Friday, July 18, 2014

Childhood Reading and Beyond

I've touched upon this recently, but I think it's worth looking at again: when I was younger, I didn't read much.

My problem was stories. I couldn't find one that I liked. My primary school's library was horribly out-dated. In all the time I was in that school, I found only a few books that I actually enjoyed. The one to start it all?

In Deep Dark Wood by Marita Conlon-McKenna. It had magic. It had dragons. It was perfect for me. If I hadn't read that, if I hadn't realised that that was the sort of book I wanted to read, then I might not have turned into a reader.

Yep, you read that correctly. And you know what? No reading, no writing.

It was thanks to that book that I could find enjoyment in literature as I grew older. I found Harry Potter, which got me hooked straight away. I also read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, though I felt certain I was too young for it at the time (10-11). Still, I managed it, and I loved it, and it didn't make me lose my faith in God, which is all the better. (That's a whole other issue. Faith is complicated. Let's move on.)

From Harry Potter, I found A Series of Unfortunate Events. In secondary school, I found Darren Shan. I was also introduced to Garth Nix, with the Abhorsen trilogy. By the end of 3rd year, I'd also found an interest in Douglas Adams, and had begun reading Dan Brown.

That was when I began to change as a reader. I wasn't put off by "adult" books anymore. Over the next few years, mainly as I was getting settled into college, I began experimenting with other authors.

From my childhood, I knew I liked the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, superheroes. These were things I could look for in the future. They were things I relied upon, these guideposts for reading. Yet, slap bang in the middle of all that were Lemony Snicket and Dan Brown, and that gave me the push towards trying other books.

John Green, Maureen Johnson, Andrew Kaufman, Philip Roth, all of these on top of the other authors I found myself following, like Barry Hutchison and Andy Briggs and Steven Erickson.

And, eventually, I found non-fiction.

I now balance my reading between fiction - still lots of YA, but delving more into books intended for older readers when one looks interesting to me (as before, it all comes down to story - I won't read an "adult book" just because it's intended for older readers) - and non-fiction. I read a lot of books on writing, and business, and lifestyle management. I've touched upon books on mental health, and science, and to be honest, I'm happier with my reading habits now than I've ever been.

And it all started with a boy, a girl, and a neighbour with pet dragons. Who would have thought?

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