With Sunday, April 8, kicking off National Library Week, now is the perfect time to reflect on the influence that reading has had on my life – and ultimately my love of writing.
When I was a little girl, reading and writing went hand in hand. More often than not, I was either reading one of the numerous books I checked out at the library or spinning my own tales in a notebook. I had quite an active imagination, which was fueled by said books.
As a kid, my reading preferences centered around three subjects. The first was the fairy tale. The rich history of folklore was lost on me until I became an adult. When I was young, all I knew was that I loved reading about fantasy and adventure in a far-away place and time.
Nothing much has changed since then. I was grown by the time J.K. Rowling came up with the Harry Potter series. But I marvel at her handiwork of weaving the modern fairy tale.
I also developed my taste for mysteries in those early days at the library. If you gave me a book containing siblings or best buds on the case, I was good to go.
Yep, I still love a good whodunit. Of course, my favorite mystery writer is Agatha Christie. I mean, she pretty much perfected the mystery novel. Plus, she went against the grain when developing her off-beat protagonists with quirks that continue to endear us today. Who would have thought that Hercule Poiriot, a funny looking retired cop who’s also a germaphobe would strike such a chord?
Speaking of off-beat, that trait resonated with my childhood love of L.M. Montgomery. I loved the entire Anne of Green Gables series. There’s quite a lot to be said for the saga of a down on her luck, yet eccentric girl, who gets blessed by the hand of fate but continues to get in her own way time after time. It had everything: heart, love, tragedy, fun, and humor.
As an adult, I still appreciate those qualities displayed in a novel – particularly Jane Austen’s Emma. Austen thought readers would hate her protagonist. But we all see a bit of ourselves in this girl. She’s arrogant, yet kind, well meaning, yet hurtful and calculating, selfish, yet compassionate – pretty much a hot mess. Ain’t we all?
These and many other books have fueled my imagination throughout my lifetime. And that’s exactly the point behind National Library Week – to celebrate the love of reading. I’m just glad it also helped cultivate my love of writing.