I grew up in a book-friendly house. My mother was always reading and reading to me. Trips to the grocery store were fun because I knew 9 times out of 10 I would come home with a Little Golden Book. My collection was massive! Then, almost overnight, the magic was gone.
I went from loving books to hating books. Everything was boring. Everything.
In the fifth grade there was a small blip on the reading radar. Our teacher had been reading Wait till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn to the class and I was enthralled (a definite sign of things to come). While other kids were scared, I was excited! Later that year Mary Downing Hahn came to our school for a reading and book signing–an event I’ve never forgotten. I had bought her latest book, The Time of the Witch, just for the occasion.
It’s important to note that around the same time I became obsessed with old horror movies (and new ones if I was lucky to catch them on t.v., e.g. The Terminator and Alien).
Alas, the blip on the reading radar was short lived. I went back to: everything is boring and everything we read in school is crap. My belief in this affirmation was unshakable. In the seventh grade we were to read the book The Yearling. As far as I know everyone in my class read the book, except for me. I did try, you have to believe me, but I read one page and wanted to rip my eyeballs out. There was no way I could survive all five hundred and twenty-eight pages. So I didn’t read it. Instead, I paid extra close attention to the teacher’s lecture on the chapters, took detailed notes, and in the end I made a scored an A on the test. Never again would that happen. LOL
Eight years (if we don’t count kindergarten) had passed, and except for a short blip, I was one of those kids that hated reading. An anonymous gift left on my desk at school changed everything. I’ve never forgotten the look of the lone paperback book sitting in the middle of my desk, in stark contrast to the pseudo-oak finish. Stephen King’s Pet Sematary (with a square sheet of heart stickers) changed my life. Forever. But to be fair so did the anonymous gift giver. I read Pet Sematary, and then I read every other Stephen King book I could find. The books began calling to me. When I exhausted the King books I swept through the Dune series and The Lord of the Rings until the next King book was released. I couldn’t stop reading. I also realized that these books were more often than not better than their movie counterparts. Everything had changed.
I still prefer Horror and SFF over any other genre, but I’m not so quick to dismiss a book because of its genre. I’ve also taken to revisiting some of the classics I scoffed at as a child. My life without books? Unimaginable.
But while writing this post I realized those eight years of grade school were not without books and learning. I wasn’t reading the typical fiction of most girls my age but I did have a thirst for knowledge. My home library consisted a collection of books on horses. (I began riding horses when I was seven and continued with lessons and shows till I was about fourteen. Horses were my life and I loved reading about the different breeds.) We also had an enormous collection of National Geographics that I loved perusing. On trips to the library I gravitated toward field guides and books on Geology. In the sixth and seventh grade my attention turned to Marine Biology, specifically sharks. I absorbed, much to my mother’s amazement, everything I could learn about sharks. I demonstrated this knowledge on a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium, where I told my cousins the names of all the sharks without looking at the identification cards. In the eight grade it was foreign languages, and so forth.
So. To be honest I’ve always been a reader, but my love of fiction didn’t manifest till I was fourteen. Or maybe I’d never been given the right sort of fiction. 😉
Interesting post! I’m glad someone left that book on your desk for you! 🙂
I have always been a reader, and was one of those kids who was always with a nose in a book. Looking back, I can see where I had a couple of surges in one direction for a while (horror at one point, poetry at another), and now have evened out.
Amanda Makepeace said:
My daughter is that way. She’s loved reading since she learned how, always has a book, and when she doesn’t she’s having a fit. LOL Thinking back on my reading habits uncovered things I’d forgotten. It’s fun taking a trip down memory lane. 🙂
What a great post Amanda! I love hearing about how one chance event changed e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g for ya. So cool.
I am sure you would have somehow stumbled into reading anyway, even if you had stuck to nonfiction to learn all about horses … and sharks, oh my!
Your post makes me want to write my own, but since my outlet for blogging about books is work related I’d have to slant it just the right way. Maybe later … maybe never. lol.
You are too cool for school ‘Manda. 😀
Amanda Makepeace said:
Thanks Jan! You should write your own regardless of whether it will go up on the blog. It’s a great experience. 😀