Books That Inspire 2002

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain

When I was in third grade, my older cousin gave me a 1918 printing of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I read it over and over - in my tree, by flashlight in bed, in the back seat on trips. The thrill of rafting downriver carried over to my life; my sneaking cigarettes and hunting fossils by the dirty old Charles River seemed like true adventure. Later, I learned geography, history, sociology (Big Muddy; poverty; characters!), and my speech changed - I mainly say turkle and chimbly now, and tell some stretchers. I also got the anti-racist message of this book, watching Huck transcend the awful ignorance of his time and place as he figured out his world was so wrong. Last year, my niece, nine, ordered me to read Harry Potter before seeing the film, to have my own ideas about it and not movie people's. She was so right. My unillustrated copy of Huck Finn gave me my own ideas and visions. I like that about books.
David Nagle
Associate Professor
Botany and Microbiology