I have in fact fallen in love with reading three times over my life, once as a young child, once as a teenager, and again, finally, as an adult. In between each of these phases, I must sadly admit I also “fell out of love” with reading. It seems madness now that this happened to me, especially as I have loved writing since a very young age as well. But I think in both cases, it came down to being forced to read books for school/university that I didn’t enjoy or didn’t want to read, and often it is very hard to recover from that. In each case, it has taken a special book to drag me back to the joy of reading, but I think I can confidently say that from this point onwards I will always love reading and it will always be a big part of my life.
When I first fell in love with reading, as many of my regular followers will know from past posts, it was Roald Dahl who was the instigator of such connections to the written word – most particularly the books James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory took me to a world beyond my wildest little dreams, and would spark in me an interest in the weird and quirky for many years to come.
As a young teenager though, having outgrown these books, the Goosebumps books by R. L. Stine, and having read the Tomorrow series by John Marsden, I became bored with reading as the books thrust upon me at school became less and less interesting. It took a few years, until late high school, before I fell in love with reading again, and there were a number of books that caused this. Firstly, I discovered The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and its various sequels by Douglas Adams, which taught me just how funny fiction could be, regardless of genre. Then in school I studied All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, which, unbeknownst to me, had started a love for fiction set in war-time which survives to this very day. Not much later after this, I also studied Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which started a love of dystopian fiction which would eventually lead me to classic writers of this genre such as George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut.
But as I moved into a university life which was to last seven odd years, and more importantly, into adulthood, the pressure that came from the sheer amount of literature I had to read exhausted me, and I stopped reading for pleasure in my spare time again. The book which brought me back to reading for the final time was given to me by a friend, just before I started a second degree, in post-grad creative writing (good timing, really), and being her favourite book, it meant a lot to her, and so meant a lot to me before I even read it. But as it turns out, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, completely blew me away, pushed me through every emotion as I whirled my way through its pages, stunningly written, hilarious, insightful, tragic, and just beautiful. After this amazing book, set in WWII, it was as if someone had flicked a switch inside my head, and there was no turning back. It’s been a little over four years since I read this, during which time I have read somewhere between 150 and 200 books, and my love for books, and for reading and writing, has never been stronger (and I seriously owe that friend big time)!
What book made you fall in love with reading? Did you ever have to fall in love with reading all over again, like I did?