My name is Meghan Shaffer, and this summer I’m working as a marketing intern in the trade publishing department.
Getting to work with books all day is a dream for me, because I’ve always been quite the reader. When I was in 5th grade my teacher got so fed up with me reading under my desk while she was teaching that she told me I had to keep my book out in the hall in my locker. I didn’t help the matter along when she also caught me hiding a book behind my back when I asked to go to the bathroom. These days, as a busy college student I still feel tempted to hide my book under my desk or behind my back just to have a few spare moments to read for pleasure. Luckily, this summer I get to work for Scholastic where reading is a part of the job.
Ever since I was old enough to get through chapter books on my own, I’ve been a re-reader. I’d race through books for the first time so I could solve the mysteries and get to the endings, and then often would flip back to the beginning and start all over again, reading slower this time and take in the details. Now that my TBR has gotten so long I usually race through one book to get to the next, but I still find myself reaching for old favorites when I need some comfort. Mybookprint is made up of 5 books that were important to me during 5 different periods in my life. Some of them I have read and read again countless times, and some that I know will become long loved re-reads in the future.
Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
I’ve always loved fairytale retellings, and no one does them better than Gail Carson Levine, most known for writing the beloved Ella Enchanted. I became obsessed with all her books as soon as I was old enough to get through longer chapter books, and the Snow-White retelling, Fairest, quickly became my favorite. When I read this for the first time, I had never heard of a lot of the fantasy elements. This is the first book I remember really having to use my imagination for, and I would lay in bed at night trying to picture the magical elements of this new fantasy world. Over the years the outside jacket of this book got lost and the pages are almost falling out of the binding, but it still sits proudly on my bookshelf as the first book I ever considered to be my favorite.
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
This delightful series follows a group of four kids who answer an ad in the newspaper calling for “a gifted child looking for special opportunities.” Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance pass a series of tests and are recruited for a secret mission on behalf of mysterious and kind Mr. Benedict. I loved to read these books whenever I wanted a jolt of adventure, and they’re full of fun details that I always notice in a different way when I read them again. The series is funny, engaging, and shows respect for the intelligence and problem-solving skills of kids, pointing out the pitfalls of underestimating someone because they’re young or don’t look the way you expected. Despite their best laid plans, something always goes wrong for the adults in charge of the Mysterious Benedict Society, but they trust that Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance are smart enough to fix things and save the day. And they always do just that.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Like many others who have written a Bookprint before me, I couldn’t not include Harry Potter on my list. Harry and his magical world have been with me through so many of my big life changes, and the series has held significance in my life for a lot of different reasons. It reminds me of my relationship with my father and of our shared love for reading; our reading tastes are vastly different, and the Harry Potter series are the only beloved books we have in common. When I’m upset about something, I usually read Harry Potter to calm down, going to wherever I last dropped off reading it. Most recently I re-read the entire series while I was studying abroad. It was the perfect way to pass time on long flights or bus rides, and it now reminds me of the magic and adventure I can find all over the world. No matter where I am in the world or in my life, I know that opening the pages to check in with Harry, Ron, and Hermione will always make me feel at home.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
During my senior year of high school our final English project was to pick an author and read 1000 pages by them. I picked British author Kazuo Ishiguro and, not having read any of his work before, hoped I would at least be able to tolerate a few of his books in order to write my final research paper. Instead, I fell in love with his writing, specifically the deeply realistic characters and the stories they tell. Never Let Me Go is a dystopian science fiction that follows Kathy and her friends at a fictional boarding school in England as they struggle to understand their place in. the world around them. I read this book several times my last year of high school, and though it’s been a couple of years I find myself thinking about it often and the lessons I took away from it. The book asks questions about the intentions with which we treat others and how the choices we make affect the people we love. As I’ve grown older and changed my answers to those questions might have changed, but I still often think back to Never Let Me Go.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This book was originally published in Spanish, but the English translation hasn’t lost any of the beautiful language from author Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Set in Fascist Spain in the 1940s, the book follows boy Daniel Sempere as he gets caught up in a dangerous quest surrounding the mysterious author of his favorite book, Julian Carax. Part adventure mystery, part historical fiction, with a touch of magical realism, and full of beautiful descriptions and a beautiful cast of characters, it is unlike anything else I had read before. This is a book for people who love books, a story for people who value storytelling. As soon as I started The Shadow of the Wind, I knew that I was going to love it, and I immediately had a sneaking suspicion it would end up being one of my favorite books. I was right.