I have always been an avid reader. Even as a little kid, I annoyed everyone I could to get them to read to me. I loved library day, and have even added some of my childhood favorites to my bookcase. From Wait Till Helen Comes and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to The Baby-Sitter’s Club series and later R. L Stine, I had a wide variety of books I would devour.
Although I loved a lot of the stories I read, there were two books that made me fall head over heels in love with stories. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I took a class in 8th grade that we just read books for the semester. We would read them, take quizzes and explore what the author was trying to say. Those were the first two books we read. Both have stuck with me since then, and I have passed those stories along to my children. Even if they don’t appreciate them as of yet.
I believe the first book we truly fall in love with shapes us for the rest of our lives. We are not just reading a good book, we appreciate the language and the story line. Words so beautifully written that we stop and swim in them for awhile. Each chapter is savored and every sentence is dissected. We don’t just love the book. We drowned in it. We live in it. We stop and stay in that story long after the reading is over.
Those characters challenge our way of thinking. They cause us to look beyond ourselves. Even fantasy can make us stop and change course. Bilbo gave us courage even if we feel small and the task is too big. Scout made us want to challenge what we are told by society and really understand the depth of human emotions.
These are not just books on the shelf or a “really good story.” These are the ones that shape us, challenge us, rip our hearts out and still make us want to continue.
What was your first love? How did it shape you?