How Goodreads Members First Fell in Love with Reading

Posted by Hayley on September 22, 2017

This post is brought to you by Rebel in the Rye, in select theaters September 8.

We like to say we're lifelong readers, but the truth is we were all nonreaders once. And even after we learned to sound out words, the love of books came later—with a particular story or a friend or family member who showed us the way.

In partnership with Rebel in the Rye, the new biographical drama about the life of The Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger, we asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to tell us who inspired their love of reading. Read some of our favorite responses below and then share your own story with us in the comments.

1. "My father. He read to me every night before bed and made it a treat. If I was good that day, we would read two books. When I was three, he told me that if I read an entire book to him, cover to cover, he would take me out and buy me $100 worth of books." -Hannah

2. "My mother. She read voraciously. She believed that when you die, your soul and spirit stay for a while…so you would have time to read. She asked that she be buried with her favorite book, To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I put it in her hands in her casket." -Joan

3. "My BFF during our sophomore year in high school. She thought I needed a new hobby. After reading Laurell K. Hamilton's Guilty Pleasures, I traded my boy hobby for a book hobby." -Jeanny

4. "My aunt. I remember the day she took us to the library, got The Little Mermaid out, and read it to us in the backyard on a gorgeous day. She also had a wonderful bookcase at home. She rocked." -Sandra

5. "My best friend, Else. I have always loved the idea of reading, but I never got into it. Else and I were 'only' online friends through a game. I did know she loved to read, so I suggested a book to her. After that we started to talk a lot, and I started to read for real. Now I can't imagine a world without books or a life without her." -Sussie

6. "I come from a family of readers—my mum, my grandmother, my aunts, my cousins… They all read truck-loads of books. How could I not?" -Au

7. "My sixth grade teacher. She read The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler during the last half hour of every school day." -Jolanta

8. "My parents. I can remember going to the library and to the book fair with them at a very young age. No matter how many books I picked out, I never heard the word "no"—and we didn't have a lot of money. But books and reading were that important. One of the best legacies my parents left me…the love of reading." -Patti

9. "My uncle. He was always reading and always seemed to know something about any topic that came up in conversation. At the time, being a young boy, I thought he was the smartest man in the world, and I wanted to be just like him. I still consult with him regularly." -Cody

10. "My first grade teacher in 1965. She put me in the "middle reading group," and when I protested—nothing average in my plans—she told me that if I worked hard, she would move me up. I was soon reading ahead to learn what Sally, Spot, Dick, and Jane were doing. I have never stopped reading and sharing that love with my friends, my daughters, and my students." -Pam

11. "The children's librarian at the Fall River Public Library. Every Saturday I would walk the two or three miles to see her—and she knew me, recognized me, and recommended good books. She even allowed me to exceed the allowed number of books to be taken out at one time!" -Paul

12. "My father. He was an avid reader, but he became very sick when I was young, so I didn't get to spend that much time with him. No one else in my family liked reading, so I didn't initially take to it.

Then when I was eleven, my teacher introduced me to the joys of reading. She gave me Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass as a present. I think she saw that I was a bit of an outsider and thought I would enjoy a book about a fellow day dreamer that didn't follow the rules. She was right. It was the first book I can truly say I fell in love with.

Now that I am older reading lets me connect with my dad, even though he is no longer around. I love finding his old books and reading them. It's my way of having a part of him all to myself." -Judy

How did you fall in love with books? Share your story with us in the comments!

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The Best Young Adult Books of September
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Comments Showing 1-50 of 339 (339 new)

message 1: by Samiksha (new)

Samiksha I can't think of anybody, not even a single name. It's a bit saddening, but there was nobody who would inspire me to read. Books... just happened to me, like something inevitable.

message 2: by Weirdology (new)

Weirdology I've never had friends and whenever I would go outside people would harass me, and so I stayed inside all the time. But my mother didn't like that because she didn't want to have kids and wanted nothing to do with me. I had no toys or anything to entertain me. We didn't have cable, but my mother was a reader. So instead of sitting me in front of the tv like most parents do, one day, I think was was 4 or 5, my mom gave me all of her Anne Rice books to get me to leave her alone. Not just the vampire ones, but the erotica ones under a different name too. I've been a reader ever since.

message 3: by John (new)

John Dow I started reading by accident. I was brought up in a religious environment that I wasn't overly keen on and found I could hide in the library. While there, I discovered that those papery things that had stories in them were also frowned upon by family members so it became a joint escape / escapism / rebellion thing :)

message 4: by Ruth (new)

Ruth I was home sick a lot as a child. So i was 8 years old before I really began to read. First week of reading, I slogged though the adventures of dick and Jane. Hated them. Second week I had read all the picture books in the schools library. By the four week I was on Anne McCaffrey's pern series. But I still remember the first book I ever read without pictures was Anne mcCaffrey's decision at Doona. And I still reread it at least once per year as a reminder. Now I read over 200 books per year. Reading can take you out of your normal life, and travel to not just another country but other planets, and times. You can revisit old friends or make new ones. Just by opening a book, and filling your mind and heart.

