Memory Lane

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I'm taking a little stroll down memory lane. Since such a huge pop icon is being buried today (it is today, right?) and many people are feeling nostalgic, remembering Michael Jackson songs/video/scandals, I thought I'd go nostalgic as well and recall a few books from my history that made me love reading so much.

Here is my ode to some oldies but goodies:

Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin
Yes, I admit, I was a Baby-Sitters Club fan. This isn't the first book I ever read, probably not even the first Baby-Sitter Club book, but this series turned me into a readaholic. I joined the Baby-Sitters reading group, where they'd send me three Baby-Sitter books a month. So, every morning on the bus to school, I'd sit reading about Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and the rest of them. Even mothers of fellow students would approach me. "My son thought of you in the book store the other day. He saw a Baby-Sitters Club and..." I think I made it up into the sixties before I finally grew out of them.

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
This is a young adult fantasy and the first book in the Chronicles of Prydain. I think The Book of Three initiated me into the love of romance stories. But the relationship between Taran, assistant pig keeper, and Eilonwy, was so fun to read, I had to hear more about them. There was just this "magic" between them, and I wanted to see them end up happily ever after. I also loved the creation of a new world so much, I tried to make up one of my own. I called it Rym. The idea fell through, but my creative juices had definitely been stirred.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is the first school-assigned reading I actually loved. I haven't read the book since high school, so I've probably forgotten most of the plot, but I remember thinking, "This book is totally awesome." It had a very rich theme of time and place. Harper Lee is indeed a master at regionalism. To Kill a Mockingbird remains one of my favorite novels today.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This was a personal mission in high school for me to read. I'd watched the movie, of course, but I wanted to say I'd read the book. So, I opened the first page. Some places turned me a little glassy-eyed. I probably drooled some from boredom. Mitchell was a very thorough writer and described scenes in great detail. By the end, however, I was hooked on Scarlett's character. I'd been through so much with her, I broke down and bawled when Rhett left her. So, here was the first book that pulled my emotions into the story enough to make me cry.

Love Beyond Reason by Sandra Brown
My older sisters were (and still are) romance junkies. When I was in high school, I would listen to them gossip about the latest Sandra Brown or Nora Roberts and I had to "know" what all the hoopla was about. So, they lent me Love Beyond Reason because is was "tame." I read the book That is when I became totally hooked on romance reading. There was no turning back from this point on.

After the Night by Linda Howard
I was deep into my romance reading addiction by the time I picked up a Linda Howard book, but I still wasn't prepared for the steamy scenes this author could invent. Whoa. After reading After the Night, I became a lost cause. I HAD to have more. So, yes, I read more...

Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Woodiwiss is the author that made me want to read historicals. I didn't realize how totally different they were from contemporary romance stories until I opened the cover of her one of her books. She helped me appreciate different genres of writers, so the woman is noteworthy in my eyes.

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
I still mourn the moment I learned LaVyrle Spencer was retiring. Utter heartbreak. I don't think I read a book by her I didn't instantly label a favorite. The author could do no wrong. She's fabulous, wonderful, and lifted my love for reading to a whole new standard.

For the Roses by Julie Garwood
Since For the Roses is a Western, this probably sounds strange, but this book made me fall in love with Highlander heroes. OK, I'll explain. I wanted to explore a new author, so I did the whole close-your-eyes-and-pull-a-book-off-the-library-shelves trick. What I pulled of the shelf, was For the Roses. I read it, loved it, and had to check out the rest of Julie Garwood's collection. And now, I still wish I had my own highlander man. She rules in the highland historicals.

Flashpoint by Suzanne Brockmann
Brockmann did for me with Navy SEALs heroes what Garwood did with the the highlander heroes. She made me fall in love with those guys in the sexy white uniforms. I was working in a public library by the time I read my first Brockmann book. It was one of those stories that got checked out a lot, so I picked it up one day to see what it was about. And, wow. I became hooked on yet another romantic genre. Later, I learned Flashpoint was actually seventh in a series, so I had to start over and work my way back. But I don't think I'll ever forget this book. Instant classic.

Dark Lover by J. R. Ward
This book was my first taste of hard core paranormal romance (I read it only a year or two ago, too). And, yeah, I'm addicted to these now as well. I was iffy at first. Vampire romance sounded like an oxymoron to me. I assumed sucking all the blood out of someone would "have to" put the damper on a romance. Boy, was I wrong.

So, there are a few books (and I REALLY mean, just a few) from my memory that were great turning points in my history of reading appreciation. What are some book titles that changed your love of books?

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