For my first discussion for the 2019 Book Blog Discussion Challenge, I’d like to talk about those books that I’ll never be able to read for the first time again. You know what I’m talking about – those books that you stayed up all night to read even when you were supposed to be sleeping, reading by flashlight under the covers. The sad truth of the matter is that you don’t get the wonder a second time – once you’ve read a book, you know what happens. That doesn’t mean that you don’t still enjoy a book, you just… aren’t reading it for the first time.
That whole thing made more sense in my head.
Anyway, here’s a look at some of my favorite reads I wish I could travel back in time to read for the first time again, books that shaped my childhood and ultimately my reading habits for the rest of my life.
The Bellmaker by Brian Jacques
This was the first in the Redwall series that I read by Brian Jacques, and, to quote my favorite podcast, I fell in love instantly. (Bonus points if you can tell me what podcast). From then on, Redwall was my life and blood, it was everything I wanted, a fantasy world that I could escape into. When I played outside, I would be transported to that world – I would carve sticks into staves, try to climb trees, whatever I could do to turn my playacting into reality. And through it all, I read the books, as many as I could get my hands on.
And then, one day, I set the Redwall series down, and never picked it back up again. They say that you can’t go home, and to me, this book series represents that – with Brian Jacques having passed away the year I graduated, 2011, there are no more books in this series to read for me.
Some days, though, when the summer breeze blows, I get a glimpse of that feeling again.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
I know, I know – you’re totally surprised to see Harry Potter listed. However, this is a series I desperately wish I could read for the first time just one more time. As it is, I can’t go back – the spine of this book is worn out and threadbare, proof that I’ve tried. But of all the Harry Potter books, Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favorite, remains the symbol of my childhood because of a story I’ll tell you guys.
So, my mom is a teacher and has been my entire school career. I was in first grade at Thayer Elementary in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, when my mom taught down the hall from me. It’s important to note that I had an insanely high reading level, so it was hard to keep me in books because the librarian thought I should be reading, like, War and Peace, and really I just wanted to read The Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew and things that were “too low for my level.” To be fair, that may have not come into play until I moved to an Accelerated Reader district. Anyway, the Harry Potter series was one that I devoured – I picked it up after the first two books came out, and the third was a hardback I got as a gift.
It’s also important to note that I never got in trouble at school – I was never a kid who went home with a yellow instead of a green way back in first grade, or even, god forbid, a red. I was a model student, but that didn’t mean I didn’t try to get away with things here and there. I just usually got so anxious about it I got caught.
So one day, I bring Prisoner of Azkaban to school with me to read during reading time. And I just… couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t put it down. I got to the chapter “The Shrieking Shack” and I had to know what was going to happen, so I propped up the book inside my social studies textbook and kept reading while the teacher taught, just like I’d seen on tv.
I got caught, of course. Later, my teacher, Mrs. Lemstra, would tell my mother that she knew it wasn’t really my social studies book because “social studies isn’t that interesting.” Mrs. Lemstra, if you’re reading… thanks for letting me finish the chapter before you got on to me!
So yes, this is a short list, but I really just wanted an excuse to chat about two books I was thinking about, and a discussion post seemed a good way to do that. Plus I got to laugh about that picture of me with my mother, as well as ask her the fine details of that story of me reading in second grade.
So. What are your childhood favs you wish you could take a trip back to?