I never quite outgrew my obsession with fantasy books.
Not when I finished every "young adult" book in the library, not when I started high school, not when I turned eighteen, not even in college.
My mom always tried to nudge me towards the "grown up" books- mystery novels and the extended works of John Steinbeck.
And certainly, I love Cannery Row. I'll read anything you put in front of me, that's just who I am.
But there will always be a space in my literary heart reserved just for the magic of make-believe worlds.
I was raised on Narnia, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings.
I will always be looking for that next adventure.
The magic of fictional worlds is that they are always there for you. All you have to do is crack the cover and dive in.
Of course, you also have to use your imagination just a teensy bit.
But then, you have the key to a whole different universe.
Often, the importance of fantasy literature is glossed over in favor of "American Classics", like The Great Gatsby, SlaughterHouse Five (personal favorite, right there), Catcher in the Rye; basically everything you read in your high school English class.
But there are lessons to be taken from fairytale books, too.
Holden Caulfield isn't the only angsty teenager in the literary universe.
And some of those other guys also get magic, so you can guess which books are more exciting.
Fantasy books have the ability to teach us so much; about ourselves, about good and evil, about the wonders of an open mind.
Other books, they do that too. If you didn't cry a little over Of Mice and Men, you're a dirty liar because everyone cried about that book.
But there's always the chance that you didn't even bother to read it.
Because it was "boring".
This is where the magic of fantasy books comes into play. Because they're inherently more interesting. You can take all the painful lessons learned in Of Mice and Men and wrap them up in a questing narrative. It'll be a longer book, with all those extra fight scenes and an explanation about how centaurs actually exist. But in the end, the same message gets sent.
Sometimes, good and evil are hard to tell apart.
Sometimes, you have to do terrible things for a greater good.
There's also the incredible wonder of immersing yourself in a different world. The comfort that comes with opening a Harry Potter book, and feeling like you're coming home.
This is important, to a lot of people. Books offer the easiest escape there is. No WiFi needed.
You meet characters you love, you go with them on their adventures, and you learn valuable lessons in empathy and humanity. All without leaving your room.
All I'm saying is maybe we could stand to give The Hobbit a spot on an AP English syllabus.
Someone might learn something.