We are the product of the books we read as children and young adults. They shape the vocabulary we use to shape the world we live in: they spark interests and ideas and ideals that we may never be consciously aware of harboring. Sometimes we’re lucky. Sometimes we can point to the exact moment where everything changed.
I was fourteen. I read like books were oxygen and I was in danger of suffocation if I stopped for more than a few minutes. I was as undiscriminating about books as a coyote is about food—I needed words more than I needed quality, and it was rare for me to hit something that would actually make me slow down. It was even rarer for me to hit something that would make me speed up, rushing toward the end so I could close the book, sigh, flip it over, and start again from the beginning.
I liked fairy tales. I liked folk music. When I found a book in a line of books about fairy tales, with a title taken from a ballad, I figured it would be good for a few hours.
I didn’t expect it to change my life.