The ABC of Reading (What to Read Next)

Go back to a different kind of  beginning: your own ABC. What kind of books were you given as a child? What was the first book that you read in primary school, and then at high school? How has that influenced what you read now?

Many of my friends were delighted when their own children started reading the Harry Potter novels: it gave them a chance to recapture the magical stories that they were told as children. Like them, I remember reading fairy tales, dark stories of evil witches and spellbound princesses: Rumpelstiltskin, The Goose-girl, The Sleeping Beauty.  For an adult taste of this kind of tale, I like to read Gothic fiction, or Angela Carter’s black fairy tales.

My much-loved French teacher gave me a life-long passion for French literature, starting simply with Le Petit Prince, then moving on to wonderfully scandalous novels; as a teenager, I loved Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Manon Lescaut. My friends who enjoyed studying biology and physics, on the other hand,  developed a preference for science fiction –  beginning with authors like John Wyndham and Robert Heinlein, then moving on to H. G. Wells and Margaret Atwood later in life.

I’m interested in hearing about your first encounters with reading, and how they influenced what you read now.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The ABC of Reading (What to Read Next)

  1. Sue

    The first book I remember(!) being captivated by was the classic, ‘Heidi’. I was about 8 when I read it and thought it would be wonderful to live on nothing more than cheese and bread for much of the year – I hated vegetables back then!! I still have vivid images of the setting and characters and, of course, was disappointed when I saw the movie years later.

    In first year high school, my big sister introduced me to ‘The Hobbit’ and subsequently ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and my passion for fantasy and science fiction was firmly entrenched. Surprisingly, I was delighted with Peter Jackson’s interpretation – and try not to be too precious about the obvious omissions and flagrant manipulation of the story line to make it ‘fit’ together for the sake of the film’s continuity.

    Today, I still love to be swept away to other worlds and leave the ‘real’ one behind for awhile.

    • Yes, I remember Heidi: and Madeleine, and Nancy Drew, and all of the other female characters who went out and conquered the world!

      The “other worlds” concept is interesting, too. The writers I love reading now are adept at creating worlds that I don’t inhabit (but am fascinated to learn more about), whether it’s Dublin in the 1950s (Benjamin Black) or Henry VIII’s England (Hilary Mantel) or an apocalyptic vision of the future (Margaret Atwood)

      Sent from my iPad