The First Chapters of Our Lives

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Over the years, I’ve realized how impossible it is to separate my life and my mind from the books I’ve read. This thought always dwells in the back of my mind, drawing connections between my own life and those on the page or reminding me of lessons learned long ago. If you were to ask me now about any of my old favorites, I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut about the most beloved characters or the way my friends and I would play pretend, imagining ourselves as a part of the tale. 

The word “influence” comes to mind when considering the way words change the way we think of ourselves and the world around us. These days those words come in many forms, many of them digital and filtering through our phone and computer screens, but I can fondly remember a time when my head was only turned by the new prospects at the library. Whether it was Warriors, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Little House on the Prairie, Little Women, or The Princess Plot, I felt myself drawn to the strengths of the characters and their immense bravery in the face of struggle. I wanted to be like them and hoped each night that I’d wake up in their world so I could be a hero alongside them. 

The stories and movies that I enjoy today are a direct result of the books I was drawn to in my childhood. The morals and values I hold dear were borrowed from their pages as well. If not for those authors, I wouldn’t have been shaped into the person I am today. Who would I be if I’d struck up in a different genre? Perused a different section of the book fair?

This concept of one splash, one decision having ripple effects throughout our whole lives is mind-blowing and, quite honestly, a lot to imagine. What kind of influence will the books I read this year have on me as I age? It brings a heavier weight to the words we choose to absorb through our literature and forces us to ponder how impressionable we are. 

Out of all the novels we encounter in our lives, it might be the first chosen few that have the greatest impact on our lives. If this is true, then what words inspired you long ago? And which ones are you drawn to now?