Ananya (~on a semi-hiatus~) When I was three or four years old (I don't remember), my mum introduced me to reading. This was in the early nineties and she would order children's books by post for we lived in a very small town and books -especially children's books- were hard to come by.

One of the first books I remember reading was Kitty and Rover which was about the adventures of a girl named Ruth and her pets Kitty and Rover. It was insanely entertaining especially for a girl who grew up in a house full of pets and loved animals.

Animals were my first love, books second and although they have switched places two decades later, I still can't live without them.

message 6: by Dr Rashmit (new)

Dr Rashmit Mishra Samiksha wrote: "I can't think of anybody, not even a single name. It's a bit saddening, but there was nobody who would inspire me to read. Books... just happened to me, like something inevitable."

same here , I don't even have a reason as to why I started reading , None of my family members read either

message 7: by - Andrew (new)

- Andrew My best friend!

message 8: by Liz T (new)

Liz T My parents both worked, my dad had two jobs, and my brothers were 7 and 8 years older than me, so I spent a lot of time alone as a child. My mother even tells people that I taught myself! Books gave me playmates, big families and other worlds to explore, and have continued to do so.

message 9: by Belinda (last edited Sep 22, 2017 10:07AM) (new)

Belinda My love for reading definitely started when I was a child when I accompanied my older cousin to the library for the first time. The first book that I've ever checked out was, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl and my addiction with reading began then. I was also mesmerized by the books and the whole reading atmosphere in the library. Ever since then, my favorite places in the world is the library.

message 10: by Nadia (new)

Nadia My maternal Grandmother, Ismay, she read to me every night before sleep when I was a baby & toddler. I thought it was incredibly cool this act of reading and so followed the words with her determined to gain this remarkable skill. By 4 I was reading Enid Blyton books and have been insatiable ever since. Thanks, Gran!!

message 11: by Iset (new)

Iset I honestly don't remember a time when I didn't read. But I credit my parents anyway. Apparently my mother was determinedly teaching me to read and write before I was 2, and we had a 'library room' in the house that was stocked mainly with her books. And my dad would read to me every night when I was still too small to read for myself. When I was 5 he read The Hobbit to me, and when I was 7 he bought me a copy of The Odyssey, which I got hooked on immediately, so I may well have him to thank for my subsequent career in history and archaeology too.

message 12: by Sweta (new)

Sweta For me it just happened, my 3rd semester was just over n didn't got my study subjects so I took up reading Harry Potter. I was not much of a reader before but now I can't go without reading.

message 13: by Gloria (last edited Sep 22, 2017 09:47AM) (new)

Gloria Creech My mother worked and I stayed with babysitters but no matter how tired she was at night, she read me a story. My first babysitter's children were in training to be ministers. They were very analytical when they read me stories. "First of all Goldilocks broke in the bears' house - Breaking and Entering, She ate their porridge - Stealing. She laid down in their beds - Trespassing." A later babysitter fondly called me "a bookworm." I read "Alice in Wonderland" repeatedly.

When I was 7 and my sister was 4, my father took us to the library to return our books and check out new ones, I remember the librarian saying "Give Big Brother your books." And there was my Daddy looking like Joe College with his pullover sweater and Clark Kent glasses. In actuality, he was in his thirties by then.

message 14: by Gianna ⚴ (last edited Sep 22, 2017 02:42PM) (new)

Gianna ⚴ My mom says that even as a toddler, I used to eat while flipping through a picture book. By 4, I was able to read, and my dad used to sit with me every evening so that we could read together mythology, Jules Verne, and random encyclopedia entries.
25 years later, and he still can't understand why I prefer fantasy and sci-fi over other genres. :)

message 15: by Mukul (new)

Mukul Saini My grandfather was a librarian. I practically lived in a giant library when I was 6-10 even though all I was reading at that time was Nancy Drew and graphic novels. But I am so glad that I picked up the habit at that age. I am obsessed with making my own giant library now.

message 16: by Sandy (last edited Sep 22, 2017 09:58AM) (new)

Sandy My father loved buying cheap used books. Each week he came home with 10-20 used books. There were always something for me to read. I don't do sports. I was not an outdoor kid, so I either played board games with someone, or read alone. I discovered Mark Twain, Roald Dahl, and Beverly Cleary because of my father.

