I read too much, so to pick a book that changed my life would be like picking the stroke that changed a painting, or the stitch that’s holding together my shirt. Basically: hard. But because I love you, the readers of &etc, I rolled up my sleeves and picked one.

The book big enough to change my life was a little one written by a young nobody from a Podunk town in Utah. It’s a children’s chapter book about two kids becoming knights for King Arthur in modern day times. The author’s writing ability is average, the story line is basic, and the sales figures aren’t eye popping.

So why would I pick that one as my world changing, stitch holding book? There are so many better books out there. Wise or not, I chose Knights of Right, and if you know me, you might know why.

I don’t often confess it, but I wrote the thing. I was a shy sixteen year old writing stories for fun like I had been since I could hold a pencil (something I apparently do wrong, according to my fourth grade teacher) when I had to give my cousin a Christmas present. All I knew was that he loved Starwars and Legos and Nerf guns, and he had plenty of all of them. So instead he got a story called The Young Knights of Right (Young was taken out later seeing as, apparently, kids don’t like being called young. I don’t blame them. Old people don’t like being called old either.)

Come to find out afterwards, my cousin rarely cracked a book. He struggled with reading. I gave the kid who hated books a homemade book for Christmas. Basically, I should never apply for the North Pole staff, because I’d probably end up giving Dr. Jones the commemorative DVD of Cats: The Musical or something. On the other hand, maybe I should send in my resume, because before I ever considered getting it published, my cousin did a book report on a book his classmates couldn't actually read, as he and I had the only copies. He’s funny like that.

After that somebody suggested getting it published. Maybe it was my aunt, thrilled that the anti-reader was now burying himself in books, launching into bigger and better things. Maybe it was my mom, who had suggested writing it in the first place. Maybe it was my grandma, who thought a fantasy children’s book that taught real life morals was the greatest thing since mechanical sewing machines. It doesn’t matter whose, but that suggestion was all it took, and suddenly life was like a three ring circus where I played anything from ringleader to the guy who takes care of the elephants. (That’s what editing a book feels like sometimes: cleaning out an animal stall.) That timid mouse used to making up stories alone in her bedroom now sat in fancy rolling chairs at long, shiny tables and discussed publicity with the professionals. Used to hiding in the crowd, she now stood in front of crowds of 300 children, presenting the joys of reading and teaching about the importance of morals.

Still, Knights of Right became such a crazy but normal fact of my life that it never occurred to me that getting published was unusual. I kind of forgot to tell my creative writing class it happened, until the news crew showed up in class one day. (That was probably the most embarrassing experience ever, so I can’t believe I’m blogging about it now. Suddenly I intimidated my whole writing class, which is ridiculous, because why would someone be intimidated by me??) Well, life was different. And that’s an understatement. That little, unimportant book has changed people’s lives. Not very many, but all that matters to me are the few stories I’ve heard. Like the autistic child of my dad’s coworker “reading” it, already having it memorized, under the covers with a flashlight. Or those like my cousin, who never liked reading before. Now my cousin wants to be an author when he grows up.

Granted, maybe no lives were changed as drastically as mine. It forced me out of my bubble. It threw me into an adult world at 16. It got me noticed by Southern Virginia University, and now I’m at the school of my dreams blogging about the book that got me here. Hopefully that little pack of papers keeps getting other kids somewhere -- into more reading, into more dreaming, into more achieving. Even if it doesn’t do anything else, it won’t be the end of the world, since it was the beginning of mine. When we find books that change our lives, it doesn’t matter how many people read it too. Some of my siblings haven’t even read my books (but maybe this will guilt trip them into reading them.) Most life changing books are probably the ones hardly anyone reads. Because come on, really, how many people’s lives were changed for the better by Twilight? (Yeah, I went there. I had to at least attempt to make my post controversial, especially with that new movie out and all. :)


Melissa is a copy editor at The Accolade.

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