Book Wisdom, Bookish Radness

What Book Made You a Reader?

Do you remember the first book that made you a reader? People might guess that mine would either be The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia, but I didn’t encounter Tolkien or Lewis until much later in life (after college). Although, there is a very vague childhood memory of the epic 1970s epic Hobbit cartoon and the most terrifying Gollum to ever be on screen, but I didn’t make the connection until after watching the LOTR movies.

Anyway, there are two books I think of from childhood that I claim as those that made me a reader. One I have no clue the author or title and it was published in the late 80s/early 90s. So good luck finding it – haha! All I can remember is that it was a fantasy book about a young girl who had to leave her castle (I think), go on adventures, and save her family. The cover had her (I think she had a brown braid) and a mountain on it. Possibly included animal sidekicks. If you can help me find that book, I promise to send you every fiction release I’m working on this year.

The other book? The Land I Lost by Quang Nhuong Huynh

I still have my original 1986 version.

I read this book so many times when I was young! I was completely fascinated by Huynh’s stories. How different they were from my own. I loved the stories of his animal encounters (even the scary ones and, after reading it again recently, some violent ones), his pets, the adventures, and the love of his home country. It was so exciting exciting to learn about a culture millions of miles (at least it felt that way to young Jamie) away from Southern California.

I didn’t fully understand all that it meant at that age, but I knew it made me want to learn more about other people, places, and lives. Isn’t that one of the greatest gifts a book gives us?

I’d love to hear from you! What book made you a reader?

Also, if you have kids in your life, GIVE THEM ALL THE BOOKS! You never know which stories will impact them.

Book Wisdom

Back to the Basics With Hugo Cabret

“If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re broken.” Hugo to Isabelle (page 374)

This quote is from a scene in The Invention of Hugo Cabret, where the main character Hugo is figuring out why the various toys he has encountered were made – they all had a reason for existence. As I was thinking more on the quote, the reminder became clear. We all have a purpose on the Earth.

This isn’t earth shattering news, I know. I bring up this truth though, because in a culture that seems to scream that our value alone comes from what big thing we’re doing, our side hustle, how busy we are, our platform (and to be clear, these aren’t bad things), I don’t ever want to forget the basics. Our purpose is living out a life of love. Loving God, loving others. Our purpose is that we each can bring faith, hope, and love to every human we encounter. For some, that will be on a big platform, book, public influence, but for many, it will be on a smaller stage. One isn’t any better than the other.

So never forget that you were made for a reason; that simple beautiful purpose of bringing hope to the world.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

The Greek poet Sappho once penned: “Become a voice.” I encourage you today to continue to be a voice for what matters, because there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for (#SamwiseGamgee).

Book Wisdom

A Few Lessons From Stuart Little About Life, Family, and Friendship

I recently got back into puzzles. Yes, this is also a very random way to start a blog post, but I blame Target. While Christmas shopping, they had puzzles on sale (it was of a tiger) and for reasons I still don’t know, I thought “that sounds fun, I’m going to buy myself a Christmas gift.” It’s been at least two decades since I’ve done a puzzle, but I enjoyed it and found it relaxing, so I bought myself another one. This time featuring covers of famous children’s books. After I finished that one, I did what any book nerd would deem necessary – decided read all the books featured in the puzzle throughout the coming months (It’s gonna be such a struggle when I have to re-read The Hobbit and the two books from The Chronicles of Narnia).

Thus bringing me to a little mouse named Stuart Little. I have a small collection of children’s books and since I already owned this one, it’s the one I started with.

While not Charlotte’s Web nor E.B.’s best work, I think it’s still a fun read for children. It’s a random collection of Stuart’s adventures, with only a few tied together. It ends without some answers, but there are plenty of takeaways. I thought the end quote was quite fitting for life.

We always don’t know what the outcome will be (in Stuart’s case, if he will find his best friend, Margalo), but that shouldn’t stop us from moving forward:

“Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north. The sun was just coming over the hills on his right. As he peered ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction.”

Just like a life of faith. Sometimes it’s enough to know you’re headed in the right direction, even if you don’t know the final destination.

Stuart also teaches us how fulfilling life can be when we live it to the fullest, whether that’s seeking adventures in our own backyard or taking some steps a bit further away. He was always up for trying something different or something new.

We also see his love for home. Never is his family and home far from his thoughts, wherever he finds himself and of course there’s friendship. True friendship is one that loves at all times. We see that in his final quest to find his best friend Margalo.

If you haven’t read a children’s book in a while, I invite you to. There’s always something to be gleaned and as my friend C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

Finally, if nothing else, how about these life rules? While “substitute teaching” Stuart asks the class what is important:

“A shaft of sunlight at the end of a dark afternoon, a note in music, and the way the back of a baby’s neck smells if its mother keeps it tidy,” answered Henry.

“Correct,” said Stuart. “Those are the important things. You forget one thing though. Mary Bendix, what did Henry Rackmeyer forget?”

“He forgot ice cream with chocolate sauce on it,” said Mary quickly.

“Exactly,” said Stuart. “Ice cream is important.”

I’m good with that.