21st Century Literature discussion

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Question of the Week > How Did You First Start Reading Fiction? (7/9/18)

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message 1: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2881 comments Mod
Were you a bookworm as a child? Did you start reading nonfiction first and get pulled into fiction? Was it that time the clown visited your house and left you a copy of It? Maybe you didn't start until later in life? Let us know!


message 2: by Neil (last edited Jul 09, 2018 02:09PM) (new)

Neil | 309 comments Hah! You ask a 57 year old man who has been reading since, well, since he learned to read? I have to look back 50+ years!

I've always read fiction, even from a very early age. At least, I assume the one about a meat eating dinosaur coming to town was fiction. In primary school, it got to the stage where the teachers were bringing books in from their homes for me because I had read all the books in the school library.

Apart from a brief dip when I had young children that was followed by a period of 2-3 years watching a lot of movies instead of reading, I've read pretty consistently my whole life. And it has always been predominantly fiction.


message 3: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2881 comments Mod
It's wonderful, Neil, that you had teachers who recognized and nurtured your young, voracious reading appetite! Like you, I was hooked from the start. From trips to the library to almost always allowing me to purchase books (they offered them for a discount a couple times per year through school), my father always did a lot to encourage and support my reading. I'm gonna guess that there was at least one other serious reader in your household, yes?


message 4: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) | 161 comments I don't remember not reading fiction. My mother read to me long before I could read and I was reading by the time I was four. Fiction is like breathing to me.


message 5: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2451 comments Growing up, everyone in my house read. I was especially desperate to learn to read so I could read my uncle's comic books. I still remember the excitement of getting my library card when I was six or seven. Fiction was the predominant reading material of the whole family, although the Farm Journal, Life, and the Reader's Digest were mainstays. During elementary school (grades 1-8), the book mobile came on a regular basis and in the summer, I was lucky enough to get the Weekly Reader.


message 6: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 293 comments Oh, lots of shared memories! My mother reading to me, excitement of the library card, Reader's Digest, the book mobile, and oh my yes, Weekly Reader!! Loved that. And the Scholastic Book Club!

I started with my father’s bedtime stories, Golden Books and Dr. Seuss. Everyone in my family read, and my brother was the biggest influence of all, giving me books to read way before I was ready for them.

After growing up a bookworm though, I drifted away from fiction in high school (friends) and college (other reading) and adult life (work, work, work). My exposure to literature in school was spotty at best, and one day I realized how much I’d missed, and decided to make an effort to catch up, starting with David Copperfield. I’ll never forget how happy it made me to read that book, and to get back to my reading roots. Ever since I try to read a little bit more every year, lots of genres, but mostly fiction.


message 7: by Amy (new)

Amy Rudolph | 23 comments I loved to read as a child - my parents were both avid readers, and they encouraged my reading habit. Once I got to college and particularly law school, though, recreational reading slowed to a trickle. I was probably out of law school for about 10 years before I went back to reading for fun - and remembered what it was like to literally lose track of time while reading a really good book! Ever since, I have made sure to have some good fiction on my Kindle and/or on my bedside table, and I read 30+ books per year. Maybe one of those per year is a biography, but overall my view is that I read enough nonfiction at work, and if I am reading for fun, that means fiction!


message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert | 461 comments My love of reading fiction mostly came through the fact that my mother would read to me at night. It wouldn't be one book either. Generally I'd give her a stack of my books (they were the only things I was really interested in) and she'd read three or four. Most of the time it was Dr. Seuss but I had a variety of titles.

I was lucky I came from a family who supported reading fiction (Dad likes those formulaic bestsellers, Mum less discerning. One day she'd read Sartre's Nausea, then a Barbara Cartland novel and then The World According to Garp etc)

Then there were other game changers, like my grade 2 teacher reading Charlotte's Web, and coincidentally I received it as a birthday gift a couple of weeks later so that was my first 'chapter' book.

Since I lived on an Indian reservation for the first 9 years of my life our only access to a library was a postal one and we would receive our green canvas bag of books every Wednesday. Then eventually when we moved to the town of Kenora we frequented the two libraries on a weekly basis. Also the school library was a fantastic one and the librarian there inspired me to taken school librarianship as a profession.

When I moved to Malta in 1992, I was shocked at how little people read. The fact that our school library was pretty bad didn't help. So that was a dry spell for me.

