Ever since I recited P.D. Eastman’s “Go, Dog, Go!” back to my mother at age 3, I’ve been an obsessive reader.
(Fact: For years, I thought “Go, Dogs, Go!” was written by my other beloved children’s author, Dr. Seuss.)
I’ve read lots of books I’ve loved, from “The Babysitter’s Club” of my youth to all things Truman Capote, lots of books that have changed my life – namely (and how very cliché for a writer) Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” – and, of course, I’ve read lots of books that I couldn’t wait to finish (or ended up not finishing at all) because I just couldn’t connect to it.
Then there are those books that just cut me to the core, whether it’s the author’s writing, the compelling story, the images I see in my head while reading – or a combination of all of the above.
It all goes back to P.D. Eastman. My mom fondly recalls me looking up at her the second seeing words and comprehending them clicked for me with eyes wide, and a whole new world opened.
(Fact: I rented my first place solely based on the fact that it had ample built-in bookcases.)
Reading so many things over the years, sure there were books that touched me, as I mentioned earlier, but it wasn’t until “On the Road” that I realized it was time to act on my life dream of writing for a living. The book prompted me to go back to school, and now, more than seven years later, I’m a writer – and an editor, something that still takes my breath away when I think about it.
The next book that rocked my soul was Elizabeth Kostova’s “The Historian.” Having been a Dracula freak since my childhood, Kostova’s 2005 debut novel that “blends the history and folklore of Vlad Tepes and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula,” as Wikipedia describes, was an incredible read that I couldn’t put down. I would go to sleep, think about it, and put my lamp back on to continue immersing myself in the thrilling world Kostova built.
“The Historian” became the standard measure of a great read for me – one that, for years, was unmatched and uncontested.
Until I read “The Passage” by Justin Cronin a few weeks ago.
While it’s another vampire-tinged tome, the writing and concept – the government infects convicts in an experiment-gone-wrong which in turn has these infected 12 convicts killing out most of humanity with their vampire-like virus – is stunning.
The struggle of the surviving human race is enthralling, and timely, given today’s climate.
Like “The Historian,” “The Passage” has one of those endings that made me gasp out loud because 1. It was so beautifully written, and 2. It was completely unexpected.
(Fact: Sometimes, during a particularly uninspired or writer’s-block moment, I read the final page of “The Historian,” and it affects me still, making me strive to write that well.)
I guess the moral of this debut Bookworm section blog is to just keep looking for the next life changer tome, to never stop learning from the authors, and to never, ever stop reading.