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My First Novel: The Impact of Reading

As a child I was always interested in reading and gaining knowlegde. Some of that comes from my high level of curiosity (if I were a cat I’d be long dead) but also from my surroundings.

Me and my dad (Circa. 2001)

My dad has a keen interest in history there was an abundance of informative and academic texts and books around the house. 

So the attributes of learning and creativity were thrust upon me at a young age. When I was 5-years-old my grandmother bought me a first edition copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (probably not the most age appropriate) . And what did I do with it? I put it on a shelf for almost a decade!

My first novel: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Because at 5-years-old I wanted pictures and dragons and fairytales. I wanted to read about all the imaginative creations of J.K Rowling, Angie Sage and Dr. Seuss. I didn’t care about historical significance, or facts.

Me at 5-years-old.

I read all the childrens books in my house, and even a TV set up guide, (I was bored, don’t judge!) and became a regular annoyance to the local librarians.

But in 2011 my family and I did a huge clear out of all our stuff and I found that dusty old copy of Harper Lee’s work sitting abandoned behind stacks of sheet music (piano mostly). I dusted it off and instead of loading my old possessions into those cardboard boxes, my dad found me two hours later sitting inside one. As usual, nose in a book.

I must have read that book cover to cover in 1 day. It felt as though someone had just flipped a switch in my brain. If I could read novels, does that mean I was maturing? (Not likely, but hey we can all dream, right?)

And so, as I aged I ventured from the security of magic and superheroes to the interesting and shocking world we know now as reality. Suddenly it felt like a whole new world of books had become available and I practically lived in the library. I read everything from Ancient Egypt to Animals to True Crime!

Image from the New York Times.

And it all started with that book! Now a 60-year-old copy of To Kill A Mockingbird. My grandmother died just 3 months before I found that book. It became more than just a old battered book, but a sentimental heirloom, the last present she ever gave me.

Now you can say it was fate or maybe my grandmother haunting me, but that novel sparked a turning point in my life. It ignited my love of writing and reading, so actually that was the last gift she gave me, from beyond the grave, an interest like no other. More than a hobby, an admiration of the written language.

To this day, that book sits on my bedroom shelf, and when I feel upset or lost I look to it for support, a cherished memory. One I can share with my future family and hopefully commence that eternal passion that it gave me.

My late Gran and I (Circa. 2009).

So to my Gran I owe my love for writing and reading. Thank you "Granny Carol".

Article written by Siobhan Lansdowne