From the Classics to Fantasy
By Greg Dolinsky

Reading has always been an essential activity in my life. Growing up, I was never allowed to watch television during the week, and thus was forced to seek other methods of entertainment. Encouraged by my parents, I quickly took to reading and developed a voracious appetite for books. For whatever reason, I found that reading came naturally, and as a result was always a very precocious reader. By 6th and 7th grade, I had read many of the classics that would end up being assigned in both high school and college. I went book by book through my parents library, filling my childhood with Dickens, Hemingway, and Dumas. I would read any chance I got, including during class, under the desk while the teacher was talking, prompting my 4th grade teacher to send home a letter asking my parents instruct me on the correct times to be reading. While I cant say for certain, I think that I read such literature at that time because it presented a challenge. It was something beyond what all the other kids were doing, and I wanted to see if I could handle these famous books. While in retrospect I can see that, at that age, I was really unable to get much more out of those novels than their basic plots, I think reading such books enabled me to appreciate them all the more as I got older.
However, once I reached the age where those books were being assigned regularly, I found myself looking for another way to satiate my literary appetite. I sampled many different genres until I came across a fantasy series called The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. I can still remember, back in 10th grade, staying up all night to finish reading the first book, and knowing that I had found what I was looking for in pleasure reading. From then on, I was hooked. The imaginary worlds brought to life in those novels became a place where I could go to escape the mundane routine of the day. I even found that if I was angry or depressed, I could, for the time I was reading, escape reality and thus leave my problems behind. I soon found myself in the midst of six or seven different series, eagerly waiting, year after year, for the next new installment in each.
On another level, I think I took to the fantasy genre because the stories are usually set in a feudal, medieval-style world. I love history, and my favorite area of concentration is the European middle ages. And while simply studying this time period is enjoyable, I have always wished I could go back in time and see what it was like to be a champion knight, or a powerful king. Thus through the fantasy stories, I am able to transport myself back through time and combine history with imagination.