Can you point to one book, one moment, one particular anything that set your life on a completely different path? I can.
I was always a shy kid. And by shy, I mean the ‘won’t even talk to family or friends if there’s a chance of anyone not in my trusted group overhearing’ type. The ‘I can stare into my lap for two hours just to avoid eye contact with anyone’ type. Any time I had to talk in class was torture and I avoided it whenever I could, even to the point of just not talking until someone else took over or I was dismissed.
Between 4th and 5th grade, my family moved to a completely different state and I went to a new school for the first time in my entire life. My old school was great, all of the teachers knew me and understood my shyness. 5th grade wasn’t particularly terrible for that reason, luckily. I didn’t make it into the private school my parents wanted me in that year, so I went to a different one temporarily for 5th grade.
The private school had an opening for 6th grade, and that was a year of pure hell. The teachers and principal hated me, they didn’t understand that shyness was a thing. In their eyes, I just chose not to speak as an attitude problem, or maybe I just had problems that needed to be fixed.
They insisted I see a psychologist, which was okay I guess. But it didn’t help as much as that little bookshelf in my classroom. One day I picked up Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, and my life hasn’t been the same since.
I devoured the first book and all of the books in the series, and something changed. I was still shy, that wouldn’t change overnight. Somehow, reading those books completely opened new doors to me. I was 11 years old and here was another 11-year-old who was the opposite of me, living in this weird other world of Victorian Prince Edward Island, Canada.
By the end of the year, I went from not being able to give reports in class to standing up there, pretending I was Anne, and being able to read it from a paper, out loud, in front of other people. It would still take me years until I could just talk to strangers, working retail helped with that, but Anne changed my life.
L.M. Montgomery is the reason I’m a writer. I had always written little stories but somehow her influence made stories just come into my head. I want to write something so influential for someone else. But even if I don’t, the stories are just for me as well.
Most of my hobby interests come from Anne as well. I fell in love with the simpler time period and how self-sufficient everyone was back then. They sewed, they knitted, they made stuff from scratch, they grew their own food. I have always wanted to have red hair too, despite how much Anne hated hers. I finally did it at 21 or so and am so glad I did.
I would not be the same person if it wasn’t for that book and that’s why L.M. Montgomery will always be my favorite author.
My well-read Anne and Emily books, plus my favorite book, The Blue Castle. I have more Montgomery books on the shelf below.