Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The One that Started it All

This is my sister and me before she discovered reading
When I was a kid, I didn't like to read. It was hard. I was slow and stumbled a lot on words, even words I knew. I felt embarrassed to read aloud. To this day, I still feel a rush of adrenaline whenever I read in front of adults. I have no problem reading to kids.

In elementary school, I could probably count on my hand the number of books I read for fun. Reading just wasn't my thing.

Until David Eddings.

My older sister was the opposite of me. She loved to read. Once she got good at it, it was all she ever did. I lost my best playmate to reading. I used to hide her books under the bed, so she would play with me. Not that it ever worked.

One summer when I was somewhere between ten and twelve, I was bored, and my sister having read David Eddings' Belgariad Series, told me I should read it, that the story was so cool. But I hated reading, so I refused.

My sister, who was awesome beyond awesome (and still is) wanted to share that story with me so bad that she said she would read it to me. I agreed because despite her ditching me for books, I still idolized her and wanted to spend more time with her.

I have to say, I wasn't very excited, especially when she started reading that horrid prologue. (For those of you who don't understand all the prologue hate, go read the prologue of Pawn of Prophesy, and you will understand).

Every time she finished a chapter, she'd say, "Should I go on." And I'd say, "I don't know, how many pages?" And she'd lie to me saying it was just ten pages when it really was twenty, so I'd agree to one more chapter.

But my sister was a talented reader. She had a real dramatic flare and later took up acting in high school and college. She’d read faster at the exciting parts, and slower at the reflecting parts, had great comedic timing. We would both laugh and laugh at Silk’s witty one liners.

It didn't take long before the magic of David Eddings' story won me over. It was an amazing story. The classic farm boy turns hero, epic fantasy adventure that has been done so many times. There is a reason this trope works so well especially for younger readers, and in my opinion, no one did it better than Eddings.

After a while, I would beg her to read just one more chapter and then another and another, and she'd read until she was hoarse.

She read all five books of the Belgariad to me that summer. Books she had already read before. But it was a story that meant so much to her that she had to share it with me. And even though I was old enough to read the books myself, she read them to me because she knew I wouldn't read them on my own.

My sister and David Eddings gave me an amazing gift that summer. They showed me how books could tell richer stories than movies and TV. Because I wasn't so focused on the words, I could picture the story in my head and see the images and use my imagination.

After that summer, I started reading. I read the Belgariad on my own, then the Mallorean, and later moved on to Terry Brooks and Robert Jordan and kept going.

My mom, who also loves reading, did read to me a lot as a child, but sometimes it takes the right story at the right time to inspire that love, and that story for me was the Belgariad series. I'm so thankful that my sister shared that story with me that one summer.

Thank you, Michelle.

And rest in peace, David Eddings. You wrote one amazing series with characters that to this day I remember vividly and will always love. I wish I had the chance to thank you in person.



  1. Wonderful. It's interesting how we find those special books that really make a difference. I think I mentioned it before, but mine was Dragonsong by Anne McCaffery. I can still remember that rush of getting completely drawn into it.
    Oh, and you have an awesome sister.

  2. Your sister does sound awesome. I'm still trying to get mine to like genre fiction, but it's an uphill battle.

    It's fun to read about everyone's first favorite fantasy novels.

  3. I've added it to my list of things to read. I've been trying to go back and figure out which book was my first fantasy, and I can't do it.

    I keep remembering more, and I'm not sure where they began. Possibly with Half Magic by Edward Eager, which I've loved ever since I can remember.

  4. I still remember lying awake at night and wishing I could make myself dream about A Wrinkle in Time. That was the first series I read where I hated reaching the end of the book because I didn't want it to end.

    I didn't really turn into an avid reader until college, though, when I read all those cheesy bodice-rippers :)

    Great post, MaryAnn. Your sister gave you an amazing gift.

  5. What a nice tribute to your sister. It was lucky that you discovered reading, because if you had never learned to love reading, then you would have never been inspired to write yourself. You owe your sister a lot :) mm


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