by Jarrah Hodge
I saw this idea on my internet friend Amelia’s blog XYZ-PDQ. She got it from a blog by Linda Sherwood, who got it from another blogger who got it from another blogger. And now I’m doing my own, though I’ve changed a few of the categories.
First Book I Loved
Buzz: A Sort of Bee from Timbuctoo! by Roger Hargreaves. I admit I don’t remember the specifics of the plot. Suffice it to say it was about a bee and it was by the same guy that wrote the Mr. Men and Little Miss books (Mr. Tickle, Little Miss Sunshine, etc.). I still have my original, wrinkled and gnawed-upon copy, so I know I loved it, or at least that it tasted good.
First Book I Hated
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. This is the first book I can remember hating, and I think there were a few reasons why. The first reason was that I loved the first two Narnia books and just didn’t quite get this one. I’ve re-read it since and can see how it fits in but that was way over my head when I was seven. The second reason I hated this book was because I didn’t like that the horse was named Bree. I thought it was the name of a cheese and for some reason that really rubbed me the wrong way.
Matilda by Roald Dahl. Such a great book and so awesome to have a girl protagonist whose greatest power is her brain.
First Series I Read
This would be the Chronicles of Narnia but since I’ve already mentioned it I will reluctantly admit that the second series I read was The Babysitters Club books by Ann M. Martin (although Amelia let me know many were ghost-written, which was very disillusioning though in retrospect unsurprising).
It started when I signed up for one of those Scholastic book club offers and they sent me every single book, along with prizes and fan gear like a cassette tape containing an interview with Ann M. Martin, not to mention BSC posters, pins, and cardboard bookends. The books were formulaic and below my reading level but I loved them so I’d just skim over the repetitive intro chapters and then devour the rest. They were popcorn but I did learn about things I hadn’t thought about before, like Kwanzaa and autism and how to respond if a kid has a fever and what it’s like to watch a relative recover from a stroke.
The series did not actually solve my total lack of enthusiasm about babysitting.
Yet again, I suppose Narnia fits the bill, but the first stand-alone sci-fi novel I read was Lois Lowry’s The Giver. I remember it being deeply emotionally engaging, dealing with themes around the loss of innocence and the need for heterogeneity in society. And so began my love affair with dystopian novels. I really need to re-read this – my friend teaches it in one of her adult ed classes and it reminded me that I’d probably still enjoy it today.
First Book That Made Me Laugh So Hard I Cried
Score another win for Lois Lowry – before I picked up The Giver I was addicted to her series of novels about Anastasia Krupnik. I could definitely identify with Anastasia – she was a nerdy, bespectacled, kid who fancied herself a poet and an intellectual. And I wanted to be more like her, to be funnier and to have cooler parents (no offense, real parents).
Example of the funny situations Lowry wrote for Anastasia: Anastasia contemplates becoming a Catholic because she likes that you get to wear a “wedding dress” for your confirmation (“They make them in small sizes for Catholics,” she tells her parents). But then she decides she can’t go through with it because it would mean she would have to confess and be truly sorry for wishing her teacher, Mr. Westvessel, would get pimples all over his face.
First Horror Book that I Read
Probably something from the Goosebumps series, and I haven’t really picked up a horror book since.
I can’t remember the exact title or authors but I was really obsessed with joke books when I was about 7 or 8, particularly one book of dinosaur jokes and another of elephant jokes. My parents remind me that once they took me along to a party and intended me to go off in a corner and read my books but instead I took the joke books around and read jokes out of them to all the guests. Adult me would’ve hated that.
First Feminist Book I Read
The first book with a feminist message I can remember reading is Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole. She’s still a princess and pretty and blonde but she wants to ride her motorcycle and live with her pet monsters, not marry one of the less-than-charming princes that come to win her hand.