Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Road to Reading

Literary Blog Hop(The question for this edition of the Literary Book Blog Hop is one that anybody can if you've been resisting joining, this would be the perfect week to give it a go!)

Here's the question, courtesy of Debbie at Reader Buzz: How did you find your way to reading Literary Fiction and Nonfiction?

I actually posted about this back in July; it is interesting to see what initially solidified a person into being a reader...more specifically, a reader of Literary Fiction/Nonfiction.My parents knew how important it was that their children become readers, and they did a great job at laying that initial foundation.  At some point, however, a reader's journey must become their own.  There are a few specific books that stand out in my memory as making a big impression on me.

There were a couple of years growing up when I would fluctuate wildly between being a tomboy and being a princess...I loved to play baseball barefoot in the street with the neighborhood kids, and the big dirt pile in my back yard was honestly one of the most captivating things around...but I also loved to dress up and be pretty, and find the most beautiful books the children's section of the library had to offer.  This is how The Little Princess entered my life.  My library had this delightful miniature copy that set my heart a-flutter.  I read that a few times...wish I had that copy in my hands even now!

Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club)The next big impressions didn't happen until high school.  I was tearing through the Victoria Holt books like there was no tomorrow when my mom finally became exasperating and told me to read a classic for a change.  She'd had a friend who had read Anna Karenina in high school, I should do that too.  So I did, just so that I could prove to my mom that I could.  (She hadn't read it and was pretty horrified to learn that this classic involved a woman throwing herself in front of a train in the name of love--I think that was the kind of drama she was trying to get me away from!)

Other books made an impression on me in high school as well: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Three Musketeers, How Green Was My Valley.   It took me a few years to make it to the types of books I now read (I got married young, had my kiddos young, and didn't have enough reserve brain cells to keep up a healthy diet of literary fiction until I joined my book club.)   I'd say that those titles I mentioned are really what gave me the basis for what books I enjoy today, and my book club taught me how to branch out and take chances, because sometimes it is really worth it.


  1. Among my very first literary books were (pre teen years) abridged editions of the big books of Dumas like the Three Muskateers

  2. Lol! I love the whole incident with your mom and Anna Karenina! ...I'm beginning to understand that Book Clubs can be a great way to explore a variety of books. Good thing you have that!:)


  3. Somehow people seem to think that children can find their way into the world of books without help. I don't think that is true. I think other people nudge us (occasionally even thrusting us) into the world of good books.

    Here's my post for the Literary Blog Hop.

  4. I'm amazed at how this question makes a lot of books I've never heard about pop to the surface. That's good for the TBR.

    Oh and I see "The God Of Small Things" is in your TBR still. You HAVE to pick it up next. It's amazing.

  5. Yes, I adored The Secret Garden and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as well. I found a first edition of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in a thrift store in Nevada years ago. It was on sale for like $2.00. I don't think they realized what they had!

  6. mel u--those were the books that first hooked my 11 year old son too, which makes me think that he might be intrigued by the Lifetime Reading Plan as you were...I'm glad you mentioned it; it gives me some direction with him.

    Risa--my book clubs have been the next best thing to book blogs as far as great books that would otherwise have been outside my typical picks. It's easy to branch out when you know there is a good possibility you'll enjoy it. :)

    Deb--I think you are right. I really floundered in middle school because I had no one foisting books on me, and didn't feel comfortable in either the children's library or the high school library (my high school was 7th-12th grades combined). Obviously, everything has worked out fine for me anyhow, but imagine where I'd be if I'd had better guidance throughout childhood!

    Ben--It's been surprising to me to see how many people got hooked on "literary fiction" because of an introduction to "classics" (I used those quotes just for you...up to interpretation, yeah?) whether they were children's versions of classics or otherwise, it seems that those great books are the ones that make us realize that there is a bigger world out there. (oh, and I decided to pass on Three Cups, since you gave me an out w/The God of Small Things, so I really should be making myself pick it up soon. Nothing like a strong recommendation!)

    Wallace--what a fabulous find! I wish I had more time to browse thrift stores and used book stores. I love the feeling of having those old books on my shelf, and knowing that the story inside is a great one.

  7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and How Green Was My Valley are two of my favorites, too. They're perfect books for realizing that literature can (and should) be both beautifully written AND interesting/engaging.
    Great post! Thanks for participating in the hop!

  8. 3 muskateers, was one of my grandparents sideboard ornaments, which to me was a classic series.

  9. I enjoyed reading about the entire process for you of finding your love. And I'm so glad to know another A Tree Grows in Brooklyn fan!

  10. Anna Karenina as a first classic! What an awesome way to start out. I love your mother's surprise. I think people assume classics will be more conservative and mature than contemporary works. My thoughts are at eclectic/eccentric

  11. Sadly, my sisters and I were about the only readers in our brothers didn't want any part of books. :)

    What wonderful answers and stories from everyone.

    My story is at:

  12. Christina--I'm planning on re-reading How Green Was My Valley this year. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was perhaps even better upon revisiting it, I hope it is the same for this one.

    Parrish--One man's decor is another man's lifeblood...or something like that. There's a house in my neighborhood with a ceiling-high library wall, I'm dying to know if they actually read the books, or if they are just ornaments.

    Olivia--What a great book, huh? I have Betty Smith's "Joy in the Morning" also, hoping to read it soon...and hoping it is half as enchanting as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

    Trisha--My mom definitely thought I'd be reading something more moralistic and conservative...of course I told her only the juicy bits to make it seem more sensational. Ah, the life of a teen. :)

    Elizabeth--I'm rather surprised that both my brothers and I turned out to be readers. My younger brother hated reading of any kind until he discovered college textbooks. Go figure.


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