Monday, March 14, 2016

What was your first (book) love? by Cheryl Harper

I've been think, think, thinking about the last book in my Lucky Numbers series lately. It's bittersweet to say goodbye to characters I've really gotten to know (even though I'm also dream, dream, dreaming of the next series, too). The reason I love to read books that belong to a series is that I get plenty of "what comes next" after the happily ever after for my hero and heroine. I love it when characters from previous books pop up in the next in the series. I can see they're making it last!

The first series I ever binged (although this was many, many years ago and we didn't call it that) was the Little House books. My mom would take me to the library and I would check out two or three and read them obsessively until they were gone. Then I badgered my mother into another library trip. Finishing the last book by Rose Wilder Lane was the first time I felt that book loss, after all the good ones are gone (woe!). Almanzo Wilder was the first fictional (is this right? If he's a real person but...) character I fell in love with.

And my patient mother. She read all the time. She made me a reader and had no one to blame for all the library trips I forced her to make but herself. Once I found the joy of a used book store and series romance, my love affair with books started to gather speed (and cost). I miss my mother every day for a lot of reasons, but bookstores were our thing. I can't walk into one without thinking of her.

This picture is of one of the collection I found when I cleaned out her attic. The stuffed animals she held for me and the trophies, those were easy to say goodbye to. I kept the books. All of them. My name is written carefully inside of this one. My love affair with dogs goes way back. At this age, my man's best friend was a beagle named Jake.

From the prairie, I visited Marmee in Little Women (and I always wanted to be Jo) and read through Little Men and Jo's Boys. There was a total eureka moment when I found Janette Oke's Love Comes Softly series. I've had a love affair with the prairie my whole life. Until now. I currently live in (a house in) the middle of a pasture. Cows are a hassle and they aren't even mine. And when I hear the coyotes yipping in the spring and fall, I feel very Half Pint-ish in her cabin listening to the wolves.

What about you? What was the book that lit the spark? We all love books. What's the best series you've ever read? I think it might be time for me to hit a bookstore. (It's always time for a bookstore.)


25 comments:

  1. The Little House series and Nancy Drew did it for me, Cheryl. I still enjoy watching the re-runs of Little House.

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    1. Yes! and Dean Butler (who played Almanzo) holds a special place in my heart. :)

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  2. I loved Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames nurse books. Even after I grew up and began to travel I recognized places in some of those stories. And I also met an author who wrote 3 of the Nancy Drew books. I never knew until then that Carolyn Keene was a composite of many writers as was R.L. Stine Goosebump books later.

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    1. That's such a cool experience, recognizing a place you've loved in the pages of a book.

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  3. Hello Cheryl Harper (waving enthusiastically). I have a couple of children's books my dad gave me and I can't part with them. Whenever I see them I think fondly of him.
    I remember those Judy Blume books. The first one I read was Are You There God it's Me Margaret. They may have started my love of reading. I have really come to appreciate series books more recently. I hadn't read them before, but I'm starting to prefer them now. I like catching up with old friends. And besides, with my memory it's easier being reacquainted with old characters rather than learning a lot of new ones. I love the Heartwarming series of books. I wish I could keep up with every single one. Guess what's sitting by my nightstand? Winner takes all. That cover is so beautiful. I was showing it to my husband this past weekend and we were trying to figure out if those were houses down there in the valley at the base of the book. I'm digressing as usual....sorry. Little House was one of my favorites growing up. I used to watch it with my grandmother.

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    1. Hi, Laurie (waving back so so enthusiastically!), I did love Judy Blume, too, as a girl growing up. That's another powerful thing about books--recognizing you own struggles in those pages. With my grandmother, it was all Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (I can still hear the music).

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  4. Like a few others here, I was hooked on Nancy Drew. I still have my collection. I also have other childhood favorites as well as those I collected when I was an elementary school librarian. I especially like Maurice Sendak's books. Love his illustrations for The Nutcracker.

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    1. These collections are so special, aren't they?

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  5. Loved the Little House books, and the Nancy Drew series. My mother ran a children's story time every Saturday in our small-town library, which gave me the opportunity to prowl around and gather a stack of books for the week. I'm still drawn to cabinets with tiny drawers that remind me of a card catalog.

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    1. Yes! Card catalogs! I re-watched the original Ghostbusters movie recently and there's a scene with a card catalog and it brought it all back!

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  6. Hi, Cheryl! What a fun topic and one I could discuss for hours. As for my first series loves, when I was young I liked the Hardy Boys. In middle school I discovered the Sweet Valley High books. (My first taste of contemporary romance lol!) Then in high school I stumbled on the "Velvet Series" by Jude Deveraux. (I think they are actually called the Montgomery Annuals.) I have loved series romance ever since.

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    1. I don't know how it happened, but I somehow missed Sweet Valley High! What?!?

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  7. After Little House and Little Women came Trixie Belden and all the nurse books available. I'm not sure when the word "series" came into my reading consciousness. I do recall how thrilled I was to learn there was a Little Men and a Jo's Boys and that L. M. Alcott wrote a bunch of others, too--she got me through a whole summer as I recall!

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    1. Yes, I understand that thrill. I love finding out there's more to read if I've loved the first book.

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    1. I missed the Bobbsey Twins. I'm sad now.

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  9. I discovered B is for Betsy in 2nd grade. They were by Carolyn Haywood and I read the entire series in a month.

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    1. Yes, it's hard to stop once you find one you love!

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  10. Fun post, Cheryl! My first love was Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys series. I loved a good mystery. My favorite book, though, was The Outsider and I love when my kids get to read that one in 8th grade. My daughter read it this year and was in love with Soda Pop and Pony Boy, just like I was. We shared stories about crying over Johnny and Dallas. Love books like that - that stay with you long after you've read them!

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    1. Thanks, Amy. That is such a cool thing to be able to share your love with your daughter. Pony Boy!

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  11. I have two nearly equal first book loves. Number one on the list is the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. They're what made me want to be a writer. Number 1.25 is the All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. I discovered both series in elementary school (probably first or second grade--I read early) and I still try to reread them once a year.

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    1. Re-reading them is such a great idea, like visiting family.

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  12. The Bobbsey Twins and The Black Stallion!

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