What I Read
I grew up reading A LOT of Fantasy. Don’t worry, I won’t be going over all of the books I have ever read, but I thought it might be fun to talk about some of them. The first book I remember actively seeking out to read was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I was 11 years old at the time and I remember some of my classmates talking about Harry Potter and how they were so excited to get to read the third book soon. I had not read any Harry Potter at that time and was a little embarrassed not to know what they were talking about. The third book had just come out and my friends hadn’t read it yet. My experience with books up to that time was that they existed in trilogies. So, I thought it would be fun to read the third book first so that I would know how the story ended before my friends did. Little did I know. Once I finished the third book, and realized my mistake, I quickly went and read the first two as well. I was hooked, and have since read through the whole series many times.
A couple years later, when I was in middle school, I remember “reading levels” being a big thing. I detested the idea of being assigned a reading level and told I could only read books within that level. I went to the school library and searched for the thickest book I could find with the highest reading level. I managed to find one that not only had the word sword in the title but also pictured one on the cover. The book was The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. I devoured it, and it has remained one of my favorite books ever since. I currently have three copies of it sitting on my bookshelf, each with a well-worn binding. It is probably the book I have re-read the most in my collection.
Another series I read a lot growing up was the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Martin the Warrior was one of my favorite characters and I loved how his legendary sword persisted througout the series long after he was gone. It is a long series, but my favorite books within the series would easily be The Outcast of Redwall, Taggerung, and Lord Brocktree. There are many other books and series that I have read and enjoyed growing up. Some of my other favorite authors have been Stephen Lawhead, Tad Williams, David Eddings, Christopher Paolini, and C.S.Lewis. I know what you are thinking, what about Tolkien!? Don’t you fret, I didn’t forget about him. I didn’t actually read Tolkien for myself until later on. I picked up The Lord of The Rings at about the same time I started getting really into King Arthur myths and reading authors like T.H.White during my last couple years in High School.
Outside of Fantasy, I am not as prolific in my reading. I have never been a big fan of Science Fiction or Horror and don’t have much experience with either. I’m not opposed to them, I just haven’t read much of them. In terms of General Fiction, I tend to read from it when something is recommended to me. Some notable titles I have enjoyed are Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, The Last Cavalier by Alexander Dumas, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, and the Prelude to Glory series by Ron Carter. That is by no means all of the ones I have read, just ones that have a prominent place on my bookshelf. Outside of Fiction, I have read even less. Again, it tends to just be what people have recommended to me (as long as you don’t count Ireland travel books, because I have pored over many of those).
I know Fantasy sometimes is given a bad rap in the literary community as being little more than entertainment fluff for those who need a means of escape from their daily life, but I disagree. I think Fantasy is the perfect medium from which to discuss the troubles, perils, and even the joys of our world. I think that is why so many people are drawn to such stories; because they are relatable. Sure the setting might be fantastical and magic might abound, but the issues the characters struggle with can be strikingly real, and the ways in which they overcame their challenges can be inspirational to those of us who face the same things in our daily life. I guess not everyone who reads fantasy is able to see the allegorical nature and worth of them, but for those of us who do, they can be life-changing. And for those who don’t, well, at the very least, they got to read a fun story. I’m not saying every Fantasy book sets out to do this, or even does it well. But the books that do it well last forever, and continue to influence readers long after they were written. I think that’s why parables and fables have been used to teach important lessons going back thousands of years. Stories last, and are able to influence people of all ages, abilities, and learning levels even when the logic of the “real world” fails to reach them. That’s my opinion, anyway, and has been my experience.
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about me and the books I have enjoyed reading. Trust me, the total list would be much longer than this, and there are many authors who have written amazing books that I have not mentioned here. Feel free to leave comments about the books you have enjoyed and authors who have influenced your life through their works. Next time, I will talk more specifically about what it is I write, why I write it, and the things that have influenced my stories.
Until next time,
“As you can see, Sam is not exactly well-rounded when it comes to literature. That is why he needs me. A gnome’s home is a veritable library, filled with the greatest works ever written. It’s why we’re so influential, as Sam well knows … even if he didn’t mention it. It’s just an oversight, I’m sure.”