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How did you become a reader?

Recently over on GoodReads, someone started a discussion on "How Did You Become a Reader?" and kicked it off with the following three questions, to which I have added a fourth:

1) Do you remember being read to as a child?
2) Do you remember when you first realized you love to read?
3) Have you always liked to read, or is it something you developed later?
4) What are some "firsts" in your life as a reader?

I had a lot of fun thinking about these questions and my own history as a reader, and since so many of us here on LJ are avid readers, I thought I'd share with y'all. I'd love to hear your answers as well (if you answer over on your own LJ, leave a comment here and let me know so I can find it!).

I don't remember ever not being a reader. Mom was an English teacher and librarian so there were always books at our house. We went to the library A LOT and I was always allowed to take as many books as I wanted. (Our first trip to a bookstore was quite traumatic, apparently, as I did not like being limited to only two!).

Mom read to me, and later to me and my brother, until I was in my teens -- he was five years younger than me so it was quite a challenge finding something that suited both of us! I remember The Hobbit, The Paleface Redskins, Half Magic, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle...

Sometimes Mom would insist that I go outside and get some fresh air...so of course I would go outside with a book. My favorite thing to do was take a bag of apples and two books and climb a tree. I would sit in the tree happily reading for easily a couple of hours.

My parents divorced when I was really young, like about two, so for years I would go spend two weeks with my dad every summer. My stepmom had three kids when they got married; I was a pretty shy kid and they didn't like me much, or I thought they didn't, though more likely it was just that we didn't have much in common because...THEY DIDN'T LIKE TO READ (gasp). So every summer I took two suitcases, one full of clothes and one full of books. One year I didn't bring enough and had to read some of them twice.

The only time I remember mom taking a book away from me was when I was ten or eleven and I got my hands on her copy of The Godfather. Probably a good idea, I think it's a bit much for a ten-year-old. Although the best thing about books is that, unlike movies, if a kid runs into something they aren't ready for, they probably simply won't understand it or be able to picture it, so it just goes right past them.

The first book I actually remember reading was Lloyd Alexander's The High King. The first book I remember getting as a gift is Bambi, when I was about seven. The first book I remember eagerly awaiting publication of is Silver On the Tree -- I'd recently discovered the series and had zoomed through them, and was horrified to discover I would have to actually wait for the last one. I think that was my first introduction to the idea that books weren't some kind of natural resource -- they didn't grow on shelves like apples grow on trees, but had to be made -- written by a real live human being and then printed and bound and shipped and so on. (The logical corollary, which I arrived at almost immediately, was People Write Books + I Am A People = Therefore I Could Write A Book. I haven't yet, but I haven't given up on it either.) The first nonfiction book I remember reading is Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man, about her research with chimpanzees in the wild. The first book that actually changed how I thought about life was Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Growing up, I never went anywhere without a book, even if we were just running to the grocery store or the gas station. This is still true today; just as some people won't leave the house without putting on their makeup, I feel undressed if I leave the house without a book. They have been and continue to be the best of teachers and friends.


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Mar. 12th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC)
I don’t remember stuff from my childhood as much as I would like too. But I do know that reading was an important thing in my life. I attend in an awful “pink-Floyd-like” school, and whan I was little I thought that I was a slow reader. In parallel to my schooling experience, I was a good reader. Never a good student. I read to avoid the awful shadows of dictatorship, I read to avoid my parents crumbling marriage and my Darwinian school system. My dad used to be a journalist and he travelled a lot. He always brought a book for me after his travels. He use to invite me to Valparaiso, we went in a train. He and I, both bought a book or a magazine, and read all the way to the beach. We went to have ice-cream and, guess what?, we each read our book. The bonus point was that my little sister was left behind (Awful, but at age 7 it was lovely). My grandmother had 28 grandchildren. I was number 20 but very close to her. She always thought of me as the scholarly one….even if I was a very poor student. She told me stories, read books and took me to book buying trips. So reading meant two things for me: a safe place to escape the world and also affection. I soon learn to day dream about the characters, my very own fanfiction world  to scape shit.
I used to get a monthly allowance of $1000. Every month I went to buy a book form “Billiken” collection. It was a small, hard cover, red classics tittles for young people. The bus to the bookstore cost $100. Each book cost $800. So, I spent all my pocket money in just one trip to the bookstore. I love their hard cover, their pictures and the fact they had footnotes from the editor and the translator. It makes me feel so grown up!
Little women saga and most of Alcott’s novellas were my favourites. I re-read them several times. I think they also had a complex world, a war, and have family difficulties –their dad away from them. The promise of the world regaining their balance and the hope of a “happily ever after” was very comforting to me. My being a teacher is modelled after Jo March. My ideas of alternatives education were sow by Jo March’s Plumfield School. My wanting to be “knowledgably” was partly Alcott’s fault.

