Falling in love with books

When I’m not reading, finding books to add to my wishlist, blogging or ogling attractive actors on tv/in films, I work as an educational researcher. One of the saddest issues that we come across is that the numbers of children who read for pleasure are scarily low. For boys especially. As a lifelong bookaholic it’s something I find incredibly hard to wrap my head around and it makes me feel blue to think of all the children who are missing out on the joy that we all know can be found in a good book. Helping children to fall in love with reading is a battle that many of us are fighting on a daily basis and it got me to thinking, just how did I become the reading obsessed bookaholic I am today? Were there particular things or defining moments that helped me get here?

1. A family of bookaholics

Growing up it never occured to me that there was anything strange about enjoying a book because both my parents and my older brother were avid readers. Books could be found all over the house, in all nooks and crannys, bedtimes always included storytime and one of our favourite things was the pilgrimage to the local library. In the years before my brother entered puberty, when he was actually still interested in spending time outside of his teenage boy cave, he was keen to help me learn to read using the keys on his computer keyboard. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned there were actually people who didn’t enjoy reading. Those people I viewed with suspicion and disbelief, and to this day I’m never entirely sure how to respond when they say ‘I don’t read!’ Other than silently thinking ‘Weirdo’.

2. Meeting The Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew and The Little Vampire

Early on I was introduced to landmark series like The Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew and The Little Vampire. It would be safe to say that I quickly became obsessed with the characters. They were my friends and I would often invent outlandish tales where I would pass them off as real friends and relatives to others in my class. Reading the Famous Five and Nancy Drew made me anxious to explore and unearth mysteries, though my brother was less than pleased when that wouldΒ  involve me ‘investigating’ in his bomb site of a room. The Little Vampire also inspired a love of the supernatural that has stayed with me my entire life although the vampires I read about these days tend to be more on the sexy side! πŸ˜‰

3. Oh Captain, My Captain

By the time I was in secondary school I was convinced I was going to be a journalist – and not just any old journalist but a Pulitzer prizewinning journalist. To that end, my English teacher encouraged me to study English literature at university, to read as widely as possible, and would give me university level books to help me get ready. Through him I was introduced to The Mayor of Casterbridge and Orlando as well as the works of Primo Levi, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Lord Byron. I strangely didn’t enjoy studying English, switching to Politics after one semester, and obviously never quite made it to the New York Times but he did open up a whole new world of reading that involved new, exciting genres, and inspired a love of the Classics which I’ve never gotten over. Pulitzer prize or not, I will always be grateful to him for that.

4. Back to class

For years when I wasn’t reading, I was writing but, as so often happens, life got in the way and I started to write less and less, before stopping all together. To help me get back into it, I decided to take the plunge and signed up for an evening class in creative writing. Not only did it work but two other things happened as well – 1)I met a fellow bookaholic who became a very good friend andΒ  2)I was encouraged to read books like The Book Thief, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, and Water for Elephants which have become some of my favourite books of all time. These were the books that achieved the impossible and somehow managed to increase my bookaholism tenfold!


What about you? Do you know kids that don’t like to read?

What inspired you to become a bookaholic?



32 thoughts on “Falling in love with books

  1. Great post and you’re right it is scary how low the reading numbers are amongst our kids. I think in Scotland things like the Scottish Books Trust’s Book Bug initiative is great but they need more support! We have a three year old and storytime is very much part of the routine, she already has her own library card and loves bringing books home from nursery. We are determined (or hopeful) her book loving will continue for many years!

    For me it was strange as both my parents were never big readers but apparently from baby age my natural preference was to pick up picture books and bath books rather than toys! So maybe there was something inherent in the DNA, supported by the fact that my granny on one side and granda on the other are both book mad.

    Your comment re library pilgrimages made me smile. When I was in primary school a mobile library van used to visit our area every Wednesday. I used to get so excited and run all the way to the van every week and spend the full hour and a half it stayed pouring over all the books.

    I may need to go read immediately now!

    • Glad you liked it. πŸ™‚ The Book Bugs thing is really great but they do need more support if it’s going to make a big difference. I do love it when you see young kids getting into reading! Gives us hope! πŸ™‚ I can’t remember if we had a mobile library at school… don’t think so but they did take us to story readings at the local library which was always a great treat! I would love to go read right now too!

  2. My niece HATES reading. She has to read 20 minutes every night (for school) and it’s always a battle with my sister.
    It’s really sad, but I guess some people have a hard time enjoying it.

    For me, what turned me into a bookaholic was finding the right book at the right time. That’s helped me fall back into it any time I’ve been led astray. πŸ™‚

    Maybe that’s all it takes for anybody (that’s what I believe), but maybe some people just can’t ever love it. I’ll say again: It’s really sad.

