And Then A Reader Was Born


My mom likes to tell everyone she meets that I was born reading a book. I think I actually learned to read when I was four, that is the earliest memory I have of sitting down with a book to actually read the words - not just look at the pictures and imagine. I like to credit that early reading compulsion with turning me into not only a lifetime reader but an author, too.

I've had a ton of influences in my life. My mom and elementary-school-teacher grandmother (who got me hooked on non-Seuss books) pushed me not just to read for work but for fun. I had this teacher in high school (didn't we all?) who always pushed me to do more...and nearly every creative writing assignment I turned in, she wrote, "I can see this as a novel". Then she would give me a B (sometimes a B+) because she wanted more. But those comments, oh, they were inspiring. Listening to my talented husband on the radio inspires me to really work hard and pay attention. Watching my daughter grow and expand her knowledge every day is inspiring, especially since her first days were such a struggle. The list goes on.

One of my biggest influences? The Choose Your Own Adventure books. I remember vividly staying up late, reading by flashlight under the covers to see where those Adventure books would take me next...and thinking about where I might take them. When I discovered those books, I realized that I could control the book. I could 'write' the book, at least a version of it, by deciding what should happen next. I discovered my first Adventure book just after I turned 7 - yeah, way too young for them and I had to look up a LOT of words. But I couldn't stop reading them. I made different decisions and read and re-read the books until pages started falling out. It was soon after that that I started seriously writing stories - some of them still live in a basement somewhere. Most have been destroyed over the years.

When I think about my writing career, I give a lot of the credit to Mom, Big Mommy (my grandmother) and the Adventure books..because they all had a hand in making me a reader. And that turned me into a writer.

Were you (and are you) an avid reader? Who was your influence?

Comments

  1. Yes, have been an avid reader since I was small. I loved the Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys. Ellery Queen. Anything with a mystery to solve.

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  2. I got hooked on reading in fourth grade. I read a couple of books that got to me - Esther Forbes' "Johnny Tremaine," and a Landmark biography, "Life of Saint Patrick." I also discovered Robert H. Heinlein's juveniles - I asked for and received his "Farmer in the sky" for my tenth bithday.

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  3. I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading. But I don't think four. That's neat. Like, Jerri, I loved, and still do, anything mysterious. Nancy Drew, in particular. And Trixie Beldon.

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    1. OH, I wanted to BE Trixie!

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    2. I don't remember Trixie..but Nancy is on my keeper list!

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  4. I think I was born with a book in my hands. My earliest memories are of Enid Blyton being read to me. Then I learned to read and discovered westerns (Rin Tin Tin, Roy Rogers, Annie Oakley, etc.) then Trixie Belden and Cherry Ames (my first mysteries). Still love both those genres today. But the first book I remember reading was a biography of Douglas Bader, a WWI pilot who had both his legs amputated. Cheery reading for a little girl, huh?

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    1. Lol, Margery..I loved westerns when. Was a kid...

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  5. I immersed in most of the ones mentioned, plus the entire Little House series and all kinds of colonial times ones--Caddie Woodlawn, anybody?

    My reading has only decreased in recent years, when I've tired some of reading romance, don't like a lot of the trends in vogue now, and grow irritated because publishers think life ends at 40. :-)

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    1. Ooh, Little House! That brings back memories...

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  6. Great post! For me it was Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Harlequin Teen, and Janet Dailey. Oh, and can't forget Judy Blume!

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    1. Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary were my standbys, Jennifer!

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  7. I've always read. My earliest memories were of my mom reading to me--book after book after book.

    In college I read romances, then I got away from them and read all kinds of other fiction and non-fiction. But it was Diana Gabaldon's Outlander that got me back into romance and got me thinking that I should finally sit down and write that book I've always wanted to write.

    The rest is history.

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    1. I hear great things about Outlander, but haven't started it. Yet.

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  8. I don't know any writers (at least good ones) that aren't voracious readers. Yes, that includes me. Like you, I learned around four. I was younger than the other kids on the block. When they teased me for not being able to read, my Mom taught me.

    Since then? I read EVERYTHING - lol! I always feel a bit sorry for people who get stuck in a single genre when there's a whole universe (+multiverses) out there.

    Thanks for reminding me of good times learning to read with my Mom!

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    1. I'm reading with Mom right now. Shes visiting this week, and bebe has taken over the 'read this one now' mantra I used to chirp. It's fun watching them and remembering...

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  9. Four is a remarkable age to start reading. I can't compete with that... ;-)

    My earliest influences were Enid Blyton's Famous Five, the Adventures series - and a series with twins, which I can't remember the title of. I also loved mystery series, of course all solved by kids.

    In my teens, this turned to historical and romantic suspense authors such as Victoria Holt.

    Since then, I've been a romantic adventure and suspense gal.

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    1. I credit my mom and grandmother totally...I wanted to know what they were reading!

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  10. I was a Boxcar Children fan. I was so disappointed the first time I went to the dump with my dad and it wasn't the adventure I'd envisioned when I was seven.

