Yesterday, I turned 24. It wasn’t a particularly notable birthday, at least not yet, as we took a red-eye flight home from our trip to Florida, which I’ll be writing about later. So I’ve decided to celebrate by taking you on a journey through my life as we recall my favorite books from infancy to now, and how they’ve shaped me into who I am today.
Age 1: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
I loved this book as a little tyke. I would have my mom read it to me as a rap in rhythm. Ironically, my little Oliver loves it when I read to him in time as well.
Age 2-3: Summer Story by Jill Barklem
This wonderful little story was given to me by my great-grandmother. I still love this book. It has the most lovely illustrations of mice at work in preparation for a mouse wedding. It’s beautiful, truly. Throughout my childhood, I would re-enact the illustrations when playing pretend as I admired the industrious and creative mice.
Age 4: The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House on the Prairie books were some of the first I’d ever read. Before I could read, my mom would read them too me, and when I could read, we’d still read them together aloud every year. I believe it was this practice that helped foster my love of reading.
Age 5-6: The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin
I began reading these books when I entered kindergarten. I was obsessed with clubs and societies at this age, even founded my own Barbie Doll club of which I was president and we’d have weekly meetings. It was likely books like these that have fostered my tendency to overachieve and eventually my desire to establish a blog and business. Part of me has always wanted to be a successful entrepreneur.
Age 7: Molly Learns a Lesson by Valerie Tripp
This is a Molly story from the American Girls collection. I never had an American Girl doll growing up but I frequented the books at the school library. I was particularly impressed with Molly’s attempts to aide the war effort as she collected bottle caps. Perhaps this is where my tendency to hoard and keep things started? I distinctly recalled having an obsession with collecting small items after reading this book.
Age 8-9: The Saddle Club series by Bonnie Bryant and Thoroughbred series
I’ve always loved horses, and I remember at this particularly time, I’d hardly read anything that didn’t involve horses. This is when I began praying that I would be short so that someday I could be a jockey. I probably should’ve prayed to be skinny too because I am the shortest in my family, but far too curvaceous to ever be a jockey. However, I currently take riding lessons and still dream of owning my own small stable someday.
I have to thank my Grandma Wendy for finding many of these books for me at garage sales and buying them for me to enjoy.
Age 10: Redwall by Brian Jacques
Who didn’t cherish this series as a child in the 90’s? Again, a mouse obsession. Truthfully, though I’m terrified of rodents. Especially rats. Perhaps that came from the evil rats of Redwall and then the betrayl of Peter Pettigrew. Nasty things, rats.
This is also the year were I read the most books in my class and was nominated as the Most Intellectual, an achievement of which I’m still proud. Many of the aforementioned books came from the Redwall series.
Age 11: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.k. Rowling
This was the year I discovered the Wizarding World, which I would come to love and cherish the rest of my life. The Prisoner of Azkaban was actually the first Potter book I ever read. My father won it in a giveaway at work so he gave it to me when he came home. I read it over and over again. The first film was also released in November of this year, and I received the first two books in my stocking for Christmas.
It was a perfect time for me to read Harry Potter since his journey truly begins when he is 11 years old as well. I literally did grow up side by side with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
Age 12: Eragon by Christopher Paolini
This is another book that my father brought home to me. He happened to see a poster for it driving by Barnes and Noble and thought it was something I would enjoy. I was rather impressed that Paolini had created such a world and written a book about it at such a young age. I’d always love writing and telling stories, but it was Paolini’s achievements that inspired me to write more and gain confidence that I could someday publish a book too.
Age 13: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Ah Mr. Westerfeld, thank you for fostering my love of Dystopian novels, though I didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time. My one of my best friends, Hailey, recommended the series to me, and it became a favorite of mine. I had never read much futuristic, science fiction before then, so I can thank her for introducing that world to me in a medium besides film. Since then, Dystopian is one of my favorite genres to both read and write.
Age 14: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
I found this book at Target when I was looking for a birthday present for a friend. It rapidly became a favorite series of mine that I continued to love and read for the rest of my teenage years. The Victorian era setting especially made me more curious about that period in history, which led to my love of learning about Regency and Victorian era history period. So much so that I’m considering changing my degree to History when I return to university someday, hopefully in the near future.
Age 15: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
15 was a difficult age for me. I’d always loved Peter Pan before this, but at this time in my life, it became a lifeline. It was beautiful, dark, light-hearted, simple, and complicated all at the same time, but overall, Neverland was a wonderful place for me to escape to when I was overwhelmed.
Age 16: 1984 by George Orwell
I read this for my Advanced English Literature class and ended up writing several essays on it. I quite enjoyed this class and how it sharpened my analytical skills. I felt a particular connection to this book. It fascinated me how Welles drew on the world around him to write this book and helped me realize how the world around me was infused into my own writing. The social and political climate of the period a book was written in is now very informative to how I read and perceive books. Generally, it’s my go to for analysis essays.
Age 17: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
This was back when I was an overly romantic youth. I still love this book though I feel my perception of Heathcliff and Katherine’s relationship has changed. I think I loved it because it reminded me of my own tempestuous, destructive relationship with the boy I loved throughout high school.
Age 18: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I adore this book. I’ve written this numerous times on here. So if you’re interested in knowing how deeply and profoundly The Hunger Games has impacted my life, read Training for the Hunger Games.
Age 19: The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter
Still my all-time favorite memoir, this book is Baxter’s tale of how he began giving walking tours of Paris, focusing on all the great writers living there during the Roaring Twenties, such as Fitzgerald and Hemmingway. His experiences have stuck with me, especially how he describes the beauty of taking a simple walk. It has helped me to focus on the beauty around me and enjoying walking beyond getting from point A to point B. I wish I lived some place that I could walk more from place to place.
Age 20: The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute
I read this book for a class on Mediation and Conflict Resolution. It facilitated my rethinking of how I felt towards people and my subsequent behavior towards them. The class in general taught me about humanitarian work beyond building orphanages or food drives. The book and class widened my perception of how I could positively impact the world while doing what I love.
Age 21: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
What an amazingly informative book about human behavior and how we can improve ourselves. I feel this was another book that helped me re-evaluate my treatment of others, particularly my family and created a picture of who I wanted to be. It was a book that I believe helped me transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Age 22: The Book of Mormon and the Bible
These books are part of my religious beliefs so it’s always helped shape who I am. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormons. When I was 22, I spent a year in Russia as a voluntary missionary. While on a mission, it is against the rules to watch TV or movies, surf the internet, or really use any media that are not published by the church. So I spent a year literally reading nothing but the scriptures. It was a fantastic experience that helped me better understand the word of God and His love for all of us.
I can’t tell you what my favorite book is currently. Some of these books are eternal loves such as Harry Potter and Hunger Games. Maybe in 5 years, I could look back and tell you what book I read that was most influential last year and this year.
Obviously, books have played a vital role in shaping who I am today, and honestly, that’s just one of the wonderful abilities books posses. What books have influenced you and your life? Feel free to share in the comments!
Thanks for reading. Tootle loo, darlings!