Authors often are asked, “What was the most influential book you ever read?” or “Which author inspired you?” I was an avid reader throughout my youth and early adulthood, graduated with a degree in English, and Edith Wharton is my favorite author. However, the most influential book was Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The book and the series by the same name instilled in me a love of history. It is a love that has not faded over the years, but instead has grown stronger. By extension, the series made me ponder what life was like in previous eras. Without that curiosity, I probably wouldn’t be writing historical fiction today.
The Little House on the Prairie Series
The first book in the series, Little House in the Big Woods, was released in 1932.
The series is semi-autobiographical. While it is based on Wilder’s life, she did gloss over much of the hardship pioneers faced – barely mentioning her brother’s death, for instance – fictionalized some events and created composite characters based off multiple people.
In the first several books, Wilder made herself older in order to explain having a recollection of events.
The series also isn’t without controversy. In recent decades, it has been criticized for its depictions of minorities, especially Native Americans, and its comments about the American government.
A television series loosely based on the books debuted in 1974 and ran until 1983.
Other Books I Loved in my Youth
What were some of the other books I enjoyed in my youth?
In elementary school, the popular books were the Bernstein Bears. Everyone had a collection. We later moved on to the Amelia Bedelia and Babysitters Club series.
Later, I became more interested in literature than pop fiction and read the Anne of Green Gables series. But I was still attracted to pop fiction, reading a number of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine books.
I also read a fair amount of nonfiction, especially books on astronomy and dinosaurs.
Updated: 28 October 2020