Who Started It

4680_81036482638_4835733_nI remember my first hardcover vividly. It was around my seventh or eighth birthday, and I was staying at my grandparent’s house for the weekend, as usual. I am a child of spring, so that day the heavy warm breeze tousled the tulips and confetti bushes that sit below the old wood-framed windows and that grasp at your legs as you walk by. The sun was high and bright. One of those suns that makes water sparkle like diamonds and grass shimmer like a field of emeralds. I was a flower child, tasting the wind and taking life from the budding trees and using it to fuel my passion for making decadent mudpies.

My grandfather called me over to the basement door and, swirling and twirling, I obeyed. My grandfather (Pips, to me), is a tall man with black hair and authoritative eyebrows. He has a black mustache that sits just under his nose that adds sharpness to his features, but that curves delightfully when he smiles. His vest, which he always wears, was pulled out from his body, and I was curious to know what was inside.

Carefully, quietly, he told me that he had something for me. I could feel the thrill of excitement in my bones. Curiosity tickled my spine. I waited patiently as he drew out three books and placed them in my hands. The weight of them was delicious. I sat down in the dirt and gathered them on my lap. I studied the first slowly, taking everything in. The protective cover squeaked beneath my fingertips and reflected the sun so boldly that I had to squint. I pulled the cover back gently, not wanting to crack the spine. I could smell paper and ink mingled with warm apple blossoms and sunshine. The pages were smooth and white and perfect. When the breeze buffeted the pages, I closed the book, fearful that the words would be blown away with the dust.

I remember not knowing what to say. I’d had books given to me before, but I’d never had three brand new hardcovers to call my own. We’d even shared stories from the books before, but now he had given me the chance to learn them on my own, to read the ones that he hadn’t shared. He had, in that small moment, given me my own escape from the darker days of childhood.

He has since given me many more books, some old, some new, all handpicked by him for me. We have spent the years exchanging our favourite stories, poems, and adventures, all while living far from each other for the last seven. I have enjoyed every single book that he has given to me, even though some I never would have picked for myself. It is because of him that I love the written word. He started my great love affair with writing.

Who started yours?

If you’re curious as to what books I received that day, they were All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small, and All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot. I recommend these books to animals lovers of any age. They are still some of my favourites to this day.

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28 thoughts on “Who Started It

  1. Love of books started with Saturday morning trips to the Newark, NJ Public Library with my mother, brother, and sister. She’d leave us in the children’s room and go pick out a pile of grown up books, and we were allowed to take out one book each for the week. I remember measuring a few of the books I liked side by side to see which was the fattest. That was always the one I took. It would last longer….

    • That’s great! I often wish that we had gone to the library more. My grandparents have so many books that I would always just pick one out of a pile or off of a shelf. I only ever visited the library once with my grandfather.

      And that’s too cute that you picked the fattest ones! I would have done the same.

  2. From a young age I wanted to be a writer. But up until high school, I mostly read fiction, so thought that in order to be a writer I had to be good with fiction, and by extent, a good storyteller. However, I wasn’t much of a storyteller, so that by the time I was 13, I and given up on writing. It wasn’t until my sophomore year English class that my love for writing was rekindled, when I was introduced to nature writers lime Thoreau, Emerson, and Dillard. I found that a lot of what they wrote about I had thought about or observed on my own, letting me know that I too could have a voice in literature.

  3. They were some of my favorite books growing up too. The ABC had a wonderful series of All Creatures Great and Small and as a bush kid I just loved reading anything about animals and the people who worked with them. James Herriott, what a fabulous man.

    • Those books nurtured a love of animals in me, and my grandfather used to take me to the sheep farm up the road to give bottles to the orphaned lambs. NS was a lovely place to grow up, especially with those books!

  4. Harry Potter was pretty much the only thing I read, over and over and over from ages four through about seven. Everything I wrote was in the style of Harry Potter if not downright plagiarism. There were other books during those years but none have been as well-loved as Harry Potter–the books, a cute old paperback box set given to me by I don’t even know whom, have literally fallen apart. And I still love them all the same 🙂

    (since then I’ve acquired shelves and shelves full of books as well as written hundreds of thousands of words, none of which are anywhere close to Rowling’s style. So, I guess you could say I’ve grown out of my obsession 😉 )

    • I still read HP over and over. I think all writing children go through a sort of plagiarism stage, it’s how we learn. Good thing we had good books to learn from!

      I got the first three HP books in a boxed set too, and still have them. They sit among many other favourites on my shelf.

  5. Sounds like your first hardcover was a pretty tactile experience! Wish I could say the same…I want to cry because I have no idea what my first hardcover was. One of my favorites I remember reading was ‘Stuart Little’ by E.B. White.
    But for the actual enjoyment of reading, the great love affair, the honor goes to a substitute teacher I had in the first grade. You couldn’t get me to touch a book that didn’t have pictures in it with a ten foot pole, and this guy got me hooked. And now here I am a journalism major (so not the monotony of English 101, which I appreciate)–we read A LOT for the sake of the story and for the techniques. =]

    • I believe I had read other hardcovers before, but those were the first that I could call my own.

      I was always a reader, no matter what the material. I used to sit and read the encyclopedias that my grandparents had when I got bored of Seuss! I did have a few teachers that really encouraged it though, which was definitely beneficial to me.

  6. Reblogged this on Jonas Lee's Imaginarium and commented:
    This Thursday’s showcase is featuring Brittany Foster. She’s a Wordsmith, it even says so on her blog. Brittany is very talented at writing, editing, blogging and marketing. This post of hers below was a great one and I couldn’t help sharing because it made me think back to my first “actual” book. Follow her along her own journey and thank me later!

  7. Oh how fun! I just started reminiscing on all my childhood favorites. I wasn’t a big reader until about the of 8 when I discovered The Adventures of the Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald. I discovered the series at my local library and never looked back. Those were the first books to ever succeed at locking me down for hours at a time. I loved diving into those stories.

    • I’ve never heard of those, but they sound interesting! I would read just about anything as a child, and still do. Some stuff keeps my interest, and some doesn’t, but everything teaches me something!

      • Honestly, I would totally reread them now if I could find them in France. The books are about these brothers, one of whom is exceptionally smart, the other who later grows up to be a writer, & is the voice of the story. And it’s just them growing up, pranking villagers with their intelligence and being kids. But so well written! And agreed, even the books that haven’t kept me interested for hours have taught me something – albeit more slowly haha!

  8. I loved this! You paint such a vivid picture of that experience. So, who started it for me? I don’t remember a particular *moment* but my mom has always been a big reader. I get my love of books from her. The first books I can remember escaping into were Nancy Drew mysteries.

    • I always wanted to read the Nancy Drew books, but I never had the chance. Perhaps I will someday. My mom is a reader too, but she has very different tastes than me. I think that my grandparents were so good as nurturing my love of reading because they knew what books I would like.

      • My mom and I like a few of the same authors, but mostly we have different tastes.
        That’s such a special thing your grandparents shared with you.

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