How to Fall in Love with Reading … and Maybe Writing

How long have I wanted to be a writer? That’s a great question. Thank you for asking.

Since I’m new to the whole writing game, I’ve been trying to put myself out there more, following other authors and aspiring authors and such. I’ve noticed almost all of them say how they’ve been writing since they picked up a pencil for the first time. Or maybe sometime in elementary school. Jr. High for some. Me? I don’t know? Maybe last year? When I wrote my first novel?

Truthfully, growing up, I hated, HATED, reading. In elementary school I read some of those Clifford books, you know, because they kept passing around those scholastic book fair magazines and I wanted to be cool and buy something from it. Who doesn’t love presents? I did read some of the Babysitter Club books in late elementary school.

Then I hit Jr. High. After that: Required reading ONLY. I would rather do anything than read. Dance around in my room and sing out loud to songs (even though I can’t dance and I can’t sing to save my life). Ride my bike. Play (hang out) with my friends. Swim around in my pool. Go to Disneyland. Go to church dances. Watch movies. I’d even go shopping over reading … and I hate to shop.

Reason? Easy. All of those books they handed me to read in Jr. High and High School. I didn’t like any of them. In fact, I can’t even list a hand full of them now. I know I read The Outsiders in Jr. High. But I remember that because we watched the movie. And I LOVED the movie. I own it. Go watch it. It’s good.

That was my vision of books. There was nothing that appealed to me. I know my English teachers kept desperately waiting for those books to touch me and move me and make me appreciate life … blah, blah, blah. They did nothing of the sort. Except make me hate reading. I couldn’t relate to any of it. I wasn’t a Greaser or a Soc.

Maybe I’m sounding harsh, but I was a teenager for crying out loud! Reading wasn’t cool. I had better things to do with my time (see paragraph 4).

Then I met my husband, Chad. He LOVES to read. He reads all the time. Favorite series: The Wheel of Time. He’s been reading it since the first book, Eye of the World, hit the shelves in January of 1990. He was only 12 at the time. And he’s been waiting for every single book to come out since then. He rereads the series before each book comes out. The last book, #14, comes out this January. He’s busy reading as we speak.

So naturally I had to like reading, right? So I had something in common with him? His other passion was football, so between the two, reading seemed like the safer/easier way to go. My brother suggested I read A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton. I read it and liked it. Much better than any of those other books I was forced to read. But it still didn’t pull me in. I tried the Wheel of Time. Big mistake. Note to everyone that doesn’t read: Don’t go from NOT reading to reading The Wheel of Time. It’s complex. It’s long. It’s complicated. (It’s good, that much is true, but you need to work your way into it).

My brother then suggested The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. A fantasy young adult book? They make young adult books? Are they any good? Why, yes, yes they are. I FELL IN LOVE WITH READING! They made books that I actually liked! Books I could relate to! Books that I could come home after a long day at work and school and just dive into and escape the real world.

After that, I picked up book after book after book. Shannon Hale became my favorite author. She has tons of other books out there. That led me to find Jessica Day George, my second favorite author. Then I found James Dashner, Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, Brandon Sanderson, Bree Despain, Brodi Ashton, Cassandra Clare, Ally Condie, Janette Rallison, C.J. Hill, J.K. Rowling, Kiersten White … I could probably go on and on. BUT I LOVE READING NOW!

Thank you to my brother for pointing Shannon Hale out. And thank you to Shannon Hale for being an amazing writer and making me love to read.

What does reading have to do with writing? Everything! I hadn’t realized how much I loved to write until I read. My husband challenged me to get one of my ideas down on paper (aka a Word Document), so I did. I’ve always been a day dreamer and imaginative, I just kept it to myself. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to write and eventually spit 75,000 words out. I had so much fun writing my first novel. I had even more fun writing my second. Now I’m writing my third. I’ve finally found a hobby I love and enjoy! And guess what? The books always turn out exactly how I want them to!

It’s funny to look back now and come across old word documents from years and years ago. I’ve apparently attempted to write books before, I just never got very far. I never realized how many times I’ve tried. I never finished any of them, and now I know why. I wasn’t reading back then. Reading changes everything. It opens up your mind. You know what it takes to make a novel with enticing characters and scenes that suck you in. Reading is a tool and it’s the greatest tool out there if you want to write.

You just have to find the right book. It’s out there. Keep searching until you find that one book that makes you fall in love with reading. Trust me when I say it’s one of the greatest loves you can ever find.

Do you have a book that made you fall in love with reading?

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