What did you read first?
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My reading started with comic books. I would get my grandmother to read them to me. She would try to skip panels to get through faster but I always caught her at it.
When I began to read for myself I still read a lot of comics but I branched out to other things. Among the books I remember are the Hardy Boys, the Rover Boys and the Sugar Creek Gang. I read the westerns my father had around the house. Then I discovered science fiction. One of first books I read in the genre was Andre Norton's The Sioux Spaceman. Robert Heinlein's The Rolling Stones was another one I remember.
What about the rest of you? What started your reading life?
See Dick run.
Run Dick run.
See Jane run.
Run Jane run.
See Spot run.
Run Spot run.
xenchu, could you bend your qualifications a bit to include those not quite sixty? I will be fifty-seven this year and I've been reading over fifty years. :-)
I adored the funny papers, especially the colored ones in the Sunday edition of the newspaper. I pored over them even before I could read and often made up stories to go with the pictures, saying them out loud, pretending I was reading. I might even have taught myself how to read with comics, but I really don't remember. However, I do recall that I knew how to read before I started to school and I was thoroughly bored by Fun With Dick and Jane.
Bored with Dick and Jane??? Don't you recall the calamity when Puff knocked over the bottle of milk?
No, Spot, No!
Oh, what fun times those were! Those rascally pets! I could hardly wait to read the next syllable!
Once beyond that, I got myself hooked on Dr. Seuss, comic books and Mad Magazine. Then it was on to Classic Comics, and a book called How to do Nothing with Nobody, All Alone by Yourself and the We Were There series. But then I discovered Science Fiction and Sherlock Holmes and I couldn't give a rat's behind about those d**n stupid animals anymore.
The qualifications have been bent, everyone is welcome although the theme is still the older reader. I should not have been so finicky to begin with. Mea culpa.
Thanks, xenchu, for graciously including those of us a bit shy of the milestone year. I certainly feel like an "older reader" in this forum. :-)
Well, besides the aforementioned funny papers, fifty years ago my two older brothers and I were into acting out Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous, Kim, and parts of The Complete Stalky & Co. (no touchstone). At first oldest brother read the books out loud for his siblings' edification, but soon they were favorites we read for ourselves.
We also liked The Swiss Family Robinson and of course Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and Kidnapped. In fact, anything about adventures at sea fascinated us: Call It Courage, The Dark Frigate, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, and Jack London's The Sea-Wolf.
I read The Hardy Boys before I did the Nancy Drew books because my brothers already had them. I eventually read a lot of books aimed at girls, but to this day I have a soft spot for all those adventure novels.
I also started reading with comic books. They were piled high on top of the onion crisper and my brother and I fought over them. Although most people believed such reading was completely worthless, I still remember learning the word "obnoxious" from an Archie and Veronica comic. Oh, and weren't the back-page ads enthralling?
I was never in the top reading group at school, even though I thought Fun With Dick and Jane was the ultimate in literature, and my grandmother was appalled by the comic books. She decided to fight them by sending me a case of books every month starting with the Bobbsey Twins, then Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames and then she died. I think I stopped reading much after that until my mother bought me Anne of Green Gables. I read all of those and then, in high school, made my way through all of Mazo de la Roche's Jalna books (I still have all 16). By that time, I would read anything that didn't move.
I love the idea of a group of old crones and whatever the male equivalent is. I am curious to know if we more mature beings are less interested in fantasy and sci-fi than younger people. I, personally, abhore those genres, mainly because there is so much reality to be plumbed.
I have to say that fantasy and science fiction are my two favorite genres, although I do try to spread my reading around.
Most of what the rest of you have read I have read at least in part with the exception of the Mazo de la Roche's Jalna books. I have seen them on the shelves in the library but have never been tempted to pick one up.
My mother tossed my stacks of comic books several times when I was growing up with no warning at all. I think she would have done the same with every other book I owned, paperback and hardback, if she hadn't known what a fit I would have thrown and how much money they had cost.
Until my 4th year, we lived with my dad's parents. My grams kept a huge pile of picture books in a corner of the kitchen on a shelf under the roaster ~ Little Golden Books, Mother Goose, children's poems, and others. I have hazy memories of me sitting on the floor "reading" those books when I was just 2 or 3.
When I got older, I loved Nancy Drew mysteries and read them over and over. My grams would buy them for me occasionally, and those were wonderful treats! I also got into reading biographies written for children and YA ~ I remember reading about the lives of Lincoln, Washington, Franklin, various explorers of American wilderness, Thomas Edison, and the like. When I was just a little older (maybe 9 or 10), my favorite book was The Robe.
