My parents threw me a skating party at the local roller rink. All of my 2nd Grade classmates, the girls in my dancing class, and the neighorhood kids attended. I received more presents than I thought was humanly possible. But one gift would have a profound impact on me. That life changing gift was a book.
My aunt Judy gave me a copy of Heidi by Johanna Spyri, a classic written in 1880 about a little orphan girl who lived with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Considering how drawn I am to the macabre, I'm as surprised as anyone else that Heidi turned me on to books and reading. But it did. After I devoured Heidi, more out of an obsessive/compulsive need to read what someone had given me, I began seeking out books of all kinds on my own and became a voracious reader, a trait I share with my dad.
Some of my favorite childhood books include:
* the Pippi Longstocking books
* the Trixie Belden Mystery series
* Nancy Drew
* Shudders--a collection of macabre short stories
* the Little House on the Prairie books
* The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London
* H.P. Lovecraft
* Edgar Allen Poe
* Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
* Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
* The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
* The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
* Dracula by Bram Stoker
Once I turned twelve, I could get an adult Library card, and I began a love affair with adult fiction authors such as Anne Rice, Stephen King, and Peter Straub. I was constantly reading a book by then. In fact, reading for fun every day was as ingrained in me as brushing my teeth or taking a bath. My mother used to tell me I always had my nose stuck in a book, as if that were a bad thing.
I consider reading as vital as breathing oxygen. Reading is food for my soul.
Oh, and Aunt Judy . . . thank you for that first book that started the snowball a'rollin' down the hill. I'm mighty grateful.