Books For Life

featherI was 11 years old. I’d drawn a hot bath and made a cup of Earl Grey. I was out of books to read. My mom handed me a copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull from her bookshelf.

I turned it over in my hands, inspecting the cover. “Seagulls? Really? It’s tiny! I’ll read it in one sitting.” I reached to put it back on the shelf.

“I think you’ll like it.” She pushed it back into my hands.

I’m almost certain I rolled my eyes. After all, I was 11. But I took the book and my tea, and sank into the warm water in an effort to carry out the daily ritual that removed the terrorizing stress that was junior high.

seagull_300px_jpg_300x10000_q85The water was cold and my tea long-since drained by the time I finished reading. I closed the cover and opened it again. There had to be more. I needed more!

I read it again the next day.

And again a week later.

“You know, he wrote other books,” my mom said, as she watched me dog-ear the pages and highlight phrases.

Within a few days, I’d picked up Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. I ate through that book with just as healthy of an appetite. I dog-eared and highlighted and journaled from Illusions even more so than from Jonathan.

I’ve read everything Richard Bach has written, but none of them hit me as hard as those two books. I’ve kept copies of them my entire life. I always know where they are. I’ve given away more copies of Illusions than I can remember.

When it comes to books, some of them speak directly to us. It’s obviously not the same book for everyone… that’s why it’s great that there are so many books published!

There are others in my life that have left an impact, but nothing yet has come close to Richard Bach’s earliest works. I don’t know if it’s the philosophy, the piloting references, or the quirky storytelling that hinges on magical realism. Maybe it’s all three. I just know that those two books have etched themselves into my soul, and I’ll never be without them.

Which novels speak to you? Do you still have your original copies, or do you give them away and buy new ones?

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