I will read just about anything–at least once. Historical fiction, realistic fiction, non-fiction. I have read books about subjects as weighty as slavery and the holocaust to books about topic as light as shopping. I am willing to give anything a try. But, hands down, my absolute favorite genre of writing is fantasy, and it’s been that way since I was a kid.
I am trying, as I write this, to recall the first fantasy novel that I ever read. I guess that if we were being strictly literal, the first one that I can remember reading is The Wizard of Oz, which I read in about the second grade, but my love of fantasy really blossomed in my preteen years.
I remember reading Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher curled underneath the covers, wishing that I might go on a quest one day and encounter dragons. I loved that in fantasy anything was possible. I loved that I could read about dragons one day, mermaids the next, and that I could go into worlds that were both so alien and yet so familiar. Books are not just worlds on the page. The language comes alive and draws me into the world of the author. Literally, my imagination is just that vivid. In the face of the rather mundane reality that I faced every day of my youth, worlds where magic was possible seemed infinitely more appealing.
The other day, I had this interesting moment where it occurred to me that everyone might not love this genre like I do. I almost couldn’t even fathom the idea, because the ability to read and write fantasy is so intrinsic to my life. I don’t love the way that fantasy sort of highlights in sharp relief the trials of the human condition (though that’s cool too) and underscores what it means to be human. It was not that motif that drew me back to the genre again and again. No, what drew me there was the possibilities that such novels represented. The possibilities of different kinds of worlds from the one that I lived in every day. And to this day, to be honest, I think that our world would be much more interesting if the creatures that we imagine might some how be real. Scary? Yes. More Dangerous? Probably. But still, to be real, so much more exciting.
What is it that you love about fantasy? What is your favorite fantasy novel?