This topic is actually quite a toughie and I considered giving it a miss but since I haven’t really been great at keeping up with TTT lately, I decided to challenge myself and try my best to come up with ten bookish memories that have stuck with me.
1. The story of how I learned to read: I remember when I was little I learned to read really early, probably around about the age of three. I used to adore the Well Loved Tales series and my absolute favourites were The Sly Fox and the Little Red Hen and The Ugly Duckling. I made my mum read the the first one so many times that I actually learned to read by reciting it from memory and following along in the book!
2. The story of how I got into fairy tales (and therefore developed a lifelong love for fantasy): I don’t have a lot of good memories of my dad but one thing I do remember fondly is how he would read to me Grimm’s Fairy Tales. My favourite was Ashputtel (a.k.a. Cinderella) and I would beg and beg my dad to read it to me (even though by this point I could read it myself). To give him his due, he rarely turned down reading this story to me and it remains one of the few truly happy memories I have with him.
3. The story of how I learned I was a quick reader: I remember at primary school, my teacher decided to make everyone take out one book that was to be read within a week from our miniscule library (basically one trolley with a selection of books haha!). I borrowed Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton. However, I clearly thought I had better things to do because I put it off until the night before. Now, the teacher was more than a little scary (we were all terrified of her), so I panicked and stayed up later than usual that night to try and finish it (at least until my mum made me turn off the light and go to sleep). I didn’t quite manage it all and because I was the truthful sort I ‘fessed up the next day that I was only about 3/4 of the way through. To my surprise, my teacher said the book was longer than everyone else’s so she wasn’t surprised I hadn’t finished it yet and figured it would take me longer than a week. I was quite smug because I got that far through in only a couple of hours.
4. The story of how I found my favourite book: My older cousin Mairi has always been a huge influence on me and is someone who I have always had loads in common with. She used to come and stay with us frequently and would bring over videos and books to share with me and my mum (they had always been really close too). One time she brought over the Ralph Bakshi animated version of The Lord of the Rings on VHS (dating myself here!). I was instantly hooked and was gutted to learn that the film only covered approximately half of the book. I was desperate to find out more and so grabbed my mum’s copy of the book, began reading pretty much right away, and devoured it in a couple of days. That is how I became a Tolkien fan at nine years old.
5. The story of how I got to purchase books for myself for the very first time: I went to a teeny tiny primary school so we missed out on a lot of things that the bigger schools took for granted. I do remember one year though where we actually had a Book Fair and, like the rest of my classmates, I was given some money from my folks to purchase a book or two. I chose The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (though I had already read LOTR by this point – I read them out of order!) and the Snow Spider trilogy by Jenny Nimmo (I had recently seen the BBC production of the first book). It’s not like these were my first books I owned but they were the first ones where I got to choose them for myself and pay for them out of my own purse (even if it was my parents who gave me the money).
6. The story of how I discovered my favourite trashy teen series: The series in question being Sweet Valley High – teen series extraordinaire! Who could resist the lure of twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield with their blond California girl good looks and perfect lives? I actually discovered the Sweet Valley Twins series first when I received a bind-up of several of the books as a birthday gift from one of my mum’s friends. I enjoyed the books (which were harmless fun) and sought out more at my local library and found SVH – which was a completely different beast. These books were enthralling and the characters were beautiful and brilliant but also terrible human beings (except for Lila – she rules!). I was hooked completely and they became a huge part of my life from about the ages of ten (don’t judge!) to fourteen/fifteen. Good times!
7. The story of how I discovered my favourite author: It’s no secret that my favourite author of all time is Robin Hobb. I adore her books, especially her Realm of the Elderlings series, which is very near and dear to my heart. How I discovered this series is quite a funny story. I actually read Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book in the Farseer trilogy, many years ago (probably not too long after it was first released in 1995). I got it out of the library and loved it. However, as these things go, I moved on and it slipped from my mind for a number of years. It wasn’t until I saw the third book going cheap (in The Works of all places!) that I picked it up again, though at this point I had quite forgotten that I had already read the first book (I have a lousy memory so this isn’t a knock on the books memorability!). I bought books one and two and as I started reading the first book it began to feel familiar and it was like my memory banks opened up and I had a clear recollection of reading it before a good number of years earlier. You could say it was fate!
8. The story of how I took a break from reading fiction: I remember when I was at university I pretty much stopped reading fiction altogether. I think it was probably due to the fact I was neck deep in text books constantly but it made it nigh on impossible to read for fun (you try reading recreationally after having to scour through Kotler’s Principles of Marketing!) and so there was a period of years where I read very little fiction at all (if I did it really was the lightest of fluff as anything too involving made my head spin). I’ve heard a lot of students say the same so I think it is a pretty common phenomenon but it was a dark time for me because books were my escape and my mental health suffered for it. I was so happy when I finished my studies so I could get back to reading fiction again. It did make me appreciate it a heck of a lot more.
9. The story of how I got back into reading YA: I pretty much have to credit Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series for bringing me back to reading YA books. From my late teens I had somehow decided I was ‘too old’ to be reading books for teens (yep, not a proud moment for me) and had transitioned to reading adult fiction exclusively. It was the Vampire Academy series that brought me back into the fold and I continued from there. This series really got its claws into me – I bought the first book on a whim and I just fell in love with everything about this story and its characters. I have never looked back and although I now read a wide mix of adult and YA, I have often found a lot of the YA books can often be better written.
10. The story of how I became a book blogger: I had been writing a load of reviews on Goodreads and thought it might be an idea to create a space with all my reviews together. I had been following some amazing blogs and one day I just decided to myself that I wanted to try blogging for myself. Not sure where the impulse came from because I have always been really shy and wasn’t one for putting myself out there, even anonymously on the internet, but the urge hit me. I transferred my reviews over (the first one being Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) and at first my blog functioned as little more than a space to have them all together. I was going through a hard time a few months later and I started blogging for real. It saved me, gave me a purpose, and I will always be grateful.