’ll do it right later this week. But I am still keeping this post. And there may be a part 3 next week as well. This is just too much fun!


November 7, 2011 - Posted by | Book Impressions | , , ,


  1. I don’t mind that you talked about more than one book, Katia. How interesting to hear about your childhood favorites, especially those Soviet picture books. Wow!

    Comment by Joanne Fritz | November 7, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks, Joanne. I am now kicking myself for not having saved any of those old copies. Then again, when you move permanently across the Atlantic, you tend to stuff your suitcase with things of a more essential nature…like makeup and sweaters. Of course, if this was me now, I’d have said, heck with it, few things are more essential than books! 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 7, 2011 | Reply

  2. What a lovely post, I loved hearing about the Soviet picture books too, so different. I can’t believe that you’ve never won a giveaway. I’m hoping Karma is saving a big win for you 🙂

    Comment by Sarah Pearson | November 7, 2011 | Reply

    • Wow, thanks, Sarah, that is really sweet. I want to answer this with a Jewish (or Russian) proverb my mom sometimes uses, “From your mouth, to God’s ears!” 🙂

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 7, 2011 | Reply

  3. I’m also grateful for fairy tales. I was most fond of Rumpelstiltskin and Snow White, as well as other stories by the Brothers Grimm. My imagination went wild when I read them.

    I enjoyed reading your list and I hope you win this giveaway. 🙂

    Comment by Medeia Sharif | November 8, 2011 | Reply

    • The Brothers Grimm — how could I forget to mention them? In addition to the stories you mentioned, they also had lots of stories that never became those Disney movies we now know and love. 🙂 The way you descrbie your imagination going wild, I am sure you’ve read some of those, too. 🙂 I also loved the “Sheherezade” “One Thousand And One Nights” tales. I guess I loved the idea that stories could turn anyone’s heart 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Medeia!

      Comment by Katia Raina | November 8, 2011 | Reply

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