The Books I Lived In

Today, I’m happy to have writing friend J.J. Johnson here with a guest post on the books we keep returning to. 🙂

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I lived in booksIt is no secret to those who know me well, that I have lived in books.

From the time I was little and my grandmother first read Box Car Children stories to me before bedtime, to the hours I now spend consumed by Sanderson and King, stories have always been a part of my life.

They’ve always been that source of escape where I can forget—even if brief—about the burdens and challenges life sometimes brings. In a sense, they are like the Doctor, whisking me away on some crazy adventure into a far distant world I wish not to return from. Outside of my faith, stories have been the next greatest influence to my life.

Each of us has our list of books we approach with awe and excitement. Even though we have dived deep into them countless times, we always return curious if we have missed something special. “What is one more reread?” we say to ourselves.

So we dive deep, refusing to limit ourselves to the superficial shallowness. Because in the depths of story we find mysterious marvels that can’t be described on the surface.

Over the years, I have discovered there are four books I tend to reread. I can’t help returning, curious to see if my old friends are still escaping on the same adventure. And even though I realize what may await when turning the page, the adventure never lets me down.

booksDRAGONSONG—ANNE MCCAFFREY

This book is one that has grown up with me. This series was my intro into fantasy. These are the stories that I measure all other dragon stories by.

Menolly lives in a fishing town and is the youngest daughter of the “Chief” of this town (called “Hold”). We start the story with the funeral of her mentor Petiron who was the harper of the Hold. This is a huge loss for our heroine because he was the only one who appreciated her musical gifts.

Her parents are embarrassed by her talent because, in their worldview, women cannot be harpers. So they repress her desire to write songs and hide the fact she’s so gifted from the new harper that comes to replace Petiron.

Through the course of the story, Menolly runs away and in doing so she is able to find her own voice and also impress (bond with) nine Fire Lizards. Who are the smaller relatives of the Dragons of Pern.

Favorite Quote:

“Maybes never are.”

FAHRENHEIT 451—RAY BRADBURY

There is only one book I reread every year, and Bradbury’s classic is it. This story was my first introduction to Science Fiction lit. I first read it when I was fifteen after finding a copy on my father’s bookshelf. And on one snowy day I read this incredible story in one sitting. (A story that only took Bradbury nine days to write.)

The story of Guy Montag, the Fireman who burns books, is one that has inspired many throughout the years.

Favorite Quote:

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” 

PAWN OF PROPHECY—DAVID EDDINGS

From this beginning, Mr. Eddings immediately thrust me into the story of a simple farm boy named Garion. I learned of his earliest memories, hiding under a table watching his Aunt Pol cook. I experienced him growing up with his childhood friends, playing games, and even saw his first romance between himself and a local girl Zubrette.

I also read about—but payed little attention to—the introduction of a wandering storyteller named Mister Wolf. A huge, colorful world inhabited by different cultures, grand characters, and even ancient gods opened up before Garion. All of it there for our young farm boy to see and experience, with me tagging along behind.

Favorite Quote:

“It’s only a story, isn’t it?”…
“Who’s to say what’s only a story and what’s truth disguised as a story?”

FOUNDATION—ISAAC ASIMOV

Putting Foundation ahead of Dune was a difficult decision. But for me, Foundation is the story that made me want to study Psychology in college. Which lasted about five minutes before I realized I would need a masters to really do anything with it.

Regardless, these were my first Space Opera books. I was fascinated by the setting and the way the story flowed. When reading it you see why Asimov is one of the greats.

Favorite Quote:

“I wanted to be a psychological engineer, but we lacked the facilities, so I did the next best thing—I went into politics. It’s practically the same thing.” 

So there they are—the stories that I return to. You may like some, or perhaps a few leave you scratching your head. Stories touch each of us in a different way. So here is the question:

What stories are on your list…?

J.J. JOHNSON

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Huge thanks to J.J. for that fantastic guest post. Be sure to look him up on social media and visit his blog.


Comments

The Books I Lived In — 6 Comments

  1. I’ve never read any of those. Maybe I should put them on my to-read pile. I’ve returned to The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin a few times, and Pride and Prejudice. And Harry Potter. I actually think Harry Potter is the best escape, though the annoying things (Hermoine responding haughtily, for instance) are more annoying with each read.

  2. Great post, J.J.

    I don’t know that I have a list of books I return to every year, but I am really excited to re-explore some of my childhood faves with my daughter who learned to read this year. High on the list are Anne of Green Gables and Where the Red Fern Grows (with tissues, of course).

  3. That’s really cool. 😀 I read Dragonsong last year for school, and I really enjoyed (because dragons!). My go-to rereads would probably be The Fire Within (by Chris D’Lacey. Only book 1, the others steadily go downhill) and The Thief Lord (by Cornelia Funke). N.D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards Trilogy are other rereads I really enjoy. Really anything by N.D. WIlson I would reread. 😀

    Book I think could be on the list (but I haven’t gotten to them yet) are The Graveyard book (Neil Gaiman), The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson), and possibly The False Prince (Jennifer A. Nielsen). I loved all of these, and would happily reread them. :3

  4. This is excellent! Every book leaves its mark on a writer, but there are some books that just “stick” and never let go. The books I’ve read over and over are:

    – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    – The Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner
    – The Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis
    – The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (not spec fic, but super clever)
    – The Prydain Series and Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander

    I’ve read Fahrenheit 451, but as for the other books Mr. Johnson mentioned… I’d better add them to my TBR list!

  5. I haven’t read any of those either but I’m curious now. As I grow older, my rereads have been changing but I still adore the Narnia chronicles as much as I did when I was 9. I don’t read Lord of the Rings annually anymore but I do return to it now and again. Harry Potter is the same way – I like to give the books time to fade a bit inbetween rereads.

    I like rereads because they are comfortable and familiar. If I’m in the mood for a particular type of book, I have a list of choices to fit.

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