    • It really is so sad but I totally agree that so much of it is about finding the right book at the right time. I’ve always loved to read but a couple of years ago I went through a period when I wasn’t enjoying it just as much then I was persuaded to read The Book Thief, Water for Elephants and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and I became totally obsessed again! πŸ™‚ Hopefully your niece will find a book that she can fall in love with someday!

      • I think one of the things that bummed me out about that was you talking about loving those Magic Tree House books. Those are the ones she’s typically reading for school. You’d think they’d be perfect to get lost in at that age. The crazy thing is…she has the most vivid imagination I’ve ever seen. So one would think she’d love reading. It’s so weird.

        I’ve never read any of those books you were talking about. I almost bought the Water for Elephants movie (I love Reese Witherspoon, most of the time), and I’m really looking forward to seeing The Book Thief (I got teary in the theater when watching the trailer >.>). I will have to read the books, but I’d rather wait until after I’ve seen the movie(s) so that doesn’t ruin them for me.
        Don’t you hate it when that happens? :/

      • Maybe she’ll start writing her own stories if she’s got a great imagination and that’ll get her into books eventually? Fingers crossed!

        Reese Witherspoon is great though I didn’t like the film she did with Owen Wilson. Can’t remember the name of it though! The Water for Elephants movie is a bit different from the book but if you enjoyed one, you’ll enjoy the other. I’m going to see The Book Thief but I am a bit scared because I love the book so much. The book/movie adaptation is always a tricky thing and I can go on a bit of a rant if it ruins it for me! πŸ™‚

      • I would say that’s possible, but she can’t sit still for five seconds. Maybe at some point!

        I’m trying to think of what film you’re talking about with Owen Wilson, but I’m drawing a complete blank here. I love Sweet Home Alabama.

        Is R.Patz better (acting-wise) in Water for Elephants than he was in…you know?
        I’m scared to see The Book Thief because I’m worried I’ll be bawling my eyes out the entire time… >.>

        I’m usually decently happy(ish) with book-to-movie adaptations (though not every time, of course). I always try to keep in mind that they can never be as in-depth as the books, so I try VERY HARD to overlook extremely important details being left out. Then just try to enjoy seeing something I like in a different form (getting more of it). That being said, I can get over just about anything with the adaptations, like characters not looking how I pictured them……….as long as THE ACTING IS GOOD.
        Which is a major problem, usually.

        This might be a little off-topic (or slightly), but when I saw the trailer for The Book Thief, it took me FOREVER to figure out…that was Captain Barbosa. XD

      • I think it’s called How Do You Know. It really isn’t worth a watch at all. Sweet Home Alabama is good but my favourite is Just Like Heaven.:-) He wasn’t too bad in Water for Elephants from what I can remember and definitely better than in those other films.

        Sometimes I can overlook the differences between a book and a film because they can’t have everything in there but if they change too much or change stupid things, I can go off on a rant! πŸ™‚

        Yeah, Geoffrey Rush was great in that and loved him in Shakespeare in Love too! I think you’ll definitely need some tissues when you go to see The Book Thief! Was so traumatised when I finished the book and then had to go into work! Was not a good day!

      • That’s weird. I usually know what movies are, even when I haven’t seen them. I will have to look that one up.
        And Just Like Heaven is SOOO good! I do get a bit freaked out over it, no matter how many times I watch it, just from seeing Jon Heder as anyone but Napoleon Dynamite!

        I do enjoy a good rant every now and then and there are definitely worse things to rant about…
        (My mom flipped out for about a week over those electronic cigarette commercials, which I thought was just silly. XD)

        I’ve actually never seen Shakespeare in Love! I’m horrible, I know.
        Oh no. If the book was that traumatizing, I don’t even want to know what the movie could do to me. Or the book. Maybe I should stay away… O.o
        Probably won’t, though. It just looks too good!

      • It’s a traumatising book in a good way! Lol Definitely worth a read. πŸ™‚ And Shakespeare in Love is a great film. One for you to try in 2014. You’ll thank me. πŸ™‚

  3. Great post! I have 3 kids – 2 who like to read and 1 who doesn’t . The one who doesn’t also happens to be the boy. As well, I love to read but my husband doesn’t. I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while now. Is it genetic? Is it a gender thing? Is it a coincidence? I don’t know, but I try my best to get him to read. I have made a few little breakthroughs with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and Captain Underpants. He’s more likely to read if the books are funny and have some graphic comics in them.
    As for me, I grew up with a mother and a grandmother who both loved to read. At the time, my father was not a reader, but since he retired he reads a lot more. I would be very curious to know what makes a person into a reader or a non-reader.

