The Reader’s Path

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Do you remember when you became a reader? Sometimes I think I’ve been a reader my whole life. I remember being very young and sitting with my mother as she read me poetry. My favorite poem was “Paul Revere’s Ride.” I didn’t really know who Paul Revere was, but I think I was just enamored with the rhyme and cadence of the poem. Of course, who wouldn’t be enamored with the talent of Longfellow?

Growing up, my family would make frequent trips to the bookstore and each of us would go our own separate ways. We’d meet up by the cash register, our arms loaded with books of our own choosing. Popular fiction for my mom and dad, YA for my sister and Fantasy for me.

But even before I was old enough to wander the stacks alone, I loved reading. Nowadays, I enjoy keeping a list in my Google Docs of every book I read. I have tried to remember every book I’ve ever read and whenever I think of one, I add it to the list. I’m not always the most faithful list keeper, but I usually think of it every few months. My list is currently 300+ books long and that doesn’t even include all of the books I read throughout college and graduate school. I wish I still had the syllabi so I could add the ones I’ve forgotten about.

All this aside, I read an article recently from Bustle called “11 Great Books That Will Make You Fall in Love With Reading.” The list is interesting and there are a few books on there I haven’t read before. But this post really inspired me to think about what book inspired me to read. What book made ME fall in love with reading?

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One of the earliest chapter books I remember reading was The Egypt Game. This book was assigned reading in 4th grade. It’s about a few children who become friends over their love of all things Egypt. They build a whole world dedicated to Ancient Egypt in an abandoned storage yard. This book appealed to me for a few reasons. First, it involved hints of magic and mystery. I have always been in love with fantasy and back then, I didn’t know what fantasy was or that there was a whole genre dedicated to such things. The kids played and used their imaginations. I was a very imaginative child so there was a lot there with which I could connect.

In fifth grade, I discovered Madeline L’Engle and I am positive that she was the reason I plunged headlong into the Fantasy genre. My first read was, of course, A Wrinkle in Time. This was followed quickly by A Swiftly Tilting Planet which, to this day, is still one of my favorite reads of all time. I spent so many hours after I read that book imagining a world of magic and possibility. I also reread L’Engle’s books many times over until the books themselves were worn and falling apart.

After that, the books came and went quickly. I read everything I could get my hands on. It was also at this time that I really began to write. I have small memories of writing stories back in 1st and 2nd grade. But in 6th grade, I dove into fan-fiction before it was a thing, inventing my own stories based on the Redwall books by Brian Jacques.

Reading opened up so many doors for me as a child and led me onto the path I walk in adulthood. I am still an avid reader today and the initial love of fantasy makes its way into my own writing at various degrees. Reading led me to writing and I hope things will come full circle and that some day I will have a book or two out there in the world. And, if I’m lucky, perhaps my own stories will inspire someone to read and/or to write.

What were your favorite books as a child? And what book turned you into a reader?