In middle and high school, I read a lot of my mom's books: The French Lieutenant's Woman, Forever Amber, Dear and Glorious Physician, and Irving Stone's The agony and the ecstasy a novel of Michelangelo. I remember trying to read Gone with the Wind, which was my mom's favorite novel ever, and loathing it so much I put it down after the first couple of chapters and never picked it up again.
Oh, and no, I don't think age has anything to do with taste, except perhaps at least in my case I'm more appreciative of good writing now & less tolerant of bad (think Dan Brown) than I was when I was younger. I actually like most kinds of writing: literary (sometimes), classic (ditto), sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, romance, historical fiction, history.
I am sixty-four. My grandfather taught me to read when I was four-almost-five using newspaper stories and newspaper advertising. I soon continued reading the newspapers on my own, racing my father for the paper each morning.
I then graduated to the 'funny papers,' 'Dick and Jane' when I started school, then comic books, school libarary biographies for children (mostly patriotic), then Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, and the Sue Barton, Nurse series. The first novel I remember really liking was a children's book called 'Frog: A Horse.'
By the time I was eight I was reading more than a smattering of adult books along with children's books, first mostly Reader's Digest Condensed books. At that time I started reading The Reader's Digest, Time, Life, Newsweek, Look, The Saturday Evening Post, Redbook, and The Ladies Home Journal. Occasionally I would also look through our hosts men's magazines like Argosy or Esquire but ususally found them boring. I also loved the children's magazine Polly Pigtails probably somewhere between the ages of 9 to 11.
I found that it was fun to initiate discussions of adult reading material with adults--probably just for the shock value of this little tyke asking them how they liked Adult Author So-and So.
I soon started seeking out adult non-condensed books at every home we would visit and I also would sneak around looking for things like Mickey Spillane Kiss Me Deadly and read them on the sly while we were visting. I didn't mention these latter books to adults because they included topics such as lush breasts etc which I knew would be offputting to adults thinking of me reading such a thing.
I was ten before I was ready for some children's classics like Peter Pan and Heidi.
By the time I was age 10 to 11, most of my reading was adult novels with a bit of adult non-fiction. However, I didn't give up Nancy Drew at all--until I was maybe age 15.
By age 10, I started taking the bus to the downtown library every Saturday. This was the highlight of my week. I would go to a downtown movie matinee for children, then go to the library, then stop off at the bus transfer node to spend my allowance on Cherry Cokes at the drugstore plus pick up a $1 Nancy Drew at the bookstore.
In the middle of my tenth year we moved to California and stayed at a downtown hotel in Anaheim California until we could find a permanent place to live. During those two-weeks, I haunted the Anaheim central public library, located at the corner of Broadway and Harbor, south of the hotel. I would while away time, reading in their reading rooms and talking, when I could engage them, to the librarians. Thus, I became a great pet of the Anaheim librarians.
I recall that I finally convinced them to give me a library card even though we were in transit. I also remember the shocked look on the librarian’s face when I asked if she could help me find Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resortus and Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf. I had heard my father talking to one of his friends about the impact of these two books for good or evil on society and I wanted to read them—I probably, in addition, wanted to impress the librarian with my advanced reading skills at the age of 10—I was a little snob about that.
She was mystified at my choices and hesitant to comply, but she finally gave in to my barrage of justifications, helped me find the two books and let me check them out, along with a bunch of other, more seemly, children’s books. I took them all back to the hotel and eagerly started reading that night in my room next to Mama and Daddy’s room. Snuggling down in my bed and feeling proudly adult, I began Mein Kampf. Bo-or-ing.
I made it through one chapter of Hitler’s tome and then tossed it aside, turning back to my age-appropriate books. The next night I took on Sartor Resortus, and it was completely incomprehensible. I retain no memory of it other than a newfound disgust for abstractions and philosophy—an aversion that stayed with me until this day. Reading it at age 10 was frustratingly like trying to grasp a cloud.
For some reason, on the day we left Anaheim for our new apartment in Newport Beach, after we were all loaded in the car, Mama made Daddy (rather than me) take the books I had borrowed back to the library. He grumbled mightily, wondering out loud how he could explain his young daughter asking for Mein Kampf in the first place.
Certain that the librarian thought we were all a bunch of fascist crazies, Daddy’s preference was for absconding with the books rather than facing the librarian. Mama prevailed and he took them back. However, I still can’t remember why I couldn’t just take them back—I think perhaps I was, as usual during our moves, firmly wedged in the back seat with all our belongings and the dog; extracting me would have been too much trouble. (My brother, Ralph, now in his fifties, suggests that, knowing Daddy, he probably walked out of Mama’s line of sight and put the books in the first convenient trash can. I hope not—the librarians were so nice to me that I’d hate to think they thought I had double-crossed them.)