Edited at 2016-03-12 05:03 pm (UTC)
Mar. 12th, 2016 06:06 pm (UTC)
Ah, Half Magic! Loved that.

I really enjoyed your reading history; I will reward myself with doing this meme once I finish my conference paper for next week (I'm actually ahead of the game -- starting drafting a whole week ahead of time /g/).

I so hear you about not going anywhere without a book. It's a habit I still have.
Mar. 12th, 2016 07:06 pm (UTC)
I probably was read to as a child, but I was such an early reader - 2 - that I don't remember it.
Mar. 12th, 2016 08:18 pm (UTC)
Books were a big item in my house when I was a kid. But then at first there was no television. I'm old. mother would read to me, and every Easter we (the kids) got a book along with candy and a new outfit for church. I remember getting "The Big Golden Book of Science" one year. I think it was that book that had the awesome Q&A - "What is the fastest growing tree in the world?"

The answer was - "Bamboo, but it isn't a tree, it's a grass."

I had what is now called Acute Social Anxiety Disorder, but was then called "straighten yourself out". Books were my friends after I learned to read, and when the anxiety messed up my guts to the point of bed rest I would read "Swiss Family Robinson". I read that book a lot.

Not sure when I started reading, but I remember coming home from my first day of school at age 5 and being mightily pissed off that I couldn't read the comics in the newspaper, because I had been told that if I went to school I would learn to read.

Once I learned to read, it was my job to read aloud the Bible passage about the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve.

Books were my refuge for many years, nearly literal portals to another world.

I guess I didn't really answer the questions, but hey, I'm a rebel, ;)


Mar. 12th, 2016 10:04 pm (UTC)
I loved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! I must have checked that book out about twenty times from the library!
Mar. 12th, 2016 10:13 pm (UTC)
I don't really remember. I think there were always stories around the house when I grew up and I loved them. First when people read them to me and then I learnt to read early and quickly and devoured everything I could find. I do, however, remember my parents' decision to get me a library card so that I could indulge my reading addiction without ruining the family.
Mar. 13th, 2016 04:07 am (UTC)
Great subject!
I did my own on my LiveJournal. I guess you can find it here if you want: http://librasmile.livejournal.com/34707.html

By the way, really great recollections from you. Might want to turn it into an article or something. :^)
Mar. 13th, 2016 04:15 am (UTC)
This is fun :) Thanks for sharing. Here's my answers:

My father used to read to me before going to bed. My favourite as a young child was Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World (the old, very non-PC version). My father tells me regularly he still remember most of the story about Achoo the panda bear, since it was my favourite and I made him read it to me practically every night. That book is, not coincidentally, the first book I remember. When I was older, my father also read me The Hobbit and the Swallows and Amazons series. But then my parents got divorced when I was 11, so reading was entirely up to me at that point (I lived with my mom, and she wasn't a reader at all except for magazines).

I'm not sure there was ever a moment of realization that I loved to read. I simply enjoyed it and always have; and since I had a lot of bookish friends growing up, it seemed normal. I've definitely always enjoyed reading.

The first book I remember really capturing me was the first book of the Thoroughbred series. I was a horse-obsessed girl, and proceeded to collect the rest of them. The first and only audiobook I ever listened to was Black Beauty, of which I had a cassette tape and used to fall asleep listening to with regularity around age 11.

Your Godfather story reminded me of the first book I read with violence and sex. My mother never cared what I read, so while it probably should have gotten taken away, I read Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett at age 12 (as you say, it did mostly go right over my head).

The first book I remember staying up all night reading was Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite. The first manga I read was either X/1999 or Card Captor Sakura by CLAMP. The first North American graphic novel I read was Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez. (If you can't tell by this selection, I was a very angsty, goth teenager).

The first book I read for a class and actually enjoyed was Microserfs by Douglas Copeland while in my third year of college (after switching schools and switching majors). I remember on the essay I wrote about it, my professor suggested I become an English major. It would take two years, but I would eventually switch my major and words are now my career. The same year I read the first non-fiction book I enjoyed, in a different English class, which was Life and Death in Shanghai by Chen Nien. The first book I waited in line for at the bookstore was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

That's all the firsts I can think of :)

Mar. 17th, 2016 12:15 pm (UTC)
Wow nice share blog! I'm borrowing these questions for my Quiz/Meme blog next week and hope you don't mind I added a 5th question of my own as well. My tip to all-if reading outdoors sit don't walk and read like I did ramming into posts along the way. :P Thanks and take care!
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