My jump into literary fiction (before it was Gerald Durrell- which I liked and my dad's action books like Clive Cussler, which I hated but they were the only things in the house at the time) happened when I was 16 and we studied Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. After finishing it, I knew that was the type of fiction I liked and I've been reading literary fiction ever since. There were a couple of breaks though one was between 2005-2007 when my life was going through a transitional period and in 2011/12 when I just wanted to watch films.


message 9: by Hugh (last edited Jul 10, 2018 12:41AM) (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2835 comments Mod
I grew up in a house full of books and all of my family were readers. I have always read, but hardly touched fiction between the ages of 10 and 18. Since then I have never stopped and since joining GR the numbers have increased every year.
I don't even remember starting - like others here I was exposed to fiction from very early childhood. My adult reading started with university vacations, largely due to my parents' well-stocked bookshelves (they both read a lot of literary fiction).


message 10: by carissa (new)

carissa yep...my earliest memories are of being read to by a parent. A family of readers. Summer Reading Programs as a kid. Working in the High School Library as part of my curriculum. I've always read fiction. I can't think of a time when I have not. The non-fiction reads are usually instructional in areas that interest me; mostly art and cooking.


message 11: by Robert (new)

Robert | 461 comments Kathleen wrote: "Oh, lots of shared memories! My mother reading to me, excitement of the library card, Reader's Digest, the book mobile, and oh my yes, Weekly Reader!! Loved that. And the Scholastic Book Club!

The scholastic book club!!! (if we're talking about the right thing) I remember when the teacher would hand out those leaflets, with book orders. Those were the highlight of my month. I remember one time Scholastic had a surprise summer reading box, which my parents bought. 20 books and all were great (I still have a couple of them on my shelves)


message 12: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) | 161 comments Marc wrote: "It's wonderful, Neil, that you had teachers who recognized and nurtured your young, voracious reading appetite! Like you, I was hooked from the start. From trips to the library to almost always all..."

Thanks for reminding me of The Weekly Reader! I'd forgotten about that and your brought back happy memories. I loved it.


message 13: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 293 comments Robert wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "Oh, lots of shared memories! My mother reading to me, excitement of the library card, Reader's Digest, the book mobile, and oh my yes, Weekly Reader!! Loved that. And the Scholasti..."

Yep, we're talking about the same thing! I remember those leaflets so well, and circling books in red pencil, and the day the books were delivered … oh, the best!


message 14: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2881 comments Mod
I couldn't remember what the leaflets were called, I just remembered ordering everything from fantasy books to Garfield!

I knew this might easily be a "feel-good" thread, but I had no idea how fun it would be to listen to everyone's memories. For one of my birthdays right around the time I learned to read, my aunt got me a Peter Pan book in which they customized it by making me a character in the text. I still have it.


message 15: by Nadine in California (last edited Jul 10, 2018 08:54AM) (new)

Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments Neither of my parents were readers, but there were books in the house - my mother belonged to the book of the month club for a few years in the early 50's, and I read every single one, whether I understood them or not. To this day, an old, obscure, bad movie will come on TV and I'll realize I read the book ;)

Childhood reading memory......I was in our town's big department store with my mom and there was a big bin filled solely with copies of Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone. The cover was beautiful and I begged my mom to buy it for me. About 1/3 of the way in, through some major printing mishap, The Moonstone turned into Puddin' Head Wilson. I just thought "This is weird", and kept on reading. Still too young to realize that grownups can make mistakes.


message 16: by Franky (new)

Franky | 119 comments Interesting stories and experiences all around here.

I think the first books I started reading were either Stephen King books (I made the mistake as a youngster of reading The Shining on late at night during the summer) or reading those "choose your own adventure" style books where the reader had to choose a path during the story.

Early early on (like kindergarten), I read Curious George.


message 17: by Robert (new)

Robert | 461 comments Kathleen wrote: "Robert wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "Oh, lots of shared memories! My mother reading to me, excitement of the library card, Reader's Digest, the book mobile, and oh my yes, Weekly Reader!! Loved that. An..."

Yes!!! and then there was the Scholastic book fair - Oh my God, I would go insane. My parents always gave me 10 dollars, nothing less or more. I still have my copy of Gordon Korman's Beware the Fish which caused some consternation that time because I had to chose between that or a Wolf in my Pudding. Today Beware the Fish is in print while Wolf is now out of print. I think I made the right decision.


message 18: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Rotter (themagpie45) | 70 comments I'm 73 now and will answer with a few clear memories.
When I was 7 my mother, who read to me children's books of the day, ordered The Golden Treasury of Natural History. I don't know why. I went with her to the post office to pick it up. Because of the reading level, she read from it things that clearly contradicted church teachings. I was fascinated by dinosaurs. It's the only book childhood that i still have.

