Every summer when I was a kid my mom would drop my sister and me off at the public library for the day. I would start by returning the books I had borrowed and finished from the previous day and grab a book recommendations list that was available on a coloured slip of paper. There were several lists according to genre and age. I’d wander around the children’s section, pulling things off shelves. What I couldn’t finish during the day I checked out to read later – in the car, at the dinner table, in bed.
Some of the books I read at age 11-14 really left an indelible mark on me. Maybe it was the age. Everything is changing at that age. It was the first time I was conscious of my own existence in a larger world. I think the books that made the strongest impact on me were also about becoming aware of the self. They made me feel and think and when I was done I would feel a loss. They were all kind of sad, in a way, because something had changed by the end of the story. Something was different. Someone had grown up. Something had been lost. It’s perhaps telling that a lot of these are fantasy. I read a lot of fantasy – other genres as well, but a lot of fantasy. Maybe certain themes are easier to explore when they are transported from reality – where they are hard to extract and sift through amongst all the other distractions of reality – to a fantasy world, which also has distractions but not ones the reader herself has experienced in her everyday life and can relate to.
What books did you read as a young teen or young adult that made you feel like a different person afterwards? Was there a book that you read years ago that made you think or feel intensely then – and still lingers on your mind now? Books that you’d like to read again now to see how you relate and respond?