3 Stories that Changed My Life

Over a month ago, I planned to write a blog post about "books I'm thankful for" for the Thanksgiving inspired Top Ten Tuesday. But alas, NaNoWriMo happened (which I won for the second time, woop! recap post coming tomorrow) and it threw me into a novel-writing tailspin and I showed up to blog an embarrassingly few times. But the message still applies: I'm so very thankful for these three...  

I'm one of those people who finds meaning in every book that I read. It's one of my favorite parts about reading. I love when stories stay with me weeks, months, years after I've finished them. Although there are many novels that stay with me this way - hell, this year alone I've read at least 5 whose stories plague me still - there are three stories whose words have been carved into my heart and my memory forever and taught me lessons I've carried with me ever since. I'm more thankful for them than my flawed words could ever express. (But of course, I shall try!)

... dream big, impossible things.

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling 

Almost every adult I know has read, loved and been inspired by Queen Rowling's words. I am no exception. Books were my best friends, and although I wouldn't say my childhood was significantly more troubled than the next, I found refuge in books. And at a time in my life, those formative years between like 9 and 16, Harry Potter and his friends made me feel so much less alone. My lofty dreams and desires weren't impossible at Hogwarts where more bizarre things have happened. I learned not to put limitations on myself. Between the pages of these novels, nothing outside of my imagination was out of reach and because of that, I grew up to believe that nothing in my reality was either. 

 ... hold on to your youth with both hands.

Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger  

"Grow up!," they said. "Your old," they repeated. And Holden Caulfield's response to them was "go to hell." And it was just what I needed to hear at 16. I've always been youthful without being immature (I like to think!), hopeful without being naive, but as I got older, I felt like others were trying to snuff those qualities out. Everyone at my all-girls parochial high school was talking about boys and sex and a million other things that went right over my head. The pressure to "grow up" was heavy and Holden seemed to shoulder that weight with me. Through his somewhat immature narration, I saw Manhattan as it was through his eyes, a recently expelled kid looking for a few good times before facing the consequences. A boy pretending to be a man and eventually realizing he'd much rather stay on this side of the rye. When he mentions catching the kids on the way to adulthood, I like to imagine he tossed me back because he knew youth looked good on me. Sure, I've become an adult (kicking and screaming made no difference), but I'll always be young at heart.  

... want it all.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

I didn't read my beloved P&P until well into my adult years, but truly it wasn't a day late. Sure, I missed that feminist bravada that most college women get from this story, but that wasn't necessarily what I needed anyways. I've always be fiercely independent. Fiercely. In kindergarten, I said I wanted to go on tour across the world with my baby daughter and no man. (Really I don't know what I was thinking. I soo wasn't musically-inclined.) My ambition was always paramount and romantic connection took a back seat. I guess I saw the two as mutually exclusive. But as we turn the final page of Pride and Prejudice, we learn that (SPOILER!!) not only has our dear Lizzie learned a most valuable lesson about judgements and prejudices, she's the example of a woman who doubted whether she could have it all and turns out that's exactly what she got.  

Yeah Lizzie, me too. Me too. 

I know it's a bit late, but tell me: what stories are you thankful for? 


Also, for anyone who's interested (come on, admit it!), the Literary Ladies book of the month for December is...

 Khloe Kardashian's Strong Looks Better Naked 

I rarely read non-fiction/celebrity books, but for real, Khloe's my girl <3 And when she promises advice on accepting the power in being strong not skinny, how could I not be intrigued? Are you? If so, please do join us this month! The link-up will be on January 5th, 2016.