Books Day 1

Neil nominated me to share 10 books on Facebook that have shaped my life.  As part of the challenge, I can’t actually say anything about the books on Facebook; so, I’ll write briefly about them here.

Of course, I started off by cheating right away.  The picture obviously has four books in it but all four had an inseparable effect in shaping my life.


The first and possibly most important book in my life is Beowulf.  My dad was a high school English teacher and night after night he would sit in his chair studying all four of these books but it was always Beowulf that caught my attention.  I wanted to read that book.  The dragon on the cover fascinated me but, looking back, there was more to it than just wanting to know about the dragon.  I felt that reading Beowulf, which my dad spent so much time reading, would make my relationship with my dad better.

When I was 10, I finally got permission to read dad’s book.  He was sure I wouldn’t be able to understand it.  I loved every minute of it and that first reading is still vivid in my memory.

Dad and I talked about the story and imagery and meaning of it all after I finished.  It seemed that my dream of a better relationship with my dad was coming true but those few conversations didn’t continue.  What I did get though was a suggestion that if I liked Beowulf, I would love reading Tolkien’s books and that I should read The Hobbit.


Unlike Beowulf, I was not allowed to read my dad’s copy of The Hobbit nor The Lord of the Rings, at least not at first.  I went to the school library and hunted for The Hobbit but couldn’t find it; so, my first read was The Fellowship of the Ring.  I had to stop reading The Fellowship though; I needed to read Bilbo’s story.  I saw that the cartoon of The Hobbit would be on television and I just had to read it before I saw it.

I cried when Thorin died.  I cried when Gandalf died and was amazed at his return.  I fell in love with Galadriel and Eowyn.  I imagined myself as Bilbo, Gandalf or Elrond and, for Halloween, I dressed as the most terrifying characters I had ever encountered:  The Nazgûl.

Over the next three years, I would read these four books—along with The Silmarillion—non-stop.

The Magic

I imagined these four books would usher me into a magical world of approval, they did not.  They did, however, provide a safe haven for me.  I would slip between their pages and the unbearable weight of the world around me would disappear, for a time.