38 thoughts on “Reader Friday: The First Book

  1. The Wailing Siren Mystery by Franklin W. Dixon. I don’t need to tell Jim this but it is part of the Hardy Boys series. I think I was seven when I got it as a present from my parents and read the whole thing in three hours. I can remember my mom saying “But you just got it!” Yep.

  2. I was rarely without a book as a child, from the time I learned that the marks on the page made words, which made stories, even if it was only Dick and Jane telling Spot to run. (which has carried over, as our dog loves to play a game called “Run, Feebie, Run!).
    One title I recall from my childhood was “Sawdust in his Shoes” which I read numerous times and checked it out from the library more than once.

  3. Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart, followed closely by The Moonspinners and Airs Above the Ground. I was ten, and the librarian said they were above my reading level. Ha! Stewart’s books were my first introduction to the world, to places I’d never heard of, and probably the seed that made me want to become a writer, because I started around then.

  4. Round Trip Space Ship by Louis Slobodkin. It was the summer between 4th and 5th grades and I took a trip to outer space. I probably read and reread that book a dozen times. Not long after that I discovered the Three Investigators, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tarzan, John Carter, Conan, and Doc Savage, but Slobodkin’s space ship series was the first.

  5. Like Joe, the Hardy Boys mystery series. I don’t recall which one I read first, but I read every book in the series that our small town library had. I recall the elderly librarian taking my by the shoulders to the thicker books, the classics, and tell me I should read some of them.

  6. Love this backstory question, JSB. Like Joe H., I enjoyed the Hardy Boys mysteries. But it was Jack London who accelerated my reading motor to escape velocity, beginning with WHITE FANG and THE CALL OF THE WILD. I remained an avid reader of his novels and short stories into young adulthood. I’m still in awe of his short story craft today, as are are others one hundred years later. Case in point — Netflix recently released a limited series based upon THE MINIONS OF MIDAS.

  7. Hmm….the memories are fuzzy of my earliest books but I do know my parents started me reading at a young age–they’d buy me these HUGE books that were hard-bound like 11X14 books of various fairy tales and childrens stories; Lassie flip books etc.

    A bit older, I started out reading Nancy Drew. But once I discovered the Hardy Boys I left her in the dust. I’m assuming I must have been about 9-10 years old but not sure. Loved reading the Hardy Boys. I still like to read them occasionally.

    But it was the one I discovered in my early teens that knocked me out–Zane Grey’s Forlorn River was and is my favorite novel. Talk about taking you on an adventure. I read that book full of friendship, adventure, and beautiful geography while living in one of the most flat and featureless places in the U.S. That story is when the magic of the written word REALLY kicked into high gear for me.

    What a WONDERFUL escape that books are!

  8. The first book that left an indelible mark on my imagination was Paul de Kruif’s Microbe Hunters. I became fascinated by these stories and I could see these scientists. My heroes.

  9. I received the Whitman edition of the Tales of Edgar Allan Poe when I was in the 5th grade, and nearly consumed it. By an unexplained miracle (or two), I still have it.

  10. You peeked. Tarzan really swept me up as a young teen. But the first ‘mature’ book that reached deep enough to change my life was ‘Catch 22.’ A game changer.

    • I read Catch 22 at the tender age of 25, and mostly dismissed the implications about institutional dysfunction. Ten years later, after having worked in Organizational Development, where I confronted group think and saw Pournelle’s Iron Law on Bureaucracy at work, I had to re-read it. Heller knew what he was writing about.

  11. Great question, Jim. My memories are a bit jumbled, but “A Wrinkle In Time,” comes to the fore as the first novel young me was utterly absorbed in. A little while later, I discovered adventure fiction, and read “Silverchief: Dog of the North,” by Jack O’Brien, followed by the sequel, and then “White Fang” and “Call of the Wild” by Jack London.

  12. I’ll sound like every other millenial, but the first book that sucked me in was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in third grade. It was my first foray out of Ramona and Fudge books, and I couldn’t put it down (or more accurately, I couldn’t let my mother put it down since I didn’t have an accessible version). After that I read a bunch of Nancy Drew, which didn’t necessarily suck me in but I was always fascinated by the puzzle needing to be solved.

  13. *Hot Rod Road*. No idea who wrote it, but I was around ten when I read it ten times. Got me hooked on drag racing and, to this day, I’m still an NHRA member and keep up on the national record stats as well as watch all the division championships online. Bragging – there’s a 2008 Shelby GT500 (Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue stripes) parked in my garage. Her name’s Mustang Sally.