Apart from that, during summer months, I had to hang around my mom's office all day while she worked. There were no TV, so I had to entertain myself by reading quietly in a corner. It became a habit. I don't remember leaving house without a book.

message 17: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Henrietta, the Flying Pig. I was 4. It was a great story about....well, a flying pig and I've never been able to find it again. From then on, my life revolved around books. The best day was when my mother made the librarian let me take out books from the adult section. I was 9. She and my father were huge readers as was everybody else in my family. All kinds of strange things. Lives of the saints, German fairy tales (in German), love stories, fishing books, train histories. You name it and I read like that. Anything and everything.

message 18: by Gaurav (new)

Gaurav Andreas Rather coincidental, but all I can remember was reading The Catcher in The Rye and never ever stopping.

message 19: by Ariana (new)

Ariana No one. I needed books to escape my own mind, fighting depression. Not a cure in itself, but a way to make my life a lot better..

message 20: by Lupe (new)

Lupe Dominguez My third grade teacher. I was the new kid and had come in the middle of the school year. But when she let me read Finding Buck McHenry as my first chapter book, she was so excited for me for finishing it, that I was hooked - on the euphoria of making my new teacher proud but also for finding a new place to be - between the pages of a book.

message 21: by Linniewa (new)

Linniewa GC My father had books and newspapers around; he read the newspapers, not the books. My older sister would bring books home, she read little, but I got to borrow them and I read like my life depended on it. It turned out to be a life saving hobby, filled with worlds beyond my small world.

message 22: by Mavi (new)

Mavi Santacruz My teacher told us to read a national book. For me it was the first time I was 17 by then and I've never read a book before.

message 23: by Lidia (new)

Lidia My parents. My mother used to read to me when I was very small and she's always been the one to buy books in our house, but it was my father who in a way made me learn to read myself when I was 3:) I was sick, my mother was at work, and he was too busy that day to read my favourite story to me (it was a poem about a goat who wanted to be a blacksmith and went on a long journey to become one - a very popular funny kids' book in Poland at that time:)) so he just said "Why don't you learn to read yourself?" That's how it started - I learned to read within a few weeks, with his help, and since then I haven't had a day in my life without a book in my hand:) He passed away a few years back but I still see him helping me to read my first books or taking me to our local library and scolding the librarian who didn't want to lend me the books she thought I was too young to read...:)

message 24: by Tracy (new)

Tracy I really don't remember anyone when I was younger who told me to read. As long as I can remember, I have loved books. When I was younger, my mom would buy me whatever books I wanted, but she wasn't a reader. I would actually get in trouble for reading too much when I was in school. I thought it would be better to read than listen to what the teacher was saying! So here's to books!

message 25: by Mary (new)

Mary I didn't have a person who inspired me to read. I actually hated reading for most of my school years. The idea of reading only to have to write a paper afterwards made me have such a disdain towards the hobby that I never tried reading for fun.

Then, in my senior year of high school, a package was delivered to my house my accident and inside was a copy of Dean Koontz's The Good Guy. Instead of doing what I should have done (giving it back to the mail guy saying it was the wrong address) I kept the book (sorry to whoever it was supposed to go to) and I became obsessed with Dean Koontz. I got a library card and read everything I could that had his name on it.

Obviously now I read more than just one author. But man, if it wasn't for that delivery mistake, I don't think I would have ever gotten into reading.

message 26: by Pınar (new)

Pınar Kaya As I remember nobody inspired me to read but I'm happy to say that I inspired the people around me.

message 27: by Katie (new)

Katie My mom used to read to me every night, switching between fiction and nonfiction. Eventually, I started devouring every book I could find. She died when I was young, so I continue the tradition of reading every day in some form. If I sit still and read long enough in one sitting, it almost feels like old times.

TheBohemianBookworm My parents read to me every night and I will always believe that that was so crucial for developing my love of books. Parents, relatives, mentors, please read to your kids! It really is mportant.

message 29: by Marc (new)

Marc Nash I never read books as a kid, too busy playing sports. I can date it exactly when I saw the light. A cool older cousin recommended me to listen to the Cure song "Killing An Arab" and then go read Albert Camus' novel The Stranger by Albert Camus The Stranger (on which the song is based) to get some too cool for school credibility points. I dutifully did both and have been hooked ever since.

message 30: by Eva (new)

Eva Mostraum I learned to read, it took me one day after starting school, and discovered that I didn't have to wait for anyone to tell or read me stories anymore. What could be better?

message 31: by Crime Addict (new)

Crime Addict Sifat My father used to scold me to read. He used to say, "why don't you read ? Read, Read .... The more you read, the more you learn." Then I chose to read juvenile story books. I started with "The Three Investigators". I did have a long break in between .. mmmmm... May be 10/12 years.. Then I came back to read. I won't take any more break, I promise.