    Then I moved onto Judy Blume, Lois Duncan, and S.E. Hinton.

    As a mother, I think one of the best things I've accomplished is turning my daughters into readers. When they were little and we went to the mall, they knew if they were good, we would got to B. Dalton's Bookstore. Little did they know even if they were bad, chances are we'd stop there.

    But, I digress. And they also knew if they picked a book, chances were good that I'd buy it. I never could say no to a book that they wanted to read.

    And Kristi, my favorite book to read to Jordan when she was around Bebe's age were the Junie B. Jones books. If you haven't discovered those, you should check them out. They were as much fun for me as they were for her :)

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    1. We haven't started Junie B yet, Margie...I'm thinking the fall we might. She did find my old stash of dr Seuss and picked out a few words the other day!!

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  11. Robyn Daniels3:04 PM

    My parents gave me a love for books. My mother did most the reading at bedtime in Book House Books which held wonderful stories from Hans Christian Anderson, Grimms Fairy Tales, Aeslops Fables, traditional English and French stories, and American tales from Twain to Johnny Appleseed. It was a big series of maybe 24 books. We children ate them up.

    Then we moved to a city and I discovered the library about Kindergarten. Summers as I aged, I discovered American and European histories, plays, and many different kinds of award winning books. From first grade on I checked out books and biked to and from our public library.

    We were a working class family that discussed Shakespeare at Saturday morning breakfast. My athletic all boy brother, my quiet but witty older sister, my parents, and I. I just devoured everything.

    I was in my early twenties the first time I read a romance for women at the time of a shifting romance landscape.

    I have managed to pass on my love of reading to another couple generations. Now when I write romance books people will enjoy, I'll have come full circle.

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    1. Love that you had that tradition and that you passed it on, Robyn!

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  12. Anonymous3:40 PM

    My Mom always said I was born with a vivid imagination and a book in my hands. LOL I don't remember anybody reading to me, but I remember looking forward to starting school. My sister was two years older, and I literally grabbed her books as soon as she got home.

    A love of reading began then, but it wasn't until our country school closed and we were bussed to a larger district school, that I discovered the wonderful thing called a library. The Bookmobile stopped in every couple of weeks, and I was always one of the first in line to borrow a book. My babysitting money, from 11 yrs old on, went toward Hardy Boys books. I loved them...devoured them, read them over and over again. It was also about that time that I started winning awards for my writing at school. This spurred me on and I remember writing many short stories and poems over the years. In 1993-94 I wrote and published children's books and posters, which were accepted as reading and guidance resource in out local schools.

    I read my first Harlequin at 14 or 15. And I loved the Mignon G. Eberhardt mystery series, Gone With the Wind, The Proud Breed, and many, many others. It wasn't until 2009 that I penned my first romance. In Oct, last year, my first book was released and this month marks the release of my 9th, but not last, title. I'm living my dream and couldn't be happier. Please feel free to check out my website for current and upcoming releases. http://lorrainenelson.weebly.com

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    1. I love your story, Lorraine! Congrats on selling your books - and continuing to write and sell more!!

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  13. I remember having the Dr. Seuss books around the house, and the first book I can remember having read to me in school was "Little House in the Big Woods". My dad, meanwhile, brought home comic books of every genre imaginable, and I read every one: From Archie to superhero and science fiction to war comics.

    But when I was very little my parents bought 14 hardcover books by L. Frank Baum - his Oz books - and the first story I ever wrote was an Oz fanfiction. I read those books through in sequence, and when I finished "Glinda of Oz" I'd go right back to the beginning and read "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" again. It was Baum's world of wonder that made me a voracious reader more than anything, and later a writer.

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    1. I did that same thing with the CS Lewis/Narnia books, Mark! And I was a comic fan - Archies were my favorites...I'd steal them from my older brother!

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  14. I always remember reading a lot as a kid. But, I think I really hit the books once I turned eleven or twelve. After that, I used to beg my mom to stop me off at the library while she was at work every Friday. Then I would stumble to the car later with two arms full of books. By that point, I read everything history related. To be honest, I've only started reading romance in the last three years or so.

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    1. Oh, trips to the library! Still one of my favorite places to go, Melissa!

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  15. I can't remeber not reading. I was on a third grade reading level in first grade. I used to practice phonics with my aunt, who was 5 years older than I. My grandma made her practice two hours a day and I joined in. In those days, phonics were printed on cards and you practiced along with a record. I started getting interested in romance when I found some old harlequins in our basement. We had books from other genres and I went through those too. But the harlequins were my favorite.

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    1. I was a phonics learner, Shawn, but I don't think we had the records. My grandmother was a 1st grade teacher, and she was big on phonics...I'm trying to do the same with bebe, and so far it seems to be working.

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  16. For me it was my grade 4 teacher who read us Charlotte's Web and then Stuart Little. I was hooked from that moment on. When I found out about Nancy Drew, I was in heaven! (hmmm, may be showing my age here)

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