A Reader’s Journey: Part 4
As I mentioned last time, it was The Hobbit which really launched my passion for reading. Predictably, then, other books like it where my first choices as I began my foray into the wide world of literature. I read the Shannara series as well as other books by Terry Brooks, the Dragonlance books, the Dragon Rider’s of Pern, some Stephen R. Donaldson, a bit of Norse Mythology, and of course the rest of Tolkien’s work. I even read Tolkien’s autobiography and did a report on him in 8th grade, that was how taken I was with his work.
Although fantasy was my first love, I began to explore other genres as I got older. Stephen King had written some fantasy and, after reading The Eyes of the Dragon, I decided to try his other works. Though today I despise horror and would probably never pick up anything by him, his writing captured my imagination for a time.
In high school and junior high I was exposed to Hawthorn, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and other, more literary authors, but Hemingway was probably the one I enjoyed the most. His writing was very simple and clean and his characters interesting. The actual stories themselves were not always that compelling, and I don’t think I would enjoy him as much now, but as with King, his ability as a writer was certainly evident.
Into the bookshelves
In college my literary exploration continued to broaden and I read fantasy less and less. There was one notable exception, however, and that was the Chronicles of Narnia. This was my first exposure to C.S. Lewis who would later go on to become one of my favorite authors and one of my “mentors” as a writer. It might be surprising to some that it took me this long to discover this author and this series. I had actually known about the Narnia books many years before through a cartoon, I think. But in my mind that was all I thought of they were, just fairy tales for children. However, by the time I got to college I was old enough again to read “children’s” books and so I picked up a used box set at a second hand bookstore in London while I was studying abroad. I consider it the “definitive” edition, much like my copy of The Hobbit. The illustrations are simple and yet imaginative and really capture the child-like feel of these stories. And somehow having bought my copy in London, the books felt that much more “authentic”. To this day it remains one of my most prized literary possessions.
College was probably my most diverse period for reading because the classes I took forced me to read things that were often outside of my interests. Perhaps that was one of the reasons fantasy novels did not often find their way into my hands. In fact it was such a varied time that I feel I should probably devote an entire entry just for that period, so I’ll pause the journey for now. Until next time, though, may your bookmark be ever hopping from page to page and from book to book.