I started reading books very early, partially due to the fact that I had an elder sister who used to read a lot, and with a gap of only 1 year and 10 months, I was constantly trying to ape her, or do the exact opposite! My mother too used to read and I guess that could have contributed to this insatiable desire for reading. Of course I cannot deny the influence my school had on my reading habits. Starting with Kitty and Rover in LKG, Sishya school encouraged us (my sis and I), to read.
I still remember our library teacher,very strict, who used to get very annoyed if she saw us folding the corner of our books to keep the page! She would keep a track of who was reading which book and encouraged to read beyond our age if she saw fit. And I was Fit!!
No comics in our school library( at least I don't remember seeing them), only loads and loads of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and I forget the author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe! I even remember my library teacher's name,Mrs.Unnikrishnan, she was diminutive in size but compensated with her glowering STARE. I now realize that it was a facade, otherwise we would never have taken her seriously, she was so small and cute!
There were tremendous phases in my reading. As sis did I followed, if not openly, Iwould do it surreptitiously. Enid Blyton was followed by, Nancy Drew, my favorite was Moonstone castle mystery. Then Hardy Boys, followed by Agatha Christy. In between you could see me with some Three Investigators (the old version was terrific, I never liked the later versions). Later, much later I started with PG Wodehouse.
Till now all pretty decent! Here comes the juicy parts. The Mills and Boon phase (cannot deny I was addicted at one point!). Its unbelievable, but it was my father who bought us our first Mills and Boon,(I even remember the name of this book,The Darling Jade!). Apparently he had picked it up in an airport lounge and just gave it to my sis on returning. We were hooked! He did not realize the consequence of his actions, I'm sure it was no big deal for him too.
We were members of this fungus ridden, ancient library called Venkateswara, and holidays saw us peddaling down to get some books.
I was about 12/13 years when I started with Mills and Boon. I used to read it on the sly, initially. I remember once I crept with the book upstairs, to our guest room, which was a cubby hole, with a bed, a mirror and thats all! I was reading with the door open so that if I heard anyone coming up the stairs, I could quickly hide the book. Well I didn't cater for being totally engrossed in the book, that I did not hear my sis coming up. When I saw her at the door, I just threw the book and ran from the room like a scared rabbit! Hilarious and even now I have a good laugh thinking of it.
Mills and Boon was followed by Temptations, very steamy I can tell you.This went on till college, and I know my mother was at her wits end to put a stop to it. She even threw these books from the top of our terrace, but that did not stop me!
I must grant that my parents had infinite patience and trust in us, as that phase too passed and we did not come out of it worse for wear. Probably one thing I can say is, that it has considerably infuenced my views on what is romance and the kind of romantic behaviour I expect from my husband( unrealistic you could say, especially if you knew my husband!!)
Now when I see my daughter going through a Tinkle and Suppandi phase, I recall my own Target phase. In fact it was a discussion on her liking for comics, and whether comics will inculcate good reading habits, that triggered off these thoughts on my blog.
Like me, I'm sure she will, explore, investigate and experiment with all kinds of books before she finds her likes and dislikes. I'm not so sure I can or will be as understanding and patient as my parents in this regard!!!