Thursday, July 14, 2016


by Jackie King

People have asked if there's a specific book that changed my life, and that question always stumps me. Many books have influenced me but what transformed my life was discovering books in general.

I remember the first time that I fell into the pages of a book all by myself. I can still recall the awe of it all. Between my hands I held the promise of a lifetime filled with adventure and pleasure and comfort. I was overcome by the wonder of it all, and, much like Dorothy in The Wonderful   Wizard of Oz, my world turned Technicolor.

My mother had read books to me, and I had loved that. But hearing those stories was limited by Mother having time available, and she was a busy woman.

The ability to read my very own hardcover book was a thrill that I’ll never forget.
I was seven years old and riding home on a school bus filled with high school kids who were Mother’s English students. Being a teacher's kid automatically made me a stationary target. All of the contempt these teens felt for being forced to write complete sentences without using double negatives found its way to me. The short ride to our small house in the country was usually an ordeal. But suddenly I had found a hiding place.

God smiled on me in the third grade when Miss Hinkle, an aging old maid whose life was teaching her students, put a book into my hands and encouraged me to read it as a way to entertain myself.

My earlier experience with reading books had featured the perfect world of Dick, Jane and Spot. While I admired these siblings and their pet, I didn’t have one thing in common with them.
Dick and Jane never got into trouble, and I did. Their parents agreed on most everything. Mine were divorced. Their mother stayed home with them, and mine had to work. While I admired such paragons of virtue, I couldn't identify with them.

In the book I read that day on the bus, the girl telling the story got into all kinds of trouble, and suddenly, magically, I was that girl!

The terrors of the bus didn’t disappear, but I had found a hiding place. Each time after that, when I opened the pages of a book, I found my life filled with excitement. That was the year I read my first mystery, one about the Bobbsey Twins. In another year or two came Nancy Drew. And when I was eighteen I discovered Agatha Christie and I was a goner.


What I'm reading now:

If I’m able to give my readers even an ounce of the pleasure that I have received from other authors, then I will have made Miss Hinkle proud.

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