My Mum always tells me about how as a baby I would sit for ages with my little books and hold them really close to my face and jabber away like I was actually reading them (the close to my face thing turned out to be long-sightedness – I have worn glasses since I was 3!). Even before I could read, I wanted to read, and I subsequently learnt at a pretty young age.
In fact, I remember the first book I ever read from start to finish all by myself: it was a Ladybird Book of The Gingerbread Man, and I remember proudly reciting it to anyone who would listen.
However, it was my primary school days where my love of reading truly kicked off. My school had a small library, and I remember checking out different Jacqueline Wilson books most weeks, reading pretty much anything she had ever written. Ones that stick out most in my mind are The Story of Tracy Beaker, The Suitcase Kid, The Illustrated Mum, Vicky Angel and Lola Rose. I also got really into Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Anyone remember those?
And I didn’t stop with the school library. My school was close to the village library, and my Mum would often take me on the walk home from school. I remember entering the summer challenges they held there every summer (every time you read a book you would get a postcard to put in your little folder, and you had to collect 8 to win…although I can’t remember what you actually won!).
Another major event in the history of my love of reading was my introduction to Harry Potter (the book not the actual wizard – unfortunately he’s fictional!). When I was eight my parents bought me the first two books in the series for my birthday, and though I had never heard of them (I know…a world where you haven’t heard of Harry Potter seems incomprehensible now, doesn’t it?), I was pretty excited about them. I was an instant fan, and became one of the droves of people who were later rushing to bookshops on the day the latest one came out, and had finished it within a matter of days. Sad as it seems, the end of that tradition in 2007 has left a bit of a hole in my reading life…what series is there now where I can anxiously await the next book (ahem, A Song of Ice and Fire)?
Sometime around then my love of reading stories became a love of writing stories, and I began to pen some of my own. My favourite lesson at school was English, and I loved nothing more than being tasked with writing a story, even when some of the other children groaned and complained and barely wrote more than a couple of lines. I’d have several pages full of my almost illegible scrawl, and the teacher would insist on trying to figure out my handwriting enough to read it out to the class (because at least someone was enthusiastic!).
Having a computer at home only spurred on my writing ambitions: I cluttered up the My Documents folder with my writing, in particular the many chapters of a fantasy epic I began writing set in a world called ‘New Earth’ (I had been reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time around then – can you tell?), which had, amongst other things a twelve page prologue and an accompanying glossary of characters and places. I really wish I still had it, but it was lost on some old hard-drive years ago.
My bookworm status continued on into high school where I began to discover some of the classics, most notably the work of the Bronte sisters, Jane Austen and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
I then went on to college, and it was there that my love of books hit a bit of a bump in the road, and I became more of a ‘sporadic reader’. Whilst previously it had been unthinkable to me to not have a book on the go, I would now finish one and then have a few week gap before starting the next one, and it would take me a lot longer to get through a book than it had used to. I can’t really say what caused this. I did have a lot of coursework for my A-levels, but that’s hardly an excuse: so do most people. My enthusiasm just waned, and I guess I hit a bit of a reading slump (as bookworms are prone to do every now and then).
This continued on for quite a while: I went to university and studied English Literature and Creative Writing, so reading was kind of a requirement. However, whilst the course introduced me to some amazing works (eg. Dubliners by James Joyce, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margeret Atwood, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Pearl Poet, Betrayal by Harold Pinter etc.), the books were of course, not of my choosing, and in some cases reading them felt more like a chore (Dracula, I’m looking at you!).
It was only during my last summer holiday (the break before my third year) that I began properly reading for pleasure again. I had been curious about the show everyone kept talking about called ‘Game of Thrones’, and that combined with my inability to watch something before reading the book led to me picking up a copy of the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series on a bit of a whim. Best decision ever! I was immediately hooked, and began to remember that feeling of reading an amazing book and being simultaneously unable to put it down whilst dreading it’s inevitable end. I had finished the entire series to date by the end of summer (and watched most of ‘Game of Thrones’), and had to quickly find a replacement….and so the bookworm was back, and has stayed ever since.
Starting this blog back in July has only reinforced that, combining both my love of reading and of writing. Whilst I read primarily for my own enjoyment, the thought of having book reviews to write keeps me reading, and I find myself trying to read a wider variety of books and genres so that my blog is more diverse. Also being part of the book blogging world means a higher level of exposure to book recommendations, and I often find myself reading other blogger’s reviews of books and wanting to rush out and buy them! Whilst not many of my real life friends are big readers, the book blogging world is of course, full of them, and that’s what’s so great about it!
So there you go. Sorry for such a long post, but it does tell a pretty epic love story of a woman and her books! And I’d really love to know where other people’s love of reading began!