November 27, 2013

Melissa's Five Authors I'm Thankful For...

I fully intended this post to be about the books that I'm thankful for, but after careful consideration I realized that it isn't exactly the books themselves that deserve the acclaim. Although books are like a constant companion for me- whether I'm carrying it around in my purse "just in case" (in true Rory Gilmore fashion) or reading under the covers late into the night, these books did not just appear by themselves.

Books are the product of hours of hard work and dedication to a craft that can be difficult at the best of times, and it seems only fitting that the authors deserve their time in the "I'm Thankful For" spotlight from me.

Following are five authors who have influenced me in some way. Whether it's because they opened me up to a new genre of reading, introduced fictional characters for me to fall in love with, or have had a greater personal impact on my life, these are the authors I keep going back to again and again.

5. Richelle Mead

I was first introduced to Richelle Mead when my sister and I started reading her series, "The Vampire Academy". It's a good series that gave new rules to the world of vampires, but it's the spinoff series that pushed me to add Mead to my list. In the book "Frostbite", which is book two in "The Vampire Academy" series, we meet a vampire named Adrian. Yes, he has his problems (drinking and partying and excessive amounts of flirting being among them), but I fell in love as only a little fan girl could. Adrian's story ended on a bitter note for me in this series, but Mead helped dry my tears by making him a main character in her spinoff series, "Bloodlines". This new series deals with some of the characters who tended to be in the background during "Vampire Academy", and Adrian shines. I fell even more in love with this fictional guy (who isn't even human), and I'm not ashamed. So thank you, Richelle Mead for the gift that is Adrian Ivashkov. I am truly thankful for you and the character you had created for me.

4. Kelley Armstrong
Before I read Kelley Armstrong, the only supernatural books I had really read were YA ones. While I'm still an avid YA reader (and proud!), I was thankful when I was introduced to her "Women of the Otherworld" series as I was able to read about adult witches, werewolves, and vampires. Armstrong opened up new possibilities to me and I started to branch out from the young adult aisle at bookstores, and started to browse a more wide array of shelves. Not to mention she introduced other supernaturals that I wouldn't have normally found myself reading about. Armstrong showed me that there's more to the otherworld than vampires and werewolves and witches, and I found myself reading about necromancers and demons, and actually enjoying it! Who would have thought that my favorite book in a series would be told from the point of view of someone who could talk to the dead?

3. The Brothers Grimm 
What kind of reader can honestly say they aren't at least a little thankful for the Brothers Grimm? These guys went around and collected folklore and was able to put it all together in a way that it's still around today. Seriously though, these guys were born in the 1700s and bookstores are still selling Brothers Grimm collections. You know why? Because the stories they collected are and will forever be classics. Cinderella is one of my favorite stories (so much so that I've started writing my own adaptation of it), and these are the dudes who made that story well known. They brought us fairy tales, and I'm all about that. Fairy tales let people believe in happily ever afters, and that there could be a better life if you just work hard enough and don't give up hope, and these are the guys who helped that hope stay alive throughout the years.

2. Chuck Palahniuk

Oh, Palahniuk. This is the guy who wrote "Fight Club" (Yes, it was a book before Brad Pitt and Edward Norton beat the crap out of each other on the big screen), but that wasn't how I originally started reading him. My first encounter with Palahniuk was actually while I was on the way to a concert and my boyfriend of the time's friend was reading his book "Haunted" in the back seat. This is a book that has a few short stories in it as well, and he chose to read a specific story (called "Guts") out loud to us. If you're familiar with Palahniuk, or the story "Guts" you can imagine what my reaction to hearing that was. It's a disgusting story that makes you cringe the more and more you think about it, but instead of going, "Oh, that's nasty", I went to the bookstore the next day and bought another one of his books, "Invisible Monsters".

Palahniuk is weird. He's not for the faint of heart, but if you're slightly off he's the guy for you. While I might not enjoy his last few books with the love I had for "Invisible Monsters" or "Haunted", there's a reason he's still number two on my list. Palahniuk introduced me to the weird and twisted and strange, and I've never fully looked back. Being weird was never really an insult for me (Hell, I went to an art school. Being weird is practically required at those), and I think Palahniuk helped me reach my full strange potential.  

1. J.K. Rowling

Dear Lord, there are just so many things I can say about why I am thankful for this woman. She may have written a children's series, but I will still faithfully reread that series at least once a year until my books fall apart (at which point I will go out and buy new ones). I first started reading "Harry Potter" when I was in middle school, and it's really the series that turned me in to a reader. I can't remember ever really reading many books for enjoyment before Harry and his friends popped up in my life, and now my house is filled with all the books I've read or want to read in my free time.

Rowling made it okay for kids to read, and I'm thankful for that. Reading gives you the opportunity to escape mundane life in favor of some other world. Whether it's a magical one like Hogwarts, or even just another suburb that's not your own, the world of books is like a small vacation. And who doesn't love vacations?

 Not only did Rowling turn me into a reader, but she turned me into a writer. When I read those books, I realized that that's what I want to do with my life. I wouldn't be writing this right now if it wasn't for her books inspiring me to form a love of writing. While there may never be another J.K. Rowling, I can certainly try to aim for a close second. The Harry Potter fandom is the one that will always hold my heart hostage, no matter how long it's been since the last book or movie (Let's take a quick moment to cheer for the upcoming "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" movie she'll be screenwriting). And the fact that I'm not the only one out there who feels this strongly about a woman and the fictional world she has created, really shows that magic does exist.

I tip my wizard's cap to you, Ms. Rowling, and from the bottom of my heart- I am truly thankful for you and the books you've gifted to us.

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