The Road Almost Not Taken — And the Books that Lead Me Down It

I grew up in the epitome of small town America in the middle of the Midwest. Because of this and the lack of variety that often accompanies this lifestyle, I fell in love with storytelling from a young age. My mother, who has a background in Early Childhood, strongly believes that literacy, fantasy, and stories are an integral part of childhood.

Because of these two aspects, I have been obsessed with storytelling in all its forms since before I can remember and becoming an avid reader became a large part of this obsession. I have always had more books than I can count with a constantly overflowing bookshelf and stacks near the foot of my bed. I vividly remember, when I was in middle school, nearly getting in trouble for locking myself away for an entire weekend to read, while neglecting all my chores, my friends, and any sort of fresh air. “Put the book down and please just go outside,” my father half scolded, half begged me.

Like most millennials my age, I grew up with the “Harry Potter” books and consumed them fervently, a love (or obsession) that still continues to this day. True to my generation of readers, I not only loved Rowling’s works but read any fantasy or dystopian that was placed in front of me. But during my high school years, after reading all the YA I could get my hands on, I soon looked for books I could really sink my teeth into. I began reading Dickens, Austen, Hardy, and Shakespeare in my free time and was fascinated with works like “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” solidifying my love for the classics of English literature.

After high school, I moved to Los Angeles to attend an art school, fully believing that this was the path for me. However, after six months with little to no time to read and yearning for a different type of learning, I decided to switch gears and take the traditional college route; majoring in English Literature was the only answer that was clear and felt right. In college, Virginia Woolf entranced me with her writing in “Mrs. Dalloway,” a book that kept me thinking for months after I finished it and that I’ve revisited on numerous occasions. Before undergrad, I had never been gripped by poetry but after being taught about the complexities and the artform by an excellent professor, poetry soon became one of my favorite things to read and still is. Shelley, Dickinson, and Hughes became a few of my favorites.

Working with books or in literacy became the end goal and working for a library is pretty much the best job I could ask for. I love being surrounded by stories every day and endlessly discussing books with co-workers and patrons.