The Book That Made Me a Reader

  

Christina Baker Kline

on Little House in the Big Woods

by Laura Ingalls Wilder


I was six years old; we had recently moved to Maine from Tennessee, and my father read it aloud to my sister Cynthia and me, one chapter at a time, before we went to sleep. read more 

 

 




  

Bonnie Nadzam

on a Biography of Helen Keller


Maybe it’s instructive that I more or less recall the book but not the exact title or author of the book. It was a YA biography of Helen Keller, given to me in second grade by Sister Therese at what was then called St. Ann’s School, in Cleveland, Ohio. READ MORE

 

 

 


 


  

Anuradha Roy

on Abol Tabol and the Bengali Language


Before I could read, I was read to, and there was only one book that was read aloud in our house. I am four years old. Then five, then six, seven. Even when I’ve learned how to read, the routine doesn’t change. The book comes out from its place on the shelf in the evening after my father is home from work. READ MORE

 


 


  

Sara Paretsky

on Louisa May Alcott and James Joyce

 

I can’t remember the first books I read, although I do remember the first words I wasn’t able to sound out: “city” and “Penelope.” Perhaps I was reading a child’s history of the Trojan War. My older brother taught me to read and write as he was learning those things, so I don’t remember beginning, I only remember being in the middle. READ MORE

 


 


  

Elizabeth Nunez

on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

 

I grew up in colonial Trinidad, my education similar to that of a British public school, excellent, but clearly intended to reinforce the superiority of the British Empire. When I was an elementary schoolchild, I devoured the novels of the English mystery writer Enid Blyton. READ MORE

 


 


  

Elizabeth McKenzie

on John Lennon

 

Two of the first books that made me a reader were In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works by John Lennon. This was when I was about ten. I already perceived that the Beatles were great humorists and word benders. READ MORE

 


 

  

James Hannaham

on Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth

 

When I read The Phantom Tollbooth, at approximately age nine or so, it had some kind of bizarre cathartic effect on me. By that time I had probably started experimenting with puns, doubtless had been accused of having a corny sense of humor by my peers, and called a “brainiac” because I brought several books home from the library at a time. But even at nine I scorned conformity. READ MORE

 


 

Francine Prose

on Fun With Dick and Jane and Mary Poppins

 

The book that made me a reader was, to be honest, Fun with Dick and Jane. I can’t remember much about it. See Spot run, I guess. The point was that I learned to read at an early age, so that it became a sort of party trick, much admired by the grown-ups. I liked being able to do it before I cared much about content. READ MORE

 


 

Gary Shteyngart

on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

 

My name Igor Shteyngart. I refugant to Kew Gardens, Queens, nine years old. Now they say I also name Gary. I like to read many book, but only Russian book because English not so good. READ MORE

 


 

            

Stephen King

on Dr. Seuss

 

It was my first encounter with a horror story, because poor Bartholomew was going to get his head chopped off if he couldn't take off his hat for the king. READ MORE

 


 

Sam Lipsyte

on Henry Roth's Call It Sleep

 

Many books made me a reader. But one book that stands out from my younger years is Henry Roth's Call It Sleep, which I believe I read in 10th grade in my public high school in New Jersey. READ MORE

 


 

William Gass

on King Arthur and Thomas Mann 

 

Two books made me a reader. I dragged my anchor and sat through the fourth grade sullen and slow, my cargo a hold full of negativities, and even those were spoiled. Somehow I came into the possession of a child’s version of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table READ MORE 

 


 

George Saunders

on Ernest Hemingway's In Our Time

 

The book that first made me a reader was In Our Time, by Ernest Hemingway, and a specific edition of the book: a hardcover, probably not a first edition, but with the distinctive look and smell and typography of a book. READ MORE

 


 

Junot Díaz

on Richard Adams' Watership Down

 

Like some, I became a reader as soon as I learned to read. READ MORE

 


 

 

Esmeralda Santiago

on Dictionaries

 

Before I loved reading, I loved words. Palabras, in Spanish. When I was eight in Puerto Rico, a traveling salesman came to our one-room schoolhouse right in the middle of class. READ MORE

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

Ben Marcus

on How He Became a Reader

 

A person, not a book, made me a reader. Her name is Jane Marcus. She was born on January 23, 1938, in St. Albans, Vermont. We lived in the same area when I was growing up, and she brought me books. READ MORE

 


 

 


Louis Begley

on Henryk Sienkiewicz's historical trilogy


Between the age of nine and twelve, I read nonstop. Circumstances of my life in Poland during World War II were such that there was little else I could do safely. READ MORE

 


 

David Wroblewski

on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book

 

It helps to imagine your reading life as a staircase rather than a doorway—a winding staircase, with each tread a book, and each riser your incautious love for that book's characters, or plot, which kept you writhing, or the writer's way with language, which felt so especially right. READ MORE

 


 

Roddy Doyle

on E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime

 

I always read. My memory tells me—it insists—that I read every waking hour. I’d wake up with a book on my face. READ MORE

 


 

Christine Schutt

on Poetry in Prose

 

At age fourteen I was given a small paperback with a patriotic cover: Contemporary American Poetry, edited by Donald Hall. READ MORE

 


 


Rick Moody

on Samuel Beckett


In freshman year of college, I was first exposed to Samuel Beckett's novel Murphy. For a guy who had mainly been reading science fiction and Irving/Cheever/Updike before then, this was quite an event. READ MORE

 


 

Philip Roth

on Thomas Wolfe

 

In 1949, when I was sixteen, I stumbled on Thomas Wolfe, who died at thirty-eight in 1938, and who made numerous adolescents aside from me devotees of literature for life. READ MORE

 


 

Martha Southgate

on The Bluest Eye


I was in college and had an unexpected lull between things I had, had, had to read. Though I’d always been a voracious reader, I did very little reading for pleasure in college. No time. But anyway, I’d acquired a few hours somehow. There was this novel—quite short—that I’d been interested in. READ MORE
JOIN NOW > CONTRIBUTE >

GET OUR UPDATES