My Ideal Bookshelf – Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

So far, the books from my Ideal Bookshelf are books I’ve read multiple times.

The Invasion, twice.

Marvel 1602, lost count.

Lord of the Flies, at least three times, possibly four.

The first time I attempted to read Lord of the Flies, I was in 5th grade and was reading it at my mom’s behest. I don’t really remember much about my impressions the first time reading it. I think it was a bit over my head for a 5th grade reading.

I am pretty sure I read it again, sometime in middle school, but alas, I cannot put my finger on exactly when. Mayhaps, in 8th grade?

My freshman year provided another opportunity to read it, as it was assigned reading along with The Pearl (which made me think I would always loathe Steinbeck, not the case) and Romeo and Juliet (which made me think I would always loathe Shakespeare, also, not the case).  Whether it was my disdain for the other two assigned readings (and how they were presented in class) or my finding Lord of the Flies to be a more mature version of Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, I loved it.

A survival story, sans adults, but with a look at how society works and how society thinks.

A Hatchet with constant moose attacks where the good guy doesn’t walk away unscathed and may not even walk away at all.

Kind of like life.

My Ideal Bookshelf – Marvel 1602

Marvel 1602, Neil Gaiman

I’ve always enjoyed comic books and superheroes.

I spent many a childhood weekend morning watching the likes of the X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, and others save the world again and again. I had a small stack of random back issues and my sole graphic novel, The Death of Superman, in my adolescent space-then-fishing room and would read and reread them over and over again.

I no longer have any of those back issues, having given them to my mom for various art projects over the years.

Much to the disappointment of others, I did not grow out of my comic book reading. Heck, I spent the weekend Robert Kirkman’s Invincible series, Jason Aaron’s incontinuity Star Wars run, and the wildly fun Greg Pak series, The Totally Awesome Hulk. Let’s just say that the Hoopla app and the Marvel Unlimited app make my little ol’ nerd heart happy.

While I did read a comic book issue here and there, I never considered myself a comic book reader. This shift occurred during the summer before my junior year of high school. On my first trip to New York City, a trip to see musicals and sightsee, one of the tour guides kept telling me about the Batman: Hush story arc. I eventually made my way to Midtown Comics and purchased the first volume and wanting to pick up a souvenir for my brother walked away with the first volume of Ultimate X-Men, an alternate Marvel Universe series, which reintroduced the origin of the X-Men in a modern day setting and bypassed decades of continuity.

Batman: Hush was good, well written by Jeph Loeb and fantastic art by Jim Lee, but I still wasn’t a comic addict, yet. After returning from New York City, I wanted to find the second volume for Hush, and I made my way to a Tulsa comic book shop. It’s there that I found my fix and Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602.

I’d settled in for the long haul of reading the Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man series, but it was not until I found Marvel 1602 that I truly became a comic book reader.

On the bus to a contest speech tournament, I was admonished for reading it and not reviewing my lines, but I couldn’t put it down.

It was a fun and clever.

It was an escape.

My Ideal Bookshelf – The Invasion

The Invasion (Animorphs, 1), K.A. Applegate

Prior to reading the Animorphs, my series reading consisted of The Hardy Boys and Hank the Cowdog. In 4th grade, I discovered the Animorphs series, much to the dismay of my grade school teacher. Dismay because as an author herself, she loathed that I was reading a book series that was not written by the author, instead by an army of ghost writers.

Years later, I would try to look back and see how far I went into the series, fairly certain it was book #32, The Separation, a storyline where a character in the story is more or less “cloned” after morphing into a starfish. All the plots of the books meld together in my memory, in a similar way that plots of individual comic books begin to be forgotten, only remembering overarching storylines. But in my research into the series, I was surprised to discover that very few books in the series were actually ghost written.

Of the entire series, I have only have ever reread The Invasion, which I reread during my first year of teaching after purchasing a copy at one of the Scholastic warehouse sales. It was just as fun as the first time I read it. Five kids come across a crashed alien spaceship, are given the ability to transform into animals, and find out about an evil plot to take over planet.

I mean, how much fun is that plot?

Young adult literature really seemed to take off once I got to college, following the rise of The Hunger Games and Twilight fandom. But, at the time I was in elementary, middle, and high school the selection of YA was pretty limited. Goosebumps was all the craze, but I never was drawn to the series, having only read Deep Trouble, a teen Jaws knockoff. Animorphs became my obsession, which would eventually lead me to more and more science fiction and fantasy, culminating with my high school reading teacher asking, “What are you trying to escape?”

That question both offended me and struck deeply, staying in the background of my mind nearly every time I picked up a new comic book or finished another fantasy novel. I eventually accepted what I had been trying to escape, and it wasn’t easy. But, by that time, my sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book fandom had been cemented. The Animorphs series was my gateway into the realms of Narnia, Westeros, the Two Rivers, and so much more.

Although, I do wonder if there was something more to my gateway of choice. Was I drawn to this series for its transformation storylines? Or, was it simply a fun comic book-esque series about the triumph of good vs. evil?

My Ideal Bookshelf, An Introduction

It must have been during my second year of teaching that I found the Tumblr, Writing Prompts. It used to be updated all of the time, and I used these prompts from there daily during my time teaching in Oklahoma City. Over the years, the frequency of new prompts added has certainly declined, but what do really expect after posting over eight hundred different writing prompts?

I would scroll through prompt after prompt to save for my classroom’s eventual use. And, although I cannot find the specific Ideal Bookshelf prompt, I am fairly certain it is from the one of the writing prompts on the Tumblr page, and it is one of the writing prompts that stuck with me. From prompts ranging from having to imagine a world without cars and “only horses” to beginning a prompt with the sentence frame, “I wish I could be six again so I could . . .”, it is the Ideal Bookshelf prompt that I routinely think back to, maintain my “shelf”, and update it as needed.  

The Ideal Bookshelf is this. It is a list of the books that have mattered to you. The books that have shaped you as a reader and thinker. They may not be the greatest books ever, but they are the books that have made a difference to you in some way. There’s an amazing website, where artist Jane Mount will paint a picture of the spines of your ideal bookshelf, which is where the Tumblr “borrowed” the idea for its prompt.  

To borrow the beginning of another prompt from the Tumblr, “David Dark says, ‘what we’re reading or listening to, or rather, what we are getting into lately is in some sense the most profound question we can ask each other.’” And, I, to some extent agree, because our interests tell stories.

High School drives with Green Day’s American Idiot used to project my brother from my car so he could free himself from the demonic music.

Childhood hours of playing the PC game, Pharaoh, and coming to terms with the human impact on the planet as the Egyptian city I planned took over the ostrich grazing grounds.

Refusing to yield my Easter gift, The Death of Superman comic book collection, to my older cousin who was horribly displeased with his Tiny Toons book.


Each book on my Ideal Bookshelf tells a story.


Ideal Bookshelf

Writing Prompts