Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I remember my mom reading Charlotte's Web to us. I remember discovering the Littles in the library in second grade. (After that, I checked out every new house we moved into to see if the electric plates would move.)
But my earliest detailed memories of picking and choosing books is of the local Cedar Falls library when I was 10 and 11. If they haven't reorganized, I could still take you back to all my favorite books on the shelves. After working my way through the Bobbsey twins, boxcar children, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series (and after confessing I liked the Hardy Boys better than Nancy Drew – they got into real scrapes while she never forgot her purse – I was told the same woman wrote them both), I then discovered Ruth Chew (I read one of these to Jacob recently), (someone who's name escapes me now), Diane Duane's So You Want to be a Wizard? Plus all the hard cover red American autobiography books and the Guide to the Moon and Guide to the Sea. (They were written like tourist guides – they covered what you should pack to visit the moon or to visit this undersea colony. I can't find them now. I did find this Tourist Guide to the Moon by Asimov in the New York Times.)
After Dad successfully lobbied for me to have an adult library card, I read all the James Harriet books and even found and checked out a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin but I never read it. (I just noticed I could now get it for my Kindle if I still want to read it.)
At the neighboring town's library (which was just huge!), I found a whole section of books in braille. I puzzled my way through a couple of sentences and loved paging through them, but never read one cover to cover. (I was a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. Dad's always been great at helping explore any interest that I have, so we went and saw every place she lived, including the school for the blind and deaf where her sister Mary ended up. For a long time I was going to be a teacher for the blind and deaf – bet you didn't know that about me.)
Which books do you remember discovering?
7 Replies to “What do you remember reading first?”
Picking and choosing? Jules Verne’s “The Mysterious Island”, when I was 7 or 8. I found it at the book stand in a summer festival and bugged my parents until they bought it.
My first “real book,” before that I had been reading mostly comics or illustrated books.
i read my first book at the age of six, it was Nancy Drew and the Red Glowing Eye. Found it in the trash in the alleyway back in 78, still have it on my bookshelf today.
btw, i think a number of different people wrote nancy drew under the same name.
Giacomo, Donald, that’s cool that you both remember how you found your first book …
nancy drew and hardy boys were written by a syndicate, the same syndicate, but not necessarily the same authors (though for periods of time, I guess the syndicate hired the same author for both).
That makes sense – a lot of them seem to be written in different voices.
Green Eggs and Ham. I had the book memorized by three years old and started reading it (from memory first, but eventually working out most of the words) at about four years old. God, I loved Dr. Seuss. Even though I was an avid reader, I also watched Sesame Street until much later than my peers.
My dad gave me his entire Hardy Boys collection when I was eight and I went through those, then he started giving me his Science Fiction Book of the Month Club books. I was hooked and read SciFi until my early twenties.
I stopped reading fiction about fifteen years ago, though. I still read a lot, but it’s all non-fiction.
My mom said I was reading the World Book Encyclopedias when I was 2. I remember reading about the human body, aqnd the clear pages with the anatomy illustrations. I remember reading about the dog breeds, and the solar system. I also remeber reading our 1950s Funk and Wagners that didn’t even list Pluto, I guess they are up to date again!
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