I love to read. I can’t imagine my life without books. As horribly corny as it sounds, I don’t think I’d be the same person I am now if I didn’t read. I can’t say exactly how and why reading changed my life, but I’m sure it did. At the very least, I’d like to think it helped my writing and my vocabulary (feel free to contradict me, though. Hehe.).
And I still remember the first book I ever read. And by “first” I mean the first one I read at my own choosing, purely because I felt like it. School books, fairy tale story books or book report assignments don’t count. This was the one that started it all:
I was in 2nd grade when I borrowed this book from my classmate and first ever best friend Frances. Sweet Valley Kids #9: Elizabeth’s Super Selling Lemonade kickstarted my lifelong love of books, and I guess I have her and the Wakefield twins to thank for that. At 8 years old, I found the lives of the blond, blue eyed twins and their perfect parents (Alice and Ned), their typical older brother (Steven) and their friends (snooty Lila Fowler, tomboyish Amy Sutton) fascinating. I can’t be completely sure, but I think I read all the books in the Kids series.
You could say that I grew up with the Wakefield twins, because after the Kids series (where the twins are in 2nd grade like me), I moved on to the Twins series with the twins in middle school. There are more than 150 (!!!) of them and I think I read them all, including the special editions, the Unicorn Club series, and the two books where the twins compete in the California games. I think I owned the first 40 books, as well as a lot of the Unicorn books, but mostly I borrowed from my classmates or from the library. I even remember hiding the books behind other books in different shelves so that no one else could borrow them (bad, I know!), if I met the maximum number of books I could borrow at a time.
I also read the Sweet Valley Sagas, the ancestral stories of the Wakefields (both Ned’s and Alice’s sides), the Patmans and the Fowlers. I suppose the Bruce Patman’s and Lila’s families got Magna editions because they were the wealthiest in the town.
I stopped at Sweet Valley Twins though, as I dared not touch Sweet Valley High. With attempted date rape, manslaughter trials, parents having affairs and murderous dopplegangers, I figured the material was too mature for my 13 year old self. But the seed was planted and a book-hiding, lifelong bookworm was born. I didn’t just discover the Sweet Valley books, but through those frequent trips to the library, a whole previously undiscovered world opened up to me. I read similar, pre-teen fare like Nancy Drew and the Babysitters club, but also classics such as The Secret Garden, Little Women and A Little Princess. And I am still at it, almost twenty years later. The smell of the paper, the thrill of that first line, the feel of turning a page still enthralls me today as much as it did then.
And for that, I have a friend named Frances, a creator named Francine and twins named Jessica and Elizabeth to thank.
Which book started YOU on the journey of reading?
Photo of SVK #9 cover from Google images.