Other than that book, I've read almost exclusively fiction. My Dallas Public Library card gave access to golden age science fiction. My mother's book club provided new books like To Kill a Mockingbird. Janet Bolton was my girl detective. In high school Mrs. Enlow assigned On the Beach, 1984, Animal Farm at the same time that Masters of Deceit was the social studies text. I've always believed fiction is subversive in the very best way.


message 19: by Lyn (new)

Lyn | 42 comments Bookworm from a young age. (I remember reading late at night, my dad yelling for me to turn off the light and go to sleep, and I'd turn off the light, wait 15 minutes, turn the light back on and keep reading).

At school, lessons proceeded so slowly for me that by age 7 or so I started employing the "book within a book" system and multitasking to not lose my mind at the slow class pace! (Did that for all my school years).


message 20: by Sue (new)

Sue So I think I have an unusual story.

I changed schools three times from 2nd to 3rd grade. As a result I fell behind in my reading skills.

My parents started to pay me to read. We're talking between 10 and 50 cents per book depending on how long. I also got 5 cents to read aloud to my younger brothers. And pretty much all fiction.

After about a year, I loved reading so much I forgot to ask for the money. I've been an avid reader of fiction (and non-fiction) ever since.


message 21: by Lyn (new)

Lyn | 42 comments Wow, getting paid to read - for me that would mean I had my dream job at a very young age!


message 22: by Laurie (new)

Laurie There is certainly a common theme in almost everyone's responses. I too was raised in a family of readers. I have fond memories of trips to the library with my mom and sister, borrowing so many books I could barely carry them. I remember reading the Little Golden Books, some of which are no longer around any more for good reason (Little Black Sambo). These books were cheap and sturdy and what I learned to read on.

By the time I was in 8th grade, I was voted most likely to be a librarian. I was fortunate that my parents did not restrict my reading and I read whatever wanted. I don't remember reading anything too out of my league. My love of reading ultimately led to getting my degree in English. Fiction has always been my primary choice, and for many years mysteries were my go to, but now I read much more diversely in fiction and non-fiction


message 23: by Caroline (new)

Caroline (cedickie) | 384 comments Mod
100% of the credit for me getting the reading bug early on has to go to my parents. My dad traveled a lot for work when I was a kid and on the couple days a month he was home, he would read some of his childhood favorites to me. As I got older, he would give me books to read on my own before he went out of town and we would bond over it once I'd finished it. My mom read to me most of the other nights when he wasn't in town and it was something we looked forward to every day, especially anything horse related, like Black Beauty, the Black Stallion, and My Friend Flicka!

Also, reading has always been treated as a group activity in my family. Instead of board games, bowling, etc., we'd read in the same room!


message 24: by Clarke (new)

Clarke Owens | 123 comments See Jane. Jane likes to run. Run, Jane, run!
See Skip. Skip runs to Jane. See Skip run.


message 25: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2254 comments Mod
Clarke wrote: "See Jane. Jane likes to run. Run, Jane, run!
See Skip. Skip runs to Jane. See Skip run."


:-) I was thinking along similar lines. My first memory of actually reading was sitting in a circle in (I think) first grade, taking turns reading from a Dick and Jane type book.


message 26: by Clarke (new)

Clarke Owens | 123 comments The readers were the only early books I didn't actually much enjoy reading. Too repetitive!


message 27: by Lily (last edited Jul 17, 2018 04:56PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments I suspect that I started with comic strips -- Dagwood and Blondie, Dick Tracy (what influence did he have on the touch-screen applications I eventually became involved with developing in the late '60's), Al Capp 's "Lil Abner," Steve Canyon and the Dragon Lady, Mary Worth. Always an excessively studious (nerdy?) type, looking back, I am amazed to realize what a diverse set of character types populated my early reading/being-read-to experiences. Our home received a daily (regional) and a weekly (local) newspaper. Getting the mail was a pretty big deal. Although books were relatively scarce and the nearest library was some distance, we did get magazines and periodicals, from Successful Farming to Ladies Home Journal to specialty publications on animal husbandry. (As a teenager, it was a source of young pride to have an article published in one of those.)

