I learned to read at a very young age and I never really gave the practice up. I could get lost for hours in a book, emerging only to deal with the pesky side effects of being a carbon based life form. After eating or cleaning or running an errand for my mother who decided that I absolutely needed to stop reading and do what what she told me to do right then. It’s never been hard for me to pick up right where I left off, and sometimes the forced breaks were something I enjoyed. Reading such tiny print can be hard on the eyes.
With all the reading I’ve done I always come book to a certain book by a certain author. One of the amazing things about reading, is that you create this dialogue with the writer once you’ve finished. I don’t think anyone has ever finished a book and not had questions after, even if it was to ask why the hell they decided to write the book. And sometimes, you read a book and it changes your way of thinking so profoundly your form a kind of connection to them.
Maybe they created a character you resonated with on a practically atomic level. Maybe they wrote a book that was exactly what you needed when you needed it. No matter how they did it and when it happened, everyone has a favorite author. Here’s a list of my favorite authors in no particular order and what their writing has meant to me.
Favorite Book: Green Eggs and Ham
Dr. Seuss will always have an important place in my heart. When I was younger my mother gave me this huge blue bin of books. Books about fairy tales and Disney princesses and Mother Goose. But the majority of the bin had been filled with Dr. Seuss books. I had an insane amount of books now that I think back on it, but Green Eggs and Ham will forever be treasured by me.
I can’t remember how old I was, just that I was young enough that my feet couldn’t touch the ground in the chairs my mom, myself, and my stepdad were sitting in. We were in a car dealership waiting for something. My mother had brought along a book, she and my stepdad had been slowly but surely teaching me. I was always asking them to spell things for me and I think one day my mom decided that it was just time for me to learn how to read.
The book was in my lap and I remember how I felt very grown up as I haltingly read, my little finger pointing at each word as I read. I read the entire book out loud and on my own. I felt so proud of myself and so accomplished and I can thank Dr. Seuss enough for his work.
Favorite Book: Are You there God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Judy Blume came to me around the time I stopped reading “baby” books. Dr. Seuss was still special to me, even then, but I was reading faster than half my class and I wanted to read something more substantial. At this age I spent most of my free time with my Grandma, and she loved shopping. There was nothing she loved more than going shopping in Santa Monica along the promenade.
Once, when I tagged along on a shopping trip, we went to the tallest bookstore I’d ever seen; Barnes and Nobel. I was given free range in the children’s section, and after choosing a few fun looking books, my grandma found me again and handed me an old looking paper back. She told me that the book would teach me a lot about being a girl and becoming a woman. I was still in elementary school, but my family had come to a sort of collective agreement that I am way to intelligent to be treated like a little kid.
On the one hand, I feel I wasn’t ready to read half of what Judy Blume wrote. But I devoured Are You There God?… in a day, and I quickly went through my school libraries collection of her work as well. I had so many questions and so many things I wanted to talk about that I feel like my family never wanted to really acknowledge. Which is why Judy Blume as a writer meant so much to me. She wrote the things that I needed to see, even if I wasn’t actually ready for them.
If I ever end up having a daughter, I’m going to give her this book when the time is right. I think there’s a lot to be learned from Blume’s work, not just as a girl but as a person. Blume’s work taught me about human nature and, in a way, I think what I’ve learned from her has contributed a lot to my current personality and life.
Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice
Again, all thanks for me coming into contact with this book goes to my Grandma. My grandma understood me more than I think most of my family did, and she managed to get me the things that I needed to see. The books she’s bought me shaped so much of who I am as a person that I can’t thank her enough for introducing me to them.
I’ve always been kind of a nut for period works, and reading about the society Austen had to contend with, I felt a connection to her characters. It was a real challenge reading her works. I’m a little black girl from Compton, I’d never heard anyone speak the way Austen wrote. The whole time I read the books I was constantly asking questions and trying to keep up with everything that was going on.
Jane Austen is someone I’ve looked up to and felt a deep connection to since I was probably eight years old. Reading her books brings me comfort and even now, I’m finding meanings and nuances that I never noticed before as a child. I will never not be in love with her works.
Favorite Book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I was introduced to Harry Potter and his wizarding world through the movies before I ever read the books. As a little no-it-all girl who felt ostracized by her peers, Hermione Granger was a godsend. I latched on to Hermione with a fierceness that will surprise anyone not involved in fandom. She was smart and she was opinionated and she was wholly herself and I admired her bravery. I think little me needed someone like Hermione while I dealt with school bullies and (unfortunately) puberty.
I don’t know what eventually prompted me to actually read the books, I’m a weirdo I guess, but once I did I was a woman obsessed. I bought the entire series in a special edition box set, I have all the movies, I have a poster of Hogsmead, I watched the YouTube musical. I’ve been a fan for so long it hadn’t been all that hard to fall in love with the books and the movies all over again.
Eventually I read about Rowling’s life before Harry Potter, and I once again found myself connected with an author. Rowling has been through a lot and has overcome so much. She saved herself from her situation with words, with her talent. She made her own way to survive and thrive and I want to do that.
Favorite Book: Fangirl
Rainbow Rowell came to me during a pretty turbulent time in high school. I first found her on accident through a PDF a fellow fanfic reader had sent me. This is when I was new to fandom and still learning the ropes. Someone I bonded with over a Johnlock fic was nice enough to send me a PDF of Eleanor and Park and I was immediately hooked.
I know I’ve said this before but I connected so much to this story. I don’t want to go too deep into my past but I recognized Eleanor’s situation and her feelings and her motivations in myself. I understood her insecurities I understood her fears and I think a part of me felt so much in reading about myself that I just had to read everything Rowell had ever written.
The same thing happened with Fangirl. My boyfriend actually got me a hardcover copy of the book for our first Christmas together and I just about cried. I recognized Cath’s anxiety, I identified with her insecurities and I knew how it felt to deal with pain from a parent and not be ready to forgive them. Reading both Fangirl and Eleanor and Park in high school, probably the time I needed it most, saved me.
I will end this post here, I have many more favorite authors but I think five is a good way to end a list. Let me know you’re favorite authors in the comments and how their work has impacted you. I would really enjoy reading your comments.