I wanted to start my illustration series with Lyra from the Golden Compass because it was such an important book for me growing up. I remember my bought me the book on a whim one day, and after I actually got around to reading it I couldn't stop. I blew through the first and the second in a weekend and then had to wait two painful years for the final book in the trilogy to be published (and during that waiting period I read the first two over and over again). This is one of those books that I encourage everyone I meet to read (much to their annoyance I'm sure). It's a story with an epic scope told from a fairly small perspective that lives within the realm of sci fi/ fantasy without being overtly so. All of the characters are enjoyable (and terrifying - I had a teacher named Mrs. Coulter who shared a remarkable number of traits with the villain of the same name from the book) and flawed, and it's great to read about a main girl character who's more nasty and mischievous than sweet and curious. This book is best read within the comfort of a warm room while a huge snowstorm goes on outside. I don't talk about the movie.