I loved Nancy Drew's adventures, would sneak away from chores to read her and the Bobbsey Twins; later I also enjoyed Zane Grey. Since I doubt my parents spent much on books, even though Mother had been a schoolteacher, extended family members must have passed along their copies. The eight-grade school room I attended (with about 12 students, so often not all grades were populated) was fortunate enough to have its own library, and I probably read most of its holdings. Geography lessons depended upon and were frustrated by World Book Encyclopedia searches. The county-wide school system provided a circulating library of probably 15-20 books on a periodic (monthly? quarterly?) basis. Once I got beyond Jane and ..., I read most of them.

But I do remember that what we had available did not prepare us well for standard tests -- I would not know the characters of The Wind in the Willows or even Alice in Wonderland or Peter Pan. Some have suggested this is indicative of the ways public school systems have not served the population equitably; the "good" schools got the classics. Still, I did love Heidi and Misty of Chincoteague. By eighth grade, there was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline and The Great Stone Face, which I'd forgotten was written by Hawthorne.

Thanks for reminding me of The Farm Journal, My Friend Flicka, The Black Stallion, The Weekly Reader, ... One of my favorite cartoons will always be of Ada the Ayrshire bending her neck around a fence post to eat grass on the same side where she is standing.


message 28: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2451 comments Lily - because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! Great remembrances! My sister attended a one room school house for grades 6-8. Grades 1-5 were in the other one-room school house on the other side of town. The bathrooms were outhouses and needless to say, there was no school library. I was lucky enough to attend the new grammar school. Five classrooms and the teachers lounge were built first and grades 1-5 suddenly had a room each and there were indoor bathrooms instead of outhouses. The rest of the building with classrooms for grades 6-8 and the gym/cafeteria took about three more years to finish. Still no school library but there was the bookmobile. We had The World Book Encyclopedia on the shelf at home - if I remember correctly, my parents borrowed my savings to purchase it. My sister and I were big Tom Swift fans - our father had the original series and we had the Tom Swift Jr. series. My grandmother also had a whole bunch of Big Little Books (http://www.biglittlebooks.com/learnin...) that we read over an over.


message 29: by Lily (last edited Jul 17, 2018 06:45PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments LindaJ^ wrote: "Lily - because the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! Great remembrances! My sister attended a one room school house for grades 6-8. Grades 1-5 were in the other one-room schoo..."

Our schoolhouse was actually one of those large brick buildings with two possible classrooms on the main floor. (Before "my time" apparently there had been classes for grades above eight there, but by the 1950's, those had been moved to town. ) Between the porticoes (where my crepe soled shoes once froze to the cement one chilly recess) was the space for a nice library, with wooden shelves above and cabinets below. Bathrooms were in the basement, along with the coal burning furnace (probably converted to oil -- as a kid I didn't follow that closely), and a large T-shaped space where we could play at recess on rainy days. The building still stands, but converted into apartment spaces.


message 30: by Robert (new)

Robert | 461 comments Clarke wrote: "The readers were the only early books I didn't actually much enjoy reading. Too repetitive!"

I hated them too.

Saying that when I was in Canada, grade 3, we had an amazing reader/anthology - it was eclectic: the first 3 chapters from Roald Dahl's The BFG, a biographical piece on Wayne Gretzky, Rikki-Tikki Tavi in full, Chinese fairy tales etc etc.


message 31: by Clarke (new)

Clarke Owens | 123 comments Others have mentioned Little Golden Books and Dr. Seuss. Does anyone remember Space Cat? What about Louis Slobodkin? Eleanor Estes?


message 32: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Izaguirre (sweetji) | 122 comments I grew up mostly watching TV shows and movies, my grandfather and then my dad are big movie fans and I was always watching classics or new movies. But we always had books at home, mostly the classics.

I grew up in Venezuela, and the curriculum for literature in school is not very extensive, we had to read a few books, like Don Quijote, Doña Barbara, The Divine Comedy, and some short stories but that was about it. But it was around that time, probably middle school, that I remember wanting to read more stories like those. So I started with other classics like Crime and Punishment, Moby Dick, or whatever I could find at home. It might be my love for movies that translates into my love for fiction over non-fiction even now.


message 33: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 249 comments lots of wonderful mothers in this thread.


message 34: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2451 comments and fathers!


message 35: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2881 comments Mod
Certainly, the start'em-young approach was life changing for most of us. While I have many hopes for my own son (who is now almost 16), I figured if he learned to read, ride a bike, and swim, the world would be pretty wide open to him.


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