    • Thanks, glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by! It is strange that boys don’t seem to enjoy reading as much as girls. It wasn’t something I was aware of – because both my dad and brother read – until I started working in education but it seems to be a big problem worldwide. No one seems to have worked out why but some people think it’s because other boys make them feel it’s a girly, overly geeky thing to do. Who knows but hopefully it gets better over time! There was an article we came across that had a list of books to encourage boys to read and the Diary of a Wimpy kid was one of them! Here’s the link in case you want check any of the others out – http://www.theguardian.com/books/shortcuts/2012/feb/08/10-books-boost-boys-reading

      • Thanks for the link! The peer pressure thing is interesting and could be a factor for some boys, but in my son’s case I’m pretty sure that’s not it. His best friend, and several of his other good friends, all read a lot! I think he kind of wishes he could get more into it.

  4. I really liked your post. I might write something similar myself one day, because my reading history is a bit odd when I look back on it.
    Now I have children of my own, I do not make them read, but at the same time they know my general expectation is that they should do so. I’ve mainly done this by making lots of books available to them and let them make their own choices.
    I wouldn’t say they’re ‘bookaholics’, but they read consistently. The great thing is the variety of reading matter they look at: novels, short stories, poems, comics, magazines.

    • Thanks, glad you liked it. It’s great that they’ve got such variey in their reading material and they’ve got access to it at home. I think part of the problem is that sometimes kids don’t get access to reading materials like that outside school. I’d be interested to read your thoughts on your reading history if you do decide to do a post on it. πŸ™‚

  5. I was lucky to have grown up with parents who were (and still are) avid readers. Just like you, we had books everywhere, and it was a given that on birthdays and Christmas, you would get at least one book. When we went on vacation, my sister and I had more books than clothes in our suitcases. πŸ™‚ Even though my husband, sadly, is not a reader, my three kids seem to have caught the bug. I can’t wait for them to get older so that I can introduce them to all the books I loved to read as a child. (In my imagination, I was one of The Famous Five!) We have recently rediscovered the library, and I really wish more people would know what a fun place it is. Whenever we go to a kid’s birthday party, I try to include a book as a gift and hope that it will help spread the joy of reading.

    • I can definitely relate to the more books than clothes on vacation – and that’s not really changed as I’ve grown up to be honest! πŸ™‚ It’s great that your kids are all readers as well – just what we like to see! Another Famous Five fan? I used to pretend that George was my cousin! I have no idea why – pretending to be one of them would’ve made more sense! lol I’ve not got any kids of my own but some of my friends either have kids or are currently pregnant so I’m definitely going to be the aunty that always includes a book in their presents! πŸ™‚

    • Ha ha, yeah I guess they do! πŸ™‚ He was a great English teacher though I hated him at first because he always made me read out loud in class which, as a shy, awkward teenager, was NOT my idea of a good time! lol

  6. Love this post! I’ve always loved reading too, and a few of my best friends hate reading so I find that really weird. (They find me weird too, so I guess we’re even)
    I grew up reading Enid Blyton books and Nancy Drew as well, and they got me really into expanding my reading. So I’m grateful to my mom for introducing them to me!

    • Thanks, glad you liked it! It is definitely strange to find people who don’t like to read. Most of my friends read but some read more than others. And they probably find me weird too! πŸ˜‰ Enid Blyton seems to be a right of passage for kids and Nancy Drew was the best! I loved those books! It’s great that you had a mum who introduced you to them.

  7. I have always read, although perhaps not so avidly, for as long as I can remember. A lot of that has to do with my parents’ passion for books and regular trips. We’re successfully instilling this in our 3 year old niece, who gets a book every birthday/Christmas and already has her own mini library in her bedroom.!

  8. Indeed, it is scary that not many people like to read. As you say, it’s difficult to find a male readers. Back in August, when The Mortal Instruments premiered (and it happened to me with Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Hunger Games too) I had the opportunity to watch the movie before national release and I’m not kidding, I was one of the only two guys in there. The number of girls reading is way higher than boys. And we’re not talking about Nicholas Sparks kind of books, we’re talking about books that have the same appeal to both genders. Now, every time there is an event that relates to books I’m scared to go because I don’t want to be the only guy there, ha. At least in Mexico, the problem is that reading is not taught as a fun activity, but more like an obligation. I think the approach to reading children have here should be less hard, you know? We need to teach kids that reading is actually easy and entertaining! But that is just my opinion. Great post πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! πŸ™‚ It really is a shame that more kids don’t like to read and it doesn’t make any sense that it’s even worse for boys when there are so many great books like Harry Potter which have appeal for both genders. Yes, I can imagine being one of only two guys there might feel a bit awkward! I definitely think it needs to be sold as a fun activity for kids. If you try and force them it could just feel like homework for them. Hopefully the situation will improve in the future!

  9. Like you, I grew up in a family of avid readers (my aunt worked for Reach Out and Read) and didn’t realize that it was uncommon until later in life. Even my β€œnon-reading” sisters read more than the average person (having a sister who blogs about books probably helps a little bit). Now that my friends have kids, I’m the one that sends them books. My nephew pretty much knows that any birthday or Christmas will come with bookish gifts me and my husband (who hates to read).

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