I remember the exact moment I fell in love with reading. I cannot tell you the exact moment I fell in love with my husband. I cannot tell you the exact moment for probably any other thing I love or enjoy. However, I remember that moment very clearly.
It was in my second grade year 1992 or early ‘93. I remember that it was cold outside so it would have had to be winter time. But I lived in North Yorkshire England, so, hell, it could have been any time of year. I remember I had been struggling with reading in school. I was fairly frustrated with the subject. One day my parents decided to get take away for dinner this particular evening. They bundled my sister and I into the car and off we went to pick up whatever it was we had ordered. While I was waiting for Dad to run into the shop for our food I sat in the car with Mom. I was bored. So bored as any 6 or 7 year old would have been. As I was waiting in the car I started reading the shop signs that lined the street. I realized I could read every sign. That is when the pin dropped. I COULD READ.
“I love reading,” I proudly announced to my mother sitting in the passenger seat.
And I did. From that moment on, I loved getting lost in worlds found between the covers. By the time second grade was upon me I found that kids were mean creatures that constantly made my life hell. I found a way that I could escape from the unpleasantness of my school life.
Baby-Sitters Club was my first series that I fell in love with. I loved the characters. I loved that each book followed a different girl. Maryann was my favorite of the group of girls. The shy, quiet, yet strong willed girl was someone that I completely identified with. Each girl had qualities that I wanted to embody. Claudia with her art talent, Mallory with her kindness, Dawn with her amazing attitude towards life and her California ways, Stacey’s beauty, Kristy’s no nonsense sporty ways. These girls were perfect. Good wholesome reading for the young reader. There were real problems to deal with. Divorced parents, school trouble, the squad squabbling, siblings, taking care of younger kids. Boys were a minor detail. In fact, it was half-way through the series before a boy even showed up in any real sense. For the next few years I got a steady stream of the BSC books thanks to my super awesome Mom that got me into fan-club which sent me 2 books a month.
A few years later, in seventh-grade I was tired of the BSC and books like it. I was ready for something more grown up. I remember going to the school library (by this time my family had moved to Puerto Rico). As I got older the kids around me got more and more cruel. I only knew military and government children. We were all going through similar things. Constant moving, being away from extended families, having small support systems in a new area. These things take their toll on children. Sometimes children take their stressors out on the weak ones. The quiet ones. Not to mention that I was not as coordinated as the rest of the kids. I was the odd kid. I was an easy target. Look at me rambling, I guess that will be a post for another time. I digress, I retreated to the books. It was just better that way. I found Mary Higgins Clark.
The first Mary Higgins Clark book I picked up was Where are the Children?. It was my first grown up book. I must have felt so mature for reading it. It was one of the first stories that I read that followed more than one character at a time. It was a bit of a challenge, I imagine, for me at the time. But not so much so that I was deterred. I was cheering on the woman in the book that had been wrongly accused of killing her first two children from a previous marriage. After that I was hooked on the strong females of MHC’s books. I often to this day when giving book recs will list at least one of her novels. One of her characters even was the inspiration for naming my eldest daughter. I guess you’re seeing a theme by now.
Eventually, I had to move on from MHC. I had read most of her books and I had gotten to the point where I had gotten so comfortable with her writing that I could pick out the killer far before it was intended. I had read almost every book she had written (up to that point at least). I tried getting into a few other authors in a similar genre. Nothing really stuck. I tried Dean Koontz. I just couldn’t get into the one book that tried. I never even bothered with a single other title of his. I tried James Patterson. I must admit that I haven’t gotten into most of his novels, however When the Wind Blows is one of my all time favorites. I even enjoyed the YA spin off series that followed Max.
Then in 8th grade someone encouraged me to give Harry Potter a try. I was fairly convinced that I would not like it, but I gave it a shot anyway. To my surprise, I enjoyed it. At that point only the first three books were published. I read and reread them many times awaiting the books to come. I had to have the rest of the books on the day that they were released. Hermione became one of my all time favorite heroines.
My very first job in high school was at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Looking back, it is a case of ‘the chicken and the egg’ on whether I started there because of my love of fantasy and history or if my first job stoked those fires. I started branching out into fantasy works. It took me many times to get started, but eventually, the Lord of the Rings trilogy came close to my heart. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind was a fun read. When the morale of the story is ‘people are stupid’ it tends to stick out in your mind! I didn’t get much further on in the Sword of Truth series though. I know there are many other books in the genre that I read, but none stand out now.
Steven King became an author I started to get into while I was in high school, too. The Stand was the first book of his that I read. I even did an excerpt of the book in my sophomore speech class. I was proud when the whole class jumped when I got through with my part. I have a few King novels that I like a lot, but none would I class in my All Time Favorite list. The characters of The Stand were wholly relatable, or at least believable. Something about an End of the World saga has always been very morbidly interesting to me. King is about the only author that I can truly say that I enjoy in the horror genre though I have not read some of the King classics (The Shining or IT, for example.) I’m a big ol’ baby. The anticipation of the possibility of being scared intimidates me. In the horror genre I read a few John Saul books and did enjoy them a bit. The couple I read had cool female leads, and well, I have a weakness for that.
Somewhere in my senior year my friends showed me the absolute awesomeness of thrift store shopping. Of course, I gravitated to the book sections. One day I picked up a romance and read the back cover fully expecting to mock it for being total trash…… only it sounded like something that I actually wanted to read. So I left with Jane Feather’s Vanity I figured that for fifty cents I could take the risk. I made it through yet another author’s entire book selection before I branched out to other books in the genre. At this point I cannot even tell you how many historical romances (they have to be historical or they don’t usually hold my attention) I have read. I can tell you hands down that Julia Quinn is my favorite author in the genre, with Elizabeth Hoyt a very, very close second. I can tell you I cannot stand Eloise James. I also give honorable mention to Lisa Kleypas and Karen Hawkins as good authors. Though, I tend to gravitate to historical London for my romance I love a good American Western (strong women, hello!) romance. I have come to love my “sex books”, as my husband calls them, I actually want to author my own romances one day.
I wrote this post at the prompt of my friend over at I Will Not Live in Vain. I didn’t realize when I said that I would write a bit about what books have had on my life would blow up into this massive post. Anyways, if you made it this far, thanks for listening to me ramble. Oh, and check out her blog. I promise she’s much more interesting than I am over here.