  14. The Hardy Boys were really good, but I vastly preferred Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews were headquartered in an old trailer buried in stuff on Jupiter’s Dad’s junk yard. Because they won a contest that granted them access to a limo and chauffeur, they could get anywhere in Los Angeles to solve mysteries.

  15. For me, the first book I never wanted to end was Forever Amber. At almost 1000 pages, I nearly got my wish. I was pretty young so I don’t even remember how the book came into my hands. Interestingly, I am not a reader of romance today.

  16. It would be a children’s biography of Martin Luther King. Like AZAli my age is showing. I was five when he was killed. I am trying to remember my early “book, books”. By middle school I was reading novelizations of the Twilight Zone.

    I still have my copy of “A Space Child’s Mother Goose”. My father read it to me. I read it to my daughters.

  17. Oh, what to choose, what to choose…

    The first book (I think) I read in the Nancy Drew franchise was The Secret of the Old Clock…and I had to google to get the name right. All I remembered was the word “clock” was in it. I think I read every Nancy Drew book available to in the ’60s.

    A bit older, Mary Stewart became my go-to author.

    Hours and hours spent in my room. Alas…to go back to that time when I had…time.

  18. The Sunday comics, but the first book I remember reading was a biography of Will Rogers. Don’t know why that book made such an impression on me but I went around for days trying to whistle and twirl a lasso.
    Another book that has stayed with me since I was in the 10th grade was Exodus by Leon Uris. My English teacher didn’t believe me when I said I stayed up all night reading it.

  19. Gone with the Wind. I was in high school and sat up all night reading it. Under the covers with a flashlight. I was supposed to be asleep.

  20. I owe my love of reading to my father. He grew up as an orphan during the Great Depression (his mother died young tending to others during the flu pandemic, his father died of coal miner’s black lung disease.) As a young man, my father would go without eating to save enough money to buy a book or take music lessons (he played several instruments.)

    His education was limited to high school, but he was polymath. On his own initiative, he became Morse code proficient when it was important, he was a skilled aircraft mechanic during WWII, welder, electrician, plumber, carpenter, etc. I grew up naively thinking all fathers were like that, they could do anything. I wanted to be just like him.

    I also grew up in a house with lots of books, more than anyone else I knew. My earliest memories are of the complete works of Mark Twain. Starting with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, I read them all eventually. Luckily after my father’s passing, I inherited that collection and many others. I’ve reread them many times and in addition to enjoying the vicarious adventures, they bring my father back closer to me.

  21. For me it was the Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown and the Chip Hilton Sports stories. I can’t remember which one was first, but I believe it was one of the Hardy Boys books, although my parents did say I was reading Time Magazine when I was three or four. I doubt I got much out of it other then the pictures…but maybe that’s where I got my love of mysteries and puzzles.

  22. Third grade, out of the school library, “Beautiful Joe” by Margaret Marshall Saunders. Written in the 1890s, a “first person” novel about an abused dog that finally finds a home. The book was “the winning entry submitted to a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane Education Society” (from the introduction, which also noted that it’s the first Canadian novel to sell a million copies) and is a call to end animal cruelty. Then it was on to the Hardy Boys, Moby Dick, etc. I haven’t thought of the book in years, but wonder now if it had a subliminal effect on a decades-old decision go vegetarian (and ultimately vegan).

  23. BLACK BEAUTY by Anna Sewell. I don’t recall how old I was when I first read it, but I’m 70 now and still remember it.

  24. My mom handed me A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was thirteen. I read it in a single day, then re-read the next day. I no longer need the book to read it. It’s been committed to memory since the 70s.

  25. This is a tough one. My parents read to me from the time I was a baby. I could read long before I went to school. My mother took me to the library at least weekly, plus I had loads of books of my own. So it’s a bit of a guessing game, and it depends on whether or not you count picture books, or chapter books, or full fledged adult novels. Sooo…maybe Where the Wild Things Are, or The Sun Shone on the Elephant when I was an early reader, and The Secret Garden when I was in grade school. I’m not sure when I first read it, but I read it many, many times as a child. I was completely swept up in the idea of the moors, and walled gardens, and the romance of India.

  26. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis… and then to realise it was part of a series! Bliss!

  27. A Wrinkle in Time. I was eleven and enthralled. I’m reading the Spanish translation in an attempt to learn Spanish for about the fiftieth time.

  28. The Lord of the Flies. One of those books that have hung with me over the decades. One day I’m going to write my ‘What are people really made of’ novel.

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