Five Books to Climb Into
I was a fanciful child, desperate for the romance and adventure that seemed far away from the suburban sprawl of Reno, Nevada, where I grew up. So when I read books, I read them hungrily, eating up the details of places and times distant from my own. If I loved a book, I'd imagine myself into the plot (as the brave, witty, preternaturally wise heroine, of course). There were some books that I would read over and over again, just to get myself back into them. It's that intense reading experience that I miss as an adult. Here's the list of books I wanted (and still do) to climb into:
1. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Okay, this brands me as an all-time geek, and not very original either, but I read this trilogy to pieces. The cover came off, the pages started to crumble, while I strode across Middle-earth as some magical combination of elf warrior and woman wizard.
2. The Dragon Riders of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey. Even geekier than Tolkien, this science-fiction series features fire-breathing dragons and their telepathic riders using flames to prevent "thread," a destructive spore, from consuming the planet. Literature, it ain't. But one night when I was around 12, I dreamt myself onto Pern and for the rest of the week tried to sleep in exactly the same way as I had during the dream. No luck, just some painful cricks in my neck.
3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis. In this, the third book in the Narnia series, Lucy and Edmund and their unpleasant cousin Eustace sail with Prince Caspian (now king) to the end of the Narnian world. The thing is, this time the children get into Narnia, not through a wardrobe, but through a picture of a ship that comes to life. I swear that my grandmother had a picture that perfectly matched the cover of my copy of the book. But try as I might, I could not get her ship to sail.
4. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Another book I read to pieces. I wanted to be clever and quick with a comeback like Elizabeth Bennett and wear Empire-waist dresses and dance at balls. Now, I think how terrible it must have been to have one's whole financial well-being hinge on marrying well, but such sober thoughts didn't cross my mind back then.
5. Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I wanted to live on Prince Edward Island, with its lush gardens and cozy cottages, so very different from the brown sagebrush hills that surrounded my town. I wanted to have the intense friendships, and inspire the intense feelings, that Anne did. And I wanted to ride in a wagon down the White Way of Delight, when all the blossoms were in bloom.
I bet I'm not the only one with an over-heated imagination. Which books did (or do) you want to climb into?
-- Rachel Hartigan Shea
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