Photo: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

Photo: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry
Table of Contents

If I think hard enough about it, I’m pretty sure I could map out my life in books. Even though I rarely talk about literature, there are several novels I could line up that would trace my progression throughout life.

Back in seventh grade, we were required to read Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. I would argue that Spirit Bear is the first book I ever loved and became obsessed with. I think that as soon as I finished reading it (or maybe even while reading it) I knew I wanted to make a movie out of it someday. I still do. I don’t know why that book meant so much to me at such a young age and why I still care about it even though I haven’t read it in something like a decade. It’s a shame the sequel sucks.

In middle school, my family went on vacation to Tennessee for Thanksgiving. On one of those trips, the cabin we stayed in had a little lending library, which included the novel Son of a Wanted Man by Louis L’Amour. I started reading it and became captivated. My dad agreed to let me take the book home since I wasn’t finished. Then, almost as soon as we began the drive back, I stopped reading the book. Like, permanently. This past summer I made myself re-read the whole thing, and this time I finished it. The ending was disappointing, but at least it’s over.

The Great Gatsby is the only novel I’ve read twice. I love that book. I think I was one of the only people, if not the only person in my high school class, who liked it. Now, four years after first reading it, I have a better understanding of Jay Gatsby’s longing for the past and old flames.

Then there’s Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss: a novel I picked up randomly at the library ‘cause it had a cool cover. I read the synopsis, and it sounded like it was at least partially a gay romance, so I checked it out. It wasn’t. But I still devoured the book quickly, and it remains one of my favorites. I think about it a lot.

Finally, I think that Anything Could Happen by Will Walton would round out my timeline. I won the book in an online contest, read it in under five hours, and even though it’s nothing great, I appreciate it as one of the first pieces of LGBTQ fiction I encountered.

So, I might not know where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been—at least in books.

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