Who was your first? - Karen Bush

A few of my favourite 'firsts' ...
They say that you never forget your first time.

Well, the first book I remember reading by myself that wasn't a schoolbook was Milly Molly Mandy - or it could have been The Family From One End Street, or possibly Mrs Pepperpot; but it was a little while ago, and they came along fairly close to each other, so perhaps it's understandable if my recollection isn't that clear ...

The first book I chose to read for myself (as opposed to having it picked out for me) was The Horse and His Boy, closely followed by the rest of the Narnia books (and incidentally, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book which made me cry).

The first book I bought for myself was My Friend Flicka - it came in two volumes: does that count? Published by Dragon Books there was also a competition in the back to win a real live Flicka ... all of us horsy little girls entered and crossed our fingers, but no doubt to the relief of our parents, didn't win.

The first author whose name I noted down so I could look for other books by him was Ray Bradbury - actually two authors, Bradbury and Jack London, as I'd just read short stories by them in an anthology, and they completely blew me away.

The first book I ever read on an airplane was The Little Grey Men by 'BB', and the first one I got as a get well present when sick was Worzel Gummidge (my sister who was being ill in the adjacent bed got Alison Uttley's A Country Child) and consequently I'll forever associate both titles with Lucozade.

The first book token I was ever given was spent on Joan Aiken's The Wolves of Willoughby Chase; also the first of many agonizing buying decisions as to which book to pick, out of the many that I wanted.

The first author I was ever brave enough to write to was Susan Cooper: I really wanted to tell her how much I loved her books. And I also really wanted to know if she was ever likely to tie up some of the tantalising loose ends in the Dark is Rising sequence ...

The first library book which I coveted so much I repeatedly kept borrowing it in lieu of being able to own it was A Dictionary of Chivalry by Grant Uden, which had the most fabulous illustrations by Pauline Baynes: many years later I stumbled across a copy in a bookshop and spent a large part of my weeks wages on buying it - at the same time I also discovered a copy of another old favourite, The Seventh Swan by Nicholas Stuart Gray, which meant that I existed on cut price baked beans until the next pay packet.

The first book we read as a family was Lord of The Rings - as the youngest I was last in the queue but pounced on the books whenever anyone unwisely put it down so I could get my next LoTR fix.

There are lots of other books and authors - Giovanni Guareschi's Don Camillo stories, Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion, Monica Edwards' Punchbowl Farm and Romney Marsh series, TH White's Once and Future King, and Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy to name just a few - that are memorable 'firsts' for various reasons which I won't bore you with here. I still re-read them from time to time: many are battered and held together with sellotape and love, but they all hold a special place in my memory, affections and on my book shelves.

But you know what?

Although I can remember the excitement of my Kindle arriving, and although it was an event that was a lot more recent (and more expensive) than the acquisition of any of the books in the picture, I can't for the life of me remember what the first e-book was that I downloaded ... how weird is that?

So what are your special 'firsts'?

The Great Rosette Robbery and other stories.
My first Kindle book!

You can find out more about me and my books at http://karenbush.jimdo.com/


Anonymous said…
The first things I can remember reading independently were American Spider-Man comics in the '60s. Which made me feel very rebellious and daring, for some reason..(!?)
Susan Price said…
Lovely blog, Karen - and congratulations on publishing your first e-book!
I think the first book I downloaded to my kindle was Jack London's WHITE FANG - because I'd always heard it was good, but somehow never read it. And it blew me away: I was completely mesmerised.
First book I can remember completely flooring me as a child was a rather ponderous retelling of the Greek Myths - the power of the story overcame the old-fashioned prose. I was away with the Gods for weeks. And then I met the Norse Gods... Never been the same since.
julia jones said…
LOVED My Friend Flicka - though i think I read part two first. Thunderbolt?? Flcka's son anyway. Oh the joy of a book token for Christmas and goingto the Ancient House Bookshop in Ipswich for the next in the Pat Smythe Three Jays series ... don't get me started!
Lovely, lovely post! We lived in a little two roomed flat above my grandparents' house and they had 'wonder books' stuffed with fairy stories and extracts from classics, beautifully illustrated. They were passed on to me for a while (then, in the way of family things, they went to cousins and eventually lost) but whenever I come across these stories I'm transported back to their magic - especially The Little Match Girl and The Wild Swans and the Selfish Giant (which still makes me cry) I loved Enid Blyton too - especially those Mountain/Island etc of Adventure books even though I remember thinking Lucy-Ann was a bit wet, even then. But the first thing I can really remember reading independently was... The Beano!
madwippitt said…
You are stirring up some great memories here! I too had an obsession at one point with the Marvel Batman and Superman comics, read Thunderhead after lights out by the light coming from the hall through the glass panel over the top of my bedroom door, was devastated to discover that the Three Jays weren't real, had The Iliad taken out of my hands and replaced with a children's version apparently more suitable for a nine year old, and still treasure some of those Wonder books which my Mum had read as a child and passed on to me ... And of telling relatives that I'd love a book token for Christmas when asked what I wanted and being told 'But it's not really a proper present is it?' (aaaaagh!) For some people it's music, a scent, or a taste that summon memories: for me it's books every time. I could probably tell you exactly where I was when I read each and every book ...
Linda Newbery said…
Karen, Monica Edwards was very important to me too - in fact I attribute to her my early ambition of becoming an author.

Have you come across the Books, Mud, Compost and Horses website?
Worth a look - there is Monica Edwards stuff there, and lots more, and I'm sure Jane Badger would be interested to hear about your books if she doesn't already know about them.
madwippitt said…
I hadn't come across the books and mud blog, Linda - thanks! Although I've happily browsed around Jane Badger's pony books website.
Have you read any of the Monica Edwards reprints? They have lovely biographical notes and pictures about each at the beginnings by her daughter.
I have at least half of those books in your picture... Peter Beagle's "The Last Unicorn" being quite the best unicorn story EVER!
madwippitt said…
You're absolutely right Katherine - in fact The Last Unicorn was another of those books borrowed from the library which I loved so much that I had to buy my very own copy!

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