Frye Gaillard's first encounters with books were disappointing. As a child he never cared much for fairy tales "stories of cannibalism and mayhem in which giants and witches, tigers and wolves did their best to eat small children." But at the age of nine, he discovered Johnny Tremain, a children's novel of the Revolutionary War, which began a lifetime love affair with books, recounted here as a reader's tribute to the writings that enriched and altered his life. In a series of carefully crafted, often deeply personal essays, Gaillard blends memoir, history, and critical analysis to explore the works of Harper Lee, Anne Frank, James Baldwin, Robert Penn Warren, John Steinbeck, and many others. As this heartfelt reminiscence makes clear, the books that chose Frye Gaillard shaped him like an extended family. The Books That Mattered: A Reader's Memoir will make you study your own shelves to find clues into your own literary heart.