When Reading Changed My Life

author 100 x 100What day, you ask. V-day? Anniversary? Birth of children? The day I sold my first story?

Way back in eighth grade, my English teacher had given us the assignment to read a book and present an oral review.

At those words, my insides had twisted into a hard knot. I was terribly shy and hated speaking in front of a large group. (Fortunately, I grew out of this.) And it had to be a book of an adult level. That stumped me because I hadn’t a clue about leaping to adult level.

I was fortunate to get the Scholastic newsletter. I’d poured over its pages, looking for an affordable and likeable book. I’d settled on one about a family with twelve kids, set in a time before me–Cheaper by the Dozen. The book was a fast read and I was enthralled with the family antics. So happily, I’d prepared my report and managed to squeak through my presentation.

To my horror, the teacher reprimanded me in front of the class: “You are capable of reading a higher level book than that.”

Floored, I’d sunk into my chair and prayed someone would throw dirt over me. When recovered, I asked my classmate, who’d received praise for her book, what was the name of the one she’d discussed? What she told me changed my reading for life.

Rebecca. Aah, you say. That one, the one by Daphne du Maurier. Yep. rebecca

Here’s the clincher: I’d never heard of it. But what I decided was if my friend could read it, so could I.

I don’t remember much about what I’d thought when reading Rebecca for the first time. What I do remember is how it impacted me. And if this book was this cool, others were too, and I wanted to read them all. That’s when everything changed. I discovered Mary Stewart, Agatha Christie, Emilie Loring, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney.

At Half Price Books, I picked up a tome about mystery authors with the premise being if you liked one particular author, you might want to try this one. That worked for me. Through the various recommendations I found Dick Francis. I thought who is this guy and why would he be recommended a couple of times? So I read his short bio and decided to give him a try. I went to my nearest Half Price store and bought several. I devoured them like chocolate. And bought more.

When I told my hubby about my fascination with these books, he asked me “why?” That’s when I finally admitted, “I wish I could write like him.” It took me a lot of years to try. And now, look at what I’ve done. Squee.

So even though I thought unmentionable things about my eighth grade English teacher at that time, she did me a very big favor. Rebecca.

Is there one particular book which changed your life? I bet there is. Let’s chat about it.


TemporarilyEmployed cover tiny very tiny┬áTemporarily Employed is my romantic comedy mystery about an unemployed gal who takes temporary jobs until the one she really desires comes along. But when she temps at Buy Right Insurance Company, she’s replacing a woman who was murdered. Find TE at: Amazon