How did you 'get into' literature?

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How did you 'get into' literature?

Post by humblebee » Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:06

I had an ace inspirational English teacher for GCSE who brilliantly anticipated and addressed all the 'issues' that we the kids would have with Shakespeare when we read Macbeth. He showed us why the poetry of World War I was so amazing and used pop lyrics as set texts (this is also how I started writing songs). Sometimes he used to get all emotional about the literature and cry and stuff, and we never used to take the piss or anything; everyone just totally respected him.

I guess at the same time I was getting into The Smiths, so I thought I'd check out this Oscar Wilde character who Morrissey used to bang on about. And I had an ace inspirational teacher for A-level English as well. But I might never have started to appreciate books and literacy without the influence of the brilliant Mr Ron Blow. See, even his name was great.

(I even used to see him at the football sometimes, like at Christmas, when my family wanted to go and we had to sit in the stand where the older supporters would sit. I respected him even more for that.)

How did you 'get into' literature?

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Post by cuppie » Mon Oct 01, 2007 12:50

i have no idea! i kept journals when i was a little kid and the bulk of them is filled up with scribble about whatever book i was reading so i'm guessing i always liked books. but i never wanted to major in it in college, which i did. it's like admitting that you don't have talent or something. what i really want is to be on the stage, with lions.

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Post by Trev » Mon Oct 01, 2007 14:35

I wasn't a big book reader as a kid. I got into books when I was a late teenager. Probably because my uncle starting giving me loads of interesting 2nd hand books as presents when I was 16/17.

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Post by nanski » Mon Oct 01, 2007 15:12

i learned how to read at a pretty young age and read like a maniac. rubbish books, though. i remember reading 5 hardy boy books in one day.

anyway, i think i really got into books because i had an older sister who used to get really exited about things she read. it was rare to see her get enthusiastic about anything, so it was quite special. First, the Catcher in the Rye and then Conrad. funny, i was never a big fan of either, but... i think her attitude made me approach books differently, and how i chose what to read.

also... we went to this whacked school in alabama that started banning books or just quietly disappearing them off the shelves. everytime i got to choose what i read for an assignment, i made it a point to read a banned book. the catcher in the rye, for example, which luckily my sister had a copy of. and steinbeck. ffs. silly school. luckily the teachers were cool and let me do it.
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Post by rainking123 » Tue Oct 02, 2007 14:52

Same as you Humblebee a couple of amazing english teachers who really brought a range of books to life for me, In 2nd year we had of mice and mine read to us, nad then doing Higher english my teacher was great at recomending books for me to read.

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Post by Colin » Tue Oct 02, 2007 15:03

My English teachers were rubbish, without exception. I only started reading books for pleasure after I left school. I couldn't say why, other than I wanted to learn things. Most of the books I read at first were non-fiction, but it varies now. I've usually got a couple of books on the go but I don't devote enough time to reading.

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Post by miss deepfreeze » Tue Oct 02, 2007 17:00

i learnt to read when i was hilariously young, and, once i'd finished all of my own books, i moved on to anything i could get my hands on.

i loved roald dahl, so i decided to read his 'grown-up' stories.

then my parents' collection of irish writers, like flann o'brien, sean o'casey, brendan behan, beckett, joyce etc.

then my brother and sister started making me read things they liked when they were younger, or children's books by regular authors like russell hoban and salman rushdie.

by the time i was in high school i'd settled on lots of vonnegut/pynchon/brautigan, classic sci fi like asimov and ballard, and got into the beats in a big way.

i guess my bro and sis are the most to blame. if i hadn't inherited their books when they started to move away from home i never would have read half the stuff i have.

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Post by Miss Anna » Tue Oct 02, 2007 17:30

As a fairly pathetic nine-year-old child who couldn't get to sleep because she was scared Fred West would get her. Because I was stuck at my stepdad's house and his choice of reading material was Of Mice and Men or the script from the Terminator (none of my preferred choice Mallory Towers or such gubbins) I sat up all night reading Of Mice and Men and then wept uncontrollably at the end. Since that night reading has been a small obsession, and into the bargain I very rarely worry about Fred West.

