In our opening meetings this week, our Head of School spoke about THE book: The One That Changed Everything. For him, it was Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. Once he read it, nothing was the same. Then, he asked us to consider and share our own.
My mind went to Harry Potter. As a kid, The Boy Who Lived transformed me into The Girl Who Read. I had always loved books, but my relationship with Rowling’s masterpiece was something else entirely. From chapter one, I fell deeply into Harry’s world and felt every heartbreak and victory as if it was my own. That love, magic, and utter devotion are still the standards to which I hold the book recommendations that I give to the readers in my care.
Then, I thought of Jesus’ Son, a short story collection by Denis Johnson. In college, an advisor handed me a copy and told me that the only way to write was to write something that moved people – for better or for worse. It was the first book that gave me nightmares. (I had to hide it in the freezer.) I can still remember the scene that punched me in the gut, more than a decade later. I had no idea that books could cause such a visceral reaction until she handed me this tiny volume.