What is it that makes us love to read? As a writer, reading makes me better at my craft – yes. Of course, but that’s not why I read. That’s just an added bonus.
I have always loved a good story. Before I could write, I loved stories.
I remember a favorite teacher introducing me to the Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner when I was in first grade and POW! Everything changed. Here were kids I could relate to, kids that were daring and brave and smart – all the things I hoped to be each day on the playground at recess and in my front yard after school.
My mother read to me and I loved our bedtime stories of Winnie the Pooh, The Poky Little Puppy and I think almost every one of the Little Golden Books. But, when I found The Boxcar Children, well, I wondered what else I had been missing…
Soon it was Encyclopedia Brown and Archie Comics and Beverly Cleary books, and life was rocking along when suddenly I discovered my mom’s set of The Book of Knowledge encyclopedias and POW! Everything changed again…
Here was all of this knowledge, all of this information and all of these stories, including Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (more on that next time…) and then I found Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird. Nothing was the same after that.
I remember going to a garage sale at the start of summer one year and buying Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. I had never read anything like it. I didn’t even know anything like that existed.
And, then came Faulkner (it’s always Faulkner for me, I know, I know) and these amazing stories that I would read and re-read and read again and find more each time through. I think it took me three times to read A Rose for Emily before I realized why the lyme was necessary … yuck. But, I loved his stories, loved Yoknapatawpha County. In fact, I felt like I lived there.
Hand in hand with Faulkner, I found Kate Chopin, whom I adore still.
Then, I threw the doors wide open and started reading Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and Pablo Neruda and Stephen King and James Joyce and Tennessee Williams and, you guessed it, POW!
All these different writers, different time periods, different genres, and yet, they all told me a story, and I listened.
What are your favorite stories?