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Post by bend sinister » Tue Oct 02, 2007 20:17

As a chld of a striking miner, I sat and read with my Dad for the best part of a year when I was two. I guess this lead me to think of reading as something that you just 'do'. A bit later I also had an inspirational english teacher in the shape of Tony 'the silver fox' Cunningham who, in a similar fashion to Humblebee's teacher, made Shakespeare both interesting and relevant.

If anyone had a choice between:

1) never hear another song


2) never read another book

which would it be?

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Post by Damian » Tue Oct 02, 2007 20:24

My parents read to me from a very young age and I started reading quite prolifically early on. Just things from the library, whatever took my fancy at primary school, etc. Though of course these were not major league literary classics.

At secondary school, almost all of the books I can remember studying were terrible, and we never actually analysed them at all. It was only when we read 'Of Mice and Men' as a class that I had the desire to read for pleasure again. None of my class (and we were the top set) read at all. I know because our English teacher questioned us about our reading habits and berated us for it.

I suppose teachers have a lot to answer for in terms of reading habits of their teenage charges. It's that sort of age when a reading apathy sinks in and kids just want to be out on the street/playing computer games/killing nuns, instead of reading.

As for the question:-

2. Never read another book. I simply like music better.
Last edited by Damian on Tue Oct 02, 2007 20:45, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by emml » Tue Oct 02, 2007 20:44

Apparently I used to read out loud while sitting on my potty and amaze my parents with my skills!

I got into 'proper' books in my early teens when I used to borrow my older sister's and read them by torchlight under my duvet. I inherited most of them when she went away to uni, so I guess you could say she was my main influence.

2. Never read another book. There are always audiobooks!


Post by alongwalkhome » Tue Oct 02, 2007 20:59

My seventh grade English class opened my eyes to books being more than just "plot." I remember thinking symbolism (which is what doing an English degree is mostly about!) was the coolest thing ever. It made books layered puzzles to solve and the more of the "hidden" meanings you got, the more rich the reading experience was.

Then in 8th grade I read Catcher in the Rye and realized, "Holy shit. You can find yourself reflected in the pages of a book." I think reading about things that were emotionally very complex at the same time as I hit puberty made the experience of reading literature mix right into my bloodstream. I knew from the age of 13 I wanted to be an English major at university. Prior to that I'd wanted to be a dentist (!)

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Post by nanski » Wed Oct 03, 2007 06:21

bend sinister wrote:If anyone had a choice between:

1) never hear another song


2) never read another book

which would it be?
either one sounds like my idea of hell.
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Post by whininggirl » Wed Oct 03, 2007 17:01

My dad read to me as a kid. I learned to read myself when I was 3 and have never stopped.

Getting an MLitt in English (Scottish) kind of made me WANT to stop, though.

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Post by ariettyspaghetti » Wed Oct 03, 2007 17:48

I never really used to read as a teenager. My mum used to buy me lots of books when I was smaller, which I read, but I never carried on once I had reached 13 or so. I never had time to read a book, always had something else to do.

I got into reading again in my final year of uni when I was forced to do quite a detailed Russian Literature module, and it was like a revelation. I just wanted to read everything I could lay my hands on and have tried to make up for lost time.
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Post by let it ride » Sat Oct 06, 2007 00:14

when i was younger i read anything i could get my hands on, i LOVED it.

there are a few significant 'booky' events that made me feel extra excited about it though.

i loved it when we had a competition in my class when i was ten, and you got these sheets to fill out with every book you read, how many pages they were and the date you had read it. i put mine on the wall next to my bed, so i could write it down as soon as i had finished a book.
most of the books i read were kind of rubbish but enjoyable at the time, and i won the whole competition! i was so proud (although it didn't exactly help with the fact that everyone thought i was the nerd, haha).

another great thing that really helped further it was a teacher in my english school, an american guy who was just fantastic. he was so, so, so great, and i really felt like he brought out the best in me as a student. i don't know if i have ever felt as clever, original and interested as in his classes.

so ya, that was probably the best thing.

since uni i haven't read as much. it's stupid, but i find with so much reading to do for my course, relaxing makes me want to do other stuff, films, magazines, meeting people etc.

but in summer i read like a maniac.
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Post by dear rose » Sat Oct 06, 2007 09:59

I have always read as much as I can. When I was a kid I was obsessed with Enid Blyton books, and my mum used to buy as many as possible from charity shops so I always had something to bury my head in, as well as the stuff from the local libraries.

