I’ve always had a thing for trees. I spent much of my childhood in the country, and many of my favorite memories involve the trees that watched as I grew. I climbed trees. I hid in natural forts made from closely-growing trees whose bowing canopy I imagined to be a cave designed just for me. I sat on a swing tied to a branch of a large pecan tree and spent hours reading or making up stories.
When I was a teenager, I took a trip to New Mexico with a group from my church. Others in the group were awed by the canyons, the desert, and the expansive sky. I enjoyed seeing these things, but I missed trees. As we drove back across the country and drew nearer to home, the number of trees lining the roads increased. I squealed with delight to see the varying shades of green and brown, earthy colors that made me feel connected again to the world around me. Continue reading
For a while now, I have kept a journal of quotes and passages that are important to me. These quotes are not just memorable lines from books I’ve read and enjoyed; they are words that I cling to during hard times, during times of grief, and even times of celebration and success. And sometimes, they even come from books I didn’t enjoy. As I looked back at some of these quotes, I realized that my life almost could be charted through the books I’ve read and through the quotes that have become an indelible part of me. So, I thought a good way to begin my blogging journey would be to write a series of posts (published every Friday for the next six weeks) that focus on these favorite passages and the most influential books in my life.
I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading, so I can’t point to one particular book that “hooked” me. I do, however, remember the first book I ever read on my own (Little Witch’s Big Night), so I guess I could count that. When I was a child, reading was an escape, one that allowed me to travel without leaving home and to experience adventures that weren’t possible in a single-parent household. We didn’t take vacations, and I often spent a lot time alone, especially during the summer. So, I read. Reading will always be a sort of escape for me, I think, but as I grew, I began to gravitate toward books that dealt with issues I faced in my own life. I wanted books that provided words for things I couldn’t yet describe, and I wanted books that allowed me to explore the complicated and confusing ideas I had. Then, when I had enough of the real world, I would look once more to those grand adventures and fantasy. Ultimately, I realized that the books I read (the ones that really stick with me, anyway) reveal something about my life at the time and what I needed from my books and even the world around me. I was dating for the first time. I had a fight with a childhood friend. I was a graduate student. I was recently married. I was grieving. I was hopeful. I was teaching four classes and managing an overwhelming service load. All of these phases of my life are represented in the books I read. In a way, someone could read me and the significant moments in my life by looking at the books that were most relevant to me.