Entry into the World of Reading

When did it start for you? I was fifteen. Home from school, sick with the flu. I suppose it was one of those late-illness recovery days where I was still too sick to leave the house but well enough to be bored silly. This was 1977. No internet, no DVDs or VCR, no video games. Game shows and soaps were the only screen options during the day. A deck of cards was good for a couple of hands of solitaire, a small distraction.

During her lunch break, my mother popped away from work and bought me a book at the Grand Union—Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson. I was not a reader. During summer breaks, my father required my brothers and me to read three books. Did I do this? I can’t remember reading any books as a kid except a giant coffee-table book with the origin-stories of all the DC comic book characters. My father only counted that book because there were a few pages of pseudo-analysis introducing each character.

Maybe fifteen was the age to get hooked. Maybe Lord Foul’s Bane was simply that awesome. I don’t know, I tried to read it twice over the past twenty years to understand the appeal to fifteen-year-old me, but I couldn’t get into it either time. But in 1977, magic. It’s hardcore fantasy. A modern-day man repeatedly finds himself transported into an ancient world to do battle with a villainous wizard (at least that’s how I remember it now). Engaging stuff for a fanciful teen.

I moved directly into Tolkien, the two Donaldson sequels, something about the Bermuda Triangle, a few books by an up-and-coming author named Stephen King. Nonstop, book after book… ever after. I was hooked. I was a reader. And I’ve been one now for forty-five years. I think there’s a book for everyone. A match—like a soul mate—to snare an unsuspecting nonreader and draw them into this special world. Leave me a comment. Tell me about yours. What book was your entry into the world of reading?

32 thoughts on “Entry into the World of Reading

  1. I think the first “adult” book I read was The Caine Mutiny. I also probably read this when I was about 15. Over the years I went on to read many of Herman Wouk’s books.

    My current favorite series books are the mystery ones by Harlan Coben featuring Myron Bolitar.

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  2. The first books I remember were the Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew books. I was reading everything in my school library from at least 2nd grade on. I’ve always been a reader. Books were my friends, and my escape. Childhood was difficult for me.

    I haven’t been able to read a book since 2019. My mind wanders or I fall asleep. I keep trying, and I will continue to try. It’s been really weird for me. I used to read 2-3 books a week.

    Have you read King’s Dark Tower series? Highly recommend!!

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    • I’ve been a bit off on my reading too for the past couple of years. It started with the pandemic and it hasn’t fully improved yet. I tried to read the dark tower and I couldn’t get into it. But in the Forward of the Dark Tower (I’m pretty sure), King gives a shout out to Lord Foul’s Bane.

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      • If you ever do, let me know if it’s there. I tried to google it and came up blank. Always possible that I made it up. Although I feel that it was what spurred me to try and read it one of those times.

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  3. In 5th grade, we had that deal where we could buy books from the school. My parents would only let me read non-fiction. So, the first book I remember was about Wilt Chamberlain. Go figure….I don’t think his sex life was public at the time. lol.

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  4. Jeff, there was a book once, a picture book with words really. I can’t recall any of the stories, but the main character was an elephant. He wore a fez (?) and he lived in a cave. Maybe he was French. But I couldn’t swear to this.

    I also remember a musty hardback with thick pages. The snowbound adventure stories were divided by these great watercolour illustrations (with glazed protectors) of mohicans in hides with tomahawks and trappers on sleds with huskies. I sometimes kid myself I read Lord of The Rings trilogy, but maybe it was just Fellowship of… (abridged).

    There was a pre teen period: Rats! The Cross & The Switchblade, March Battalion, Jaws. But, really it all began earlier on Treasure Island…ahh!

    Great post!

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  5. Oh, I love this question and seeing people’s answers! I swear I started reading in the womb. My first book was The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. I badgered my mother mercilessly to teach me to read so that I could read it to myself.

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    • Ah, those Seuss books. I absolutely loved reading them to my kids when they were little. I might have liked them more than they did. I wish I was more of a reader as a kid, but I’ve definitely made up for it since.

