As I start this blog, I found myself wondering how I became such a book-obsessed dork and why I prefer certain types of stories to others. Looking back, I've decided that reading development is kind of like that Plinko game from the Price is Right--certain people and book experiences bump you in one direction or the other. Some of us land in the $5000 slot and become lifelong readers of every type of book, others land in zero and miss out completely, and many of us fall somewhere in between finding a particular reading niche. Here's how my Plinko game went:
4th grade: Inspired by my mother's love of mystery novels, I start reading James Howe's Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery series and Betty Ren Wright's The Dollhouse Murders .
Result: A love of stories that scare me and make me laugh. This also leads to me being convinced that my room is haunted by an evil stuffed monkey that has sat on my shelf since toddlerhood. Monkey gets evicted to the attic, I sleep on the couch for six months (seriously.)
5th grade: My teacher, Mrs. Hymel, starts reading a chapter a day of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time to the class. I'm hooked. I go to the library to get the book because I can't tolerate waiting for her to finish. I proceed to read the rest of the series in rapid succession. When I'm finished with those, I move on to The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Result: My love for both fantasy and series books is planted.
6th grade: We're assigned to read Where the Red Fern Grows
and Bridge to Terabithia . Amazing literary books. But both tore me to shreds. I had just lost my grandmother who I was extremely close to and books involving deaths just shattered me.
Result: I develop a respect but also a wariness for literary fiction. In addition, I acquire a lifelong aversion to novels that kill off the dog. I go on a binge of R.L. Stine horror books (such as The Baby-Sitter (Point Horror Series)
)and Roald Dahl instead. I also began to indulge my budding interest in the paranormal. My science fair projects for this year: ESP and Poltergeists.
9th grade: I dig through my mom's book collection and pull out V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind . These books were depressing, full of drama, gothic, darkly romantic, and totally addictive. But why do I remember these? Because in the second book there was (wait for it) sex. Gasp. I was a very naive at fourteen and found this to be so scandalous. This is the first time I remember hiding the spine of the book while I was reading in public just in case. Of course, I went on to read like twenty more books by Ms. Andrews.
Result: Discover that romance + sexy + darkness = awesomeness
10th grade: I realize that most of my favorite horror movies started as books. I go through a Stephen King and Anne Rice phase. I also read a "based on true events" book called The Black Hope Horror: The True Story of a Haunting that scares the bejesus out of me. I have to remove the book from my room at night so I can sleep.
Result: Decide psychics, monsters, vampires, and ghosts are by far way cooler than normal humans.
9th grade-12th grade: My teachers beat us over the head with the classics because that's their job. I know now these books are works of art, masterpieces, etc. But as a teenager, I thought all of them (outside of Shakespeare and Poe) were big giant suckfests.
Result: I raise the stock of the Cliff Notes company (allowing me to ace all English tests and papers) and am further turned off by the term "literary."And what do I do with the time I should be using to read my assigned books? I write my own romance novel because clearly there is no chance of actual romantic interludes in my own angsty life. A hundred and fifty typed pages of sappy teenage indulgence is born and titled Kismet. My male protagonist bears a striking resemblance to Joe McIntyre of New Kids on the Block.
College: I start off with a double major: Psyc and English, but feel overwhelmed. I drop English because it's not as "practical", but still sneak in a few classes. LSU offers a Vampires in Literature class. How frigging cool is that? Not only do I get the chance to read stacks of vamp novels, I get the chance to write short stories about them, too.
Result: Regret dropping the English major. Promise myself that once I get settled in my psychology career, I will try to write in my free time.
So now, years later, where does that leave me?
Reading and writing the same things I grew to love as a child. My Plinko chip landed in the voracious reader of genre fiction slot. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not closed off to the literary side, but honestly its not the first thing I pick up. So, be warned that most of my reviews on here will fall under genre fiction.
So, I'm curious. What books from your past guided your tastes? Can you remember that first moment or first book that really hooked you on reading? Or something that turned you away from a certain genre? Leave a comment and let me know.