I read a post today on Sarah Negovetich's blog that really resonated with me. She shared a story from her childhood that perfectly captures the intense connection between her as a young girl and books. I felt that connection too, but probably not as young as Sarah did.
I loved writing at a young age, and wrote poems and plays and stories obsessively from the time I was about seven years old. But my love of books began, I think, when I was about eleven or twelve. I don't recall which book started it all for me. I vaguely recall my mom reading to me from Little House on the Prairie when I was little, and my 2nd grade teacher reading Charlotte's Web to our class. But neither of those books were the spark that lit the fire.
I think I was about twelve when I read Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. I vividly recall feeling like my heart had been ripped out of my chest as I sobbed and sobbed, not for hours, but for days after I finished it. My whole world was a soppy, sorrowful mess. But the depth of despair I felt at Lenny's death was also supremely exquisite.
I liked sad books for a while after that: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Roots by Alex Haley.
However, I had also discovered something totally different. The Trixie Belden Mysteries series by Kathryn Kenny & Julie Campbell drew me into a world of intrigue and suspense I'd never before known. For several years, it's all I read. I got stacks of Trixie Belden books for every holiday and birthday. I read voraciously. I think I read almost every one of the 39 books in the series. I didn't just read them--I wanted to be Trixie Belden! Funny that I never once read a Nancy Drew book. I could care less about Nancy. But Trixie was my hero.
I grew out of Trixie about half way through high school, but I saved all my books hoping that one day I'd have a daughter who would love them as much as I did. Well, my oldest daughter didn't care for them, and my next daughter has just reached the age where she might. I will have to go hunt for the box of books in my garage--and you know, whether or not my daughter falls in love with Trixie, I may just crack open a few for old times' sake.
What books did you treasure when you were a kid? Do you still have them?