I became a reader the way all readers seem to. My mom read to me every night in my youth, and at school I borrowed books from the library to read on my own. I absolutely loved reading, and I think that connection stemmed from my connection with my mom. She and my dad were always working late, always busy, and sometimes the nights reading before bed was the only time that I could spend with her. A lot of who I am today is because of my love for fiction, so I’ve compiled a list of books from my younger years that spurred me forward.
1 Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
I’ve talked about this book series a lot, and that’s because it was the first set of books that made me absolutely enthused about reading. My mom first started reading it to my brother and me when I was in second grade, and I fell in love with the adventure, the characters, and the story in general. Throughout my elementary school years, I must’ve read and reread this series at least five times over amidst schoolwork and other reading.
2 The Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Katherine Lasky
I can’t remember exactly when I started reading this series, but they were books that I read on my own, and I highly recommend them for young readers! (And there’s even a movie!)
It’s a series of fifteen short books that revolve around a group of four young owls who face the evil owl Metal Beak and his Pure Ones, who believe Tyto owls (barn/masked/grass) are the best and that all others should serve beneath them. Though it’s been years since I’ve read them, I remember them fondly. This was actually the series from which I wrote my first fanfiction, a story with the same characters but a different plot, and I was so proud of having written twenty whole pages. The writing got me to write more and more on the computer, and funnily enough, my teacher scolded me for writing assignments on the computer because of autocorrect and how I “wouldn’t learn how to spell properly without being corrected”. If anything, I think it helped me spell so much better!
3 The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
This is a series that inspired me to publish my first book. I learned sometime while reading the books that the author started writing Eragon when he was fifteen years old, and he self-published it when he was nineteen. At that point, I was determined to do the same (or, at least, publish a book before I turned twenty.
And I did it. I wrote, edited, and self-published my first book, Broken Compass, when I was sixteen, though I have since removed the book from Amazon and intend to rewrite it. It was only for an assignment at school, and while it was okay and people enjoyed it, I found major flaws in the storytelling that I want to fix.
4 The Last Dragon Chronicles by Chris D’Lacey
This is another book I read in elementary school, and it’s because my brother enjoyed the series first. A lot of books I’ve read are actually because of him, and I’m eternally grateful for that. This series revolves around a student who is a tenant to a woman and her daughter. He is a writer, and the daughter insists he write a story about the squirrels who live around the house. Little does he know that the stories he writes about the squirrels are actually happening, and that the house in general has an energy of magic around it, bringing to life the small dragon statues that his host makes from clay.
This was an immensely creative book series that I thoroughly enjoyed. It got me interested in sculpting, and my mother can testify that I filled the house with many, many tiny clay dragons throughout the years.
5 Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
This series is another no brainer. It’s popular for all ages, and I specifically remember one friend of mine in elementary school who claimed to have read all the books four times. I was so impressed! I haven’t read the series that many times, but I did read them in elementary school as well. My mom read them as they were coming out (I was lucky to have been too young for that impatient waiting). It was a good way for my mom and I to bond after a long day, and we watched each movie after finishing the book. I made the mistake of watching the fifth movie before reading the book, however, and as such it took me so much longer to read the book as I was unmotivated.
I have since read the first book three times, but still have only read books two through seven once each, and I intend to read the rest of them. However, these are still on my list because after being a fan of the books and movies, I’ve watched many theory videos about them (one such Youtube channel being SuperCarlinBrothers) and these theories, diving deep into story lore, help me a lot in my writing. I recommend it to all writers, as there are many ways plot holes can sneak into stories and looking at all possibilities helps immensely.
So, those are the five books/series that inspired me to be a writer and made me who I am today. You may have noticed that they were all from my elementary school years, and that’s because those are the years that children learn to read, thus shaping them as readers. Because of these books, I’m a big fan of fantasy books. I never got into science fiction because Star Wars, Star Trek, and those other majorly popular sci-fi initiators were never on my radar. I didn’t watch things like that on television, nor did my friends introduce me to media of that sort. To this day I enjoy reading books that are traditionally meant for children, and I find myself in the 8–12 section a lot more than the Teens section in the bookstore. I’m not ashamed of that.
Still, my shelf is a mixed bag when it comes to books, having not only those fantasy series, but notable classics as well. I am slowly making my way through the Arcturus collection, and I have a few Paper Mill Press classics as well.