The First Book into One’s Heart

From The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:

Once, in my father’s bookshop I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into [their] heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later–no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget–we will return.

I am feverishly trying to finish The Shadow of the Wind in time for my book group tomorrow. My reading has slowed considerably, as my time on Facebook playing Lexulous has risen. Coincidence? I think not. But at least both are about love of words and learning.

I think what the quote implies is that there is some book that is each person’s first love, with that same devastating impact, no matter how many others come later. If I _had_ to pick _one_ (yanno–gun to the head) I think it would have to be Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion, thankfully back in print after being MIA for many years. Hardly high lit, but the Trixie Belden series was so influential that it’s echoed here in the blog’s title and ethos decades later.

NB: I did not pick a fancy-schmancy award winning book, or geek-cred choice. I went back as far as I can remember, and picked one. Book-snobby comments about Gatsby, long lists, claims of how you fell in love when you started to read at age two, or some such will be disbelieved and mocked appropriately.

6 Responses to “The First Book into One’s Heart”

  1. gretchen Says:

    What a good post, and what a great way to consider a lifetime of books. I think I have a bunch of answers, though. One is certainly Little Women, one of the first big books I read and one that was deeply, profoundly influential on me. And another was Sooner or Later, a terrible 1970s teen romance novel that was turned into a movie, which I didn’t see until very recently. But I think I remember every detail.

    Did Trixie end up with Jim at the end? I always hoped that she would.

  2. girldetective Says:

    Oh, rats, Little Women might have been a love, pre-Trixie. I’ve noted here before, though, that I never actually really read Little Women till a few years ago. My childhood copy was an abridged one. Also, I remember loving the illustrations. When I looked at them again as an adult, they totally sucked. There are hints online that my favorite illustrator, the late Trina Schart Hyman illustrated an edition of LW, but I haven’t been able to track down an actual copy.

    I don’t think Trixie and Jim ever ended, as the series just went on till it didn’t without a proper ending But they were dating and kissing in the later books, and he gave her his ID bracelet!

    Sooner or Later! Read it! Owned it! Saw it! There was a sequel! The movie starred Rex Smith. And had a Top 40 song, “You Take My Breath Away” The girl was played by Denise somebody and she was on the cover of the book, perhaps looking over her shoulder? It was a typical beginning sex book that got passed around among my friends, and I can’t remember how old we were, but not very, I bet. (La, la, la, off to Google…) Eleven. Thirty years ago. OMG!!! I can’t believe how many of those details I got right! My only miss–the over the shoulder book cover was for Waiting Games, the sequel. Sheesh. Gretchen, you clearly have opened a door to a dusty room in my mind. Dear goodness, what else is lurking in there?
    Sooner or Later, the tv movie
    Sooner or Later, the Rex Smith LP (customers also buy Shaun Cassidy’s Greatest Hits; own it still!)
    Sooner or Later, the book.

  3. Steph Says:

    Embarrassingly enough, my first deep love books were the Babysitter Club series by Ann M. Martin. My dad gave me my first one (# 7 in the series, Claudia and Mean Janine) after I finished some hardcover book I no longer remember (something about a bicycle) that I had taken out of the library. I was so obsessed with those books, as were my friends - I watch the short-lived show, as well as owned the game (which I remember playing at sleepovers)… and then my reading progressed so that I could read a whole book in a single day, and I realized that the format of each book was always the same, and suddenly I was over them. I don’t even have those books anymore, as I recall selling them for a buck a piece at one of my family’s garage sales years ago. They certainly weren’t highbrow reading, but man did I love them.

  4. Kate Says:

    I think it’s gotta be Little House in the Big Woods. With the Garth Williams illustrations. There are better books, and books I’ve since enjoyed more since, but as far as my faulty memory works, this is the first one I REMEMBER reading by myself. It’s the first time I remember realizing, “ahhh, THIS is what happens if you can read to yourself. You can read and read and read and never stop or wait for someone to read to you.” It’s the book that started me reading, and reading obsessively.

    And, at this point, I still read the series once every year or so when I’ve feeling overwhelmed and need something to read that requires no effort. I have vast tracks of the books memorized almost word for word.

  5. Jack Vinson Says:

    It is hard to remember. I recall Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Fin as favorites toward the end of elementary school. Then you have Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. And in pre-teen years, Tolkien and the Hobbit.

  6. Sherry Says:

    Awww, I loved Trixie and Honey and Jim and Brian and Mark, too. So adventurous, and poor/middle class like me. At least Trixie was.

    The first book/series I remember falling in love with, though, was Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr by Maj Lindeman. I wrote about these books here.