In Love With Books
We all love books. At least, I assume that’s why you’re here. Do you remember the first book that opened up your heart, made itself cozy, and then immediately invited new friends to join them? Do you remember the one that unlocked your imagination, opening up an entirely new world for you?
Books are windows that show us a host of worlds beyond our own. They’re doorways that open up new possibilities. They keep us grounded in the real world, while allowing us to soar to unimagined heights. Simply put, books are magic. We put ourselves in the hero’s shoes, rejoice in their victories, and grieve during their times of struggle. Their friends become our friends. Their enemies, ours.
This Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share a few of my all time favorite reads. While there are so many amazing books out there, the ones that I’ve chosen are the stories that I read over and over again. These are books that inspired me throughout all stages of my life. Some you’ll probably recognize. Others, I hope will be new.
#1 - The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis were my first introduction to the fantasy genre at a fairly young age. Every night, before we went to sleep, my mother would read a chapter or two to me and my sister. The nightly reading sessions, combined with the new pull of the fantasy genre, amped up my desire to read and sent me searching for bigger and bigger books.
#2 - The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien were the first fantasy books that I read on my own, and they inspired me to finally take action towards my own (eventual) career as an author. The Fellowship of the Ring released in theaters and everyone I knew was talking about it. I ended up reading all of the books before seeing the first movie, and I can honestly say that I love both equally.
#3 - The Castle in the Attic
The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop was a childhood favorite that I listened to rather than read. I believe it was my first audiobook. A young boy is transported to another worlds by way of a model castle that he keeps in the attic. I loved this story so much that I may have purchased a new copy for my son when he was only 5 years old. It’s sitting on the shelf, waiting till he’s old enough to read it himself.
#4 - The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards has a special place in my heart. (Along with #5 on the list.) Not only was it a unique and fantastical story, but it was written by Mary Poppins, herself! Three children and a professor travel to an “imaginary” land in search of the Whangdoodle, the last of his kind, and encounter many obstacles on the way. You could say it’s a light mixing of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Wizard of Oz. It’s been a long time since I’ve read this book but, as a child, my imagination went wild the first time I read it. This is another one that I bought for my son, well in advance, and I truly hope he enjoys it as much as I did.
#5 - Mandy
Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards has a bit of a Secret Garden vibe to it. I received both of Julie Andrews’ books for Christmas one year and I read this one so many times that the cover eventually fell off. While the previous book is an adventure of the mind, Mandy is a book that pulls at the heart strings. A beautifully written children’s book.
#6 - Legends of the Guardian King
Legends of the Guardian King by Karen Hancock was a chance encounter. My aunt gave me a gift certificate to the book store she worked at while we were visiting for summer vacation, and I ended up choosing the first book in the series, The Light of Eidon, entirely based on the cover. (I know, I know, but I was pressed for time and wasn’t able to evaluate based on content.) I’m so glad that I chose this book! The series was incredible and I now keep them on the shelf of grab-in-case-of-fire favorites.
#7 - Harry Potter
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, as for so many others, is a beloved favorite. I ended up reading the books and watching the movies as an adult due to the anti-magic hysteria that surrounded the series in its early days, but I imagine that my first impression was very similar to what my younger self would have felt. There’s something about the story that resonates with people of all ages. It may be a silly thing, but it makes me happy to see so many other writers advertise their Hogwarts house in their bios because it’s something that so many can relate to and bond/playfully spar over. #ProudRavenclaw
#8 - Eragon
Eragon by Christopher Paolini resonated with me in a little more of a unique way. I was 15 years old when I found the book on display at my local Costco, and I gravitated toward it solely because of the cover. I’d fallen in love with fantasy and begun writing my own book just a couple of years before, and I couldn’t get enough new fantasy books. I didn’t purchase it that day, but I went home and looked it up online. I found out that the author had begun writing it when he was 14 after being homeschooled and completing his schooling early. Being 15, homeschooled, and an aspiring author myself, I needed to read Eragon. Besides being a fantastic story, it became a favorite because it motivated me to believe in myself. Seeing another young author successfully published, I knew that I would be a published author myself one day.
#9 - Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, while a bit cliche, is one of my favorite romances. I will admit that I tend to watch the 1993 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version more frequently, but I love the original work just as much. The dynamics between the characters make for an entertaining story that never grows old. And I absolutely love the fact that it has inspired a great number of new interpretations and adaptations.
#10 - Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ties with #9 in classical romance favorites. I personally relate a lot more to Jane than to Elizabeth Bennett which is what makes me love this book so much. Jane was a dreamer who knew that she was more than the role she was born into, and Mr. Rochester recognized a kindred spirit in her. She met him as an equal and left of her own independent will when she realized he wasn’t free to love her. She may have been quiet, but she was strong.
#11 - Evalene's Number
Evalene’s Number by Bethany Atazadeh, which I’ve reviewed here, is a new favorite. I discovered Bethany on YouTube last year, and have been following her work ever since. I love dystopian stories, but this book took me by surprise when the protagonist wasn’t some super woman who magically develops all kinds of skills shortly after she starts her journey. She wasn’t your typical hero. I love the fact that Bethany wrote a normal human being into the main role. People have value even if they’re not especially skilled or strong, and their stories matter too.
#12 - The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a brutal assault on the reader at times, but I love the dystopian world that she built. I know that I read a handful of dystopian novels prior to getting my hands on the first Hunger Games book, but this is the book that solidified my love for the genre.
#13 - The Savior's Champion
The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci is another new favorite. This book was incredible! I’ve left a review here, in case you’re interested in reading it. I’ve said it before, but Jenna was huge reason why I jumped back into writing. Her YouTube videos are full of helpful information, and she’s great at giving you a kick in the pants when you need it. Her first book, Eve: The Awakening, was also fantastic, but she knocked it out of the ballpark with the Savior’s Champion. Easily one of my all-time favorites.
#14 - Chataine's Guardian
The Chataine’s Guardian by Robin Hardy was a Christmas gift when I was 12. Perhaps a touch mature for a 12 year old with its mild references to physical intimacy, but it quickly became a favorite. I love the entire series, but the first book is the best. I love castles and knights and sword fights, and this book has all that and more. There’s intrigue, deception, secrets, and struggle, along with faith, trust, loyalty, and hope. I wore through my first copy and, when I learned that this particular edition was out of print, I hunted down two new sets of the original trilogy. One to read, and one to stay nice on the shelf. If I’m ever in a reading slump, I can pick up The Chataine’s Guardian and feel inspired once again.
So what about you? What are some of the books that you’ve loved throughout your life? Share them in the comments so other readers will be able to find some new book recommendations. Also, for fun, share your Hogwarts house as well! Happy Valentine’s Day!