Later I got into really trashy teen things, Sweet Valley High, Sweet Dreams, all the obligatory teen stuff, then progressed onto trashy romances and chick lit. I was a total loner/tomboy type as a kid, got bullied lots and so on, and I used to project myself into those books and pretend that I was one of the characters. It's a bit embarassing really, but I guess it was escapist mentality.

My teachers used to try and get me into literature when they saw I was so into reading, but they would always recommend a "classic" like Jane Austen or Black Beauty, which I would get through but find a chore, and I never wanted reading to be a chore.

Then I got into music, and I read Albert Camus's The Outsider (I know) because it was my favourite band at the time's inspiration. I remember getting to the end and then feeling this wave of emotion envelope me. After that I went through most obligatory cult classics and found books which I could relate to more wholeheartedly.

I still read the odd trashy rubbish though :oops:

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Re: How did you 'get into' literature?

Post by Carys » Mon Jun 16, 2008 19:34

It's nice to read about inspirational English teachers - I'd like to be one of those one day!

For me, I'd always been a 'reader' but my parents really aren't, so I never felt like I had access to adult books. I started out reading lots of Stephen King, with occassional bits of Orwell and Plath. It was falling in love with someone a few years older who was studying English at University that really taught me how many amazing books I'd been missing out on. I used to ask him to send me 'booklists' of recommendations which I'd work my way though. After I'd completed my very own English degree, I realised that most of the books he'd recommended were probably his own University reading lists. He, incidentally, never graduated.

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Re: How did you 'get into' literature?

Post by wrapyrtroubles » Mon Jun 16, 2008 20:32

I'm one of those approval seeking types. I always read a lot as a kid, and my parents both pride themselves on their interest in literature, because they're from backgrounds where that wasn't expected/encouraged. We had loads of books around the house and I went to the library with my mum and my brother every Saturday. My reading age was always well ahead of my actual age. When I was 11 I remember filling in a questionnaire about my reading habits for school, and one of the questions was to do with how "widely" you read. I thought I was doing ok, already reading the broadsheet newspapers and anything from the library that caught my attention - at this time, mostly books for young teens about horses and magical spiders and stuff like that - but my mum said she didn't think I read that widely, and I felt ashamed, and ever since I've only read books that have that "serious literature" stamp of approval. Obviously that means I've read a lot of truly amazing and life enchancing books. But I think ultimately my desire to absorb as much good literature as it's possible to soak up in one lifetime is driven more by a neurotic fear of not having read the right things than it is to do with taking a celebratory, joyful pleasure in reading... so maybe all those wonderful books I read count for nothing.


Re: How did you 'get into' literature?

Post by linus » Mon Jun 16, 2008 21:08

I read a lot as a child for 'escapism' and I wrote a lot too and I had a brilliant schoolteacher (sadly now dead)who encouraged me to read and write stories- my dad's bookshelf was full of decidly non-improving literature like michael moorcock and the modesty blaise books and mickey spillane and raymond chandler which I'd read for expectant thrills and tough talk- and then I went off reading and writing stories in secondary school because... well there were no inspirational english teachers and secondary school education- in my opinion- then, and I expect it's still true now, was not about having a frolic in one's imagination (... although my school reports all show that I paid no attention in class and was a 'daydreamer' so I was still frolicking but just not out loud)

I read other stuff I suppose but not as a result of school, I read books on music and cinema and art, I've always read comics

I don't suppose I really had much of a bent for 'literature' until I was on my foundation course and another student on seeing some writing I'd done recommended 'last exit to brooklyn' and then soon after a friend suggested I read salinger

I did and I started looking a little more studiedly in bookshops and libraries... compendium (sadly now closed) in camden was a great source for brautigan and terry ('lambpit') southern and the beats... I read bukowski and burroughs and also raymond carver and any other hubert selby jr stuff I could find ('last exit' was- for me- astounding)... writers like nick tosches and greil marcus flipped my lid

I never had a hankering to read all that 'improving' literature, all the stuff one is positively mean't to read, perhaps I will one day, I find that kind of 'tick 'em off one by one' approach to reading deathly dull...

I love james ellroy, he's badass... I doubt much in the world of 'improving' literature comes anywhere close to his 'my dark places'... that's a killer book, it fucking hurts, it bruises

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