Bookish Origins: My Early Reading Years!

Hello, everyone! There’s been a tag going around on the booktube about our ‘bookish beginnings,’ and even though I do not have a booktube channel, I thought it would be a fun tag to do here on my blog! The tag was created by Lauren over here (and she has a great channel, so I recommend checking her out!).

i. Tell us about what you loved to read as a child.

I read a lot as a kid, and I managed to read quite a ‘diverse’ set of books. I loved Beatrix Potter when I was around four and five; I read and devoured the American Girl doll books; I enjoyed some of the ‘Dear America series’; and I absolutely loved ghost stories (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was one of my favourite series). I read a lot of Beverly Wright’s books, as picked up a lot of random spooky stories from my public library. (And, of course, Harry Potter was an influence on my reading life.)

As I got older, I really got into books set around WWII, particularly concerning the Holocaust. Some of my favourites were Goodnight, Maman by Norma Fox Mazer, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan, and Anne Frank and Me by Cherie Bennett. I also enjoyed some of the books in the Royal Diaries series, particularly Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England, 1544 by Kathryn Lasky and Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914. Both of which are time periods/figures that I am still really interested in!

My absolute favourite book as a young reader is a tie between The Ghost By the Sea by Eileen Dunlop (which I picked up on every library visit) and The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett.

ii. What was the first piece of adult fiction you tried to read? 

I started reading adult fiction pretty early on. I had a tenth/eleventh grade reading level by the time I was in sixth grade, and at the time ‘young adult’ wasn’t really a prominent genre, so by the time I reached ninth grade I pretty much leapt into adult fiction territory. I read a lot of Mary Higgins Clark books and gravitated toward the Anita Blake series, which lead to a downward spiral into the dark depths of urban fantasy for quite some time. I also read a lot of WWII memoirs/biographies, such as I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree by Laura Hillman. And I started to read Steven King. So, yeah, I can’t remember the exact first book I picked up, but chances are it was related to the above categories.

iii. What was the first classic book you read (not because of school)?

The Secret Garden and A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett are both considered classics (children’s classics, but classics nonetheless). I read those when I was around seven or eight. Maybe nine. I also read some classic fairy tales as a youngin’. I was (and still am) particularly drawn to The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. As a teen, I picked up Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights of my own accord (both of which I loved), as well as Pride and Prejudice. I also read a lot of Edgar Allen Poe, just for fun.

iv. Tell us about a book that made you realise a new favourite genre or writing style.

My favourite genres are fantasy (including magical realism), classics, and historical fiction. A lot of what I read falls under those umbrella categories. The Ghost by the Sea and the other ‘spooky’ books I read made me appreciate atmosphere in books, as well as magical/fantastical/other-worldly beings. Of course, Harry Potter was a huge influence on my love for fantasy. I also read and loved the Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo, which were HP-esque. Historical fiction wise, Number the Stars and Titanic Crossing by Barbara Williams were both pretty foundational for me. And The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen taught me that amazingly tragic books can still be beautiful.

v. What was the first literary prize-winner that you read?

I read Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis when I was a child, and that won the Newberry. I feel like I read a lot of Newberry winners as a child/early teen. If you don’t want to count those, I’ve read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Hours by Michael Cunningham, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. To name a few, as these are ‘just’ Pulitzer Prize winners.

vi. What was the first piece of translated fiction that you read?

I had to read Crime and Punishment in high school, so that is probably one of the earliest translated pieces I read. I’m sure some of the early memoirs/biographies were translated from German/French, but I wouldn’t know which ones.

So, there are some of the foundational pieces of literature in my life. I’ve read a lot of books in my twenty-five years, and, unfortunately, I’m sure there is a lot that I read and really enjoyed, but just don’t remember.

What were some of the most influential books that you read as a young reader? Let me know!

Until next time, happy reading!

–E. Adeline

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