We remember the novels that made us fall in love with the written word on World Book Day…
Embarrassingly enough, I began to devour books with the Goosebumps series. While other, more literary types, may have been musing over Wuthering Heights, I was scaring myself senseless with Piano Lessons Can be Murder – you see this was fitting, I thought, as I had just begun to learn how to play this wonderful instrument – and other gems from the series such as ‘Say cheese and die’. Why I subjected myself to this form of written horror (in every sense of the word) remains beyond me. It was probably not until my fat book of poetry from my school days, featuring everything from Sylvia Plath to T.S Eliot, that I really discovered the unwavering beauty of the written word.
Caroline Foran @CarolineForan
This is like choosing a favourite child but there’s definitely an Enid Blyton trend in my youth. Her Faraway Tree series immediately transported me to the Land of Marvels, the Land of Tea Parties et al, while I was so obsessed with Mallory Towers that I actually used to sketch their imagined uniforms as well as floor plans of the dorms… I also totally plagiarised the stories into my own boarding school yarns (despite myself having been to a typical British comprehensive), ditto unashamedly stole from Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch books for my own illustrated stories (I’ll eat my pointy hat if JK Rowling never read this series…).
Lucy White @LucyWhiteDublin
Marita Conlon-McKenna’s books made me go to bed early, and stay up late reading. I’ll never forget when she came to talk in our local library and signed a dust jacket of Wildflower Girl for me – I still have it in my ‘treasure tin’. Safe Harbour was one of my favourites, set in Greystones, Co.Wicklow during World War 2. As my family home is now in that same town, I often walk about thinking of the adventures Sophie and Hugh got up to.
Niamh Wade @NiamhWade
It’s hard to pinpoint when I fell in love with reading. I wasn’t your typical bookish kid – in fact, I didn’t read much at all when I was younger and struggled with reading in my teens (I read slowly and was easily distracted, so if I had an assignment to read three chapters of Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne or Hemingway, and something else caught my attention or I wasn’t totally focused, I would have to re-read the entire chapter to see what I had already just absent-mindedly read). That said, my favourite subjects were literature and writing. I went to college to study music and after a rethink and kind words from my English professor, I changed to journalism, with a minor in English. I read Shakespeare, early English lit and grew to discover the variety that books offered. It was only after finishing university, though, that I began to really read for pleasure, and not just for study. It was then that I came across the works of Margaret Atwood, who became a hero of mine. The Handmaid’s Tale remains one of the most remembered books I’ve ever read. Others that stick in my mind are Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin and Big Brother, Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Ian McEwan’s Atonement. As I grow older, I’m learning to love non-fiction works as well and am starting to see that some people have some incredible tales to tell. In a world where Instagram and Tweets seem to be favoured a little too much, and people are constantly saying they are short of time, I sincerely hope we never stop appreciating the written word, and all learn to take a breath, pause, and read a book.
Meg Walker @MegWalkerDublin
When I was in my first year of college, I abandoned the pretense that I was capable of being standoffishly cool, went out to buy the tenth novel in Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series and read the book at a breakfast in the Buttery café in Trinty College. The story of Mia Thermopolis coping with the fact she’s the heiress to a small European throne while navigating high school in catty Manhattan is the one that had me staying up late. I would use the home computer to google release dates and plot book hauls for when I went to Limerick city with my mother. I grew up with Mia, and while her struggles were a foreign county, her insecurity and anxieties were common to all teenage girls. Also, her love interest, Michael Moscovitz, is a total fox.
There’s also a long chapter of my life dedicated to spin-off Star Wars novels but that’s another article.
Jeanne Sutton @jeannedesutun