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The books that got me hooked on reading…

I was reading this interesting thread / meme on the Timberland Regional Library called “Books that got me hooked…” where people were sharing the special books that got them hooked on to reading as kids. Thought I’d share my own here 🙂

The funny thing is that I don’t actually remember learning to read – a.k.a. I can’t remember ever not reading. I grew up in a family where reading was encouraged. I remember having to wait for special occasions (Birthday, Christmas, etc) to get a new toy, but I could pretty much ask for a new book anytime I wanted one.

Naughtiest Girl In The School by Enid Blyton

My most favorite author as a kid was Enid Blyton. I was lucky that my school library had an extensive collection of her catalog (since they weren’t easily available – my mom would only find odd copies every now and then at used bookstores). I didn’t mind that the books I had were old, smelled funny and were practically falling apart. I started with her Naughtiest Girl In The School series (which are written for pretty young readers) and didn’t look back. The series was about this spoilt little rich girl who got sent away to a boarding school after a series of governesses at home failed to control her. I wanted so badly to go to Whyteleafe School myself – I thought their jury system of having fellow kids trying and meting out punishments for misbehaving students was the coolest 🙂 I also read Blyton’s other boarding school series – St. Clare’s – which followed a pair of twins and their friends’ experiences while away in school.

Mystery of the Burnt Cottage by Enid Blyton

My love for mystery books also started with Enid Blyton. I read all fifteen of her Five Find-Outers and Dog mystery series (which I actually preferred to the more popular The Famous Five series). The books were about a group of kids who ended up solving a new mystery almost every school holiday, much to the eternal vexation of their bullying local policeman Mr Goon. My personal hero was the leader of the kids – “Fatty” Trotteville – he was this ultra self-confident rich kid who rubbed everyone the wrong way initially, but who turned out to be the best sort of boy in the end. I loved that the smartest character in the books was this overweight funny-looking kid who kept on effortlessly one-upping the adults.

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald Sobol

Another favorite of mine was Donald Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown series. I was a huge fan of the boy detective Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown who would solve mysteries while sitting down to dinner with his police chief dad or while manning his personal detective agency for the neighborhood kids. Each book would be a compilation of several short stories, and I loved that I was expected to work out for myself the solutions for each case (which one could confirm via the “Answers” sections of the books). I got a huge kick out of it every time I got the answer right.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling

And as a huge reader of the fantasy genre, this list wouldn’t be complete without J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Confession – I thought the first two books were pretty lame, but I was completely bowled over by the third book Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I wanted to have a cool teacher like Professor Lupin too, and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the paradoxes of time travel. Other well-thumbed fantasy books I owned at the time were C.S. Lewis’  The Lion, The Witch and The Wardobe (The Chronicles of Narnia) – how I wished our wardrobe at home opened out to a magical fantasy world too! – and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet) where I was all agog about the concept of a “tesseract”.

Ah memories. I mastered the art of reading by penlight while hiding under a blanket till the wee hours – it’s a miracle I didn’t flunk out of school given the constant sleep deprivation I subjected myself to 😉

How about you? What books set you off on the path to being a certified bookworm? 🙂

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