I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou
I love this quote for so many reasons, but for this post, I love it because it captures the magic of a great book. Books have the ability to change lives. They lead us from the normal and mundane to a world filled with magic and mythology. They remind us what it was like to be teenager again. Books take us to faraway lands we would never see without them. They're our escape.
Think back to a year ago. Can you remember the best-selling books of 2011? Can you list the top ten best-selling authors? Do you know which YA novel held the New York Times #1 spot the longest?
Now, think back to a year ago ... ten years ago ... even twenty. What books were your favorite? Which authors shaped your imagination, encouraging you to go beyond yourself and your reality to explore the unknown? That's a little easier to answer, I'd say.
A good book, in my opinion, isn't the one that sells the most copies. It isn't the one people talk about most or that gets made into a movie. A good book to me is one that I read, and it stays with me forever! Nothing changes you like a story. I strongly believe the things I read growing up shaped me into the person and author I am today.
You have to tell the story that's inside you, not the one you think the world wants to hear. No one can write YOU like YOU. So, when you're feeling low about sales, ratings, or that one persnickety warthog who left a bad review, just remember this: Your story has touched someone and meant more to them than you may ever know. Don't measure success by a standard. Measure it by the life you influence.
A few of my all-time favorite books are ones many people may not know, but I'm eternally grateful to the authors who shared their imagination with the world. It's a better place because of you! You don't know how many lives you've inspired.
Here are a few of my inspirations:
Mrs Duck's Lovely Day by Vivienne Blake -- This book taught me so much as a kid. In the story, Mrs. Duck travels around, trying to find that one, perfect place. It was in this story that I got to see the ocean for the first time through Mrs. Duck's eye. That's something a kid never forgets!
Goosebumps series by R.L Stine -- Anyone who lived through the 90's as a teen can relate to this. R.L Stine's paranormal world-building and knack for setting the scene in these MG books is great! The kids in the story are so relatable. I always imagined myself creeping up that dark staircase or wandering through the misty cemetery. I love these books to this day!
Song of Fire by Joseph Bentz -- This is a book different than the rest. I can't remember every detail about it. I don't recall the main character's name or details about his life. But I have a vivid recollection of the way it made me feel! At 13, this was the first real novel I ever read. It was the story that made me want to create worlds of my own. After reading Song of Fire, I started writing Haven. A special thanks to Joseph Bentz.
Kailmeyra Chronicles by Elizabeth Isaacs -- The first book that ever made me cry was The Light of Asteria. There's something about Elizabeth Isaacs' writing that touches your emotions like no other. Her writing is so deep and interwoven with meaning and symbolism. She's an author with the ability to shape your life, to cause you to stop and really question yourself.
What novels shaped your life?