Kageeh, I recall reading several of the Jalna books, though I don't think I ever knew there were sixteen in all. I presently own three of the Jalnas and one other by De La Roche, Explorers of the Dawn.
I developed an early distaste for sci-fi. I think it was because my brothers frightened me after we saw the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, based on Jack Finney's book which we also read. We grew watermelons in our garden and the boys told me they were "pods" and that aliens were developing inside. That was around about the time that "The Twilight Zone" and "One Step Beyond" were on television, and those shows worried and scared me, too. I liked scary shows and books with supernatural elements, but the sci-fi stuff just boggled my mind too much.
Perhaps I was a peculiar child but I never did enjoy anthropomorphism, so things like The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, and the Dr. Seuss books never appealed to me. In fact, I was mightily insulted when a teacher suggested I read The Cat in the Hat I refused to read any Seuss until my own children asked me to read them aloud to them.
I don't really abhor sci-fi or fantasy -- I even liked a few that I read in school, such as Alas, Babylon and A Canticle for Leibowitz, but I was never willing to expend my reading time learning the tropes which I think is the secret to loving those genres.
Does anyone else have trouble writing posts that are longer than about fifteen lines? When I was composing above, the lines in the message box started hopping around and I couldn't go to the bottom line, so I gave up and hit the submit button. I then tried to edit but it started doing the same thing. Weird!
I would like to make comments to you, Store and Sharon, but I will wait until things are more stable. I know it must be possible to write long posts after reading your very interesting reading history, Sharon.
Carminowe #15 -- I never enjoyed the animals-as-people books either and I don't know why. I also remember trying to read Kingsley's The Water Babies when I was young because I loved the beautiful pictures. But I could never get into the stories. I much prefer realism and gravitate to non-fiction. The occasional well-written chic lit can grab my attention; they're quick reads, like having a book-snack. I also recall a strong youthful affinity for hospital/doctor fiction (Frank G. Slaughter and the like), and I shared many such books with my mother, but now that I have a son in medical school, I prefer reading about real doctors and their experiences.
I have a subscription to Publishers Weekly and each week's reviews of forthcoming books has made my to-be-read list grow to almost 1200 books. I'd better live a long long time.
I learned to read from the comic books that my youngest aunt was in the process of "outgrowing." She's only 7 years older than me and the timing was perfect...she also enjoyed playing school with me and a cousin when we were about 5 years old and she had us both reading by the time we started first grade...no kindergarten in my small town in those days.
By the time I was 11, I'd read all the age-appropriate books in our tiny public library, and the librarian took pity on me and issued me an adult card and I was able to borrow any book that looked interesting. I read most of the adult titles in the one-room library by the time I started high school and my reading addiction continues unabated.
the first books i read were in school. i discovered the public lib when i was 10. u couldn't get a card until u were 10. i walked 3 miles to get there, checked out dr. dolittle's circus, & walked 3 miles home. 2 days later i'd finished it, & had to beg my mother to let me go to the lib again.
my father read me the yearling and heidi. one chapter every nite before i went to bed. this was the best part of my day. i remember the big easy chair & sitting in his lap.
i eventually read a lot of dad's books before i could get a library card - he had trent's last case, forlorn river and sunset pass. i'd read them at nite with a flashlite under the covers.
When I was 4, my aunt (the schoolteacher) taught mer to read "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" Not the whole paper, just the 4 big words across the top of the 1st. page. From headlines I went on to the comics & one time when I was trying to impress my cousins my reading them out loud, I pronounced the word island as "is - land" & all the adults (who were sitting around the table drinking something) laughed at me. I had one of those small, fat books of nursery rhymes which I slept with every night but I had learned them by heart before reading. Several of my children also taught themselves to read before entering school, but none of us ever wrote a best seller.
i read all the jalna books fm the library & one day i noticed that 2/3rds of a book was about food.
The first thing I remember being touched by was not something I read but something that was read to me. It was CHARLOTTE'S WEB. Our sixth grade teacher read it to us. Before that time, I don't think I was particularly interested in books, not passionately, anyway. When I saw how much the story touched others and when I felt touched, I became hooked on stories.
