I came across this quote art at our little field trip to The Novel Neighbor bookseller in St. Louis.
I think this is one way to distinguish a Reader from a person who has read books. That second category is almost universal in our society, but it’s the special group called Readers who have hearts and imaginations full of stories. One of the recurring questions on the What Should I Read Next podcast is “What are three books you love?” Almost inevitably, the guest will protest, saying, “This is so hard! It’s like picking my favorite child!”
This concept illustrates why a story is such a powerful thing to let into your mind– a good one will stay with you forever, changing the way you think and process. I really believe that Caroline Ingalls has a voice in my head that is as present as my own mother’s. Literally every day something comes up that makes me wonder, “What would Ma think about this?”– and usually I know the answer!
The stories I’ve read shape my thinking as profoundly as my own life experiences. This is why it’s so important to be mindful of the things we consume, as Leslie discussed a while back. Are the stories that are shaping my mind helping me to become a more generous, hopeful, compassionate person? Or are they making me fearful, suspicious, proud? I distinctly remember that before I read any of Khaled Hosseini’s novels, the word “Afghanistan” conjured up a mental picture of a pink shape on a map. But after The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I picture streets, houses, boys, women; voices and shouts and laughter arise in my imagination.
When I consider the stories that are most deeply ingrained in my imagination, the majority of titles are the books that I first discovered in my childhood. And while I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, it does remind me to be diligent to expose my kids to beautiful and lasting stories– I’m introducing them to friends for life!
Some of the stories I’ve loved best are the Little House books, Bodie Thoene’s Zion Covenant series, the Emily of New Moon trilogy by L.M. Montgomery, The Chosen by Chaim Potok, To Kill a Mockingbird, Almost French by Sarah Turnbull, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare.
What are your favorite stories?