Hi everyone! My name is Bethany Hagen, and I am so excited to be here introducing myself as a new member of the League! Today, I thought I'd share my reading biography, as it were, since my life biography is about as interesting as the life of a desert microbe.
Madeline (circa 1987 - 1990): I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in a trailer park just across the state line in Kansas. I still remember flipping through the pages, hoping that my parents wouldn’t discover that I wasn’t taking a nap like I was supposed to. I also chewed on this book a lot. It tasted pretty good.
The Magician’s Nephew: As the only Protestant at a Catholic school, I was a little lonely, and while I never did manage to recite the Chaplet to my teacher's expectations, I did read all seven of the Narnia books in less than a month. This was my first introduction to fantasy and to the idea that animals drank tea.
The Lord of the Rings: This is usually the book that--aside from Jane Eyre--I name as my all-time favorite. We read The Hobbit as a class in eighth grade, and I asked for the LOTR books that year for my birthday. They are currently bound in duct-tape. Yes, we talked about naming our daughter Eowyn.
The Once and Future King: When I was fifteen, I was about to get my first degree black belt in kenpo karate and become the co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. T.H. White showed me the humanizing power of wit and also that you can use animals to describe the 1930s political climate.
The Dark Tower: My karate instructor literally threw The Gunslinger at me one day before our demo team practice. This series punctuated my later high school years and college, and while I have been known to gripe about Uncle Stevie’s page count a number of times, the combination of high fantasy (a la LOTR) and Arthurian influence (a la The Once and Future King) was pure Bethany-bait. And when Roland finally reached the Dark Tower, I did cry. Possibly from exhaustion.
The Little Prince: I was supposed to read this book for a college French class and I didn’t, probably because I was too busy waving a clove cigarette around at a coffee shop and checking Myspace. But I finally did read it last month, on a whim, and I can say that it is one of the most profound meditations on love and life that I’ve ever read. And even though I do cry frequently while reading, I cried so hard at the end of this one that my husband wandered in from playing World of Warcraft to make sure that I hadn’t broken my brain or something. So much had changed since my tired-cry from the seventh Dark Tower book--we have a house, two adorable (if feral) toddlers, and I’m finally achieving my dream of getting published--but so much was the same. It all boils down to taming our planets and tending to our roses, as tiresome as they can be.