As my days fill up with activities and I seem to have less and less time to read recreationally (reading is a big part of my day job), There are certain books that stand out in my long, long list of books I’ve read during my life. They are books that opened my mind to new worlds of stories, provided comfort during difficult times, or are just plain fun and entertaining to read. And then there are also the books that opened my mind to what books really should be and that kept me going back to the library again and again.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
I vividly remember roaming the aisles of the library when I was eight. My grasp of English was still pretty tenuous – it’s my second language – but I recall being drawn to the large hardcover books of the young adult section even then. I had quickly gotten tired of the chapter books my teachers recommended for kids my age and one of the first “big kid” books I got my hands on was The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. It was the first book with a girl protagonist that I read that I really wanted to emulate. Lyra was fearless and took on the world – as a shy, quiet kid, I wanted to be just like her.
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Sabriel by Garth Nix was a book that a friend loaned me in the fifth grade. I remember her copy of the book was worn and obviously loved by a few readers before me. In a way, it’s a close cousin to The Golden Compass in that the teenage girl protagonist is powerful and full of agency – Sabriel is tasked with stopping a big bad that’s come back into power after her father’s death, not because she’s been tasked with it, but because she herself sees it as her duty as the one that inherited the Abhorsen’s powers over life and death. She sets out on her own, faces death head on, and fights.
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
After getting my hands on The Golden Compass, I discovered the Harry Potter series shortly after. At that time, only the first three books came out and I was introduced to the specific hell of waiting for a sequel to come out. As invested as I was in Harry’s story, I related the most to Hermione, but not just because she was a young girl like I was. She had wild, frizzy hair, always had her nose stuck in books, and was unabashedly a teacher’s pet… just like me. I loved reading about the trio getting into scrapes and narrowly avoiding close calls. And I was just at the right age that as the series went on and the stories got darker, I aged right along with them.
What About You?
If you were a reader, what books stand out to you from your childhood? My tastes have always steered towards fantasy – what genres have always appealed to you?