top of page
  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Fife

ReadingMagic -When you were a kid, what kind of book characters did you relate to? Day 18

I was the youngest of six kids. And we were, all in all, a fairly nerdy, geeky family, whether our thing was drama, band, academics, Star Trek, fantasy, Sci fi or whatever. I feel pretty safe saying we all fell into the crowd that was not the "in crowd" as kids. But aside from my junior high school years, I don't remember being at all particularly gutted over it. And by the time I was in high school, I had my own tribe I heavily identified with and was very proud of it.

So as a kid, I primarily identified with the outsider kids in books. Not necessarily socially backward, but seldom were these characters what you would call physically adept. They were the nerds, the geeks, the bullied. And if they were on the youngest in the family end of the spectrum, I usually identified with them more. Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time. Will Stanton and Brant from The Dark is Rising series. The younger

Pevensies, even Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole from the Chronicles of Narnia. Turtle Wexler from The Westing Game. The title character from The Whipping Boy (as the youngest, I always regretted not having a younger sibling to pass on the picking to). Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth. Phillipe the Mouse from Ladyhawke (my oldest sister used to tie me up to see if I could escape - it was a great game & I think I partially saw myself especially like the Mouse there).

In fairness - I really had no interest in books that weren't a little bit about rooting for the underdog. And to a degree, I'm still that way.

But now at over 40 years old, and narrating audiobooks, I relate to all the characters, or at least try to. I do remember adoring Thrawn in Timothy Zahn's books, but aside from him, I hadn't really glommed onto the bad guys (ok, I did have a Vader fixation for a long time). But now - I LOVE voicing villains. Especially when the villain doesn't think they are the villain, and the best written villains are always the heroes in their own minds. Some of my favorite scenes I've performed are where the villain breaks down (I'm looking at you, Jenelle Schmidt - I like Seamas almost as much as I like Brant).

I also still root for the underdog. Samwise Gamgee in LOTR. Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter. They're the real heroes in their sagas.

Who did you identify with as a kid when you read? What about now? Have you emulated any of your childhood literary heroes?

bottom of page