I’ve really tried, possibly too hard, to encourage my children to read. I believe it is the key to so much, but I don’t remember it being something that was a thing when I was a little girl.
I do remember – one of my earliest memories – abandoning our home, leaving a war-torn country in the midst of mayhem, in so doing leaving the whole bottom bookshelf of red-spined Ladybird books behind. We could only take what we could pack in the car, and my books were deemed a luxury. I remember feeling devastated that I couldn’t take my books with me, but there was so much we left behind, that it looked like we had been abducted by aliens in the middle of the night. I was 7 then, and numb to all of the loss I didn’t pick up another book to read for pleasure until I was 12 years old. I’m not sure how I did it, I must have read at school. I could read, not particularly fast or well, but I could read. I did what I had to do to get by.
Then in my last year of Junior School, they asked the senior class who wanted to help in the library, our little community school had a beautiful library, full of fabled books. I had taken many books out because we had a library class once a week, but never read them. Don’t ask me what propelled my little 12 year old arm up in the air when they asked, but I put my hand up. I was selected to work in the library and over that year, that beautiful musty book-filled space became my sanctuary of silence. Initially I was attracted to the Dewey Decimal System (I mean who wouldn’t be), the order, the precision but eventually the books started speaking to me and my armour cracked, letting the words in. I must have been assigned the “D” section that day because one evening I found myself tucked behind my father’s living-room chair, sobbing about what happened last summer.
I attribute Lois Duncan’s (1934 – 2016 ) I Know What You Did Last Summer to my reading reboot at the grand old age of 12! Now looking back, I can now see something else about my personality (wish I had twigged to that 20 years ago), once I have read a book by an author and I enjoy the book, I must read everything else they have ever written because I instantly read Summer of Fear and Killing Mr Griffin.
Now if you ask me today, I will firmly tell you that I have always only read romance novels. I am an ABSOLUTE romantic (I blame my Irish lineage), but I have been known to flirt with the odd biography (there is normally at least one love story in there). But when I did a spot of research for this post, by that I mean I Googled, I was SHOCKED to read Lois Duncan was firmly known as a horror, thriller, and suspense author! I couldn’t believe it! I read horror and suspense, and in Junior School no less!
I remember very little about the actual stories, much like our nocturnal exit of a land I loved, but just like that predawn escape, I only remember what Lois’ books made me feel and that she got me reading again. A pleasure I indulge in as often as I can, making sure my children see me reading, both for research and pleasure.
For me, Lois Duncan was my J.K. Rowling, she got me reading again, she ignited my imagination, she kindled my writing journey. Thank you Lois!