In childhood I remember I was a bookworm. I was shy and introverted, albeit I still am. It’s a part of who I am. Who I will always be, most likely. As children, we have wild imaginations; we create our own worlds; we adapt to new settings. I was likely astutely aware of many things around me. I was an awkward kid. And I’ll admit, unless I am writing, I find myself the same now.

I have read that as a reader you may adapt certain characteristics from your favorite characters. I am skeptical about whether it is true, but nevertheless there have been many books that I read in childhood that I am still fond of today. The ones I consider my favorite are listed below.

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“You’re late,” Frodo said. “A wizard is never late, he arrives precisely when he means to,” Gandalf replied. This conversation and others like it in the book, and movie, series defines the reason why it deservedly earns the #1 spot on my list of favorite books.

Besides the whole cast of characters, this series reflects a diversity of races working together for the common good. My favorite character, especially since there are few women represented, is Eowyn: she is a fighter, she is strong and determined, she accepts her role while also challenging the stereotype represented by Arwen and/or Galadriel, both elves.

What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.

‘A cage,’ she said.

There’s at least some sense of realism in this fantasy epic. In seventh grade I decided to read this book after watching the first installment of the movie series: the Fellowship of the Ring. I was stuck in the middle of The Hobbit that year when the movie came out. After watching the movie, I immediately swtiched my focus to reading the trilogy.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L’Engle is perhaps my favorite American author. I connected most with her two primary protagonists: Meg Murray and Vicky Austin. Both are awkward, nerdy girls unsure where they belong. Over a quartet of books, L’Engle shares their stories.

Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Can’t you tell there’s a trend to what books I read? A mini-series premiered in 2001 based on this book. It took a few years to complete this one. The longer the book, the longer it took to read.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

One of the few books not associated with any movie adaptations on this list. Actually, the only book. When I was in eventh grade, I was required to read one book during the summer. I chose two: this was the second. The first was Trail of Tears by John Ethle, a book detailing the horrible treatment of the Cherokee Nation in the late nineteenth century. You could argue my interest in history was already piqued at this point.

This particular book, however, piqued my interest in the environment further.

The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace
are performed whether or not we will or sense them.
The least we can do is try to be there.

Annie Dillard

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I’ve already written one article on Little Women. I had much to think about when choosing this last book. You could say I enjoy reading literary classics of bygone eras when women were relegated to be the lady of the house (ie, Elizabeth Bennet). It was that interpretation of history that fascinated me, and will continue to do so.

Little Women takes place in the mid-nineteenth century New England: Concord, to be more specific. There’s Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: the March sisters. I usually connect most with both Jo March and Amy March; one is refined and elegant and obedient, the other fiesty and determined and a writer. She pours her soul into her work, as she figures out where she belongs. And with whom? And how she will utilize her gifts of writing.

Amy, being the obedient and the youngest, is afforded the opportunity to travel across Europe with her aunt. She studies art, she paints, and marries the boy next door.

Final Thoughts

The stories told in these books captivated me as a child. Many still do.

They inspired me to become a storyteller, whether that is a photographer or a writer or a designer. It is through art that I create my life. That is just it.