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« For Love of the Bad Boy* | Main | Face Off Friday: Movie vs. Book (and Contest Winner!) »

Why do you read what you read?*

Since it is Thanksgiving week, I am rerunning some posts I did before I had many followers. I will still be responding to your comments. Here is my very first post, hope you enjoy. I look forward to hearing about your own reading journey

**REPOSTED from 7/15/09**

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'sThe 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. Stinehorror 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 strikingresemblance 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.

**Today's Theme Song**
"Thnks Fr Th Mmrs"-- Fall Out Boy
(player in sidebar, take a listen)

Reader Comments (27)

I remember falling in love with a book called Follow My Leader, by James B. Garfield. My 3rd grade teacher read it aloud to the class, and as soon as she was finished, I raced to check it out. I also loved the Betsy books and the Princess and the Goblin. I re-read all of these many, many times. :)

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShannon O'Donnell

I remember The Boxcar Children from maybe third or fourth grade.
My love of YA came much later, when I was teaching in an alternative school and looking for books my students would connect to. Now I read mostly YA with some adult and non-fiction thrown in.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Greci

I loved that whole V.C. Andrews series! Today I read a mish mosh for a variety of reasons. =)

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterT. Anne

did i know you were a psych major? i don't think i did, but cool. :)

i think i found out later in life that romance+darkness = awesomeness when i picked up twilight and then charlaine harris and the the vampire diaries. ended up with a HUGE thing for vampires, i guess.

Win a copy of Erica Vetsch's debut novel, The Bartered Bride at" rel="nofollow">Where Romance Meets Therapy

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeannie Campbell, LMFT

My first real love was Stephen King. I read everything I could get my hands on. Before that I read Are You There, God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume *giggle*, then Forever *giggle, snort*. I remember falling in love with Tom Sawyer when that book was assigned. And have a huge love of Shakespeare and Poe. I think we followed almost the same path really. No wonder I love you so much! I read YA mostly. I read adult stuff sometimes, but when I'm really excited about something, I like to share. And my daughter loves to read, too. So I stick with that.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTina Lynn

Vampires in literature class! WTF, why don't we have that in Central Illinois!

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Growing up I didn't read that much actually. But when I did, it was always Lord of the Rings. Or something fantasy/sci-fi. Nowadays I still read more fantasy then any other type of genre. But I haven't read anything in a long time. Just don't have the time to sit down and read and to be honest, there aren't a lot of books that really catch my eye anymore. Sometimes I feel like authors flirt with mediocre just so the book sells but it's not really that great of writing or reading. I like reading books that make me pause at the end and say "wow..." that make me think. Not many modern day books give me that anymore. ):

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGavin

I liked Bridge to Terabithea until the little girl died. Totally unexpected and sad. Guess I'm just a guy who likes happy endings.

Stephen Tremp

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephen Tremp

We share some favorites! I think R.L. Stine was a big one and later V.C. Andrews.

Reading has changed alot for me over the years, but I still love compelling stories now with a more Christian thread.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTamika:

I'm impressed that you can remember all of those books you read in grade school! Little Women was my all time favourite childhood read. Except for poor Beth of course.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeb@RGRamblings

when I was young I read a series that I don't remember the name of but it was full of esoteric stories, ghosts, witches, etc.

In highschool I only read the classics because I loved them. In college I opened it up a lot more to modern authors...I read a lot. I mean A LOT.

Now not so much. Not sure why. I don't have the time with Goom. And to be honest it has something to do with LA. When I travel to Montana I read more fiction...strange but true.

much love

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstaceyjwarner

I loved Roald Dahl and bawled my way through Where a Red Fern Grows. I was a big fan of Anne of Green Gables and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Strong female role models- yay!

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Thornton

It sounds like we read and loved the same books. I remember Dollhouse Murders, that was great.

What was hugely influential to me in elementary school was a gorgeous book called "A visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for innocent and experienced travelers" by Nancy Willard and Alice Provensen (still available on Amazon). This was a rich book in word and art and I just LOVED it. It spoke to me.

When I was 10, 11, and 12, I read Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals and the two sequels to it and it was hugely influential to me.

This is such a great post and now I'm thinking of all the good books....cripes, I'm going to have to do a blog about it too. Suffice it to say, I have loved books all my life. I am SO GLAD I HAVE EYES.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSierra Godfrey

I loved Roald Dahl too! I always loved fantasy of any kind. In high school I got hooked on the classics (Dickens, Austen, Twain, etc.). Now I read just about everything :)

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNatalie

The first long book I remember reading is Harry Potter 1. I was seven years old, and my friends from school were reading it, so I decided to give it a try. My mum borrowed a copy from one of her friends and started reading it in the train, when she went to work. She selected the paragraphs she thought would be interesting enough for me to read –remember I was 7, so I could get easily distracted, and she really wanted me to read-, and read them with me at home. I could read Harry Potter 3 by myself when I was 8. I really loved it, because it is a very happy book (it has a happy ending), it has lots of magic and some mystery. That is why I developed a kind of adoration for the series, and I have always liked books that had magical stuff in it.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMakita Jazzqueen

I've always loved to read, but the book that really made me think I could become a writer one day is A Wrinkle in Time. I don't know how many times I've read it, but I still love it. Even today, I still prefer reading books that have a sci-fi or fantasy theme.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermelane

Wow. I've never analyzed my reading journey. But I do love Plinko.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTara McClendon

I remember the dollhouse murders. A teacher read that one to us and I loved it. I was already hooked on books though. I had a mother who read to us all the time :)

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTabitha Bird

I can't wait to steal this post idea. :)

A fourth grade teacher read A Wrinkle in Time aloud to our class, along with James and the Giant Peach!

I fell in love with them both.

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmber Tidd Murphy

I took three of the wee hours on our mini-vacation this weekend to read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" in anticipation of the movie coming out this Wednesday. I'll be posting a mini-review of the book Tuesday...just as soon as I finish writing it." rel="nofollow">-Joshua

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I did enjoy! Thanks for the thoughtful re-post!

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjenheadjen

Thanks for sharing all your journeys! It's funny to see a lot of the same books popping up on all our lists. Madeleine L'Engle has no idea how many people she touched. :)

November 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoni @ FictionGroupie

I remember falling in love with Tom Sawyer when that book was assigned. And have a huge love of Shakespeare and Poe" rel="nofollow"> Lingerie Access

November 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkanishk

Hi Roni,

How did you feel about V. C. Andrews's books after reading around twenty of them? I'm just curious because I devoured those books as a teenager - back then there were only the two original series. Later I tried the ghostwritten books but they weren't the same.

November 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarian

Marian, I agree, the ghostwritten books just didn't have the same feel. I stopped reading once I realized that.

November 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoni @ FictionGroupie

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