Poppy*Reads*Romance The first book I owned was an anthology that my parents gave me when I was 6. I went on to read the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, but it wasn't until we moved to a (then) remote location in Norway where there was no TV (this was in the early 70s), that I really got into reading. At school, the teacher read to us from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach" and a school pal's older brother lent me his Enid Blyton books -- I got hooked on The Secret Seven and The Famous Five. Obviously, I still love to read!

message 33: by Ayush (new)

Ayush Dubey I really needed to get hold of a book than people in my life and that is when I started reading seriously. And now, I would sometimes read even while travelling or during lectures too.

message 34: by Stefan Bach (new)

Stefan Bach Traded Herman Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund from my mother's library for neighbors Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. Best decision of my life. Because when Mary with her prose hooked me, I simply wanted more of it.
Luckily by then, neighbor returned Herman Hesse's book. :D

message 35: by Sam (new)

Sam Kates "...but the truth is we were all nonreaders once."

I suppose, strictly speaking, that's true - once I was a dispersed collection of atomic particles, dust blown on the wind; then I became a beetle, or its antennae, or its carapace; I was foam on a wave, the kernel of an acorn, sap running through the veins of a fallen leaf.

I became a spark in my dad's eye, an embryo, a foetus, then a wriggling ball of bawling baby.

I learned to walk and talk. Then I learned to read.

And that's when I stopped being a non-reader.

message 36: by Lizzie (new)

Lizzie Vinson My mom wouldn't let me learn to read when I was three, because of her experiences with my older sibling (she wanted me to wait until I was five). I am stubborn. I taught myself to read using the little bluebook speller (I think that's what it was called) and I have loved to read ever since. My mom tells the story of me spelling out words slowly then figuring out what the word was and excitedly jumping up and down as I read it (by myself), such as " DOG DOG DOG!!". For a while after that I didn't have patience for longer chapter books until I was older, but I always remember my mom having "reading time" when me and my brother would curl up next to her on the bed and she would read from her ornate "Secret Garden" or "A Series of Unfortunate Events" or "Aesop's Fables" and we would just sit and listen...

message 37: by Brenda (last edited Sep 22, 2017 05:21PM) (new)

Brenda It started for me when I learned how to read. I just couldn't get enough of it and thus my reading level was always at minimum two grades ahead. I was the kid that got excited when the teacher told us that we could read quietly at our desks. Until the age of 12 my sister and I shared a room and my parents made us go to sleep in separate rooms because we would talk instead of sleep. So I had to fall asleep in my parents room (until they went to bed and moved me to my bed). Well my mom would leave the bedroom door cracked and it gave me just enough light to read. She would catch me and shut the hall light off so I started bringing a flashlight with me. If she wouldn't let me bring a book in with me, I would read one of the ones she left on her headboard. I was relentless! I remember being a big fan of the Nancy Drew mysteries and wish I still had all those books. To this day, a plastic wrapped hardcover book from the library still evokes fond memories of reading at school and going to the library as a child.

message 38: by Steve (new)

Steve When I was 15 my brother was reading Slugs by Shaun Hutsun it had a nasty cover, I just had to see what it was all about, I would sneak a few pages at a time when he put it down I felt so naughty reading something that clearly was not meant for my age.

My love for horror started then but more than anything my love for reading,

Thanks Bro.

message 39: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Levalley Both of my parents were avid readers, and from the time I learned to read, I always had my nose in a book. My Mum would want me to put my book down at the breakfast table, but my Dad would say, 'leave her alone. She's learning.' I simply can't live without books, and reading in bed has been a lifelong habit that I will never break, thankfully. Suzanne

message 40: by Raya (new)

Raya P Morrison I caught a terrible flu and had to read Hector Malo's Sans Famile for school. After that I just couldn't stop!

message 41: by Aslan (last edited Sep 22, 2017 12:44PM) (new)

Aslan I was scrolling around on youtube when I was in 8th grade, and I saw this video by this person called polandbananabooks and it was titled favourite books 2013 edition and then I got intrigued by her videos. And then I started watching her booktalks and was so entertained that I decided to give the books she recommended a try. And I would only read the books she recommended but once I started beginning to really love reading and expanding my booktubers (jessethereader, katytastic, etc.), that I began to read on my own accord.

message 42: by Jeanny (new)

Jeanny Oh my god I can't believe my reply is posted up there lol (#3)

message 43: by Judy (new)

