No other books have reminded me of my childhood reading experience more than Alan Bradley’s books featuring Flavia de Luce. To me, she’s the younger version of an historical Nancy Drew and her knowledge of chemistry is fascinating. She’s bright, quirky, has a friend named Gladys (who happens to be her bicycle), and she’s funny.
I’ve always loved books because my mom encouraged imagination and made library trips fun. My real interest began when I was 10 years old. Without asking permission, I chose a book from my mom’s box of gothics (hidden under the bed) and began reading. I was swept away by the story and experienced reading through the night for the first time. The book was The Turquoise Mask by Victoria Holt.
Mom realized that I had stayed up all night to read and said I was too young for such books. After sleeping half the day (don’t forget I was up all night) Mom did a remarkable thing. I told her I was hungry and she didn’t just feed my stomach, she also fed my love of reading. After eating we went to the library and Mom introduced me to Nancy Drew, got me The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene and so began my adventures in reading.
After the first Nancy Drew, I spent the rest of my summer reading in a tree. Literally. I would wake early every morning, climb my favorite tree and sit on my favorite limb. Dad rigged a bucket system so I could pull up my books and my imagination soared. Of course I had to come down for friends, food, company, church and …oh, the endless list of things that interrupted my reading, but outdoors in a tree became such a part of my life. That tree and I both grew. Throughout my teenage years I was extremely busy with cheerleading, volleyball, editing the school newspaper, music competitions and friends; but, no matter how busy, I still made time to sit in my tree and read.
Although I now read a variety of genres, Alan Bradley’s books still recapture my love for light hearted mystery. Not everyone likes his protagonist, Flavia de Luce. I’m sure there are flaws, but my reading experience far outweighs any criticism I’ve heard. These books are meant to be fun and to make us laugh. Along the way we learn bits and pieces about chemistry and history. The quirkiness. The out of the ordinary. The characters and their attitudes. The mystery. The humor. The subtle learning of new facts. And the nosiness of a little girl. All these remind me of reading in my tree.
How and when did you begin to love reading?