I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan and about to embark on a lifetime of loyalty with a Mines of Moria tattoo. I accept what you are likely screaming in your mind – “Neeeeeeeeeerd!” I am not afraid to geek out and covertly join some LARPing league. My craving for epic sagas was not always so booming until my eyes locked on to the pages of one particular novel from a long list of required readings.
My love of fantasy novels traces back to a summer reading requirement during my junior year of high school, titled The Crystal Cave. Having loathed required reading since middle school, this was the first book I became engrossed in. This was Mary Stewart’s coming-of-age tale about MERLIN! I finished this book in record time. Undoubtedly, when my class was presented an option to choose either its sequel, The Hollow Hills (almost 500 pages), or some tiny book to read next, I was the only student itching to jump back into the Arthurian legend.
Before I read Mary Stewart’s legendary novel, I never had any proactive interests in the folkloric genre. Upon finishing the book, I realized that I had had a latent enthusiasm for it the entire time; it just took a while to unlock it. My father owned The Crystal Cave my entire childhood, but I was averse to much of his collection because he heralded them so much. Oh, angsty teenager me! Whatever your parents love, you must hate and secretly deny. He just had to wait patiently; I now own his copies of many fantasy novels. Up next in my mythical undertakings is the entire Game of Thrones series. (Side note — get a library card! Free books rule.)
Most required books didn’t spark my interest or get me hooked. In A Separate Peace, I didn’t realize that Phineas and Finny were the same person! I wasn’t a fan of assigned reading until The Crystal Cave waltzed its way into my summer ennui. Beforehand, I wouldn’t bother reading out of my own volition. Instead, I watched Spongebob (wait, I still do that) or was stocking up on sour gummy worms in the cafeteria. Reading provides you a relaxing departure from the mundane life of a car-less teenager. If that book had not have been assigned to me, I wouldn’t possess the love I have of all things mystical now.
How do you feel about required reading? Did you end up having favorites?