What’s your favorite book and why?
“No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.”
– L. Frank Baum The Wonderful Wizard of OZ
Surly no child’s library is complete without a copy of L. Frank Baum’s classic Oz tale. I was first introduced to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” through the 1939 musical adaptation. I remember how much I begged my parents to get my hands on a copy of the novel once I realized the movie was based on a book. Immediately I realized that when compared to the movie the book and it’s characters were much more fleshed out and expansive, and that Oz, along with it’s thirteen sequels, was a much darker and richer world than MGM had portrayed. Baum’s world of Oz quickly became the story to which I compared all others.
When I was six years old, my family watched a biopic on the life of Baum called The Dreamer of Oz. The story focused primarily on Baum’s early life and the years leading up to the publication of his first Oz book. I would later learn that much of the portrayal of his life had been fictionalized for television, but by that point I had learned that in order for great stories to be read they must first be written. I was immediately hooked on the idea of creating my own Oz.
Life wasn’t always easy as a child. But thanks to Oz I had learned how to take the frightening and hurtful experiences and turn them into made up stories (made up stories that when looked at closely weren’t all that made up after all). My journey through the foster care system, and afterward when I was on my own, often mirrored the themes from the Oz story of searching for a place to call home.
Through the years my taste in reading has matured, but I find no matter how much time passes it is Oz, or Oz-like stories, like the Harry Potter or Hunger Games series of books, which renew my excitement about my own writing ambitions. So while it may seem like an impossible task to pin-point a single book as my favorite, I can definitely credit Oz for my appreciation for a good story and my love of the craft.
Peter Combs is a 28 year old husband, writer and former foster child. He currently lives with his wife, Renee, in Atlanta, Georgia. Peter is the author of the blog Home.