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  6. When I was a kid there was that Pizza Hut reward going around. Read so many books and get the free individual pizza. So, I started with Beverly Cleary’s Beezus and Ramona series. Then onto all of her stuff. Hardy Boys, choose your own adventures, Judy Blume – those were my early reading days. We moved from Wichita to Kansas City and I switched over to tween reading – all of the VC Andrews and all of the Anne of Green Gable series. I started writing then. I never really had any close friends and seemed to always be in my room with a book or my stereo. I still have all the books I read in KC and am now tempted to pick one up!

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    • Way to go Pizza Hut. I wonder if they still have an interest in literacy. Might be fun to revisit those… Although when I’ve tried to do that it hasn’t been interesting (most notably ‘my side of the mountain’. I spent the whole story worried about his parents.

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  7. The first “chapter book” I read was Samantha of the American Girls collection when I was 8. From there I picked up the Chronicles of Narnia series, the BFG by Roald Dahl, then the Babysitter’s Club. The Giver and Island of the Blue Dolphins were favourites. It got more grown-up as I aged but I loved reading. I used to get in trouble for reading under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping.

    Pleasure reading has always taken a backseat to university, work, professional study, and the pandemic hurt it too. But these days now it’s mostly Sci-fi, N.K.Jemisin and the Expanse Series as well as some of the older ones. I’m trying to branch out a bit here and there though.

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    • Eli loved the BFG. i think we had that out of the library 10 times. I don’t think I knew you read sci-fi. You should recommend some books. For years, reading was my highest priority. The pandemic disrupted that. I’d like to try to get that back… plus writing.

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      • I hope you find some great books to help spur on getting back into it! I find I just need a really good one to get lost in.

        For hard Sci-Fi, I don’t think it gets any better than The Expanse by James S.A. Corey – book one is Leviathan Wakes. I sometimes wish I could find anything else that was as good, but in a few years of searching I still haven’t found it yet.

        A more fantasy-based one is the Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. I’ve read it three times.

        Next on my list is Earthsea by Ursula K LeGuin as I’ve heard good things. I’m trying to get through Interview with a Vampire first in honour of spooky season but not making much progress (keep getting waylaid by Christmas movies) I might give up on that one and continue with my to-be-read list. XD

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  8. My dad read me the entirety of the Cat in the Hat the day I came home from the hospital. They tell me I cried through the whole thing, lol. Aside from the standard children’s books, some of the very first books I remember loving were the Secret Garden, Little Women, the Anne of Green Gables series, the Royal Diaries series, and the American Girl series that made me want to learn Spanish. This is making me want to revisit Anne of Green Gables asap!

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    • Unfortunately, other than the cat in the hat (which I really enjoy), I haven’t read any of these books. Several women mention Anne of Green Gables. I feel bad that we never got that for our daughter. (or the secret garden or little women…). I wonder if she ever found these books on her own.

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  9. All of the Seuss books, and the Babar the Elephant books, along with Charlotte’s Web (which went over my head), are the early childhood books I remember having at home. I also loved going to our town’s library, which had a fabulous children’s section, and checking out books each week, but don’t remember what tickled my fancy then. But comic books were how I learned to love reading, especially the Archie and Jughead series. My parents figured any reading was good reading, so they didn’t fuss too much about content. My brothers and I spent our allowances on comic books – they bought Superman and other super hero comics, I bought Archie & Jughead, but read their choices as well.

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    • I’m not sure why it took so long for reading to ‘catch’ with me. I was a very slow reader, that might have been part of it. I haven’t heard much about the Little House books in this conversation thread, which surprises me.

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  10. I loved reading for as long as I can remember. Way back in kindergarten and first I remember always getting “Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka” books from the library. I had a wonderful set of abridged classics which drew me in – Tom Sawyer, Robinson Crusoe, The Five Little Pepper, and others. I was reading Jane Austin “Pride and Prejudice” in fifth or sixth grade. Little Women was a favorite of the young me for many years. For some reason, a few years ago I began reading less, probably about the time I started writing my book. Now, I’m trying to pick up again with audio books.

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    • I actually initially wrote this for the library newsletter, and I actually got emails from people telling me about their entry. My reading really got disrupted by the pandemic and it’s still a little wonky. I’ve been rereading my old favorites or going to mindless stuff like Dan Brown and Dean Koontz. I’ve noticed since my med change, I’ve had an easier time settling down to read. I’ve enjoyed our afternoon of correspondence. (of course, I’m supposed to be working).

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