I am 64 and don't remember the very first, very first except for Dick and Jane which was required reading when I began school. I read most all of The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and others of that sort for quite awhile. In junior high and high school I read every science fiction and fantasy book in the Albuquerque public library. I don't read so much of those genres any more but have fond memories of many works and authors. Everything by Ursula K. Le Guin, especially Left Hand of Darkness, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, William Gibson's Neuromancer, Jirel of Joiry, many more. I've bought many copies of Childhood's End and a few others to loan out and never get back.
the first print books i remember were the Little Golden books, such as Tubby the Tugboat, The Little Engine that Could, et al. I was fairly precocious as my mother stayed home and helped me with spelling. I was reading red rdyer and bobbsey twins at 6 and 7, then zane gray and edgar rice burroughs by ten. As a teenager, I went nuts with such tomes as Last of the Mohicans and Moby Dick. When I discovered Shakespeare in 10th grade, that cemented my reading interest for life. Ironically, as I get older (just turned 64) I am reverting back to Burroughs, Grey, and -- of all things -- Victor Appleton's Tom Swift and.......whatever.
life is a circle in more ways than one.
What a nice walk down memory lane. I started going to the library in about grade 3 and asking the librarians to help me find more Dick and Jane basal readers.
Now, why did I get a touchstone for Yiddish with Dick and Jane? That is just weird.
Ok then I moved on to Freddie the Pig books, and The Black Stallion. I am sure I read every one of Walter Farley's books about horses. At about age 8 I had the good fortune to spend summers with family friends in Idaho and they had an extensive Book of the Month Club collection. I dove right into the historial fiction genre. I knew all about the kings and queens of Europe, and I read quite a few biographies also.
What I most remember from early reading is that I loved it. I did not have to hang out with those crazy people who kept insisting they were my family. (-;
My grandparents would almost always respond positively to my requests that they read any of the Beatrix Potter books (left-overs from my mother's childhood) to me. One day, one of them said, "You're old enough to read these yourself now." I was a bit grumpy after hearing this but, of course, it was true. I was on my own thereafter, and I must have read each of them at least 100 times during my summers spent on their Illinois farm
My first "grown-up" book was Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. I took this one up reluctantly after it was urged on me by my school teacher aunt. I was soon convulsed with laughter and became not just a Charles Dickens fan but an avid reader of classics that none of my friends were reading.
I consider the habit of reading instilled in me by my parents, grandparents, and aunt to be among their greatest gifts to me.
There were always books in our house--my mother's childhood books like Little Women and Pollyanna which I never could read all the way through--and my uncle's childhood books like Bomba the Jungle Boy, Poppy Ott and Jerry Todd and other boy's adventure books. I have always liked adventure, mystery, science fiction, and some fantasy over the traditional girls' books.
On library day in gradeschool I would sit right in front of the room where the new books were on display and scan them for the new science fiction ones. Then as soon as the teacher said we could get a book I jumped up to beat the one other boy in my class who liked science fiction to grab the newest science fiction book and be the first name on the checkout list. I think I read every book in that gradeschool library from the standard biographies, through the myths and legends of other cultures, horse stories, indian stories, and science fiction. One of my favorites was A Wrinkle in Time. The author, Madeleine L'Engle has just died.
Every week in the summer my mother would walk all five of us to the downtown library to get armloads of books. I remember being so proud to go into the young adults section by myself, and later downstairs to the adults section. We had a wonderful Victorian library with stained glass windows and tall metal stacks and mysterious glass floors. Lots of dark corners. I really miss card catalogs.
As an adult I have quite a collection of crafts and collectibles books of all kinds, as whenever I start a new hobby or interest I like to read all about it. I used to haunt the Bargain Books stores, and now pick up interesting books at estate sales and antique shops. I also like to buy children's books with wonderful illustrations of cats.
I have my books shelved in genre sections like gardening, history, needle arts, etc. Fiction is in another bookcase. I also can't throw a good magazine away and have stacks of Victorian Homes, (got a wrong touchstone there), The Old House Journal, Old House Interiors (another wrong touchstone--I guess magazines aren't in the database0, and Fine Gardening.
Have to end now as this message box is starting to jump around annoyingly.
An interesting topic.
I'm 61 now and my memories of my early reading are a bit vague but I"ll give this a stab.
I can remember my father reading what were probably picture books to me at bedtime when I was maybe about four. Then there were the Little Golden Books none of which survived my brothers. My grandfather then bought me several Bobbsey Twins books and the lover of mysteries was born.
In elementary school I checked out every science fiction book they had and then moved on to plays. At home, from elementary right into high school I spent a lot of days with the encyclopedia called The Book of Knowledge which was a great place to browse as the poetry, literature, and how-to articles were scattered through each volume among the factual articles.
