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The first book I ever read on my own was called Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. My grandmother read it to me every night before I went to sleep, just like she did for my father. To this day, I still have that 8 or 9 page book memorized. Someone a long, long time ago realized that if you are telling a story, you can make it better by inventing conflicts, characters and events that may all be fictional, but it’s something others are interested in. Personally, I would rather hear the tales of a man who is a desk clerk by day and super spy by night that saves the world from dastardly evils, rather than the grueling walk through of a man’s trip to the grocery store. If we weren’t born with imaginations, making everyone think the most basic way possible, life would be unbearable. No TV shows except documentaries or news because fictional shows would never have been invented. The only books would be biographies or informational. The world would be a bland place without those inspired to spend their whole life at a computer screen or inscribing our brains with a pen. All it takes is one good book that connects with you in an indescribable way, to inspire you and change your view on writing, permanently. I can effortlessly remember every book I have ever read that did something like that for me.
The Spiderwick Chronicles was the first book series that drew me in as an elementary schooler. Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s magical sense of wildness kept me from putting any of those books down until I was done with the five set series. I can remember putting myself on hold for the last book in my school library, but couldn’t keep my patience long enough to wait for it, so I resorted to my county library. The mythical sense and my childish dreams made it so interesting and absorbing to me. I admit to looking for one, and even though I never found it I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like if I picked up a seeing stone, looked through it and saw goblins with jagged, glass teeth tromping after me! I have re-read that series along with Harry Potter books one through seven, and the always popular Twilight, (which, for the record, is a fantastic and riveting love story when sparkly boys and monotone females aren’t playing the roles). All of the surprising, “fictional” story lines are so much easier to lose yourself in when they are written in the same world and time period as yourself. I believed the man that lived up the street from me was a vampire for a while just because he sat outside while it was raining, but you wouldn’t ever see him out there while it was sunny. I had to limit my vampire books for a little while after that.
Every book in the conglomeration of stories I have towering in my room has done wonders as to expanding my mind. I got into reading because of my mom, who could read a 500 page novel in two hours. She would get so into her books and it amazed me how she would get angry, happy, surprised or even sad about what happened in a fictional story that she knew was not even real. I teased her about it until I started doing it myself. Endings like Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief made my jaw drop in disbelief. The surprise came after the war came to an end, when Max walks through the door of Alex Steiner's tailor shop, looking for Liesel who dies after a long, happy life which includes a husband, three kids, and even grandkids. I still wonder if Max is the man Liesel marries and starts a family with, it seemed like the author purposely left open this possibility. It seems like they can't live without each other, but whether this turns to romantic love story or not, it still informed me about the inhumane events that came with the Holocaust and gave hope for an ending where love, once again, conquers all.
Being self conscious, as well as being teased or picked on since I was a young girl was an inevitable step through my childhood. One of the more recent books I read related to me better than most. Perfect by Ellen Hopkins is through the eyes of four teenagers who have standards they are expected and pushed to live up to. Rich families, beauty pageants, Ivy League schools, and all the other pressures their families, friends and siblings are putting on them. Hopkins shows how teenagers really do feel sometimes. It’s sickening how we will be that artificial just to please others without any means of making ourselves happy. Through the words of an adult, we are pursued as troubled, messed up kids, who just want to strive in life, that look in the mirror every day and wish they were who they wanted to be. Not what they were made into. I know that, because that used to be me. Like in Perfect, this sort of life can become so overwhelming kids (like Connor) choose suicide over having to push themselves to meet the “requirements” others push on them. I would recommend any of Ellen Hopkins real-life novels to anyone that has felt like they have never been good enough or will never recover from things they have done or dealt with in the past. I believe the real authors are the ones able to write things from pure creativity by inventing their own fictional story and still teach me things I didn’t know about myself. Feelings of regret, envy, sorrow, even satisfaction are divulged when you finish a story that was more than just words to you.
There isn’t a teenage girl in the world that has not read a book or heard the story of a fairy tale love. Cinderella got her prince charming, Beauty got the beast that wasn’t a beast at all, and Allie even got her Noah in Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. Whether you’re a fighter, a dreamer, a believer, a survivor or just a girl staying up late dreaming every night of true love’s kiss, nothing is as satisfying as closing your eyes after finishing a love story when you know that at least that girl got her perfect guy. At least they will live happily ever after. Even when you know it isn’t real, even when you know it didn’t really happen and it is never going to, at least then, in that moment, in that story, that girl got what every girl wants; what every girl lusts for and lingers over day and night. That one kiss that could emit sparks, the boy that turned heads, and the love of a lifetime that could save you from the deepest of holes, the darkest of abyss’ and the loneliness of spending eternity simply reading these stories and never being lucky enough to capture and savor it for yourself.
We were all taught to read by kindergarten. As we continued advancing in school, our reading levels advanced with us. We were put into book groups, literature circles, and assigned personal reading books all for practice and the broadening of our understanding. When an 18th century novel is being pushed on you for the sole purpose of a good grade it is never the same as reading for a reason. Having an interest, a dream, a belief, or maybe just a liking for certain books will take you much farther than reading because you have to. Taking the opportunity to find out what interests you and what you enjoy reading can influence more than your reading level. I have wanted to be an author for years now and have almost finished the first story I began writing with the completed setup for my second novel, which I plan to begin once I complete the one I am currently in the middle of. I can’t recall how many times someone has told me I influenced them to read in some way, whether I simply recommended a book, did a project on it that seemed to interest them or just talked about a story I read that they happened to overhear and go check out for themselves. Inspiring someone to want to sit down with a good book and just enjoy it seems like an accomplishment to me.




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