“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Not my usual elfwriter blog post, but…
In a few precious months, my oldest son will graduate high school and leave home. Sure, I could tell you with pride that he will participate in a social justice gap year program prior to going to university, but for the moment, I am just stuck on the idea that he is leaving home. A car advert – father watches son drive very nice car away from the home to… – had me in tears on an airplane.
My son recently read a book that intrigued him and he could not put down. Then he asked if I would buy him a hardcover copy that he could take with him, perhaps share with friends, or reread when he feels the need.
In case you are wondering, the book is called Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heartand this got me thinking. All his life I have tried to instill a desire in my son to read. Of course, the more I pushed, the more he rebelled … just like when his darn father was as a kid. But there were times when we bonded over books.
I remember Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series, as we stood in line at midnight in Borders waiting for the next book, and the delight when the bookseller, seeing him literally falling asleep on his feet as he swayed and leaned against me, snuck the only autographed copy into his hands. He sleepily declared he would stay up all night reading it, before falling asleep in the car and then in his bed, tightly hugging the book.
Then there were the Harry Potter series, a rite-of-passage for many parents and children. I am thrilled that we were a family during this exciting moment in time.
And, of course, there was his crucial role in the writing of the Wycaan Master series. He was the inspiration that led me to write the series and for six summers he listened and offered sound feedback around the campfire in the ancient redwood forests.
But his request is not about the books that were, but the books that are and will be. So I am asking for your help: what are the books that influenced and guided you when you left your parents’ home?
Here are a few from my time at college that I am thinking of including:
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Persig.
- The Tao of Poo – Benjamin Hoff.
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach.
- Iron John – Robert Bly.
I am particularly interested in books for a young man, but am happy to corollate a list that is more specific for young women as well. Please share the books that influenced you when you were that age in the comments below.
An Apprehensive Father.
Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of Galbrieth, and five other Wycaan Master books all released by Tourmaline Books. The link above takes you to the Kindle versions. For all other eReaders, please click here.
More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).
Bit of a mixed bag of reading for me in my teens and onwards. I was made into an epic James Bond fan so read all the works of Ian Fleming, and some of the subsequent authors who tried to carry on the books following his passing. I also read quite a few Wilbur Smith and Stephen King books. it was then really that I started getting into Fantasy and the fabulous Hobbit and Lord of the Rings came out. I remember at age 15 struggling through the trek to Mordor and nearly putting the book down… but stuck at it. I loved the Stephen King Fantasy series, the Dark Tower, but lost my way a bit in book four… Looking forward to the film. Then I found authors like David Eddings, Raymond E Feist and my all time favourite Mr Terry Brooks. Now I enjoy your books tremendously, I am currently reading Sacrifical Flame, and authrs such as Trudi Canavan and Joe Abercrombie…
This is such a moving post! Even though I’m not a father myself, I always have wanted to be, and I would love it if I could share my love of reading and writing fantasy with my children. I hope my future will be as beautiful as your present is!
As for the books that inspired me as a young man after leaving home, I can think of a few…
1. A Song of Ice and Fire saga, by George Martin. I literally read the whole thing the summer I left my home—and my country—and it had a deep impact in my writing for a short time afterwards.
2. The Hero of a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell. True, I pretty much re-read it every couple of years, but I still remember the time I read after leaving my home as having the biggest impact on me—maybe because, very much like the mythological heroes, I was also going on a journey.
3. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut. I went through a period of reading every single book that Kurt Vonnegut has ever published, and this (along with Galapagos) still stands as my favourite.
Those are the titles that come to mind when I think about that time my home to start a new like in the UK. I hope he will enjoy them as much as I did back in the day—if he hasn’t read them already!
Thank you, Miguel. I have added them to the list. I think he will love the first two – especially Campbell. He is very into this field.
Really appreciate your list.