wonder of reading

A Reader’s Journey: Part 4

wonder of readingAs 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

Classic Chronicles of Narnia boxed set

A picture of my boxed set

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.

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Comments (10)

  1. Abbey February 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Isn’t it interesting how people enjoy certain books and authors (and music and movies) at certain points in their life, but if they were to revisit them now, those books wouldn’t have the same impact as they did back then? Everything shapes us and molds us into who we are today… even if, looking back, we can’t imagine how we ever enjoyed X thing, we can still see how it impacted who we are today.
    The real question, however, is which book comes first in your Narnia box set? The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Magician’s Nephew?

    • DJ Edwardson February 18, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Yes, it is interesting how we grow as readers, isn’t it. But as you say, each book may serve its purpose for a time and perhaps help us to appreciate the better, later books that much more.

      As for the “Narnian controversy” (as I shall call it) of which book comes first in my set, It it The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Though the books are actually not numbered, that is how they are listed on the side of the box with Magician’s Nephew sixth. I frankly never understood the chronological ordering argument. When read, it is very clear that the Magician’s Nephew makes much more sense when read after The Lion and the Witch. That is how I have always read them and only discovered years later that some editions have the order mixed up. Great question, though!

  2. Jenelle Leanne February 19, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I am really enjoying this series on how you got into reading. I love the Shannara series (though I just discovered I’ve been pronouncing “Shannara” wrong all these years!) I didn’t get into reading them until I was about halfway through college (though I had read the Magic Kingdom of Landover series). A friend read the rough draft of my book and told me, “You have obviously read the Sword of Shannara.” And I stared at him blankly and said, “Holiday who-be-what-ee?” Okay… maybe I didn’t say that exactly, but I had never heard of Shannara before that moment.

    Ah, college. Those were the years I really got into Stephen R. Lawhead, because he was about the only fantasy author in my college library. That was also when I read the rest of the Ender’s Game series, because I was able to borrow them from a friend.

    • DJ Edwardson February 19, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      Hmm…was the Shannara comparison for King’s Warrior. Because I certainly didn’t see any connection.

      Haven’t read any Lawhead, but I don’t think my college library had any fantasy at all so you were a step ahead there!

      • Jenelle Leanne February 19, 2015 at 3:48 pm

        Yes, it was. I think it was more a comment on writing style than storyline or characters.

      • Jenelle Leanne February 19, 2015 at 3:52 pm

        Given your love of Lewis and MacDonald, I think you would really enjoy Lawhead. I would recommend starting with The Song of Albion series. Though, really, all of his books are excellent. He is a student of Celtic mythology and a Christian (as far as I can tell), and he pulls from a lot of actual history for his fantasy novels.

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