When I was around fourteen or fifteen I wrote an essay about books. I had just gotten a copy of The Book Thief and its language had such a hold on me that I started to invest myself in worlds of words.
I remember a friend asking me if I still had the essay a few years later, if I'd kept it somewhere — sadly, I told her, I think I lost it.
But its charm and wonder stays with me: it dreamt of the coziness of sinking into a sofa with a book open before my eyes like the smile of a familiar friend, the magic of a portal and the comfort of being in good company with such carefully chosen words. The essay to me now feels like a kind of manifesto, an important letter to my childhood and a thank you to my mom, who gifted me with some of the most important books in my life.
There was Junie B. Jones, the series whose illustrations were enchanting to me — hiding away Junie's middle initial in her glasses was probably what got me so interested in logos and puzzles. Then there was The Littles and several series about fairies, ballerinas, and ponies, illustrations so wonderfully simple I'd read their stories over and over again just to feel the pace and expanse of their universes.
Most important to me has been In the Realm of the Never Fairies: The Secret World of Pixie Hollow, the most gorgeous book I'd ever seen, with lavish, elegant, light pencil drawings brought to life with swift watercolor, illustrations that I'd trace and expand on. This was worldbuilding like no other.
Even the make believe recipes in this book were a delight: they'd add the instructions, set in a handwritten font (something like Bradley Hand) to a watercolor painting of a scroll — lifelike enough to believe in, its artifice just about visible.
These days, while I work I sometimes put on a Hogwarts-inspired soundscape* in the background to cushion my thoughts. I imagine them making their way to my mind, pattering like furtive footsteps on the Marauder's Map.
The videos accompanying these soundscapes have such a quiet joy to them: soft sunshine, the give of a chair, a scratched table — they were so nice, so full of love; maybe a bit booklike, so welcoming, unassuming.
* its politics and ideology aside