As a child I’m pretty sure I could Speed Read fairly well. Not one-eye-reading-each-page-at-the-same-time-book-in-20-minutes Speed Read but I’m sure I was far above what was normal. I applied for a GrownUps library card (six books vs. the childrens limit of 3 a week!) during primary school because no-one wanted to drive me four miles to the library more than once a week, and I’d use up my card, my mothers card and 2 out of the 3 books my brother could have on his card and I’d still be done four days early. I spent most of my time running around in the fields near my house climbing trees and making secret dens so it’s not as though all I did was read.
One day someone gave me the well-meaning advice of “when you read it in your head, say each word to yourself just a bit faster than the speed you would if you were reading out loud” and so I made myself do it that way and so COMPLETELY LOST this ability when I was about eleven. This makes me sad. Up until then I read every single thing available.
Half-term came around once during year 4 and my parents asked if I could borrow a bunch of books from the school library just to keep me going for the week. I vividly remember a table heaped up with books that I couldn’t wait to start. Somewhere along the way there was a bout of miscommunication (as is prone to happen in Primary School politics at the end of term) and I ended up being given one single book out of my book-mountain. I finished it between leaving school at half past three and getting home. I was eight. It was ‘Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator’- far from the top of my list and not that great.
Via the library and the local Car Boot Sale I made it through everything ever written by Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton, then all the ‘Babysitters Club’ and ‘Saddle Club’ books (I’m proud of how little my brain retained of these long, monotonous series) Something about a Horse Sanctuary, all the Animal Ark books, The Mystery Club, Nancy Fucking Drew as my dad would call her, something called the ‘Night World’ series about demons and witches and vampires and the end of the world (that was rather good actually). Something called Deepwater Black that was about spaceships and cloning and the Future. I read a million more books that I can’t even name or think of a single storyline to but I know I would in a second if I saw them again. The best book I ever read was called Invitation To The Game and out of all of those millions of books, I can remember this one perfectly. It deserves it’s very own blog post.
One warm sunny day in the middle of August I found my first Goosebumps book at a Car Boot Sale. It had three stories and once I was done reading them all I was pretty much scared of EVERYTHING but most of all that my neighbours were all actually dead or that my dad, via some freak genetic experiments, had swapped place with a plant in my garden. For anyone paying attention I just RUINED the ending of two books for you. Then I turned ten and they let me into the ‘teenage’ section of the library because by that point I was their only customer and they’d run out of things to let me borrow. I read every single X Files book that they had and another bunch of stuff I don’t remember. Once I’d read my way through everything in there whether I liked it or not; (Sweet Valley High? Anyone?) I moved onto the Adults section and read 2001 a Space Odyessy and all it’s sequels. Then I read something that relied heavily on reformed Heroin addicts as it’s sub-plot. I was still ten.
Then someone decided that it was a good idea to give me Pet Sematary to read.
And that was probably what stopped me.