Nowadays, an increasing amount of children are starting school without having been read to… I luckily was read to as a young child, but I remember the books I read myself more.. But which are the books to get, and keep, children hooked? Obviously, before the age where children can read themselves and pick out their own reading material, you have the classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, “Where´s Spot?” and “Where The Wild Things Are”, but which authors and/or books turned you from listener to reader?
The authors that got me hooked were Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl amongst others. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Witches” were my favourite Dahl books and I read them time and time again, believing every word! I used to fantasize about having friends like “The Famous Five” and going on adventures with the Mannering family out of the “Adventure” series. I also adored Blyton´s short stories and fairytales, where exotic lands started at the bottom of your garden, 3 flowers to the right, and gnomes conversed with elves. Other favourites are “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton, “The Railway Children” by Edith Nesbit, “The Secret Garden” and “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and the “Horrible Histories” and “Horrible Science” series by various authors including Terry Deary and Nick Arnold.
Of course, one set that triumphed over all was “Harry Potter” by J.K Rowling. I had the great fortune to grow up with these books, the day the new one would come out I´d have it ordered, be the first in our family to open it and I´d just sit and read until I´d finished it (even if that meant staying up until 4am on a school night!), before re-reading it again the day after ‘at a normal pace’ 🙂
I have read children´s series as an adult too, great pieces of work such as “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman and “Skulduggery Pleasant” by Derek Landy, both of which have kept me totally hooked all the way through despite the fact they are meant for younger audiences!
My first foray into adult literature was influenced by my Mum´s reading material, of course, kind of like people´s music tastes. You start by liking all the stuff your parents listen to (lots of 80s, Elvis Presley and opera in my case) then add to it with your own discoveries (Michael Jackson, Queen, R&B..). Well, my first ‘adult’ book was “Golden Fox” by Wilbur Smith and that was that, I was hooked on Africa, the tribal wars and ANYTHING by Wilbur! I read all the books by him in the house, bought the ones we were missing, then bought copies of the ones already owned by my Mum to start my own collection!
It´s been a while since I read anything by Wilbur, you go through reading phrases as you grow up until you find a pattern. I had a time when I enjoyed Mills & Boons (shhh, don´t tell), a time when I would gobble anything that was based on facts, such as broken homes, mafias, etc, a time when I read a lot of war literature and a time when I dedicated myself to classics.
Now, although I like variety and will always buy a recommended book (whether it´s recommened on a site, by a friend or with a literary prize), I tend to stick to fantasy with authors such as Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde and Cecilia Ahern, and novels based on the way people live in different cultures, times or with different outlooks (think “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak or “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon) peppered with classics and old favourites. I also will buy a random book if I like the cover or blurb.
How did your book addiction come about?