One grandmother had big stacks of magazines like Good Housekeeping, McCalls, etc and on summer visits when I finished any books I had brought with me I would read those from cover to cover. That was also where I read a number of books by Booth Tarkington (They were remnants of my father's and uncle's teen years.) and those copies now reside on my own shelves. At the other set of grandparents I was taken to the local library for a supply of books but I also read their back issues of Reader's Digest and then the summer before high school they let me bring down the the books stored at the top of the attic stairs. So I read Of Human Bondage, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and a number of other, more forgettable adult books. By this time I was also reading every science book I could get my hands on as well as more science fiction and mystery and had a subscription to Popular Science. Then I discovered Tarzan of the Apes and collected books by Borroughs and by the time I was in college I was collecting Georgette Heyer.
I consider myself an omnivorous reader.
I'm probably one of the younger ones in this group, going to be turning 51 this year, and I am the youngest in my family too with three older sisters. My mom and dad never read to me, not that I remember anyways, but there were always books in the house. The only childrens books though were a set of fairy stories My Book House that came with our encyclopedias. I adored them, and remember sitting on the floor pouring over the pictures long before I could read the stories. I couldn't wait to learn to read so I could get at those books and find out what were the stories behind all those pictures. Once I did learn to read (thanks to Dick and Jane) I never looked back, first those fairy tales, some Golden Books, The Pokey Little Puppy comes to mind, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Bobbsey Twins, then my sisters books, Cherry Ames, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, all of Albert Payson Terhune's books, Walter Farley's, then on to my parents books Forever Amber, Gone with the Wind, Taylor Caldwell's book etc etc etc and I've just never stopped!
I distinctly remember getting a box set of Golden Books for Christmas when I was 5. Those books are what hooked me on reading and loving books.
I posted more about it on my blog. Those books meant so much to me and I fully intend to keep my future children stocked in Golden Books.
There weren't many books in our house, because my mother disliked reading, she felt it was a waste of time, not productive enough. However, someone lent her a Mills and Boon romantic novel when I was about 3, and I distinctly remember picking it up and riffling through the pages - I knew all those black marks meant something, and I was filled with an urge to make sense of them - that was when my mother realised she needed to teach me how to read. After that, I hoovered up any book that came my way, even anything that had writing on it - cereal boxes, dictionaries, instruction manuals, you name it. I do remember a book I read when I was about 5, don't remember the title but it was about a little girl who lived on a ranch in America. I remember it had the word 'verandah' which I wasn't familiar with. The other books I loved at the time were a set of books about (Teddy Tar), which were very cheap-my mother bought them from Woolworths.
At school, I quickly went through all the reading scheme books they had, and the teacher brought in some books from home for me to read, before finally allowing me to use the school library, which was reserved for the use of the older pupils studying for their 11 plus exams.
My mother couldn't understand where I got the 'reading bug' from, and would declare that I was a changeling...or that I would eventually suffer a 'brainstorm'...I've been reading now for 49 years and it still hasn't happened :)
Needless to say, I have made sure my own children were plentifully supplied with books - my daughter is as enthralled by books as I am, my son unfortunately is a computer geek ;)
Forgot to say, that one of my uncles took pity on me and took me to the public library for the first time when I was seven - I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I saw all those rows of books! And I've been in libraries ever since...
I distinctly remember trying hard to read before I started school. The first grade teacher had warned my mother not to let me read until then, but I do remember Mama walking by as I tried to make those black squiggles make sense and turning the book right-side-up. In school I think that reading was instantaneous - I don't remember. I did tell my mother my first lie: that I had read Dick and Jane when I hadn't (because I knew I could do it and didn't want to waste my time on them). Then in second grade I wasn't allowed to check the books I wanted from the library (I wanted The Five Little Peppers) until I had read the Pooh books. (Like Carminowe, I was vastly insulted.)
Like all the rest of you, my reading began with:
Oh look. Look and see. See Spot run.
But by the second grade I was reading my first "book": The Little Princess, then came Lazy Liza Lizard, The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, The Black Fawn, The Little Gray Men etc, etc.
There were seven children in our family and all of us including both parents were avid readers. We still didn't have a television when I graduated high school in 1966. We were into sports, music, and books.
By the end of second grade my teacher was allowing me to use the Jr. High library. Man, did I think my *hit didn't stink!
A-BED, BED-CIG, CIL-EGG, EGG-GLA, GLA-LAN, LAN-OBE, OBE-SHA, SHA-ZIG.
Edited to add: Maybe the last one was ZYG.
Nice memories! I didn't read classics, but remember always ordering from Scholastic at school, and frequenting the library a lot. My dad was the reader in the family. Mom didn't have time, or inclination, but later in life, she and I spent lots of fun times shopping for books and reading together. I remember reading the whole Trixie Belden series, and campaigning mightily to change my name to "Honey".
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