Books have an amazing ability to transfer you into another world. They can take you anywhere you could ever possibly hope to go in an instant.
Since I was a child I have always loved to sit with a great story and let myself be taken away. As I have grown, the one thing I have noticed about books, is that you have to be ready for them. It’s not necessarily about being old enough for them, as it is about being wise enough for them.
For example, “Where the Red Fern Grows,” was my favorite book as a child. I must have read it a hundred times. Matter of fact, my copy I stole from my 4th grade teachers class library because I could not let it go when I changed grades. I kept it under my pillow and at night I would run the Ozark mountains with a wild-eyed boy and his two dogs…chasing adventure and whooping to the pups. I lived in that novel. When I wasn’t reading it, I would run outside with my own dog imagining I was living in the book.
As I moved up to middle school I read all the typical easy reading, “Sweet Valley High” and of course, ”Fear Street,” but I also fell in love with fantasy and J.R. Tolkien’s, “Lord of the Rings,” set (including the Hobbit). It moved me. Carried my mind away to lands of elves, kings, knights, valor…good versus evil. I could see these things, some times these books even gave me nightmares, but they allowed my imagination to move and my creativity to soar as I poured over the pages.
In high school most of my friends complained about the mandatory readings, “1984, Animal Farm, Night, Anne Frank, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Raisin in the Sun,” and many others. I secretly loved all of these books, although I am sure I complained too, just to sound cool. Reading Shakespeare made me feel like I was part of something that had captured the globe. Here is a writer so profoundly poetic that the entire world knows who he is (and is still reading him)…. long after his death. How amazing a feat to write words powerful enough to be read time and time again, forever.
“Romeo and Juliet,” is a classic romance for teenagers. Being a teen girl, it was a relatable story. Love is that wild, fast, passion crazed… that whole. As an adult… there’s nothing very romantic about this story to me. I’d never commit suicide for a guy I had just spent the day with or even my whole life. Is she crazy? But at this point in my life, as a teen girl, I felt it all. I cried when he found her dead, it was brutal and I hated their families for forcing this choice on them. (Ha. Naive.)
As an adult the number of books I have read continues to grow. There’s easy reading junk that I just pick up and read… which serves its purpose, but then there are power house books that have the ability to pull me once again into a character’s life leaving such an impact on me, that I feel I know them myself. I even feel better living my life after having met these characters.
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” is one such story that has imbedded itself inside me, forever. The story is so inspiring and real, that I closed it at the end wanting nothing more than a sequel. Not that it left you hanging as a reader, but that you feel sad that the book is over. That is literary genius. When your reader closes the book at the end wanting to pick it up and start over… you’ve accomplished something brilliant. I had to be ready for this story though, I tried to read it once as a teen and found it lame. When I picked it up again at 26, it was a whole new world.
When I was 28 I stumbled across a bumper sticker that read, “Who is John Galt,” when I arrived at work I googled it and found Ayn Rand’s, “Atlas Shrugged,” the government plot fascinated me so I picked up the book. This may have been the hardest to read most lengthy book I had ever started, but once I began the journey with Dagny Taggert, I was hooked. She has been my favorite female character since. This book would have never made it through my rambling brain if I had read it at a younger age. It was time for me to find it, when I did. As fate would have it. (Shout out to my brother insert here ;))
When I hit a massive crossroads in my life at 29, “Eat, Pray, Love,” fell into my starving for a story hands in the D.C. airport one night due to a delayed flight. She was right where I was in life. On the bathroom floor as she bawled her eyes out, I felt every tear… because I was crying them too. She was real, and I wasn’t alone. Thank. You. God.
The books that have influenced me have been many, but the ones that have impacted me… remained in my life and thoughts like childhood friends do, they’re the jewels. The few, the strong, they’re forever books. Dear authors, well done and thank you.