I’ve loved reading nearly all my life. Although I can’t really recall when or why I started reading, I do recall several milestones along my reading journey.
When I was very young—perhaps first or second grade, I wanted my mother to order books for me from school. I don’t recall the Scholastic program being in place that many years ago, and if it was it wasn’t offered every month as it is now. My recollection is that it was offered only at the end of the school year, to encourage kids to read over the summer months. One of the first books I remember asking my mom to order was “A Cat Named Blue.” Evidently it’s long out of print, because a quick online search produced no results. I guess my first taste in book selection was neither best selling nor classic, however for some reason my memory of that book had never faded.
Some time after that I received my first Nancy Drew book for Christmas. For years I looked forward to one or another of the Nancy Drew mystery series being wrapped up under the tree waiting for me. Still, I never did receive the entire collection. I did, however, know someone who had a special shelf in her bedroom devoted entirely to every single title in the series. One of my daughter’s favorite stories from my own childhood is how I rode my bike to Kathleen’s house once a week to borrow the next couple of Nancy Drews. One time I was so eager to read that while I steered my bike with one hand, I held the book open with the other so I could read—only to run straight into a parked car. I went flying one way, and poor Nancy Drew the other. Neither of us was hurt, if you don’t count my bruised ego over having done such a stupid thing.
Not too long after that I happened to go to a garage sale in my neighborhood where a woman was selling a whole box of Harlequin Romances. (Back then they were all sweet.) I remember she sold them for 10 cents each, and I had a quarter so I bought two, then went home and read one of them right away. I was so enchanted I went back the next day with a dollar and bought ten. After that all I wanted to do was read. I even recall inviting friends over but not to play a game or to talk. I just wanted to read, so I told them to make sure to bring a book. Not exactly interactive, so I guess it was no surprise I wasn’t the most popular girl in my class.
When I turned sixteen or seventeen my oldest sister introduced me to a new kind of romance. I confess at this time neither I, nor my sister, were particularly devout. Back then bodice rippers were being published for the first time—Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers, among the first. These were romances, too, but definitely not sweet.
It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, my introduction to romantic Christian fiction. It was then I directed my passion for reading (and writing) in a way that that honored God.
Each of these reading discoveries played a part in my growth as a reader and as a writer. I’ve read all kinds of books in between, from classics to secular best sellers to nonfiction research books—many of which have colored my writing in one way or another. But the books I mentioned above are the foundation of my writing passion, and so during this week of Thanksgiving I thought I’d reminisce a bit on such things that not only helped pave the way for me to write what I write, but still inspire fond memories.
What about you? Can you track your reading journey?