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Our Reading Lives

What Was the First Book to Change Your Life?

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What was the first book that you read as a child that made you pause? You know, the first book that made you go “whoa?”  How old were you when you read it? Has that book made any impact or influenced how you’re currently living your adult life?

I remember reading the Hatchet by Gary Paulsen in the 3rd grade. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a YA survival novel—kid survives plane wreck, lives in the woods surviving on his own accord with only his wits and, you guessed it, a hatchet.  At the time I was engrossed, absolutely fascinated. Here was a character just a little older than myself making it on his own in the wilderness without any adult supervision or luxuries of the modern world. Something about it just got to me. I read and reread, wrote book reports, made dioramas.

Fast forward 25 years and I’m a hermit living deep in the woods.

Just kidding.

I do live in a small community surrounded by the wilderness in Alaska with my husband and cats. I still enjoy reading memoir and novels about survival and testing the limits of our human spirit. It’s interesting to me to think about the books that I’ve read as an adult and those that I call my favorites. The genres are not all the same but perhaps the theme is.

Whatever sparked our reading interests as children may change overtime, but for me it has remained a constant. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child and have been fiercely independent my whole life? Are the books that make our favorites list, the one’s that make us go “whoa,” our favorites because they speak to us—to the people we want to become or to the people we are?