I was five years old in the first house I ever remember living in. On the shelves of my bedroom were the first books I ever read, though weirdly I imagine the bookshelf from my second house.
The golden spines stood out to me as I scanned the various titles, â€œThe Lion King,â€ â€œThe Prince and the Pauperâ€ (played by two Mickey Mousesâ€”mouse? mice?) and some other Disney stories I donâ€™t recall. Iâ€™m not sure if these count as fantasy but I remember these clearly and fondly.
I was 10 years old when I moved to Â a different country for the first time in my life. I knew that this was my new home now but I didnâ€™t know Â how to make it my home. I started reading these â€œDear Americaâ€ books and, in a way, understood the past of this country through these young voices. I really fell in love with Patricia C. Wredeâ€™s â€œThe Enchanted Forest Chronicles.â€ This was where my love for reading really blossomed. I related to the princess who didnâ€™t belong, who preferred dragons that were so wrongly maligned.
I was 11 years old when I was separated from the few friends I made during fifth grade. It never felt like a conscious decision at the time, but I spent most of my time reading, wherever I went. I started trying to learn the secret language found around the pages of â€œArtemis Fowlâ€ and tried to write notes to my friend in this language. The secret language lasted a few weeks but the friendships lasted a few years. I was 14 and I remember being obsessed with â€œRedwall,â€ this series about animals acting like medieval heroes.
I was so absorbed that one girl dubbed me the bookworm. In a â€œHey Arnold!â€ twist, we eventually started dating after a few years of being friends. The foundation of the relationship was weaker than the castles mice live in, sadly.
I was 17 years old and was almost done with high school. I actually already passed the angsty Â stage of life when I discovered Neil Gaimanâ€™s â€œSandmanâ€ comics. The beauty and terror within the pages of the comic really made me appreciate life, its counterpart, death and everything in between.
I was 18 years old and I was lost in college. I spent a lonely winter break, pining for someone, though it seemed Â unrequited. I started reading â€œA Song of Ice and Fireâ€â€”better known as the inspiration for â€œGame of Thronesâ€.
Something about its bleak world, full of grey characters and grey decisions, spoke to me. In George R.R. Martinâ€™s world, I saw that every person was trying their best to fulfill their desires: their own honor or their own greed or some other hunger.
I am 22 years old and I am about to graduate college. Iâ€™ve now read everything Brandon Sanderson has writtenâ€”minus the â€œWheel of Timeâ€ books. I even own some of his tomes. He writes worlds that feel strange yet utterly familiar, plots that feel tight and natural yet exciting and unexpected. The interconnected universe appeals to my desire for mystery; there are so many little clues and big revelations to uncover.
I will be 40 years old and I have no clue what my life will be or how Iâ€™ll get there. But whatever good or ill befalls me on the way, I know that Iâ€™ll have books. I have a hundred worlds to explore, millions of characters to invest a part of myself in and thousands of pages calling out to me to hear the story within.