I love books, in any format. If you are a writer, then you love books too. And, I bet you were introduced to their magic early in your childhood. I also bet that, like me, you have memories of several favorite books that introduced you to that magic and set you on the path to storytelling.
Three of my favorite impression-making books that I read before I turned twelve and that even today are still magical are:
The Fairy Tale Book: A Deluxe Golden Book. Published in 1958, this large format (10×13″) book was a Christmas gift to my siblings and me from an aunt. The illustrations, by French artist Adrienne Ségur, are rich in detail and have a delicate quality to them that captured my imagination. The collection of 28 tales range from the well-known, like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, to the lesser known (at that time) Donkey Skin and Green Snake. And the stories originated in France, Germany, Denmark, Russia and Japan, and from sources that included Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, Madame d’Aulnoy, and others. One of its stories, “The Wild Swans”, inspired the name of my weaving business, Nettles & Green Threads. This book gave me a deep and lasting love of fairy tale and fantasy. I still have it.
The Secret Garden. This edition, published in 1962 and illustrated by Tasha Tudor, was a gift from my maternal grandmother, also for Christmas. I loved this story about a young girl who struggles to find a place to belong and a boy who longs to walk again. But I especially loved the idea of a secret place where you could be yourself while also working your own magic in alignment with Nature, a place where you could create beauty.
Little Women. Oh yes, I read this book before I was 12. And in it, I discovered that there was a character who, like me wanted to be a writer, who longed, more than anything, to tell her stories, who was both actor and observer of her life. And it was one of the first books I read where everything doesn’t end happily. I cried and cried when Beth died. But, then loss is most definitely part of life, isn’t it? I knew that, had experienced it already, but still — in a story? Yes, in a story. That book made me a grow up as a reader — and a writer.
Magic books, each one. Books that captured me and held me until the last page, the last story.
What about you? What books introduced you to the magic and power of storytelling?