Judy My mom had been a school teacher in a one-room schoolhouse before she was married, so she taught me the alphabet, read to me, and encouraged me. I learned to read at school in first grade. That summer I spent a month with my grandparents. I had done that before, but I told Grandma this time that I was too old to take a nap in the afternoon -- every afternoon when it was hot. She said I had to stay quiet and rest, but she opened up her parlor to me. Normally no one was allowed in the parlor, and the windows were covered with dark green shades, so when I went in after lunch and the shades were raised, it was cool. My mother's school books and other information she used at her school were stored at Grandma's. I started with Book One and it taught vocabulary, then had a short story, and ended with questions to answer about what I had read. I followed all the instructions, and when I finished it, I went on to Book Two. When I went home after the month, I had finished all the books through Book Six. I was reading on the 6th grade level when I went home to go into 2nd grade. I haven't stopped reading since.

message 44: by Novel Nymph (new)

Novel Nymph Jeanny wrote: "Oh my god I can't believe my reply is posted up there lol (#3)"

Cool! :D

message 45: by Novel Nymph (last edited Sep 22, 2017 01:17PM) (new)

Novel Nymph Wow, #12 made me cry a little. : )

My mom said since I was a baby I liked to mess around with books, and I loved having The Hungry Caterpillar read to me as a little kid. But as far as what got me hooked to reading them myself, it was the day I checked out Meet Samantha from the America Girls' at the library (I was eight). I still remember the feeling of getting sucked into her world. After that, I wanted to always be in a book world. Samantha led me to reading classics, and when I was twelve I discovered Jane Eyre. It's still my favorite today. : )

message 46: by Novel Nymph (new)

Novel Nymph I love all the stories here! So beautiful. : )

message 47: by Scott (new)

Scott My parents would read to me, often before bedtime; and my elementary school teachers (including my favorite one, in 5th grade) would read great books to my class, in both cases when I was very young. I always looked forward to those times. Trips to the library were also fun.

But I really did not start reading on my own volition until junior high (which was a horrible experience - part of the reason I turned to reading for escape), and I haven't looked back since then. Part of the credit goes to authors Stephen King and Joseph Wambaugh - my introduction to 'grown-up' books.

message 48: by Carol (new)

Carol Rodríguez I started reading because my mother, a great reader, always read me before bed. One night he suggested that I read it too, with her. And so, little by little, without I realizing it, my mother had already left me the habit of reading every day of my own free will. My parents and grandparents always bought me stories and books, at least one a week. The compulsory school readings for me were delightful; we had to read a book every quarter as a minimum and I the first quarter had already devoured the class library. I started reading adult novel with fourteen years old. I told my mother that I wanted to read something "grown-up" and borrowed Stephen King's "The Shinning". And that's the story, I'm almost thirty four years old and I have not stopped reading.

message 49: by Saba (new)

Saba Robinson Crusoe

When I was small, my parents read to me. I remember it being fairy tales and mostly the same ones. I know I got a series of books a TV-series I liked was based on. (Both were destined to get me in trouble later but that's another story.) The only other books I can remember were a book about literal chickens going to school, my dads favourite childhood book (about a clever ant and it's adventures) and some books for older children that were probably from mums side but I never read them and I don't know what ultimately happened to them. They sounded so realistic that daydreaming me didn't want them. (I grew up far away from a library and a book shop. There came a library bus once a week but it was small, crowded and had mostly adult books.)
Learning to read in school didn't do anything for me because I found it boring. I was somehow familiar with the idea that something should happen in a story. In the stories at school nothing ever happened. I loved to watch nature documentaries and even in those happened more.
In third grade on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon I was bored. My parents had a lot of books and I don't remember why, but I took one out and read the description. It was about a guy stranding on a remote island. I read the whole book even as it took a long while. The next one was Around the World in 80 Days.
Later I read Sherlock Holmes (the stories only), Edgar Wallace and Agatha Christie. I had moved and was even near a small library and was 13 and had to commute a lot. When I didn't find anything interesting in the crime shelf there anymore, I moved to the next shelf: Fantasy. Most books sounded to foreign for me but one was about a 16 year old girl: Soul Music. And still daydreaming me had probably come home.

message 50: by Mickey (new)

Mickey I started reading because my first job as a teacher was so stressful. I didn't know what I was doing. The kids were horrible to me. I felt so bullied by the students and had no confidence at all. Then I discovered romance novels, rather accidentally, at a local library. I just picked one up and lost myself in it. Then I finished the series, and wondered how I could find more books like these. That's when I discovered Goodreads and I've been reading at least 100 books a year ever since. Reading had literally saved me from depression.

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