Yesterday I saw a post by Christina Orlando (@cxorlando) on twitter asking the following question: What five books would someone put in a pentagram to summon you?
My first reaction was to think of 5 books I love to read and reread. Should I say one per subgenre? Ones I’ve read the most and had a big impact on me growing up? And I started mentally listing books I could use.
Then it occurred to me. If you were summoning me with magic, 5 books I love wouldn’t be enough. They would have to be books that dealt with the core of who I am as a person, books that get at the essence of what makes me ‘me’.
1) The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. It’s a slow opening fantasy so it’s hard to recommend now, but it’s the first fantasy novel I really loved. It opened me up to the genre and to my love of reading in general.
2) The Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were by Robert Ingpen. I loved mythology and supernatural creatures growing up and was thrilled to find this book in my public school library. It’s a meaty hardcover that goes over so many things (living and not). It’s the first book I special ordered and still sits by my chair.
3) Sailor Moon manga #2 by Naoko Takeuchi. One of the first anime I really watched was Sailor Moon. In university I started watching other shows and picked up some MIXX (now Tokyopop) manga, the first official translations. The second issue has a scene where Sailor Moon saves Tuxedo Mask and he marvels at how much she’s grown as a person since he first met her. One of my professors in university, when talking about the middle ages (my major) pointed out that most people were illiterate back then, just as many tourists learn how to speak foreign languages but never learn to read and write them. I loved the Japanese language and their music so I started teaching myself hiragana and katakana, the Japanese syllabaries. This came in handy a few years later when I moved to Japan. My language skills are pretty poor (despite a LOT of effort it seems I’m just not good at languages) but I still love the sounds and listen to Japanese music all the time.
4) Let’s Go Western Europe 2004 travel guide. After coming home from Japan I took some of the money I made and travelled around Europe. I figured I didn’t have an apartment, job, or significant other, so it was the perfect time to see the places I studied in school. It was an amazing trip and still inspires me. I LOVE travelling. The world is such a remarkable place. I love learning about new cultures, their history, traditions, food. I’m going to Ethiopia soon after learning about some of their natural and historic monuments.
5) I haven’t been able to finalize my choice for this book. I’ve considered a couple of things. High on that list is the Biblical Book of Revelations. I was very religious growing up and loved reading about the end of the world. (I was a weird kid.) When I left that church I stayed clear of all religious stuff for several years but I’ve started reading esoteric literature again (Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees). Not so much because I want to know how the world is going to end, but because it says so much about people of the past: how they thought about life, the afterlife, what’s considered ‘evil’. In fact, I’m enjoying studying Judaic legends and versions of Christianity and would like to get to Islam and some of its beliefs soon.
I could add a medieval history or art history book. Maybe one about cathedrals - my main focus, or illuminated manuscripts. Or maybe history ties in to travel, as most of the places I go are because I’ve learned about their history and want to see those things for myself.
A cookbook? I enjoy cooking though I don’t know that there’s a specific cookbook that’s influenced me more than others.
Some sort of craft book? Something about making cards or painting? Or drawing?
Maybe a comic book. I collected X-Men comics for several years and there were some highly influential storylines.
Ah! I have it. But I can’t tell you what it is. I don’t want to be summoned by a magic circle. Those sorts of spells always go poorly - for both parties.
It’s a fun question though. What are the five books that speak to your soul? You don’t have to answer publicly. Just ask yourself what books have the most meaning - true meaning - to you.