Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February Firsts: Melody - The First Book I Bought as a Child/Teenager

Today, please welcome Melody, who blogs at Melody's Reading Corner from Singapore!



I couldn't remember the exact time I first started picking up a book (probably when I was in Primary 3), but I could remember very well the first book I received as a gift - Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

Books are considered a rare gift in my family, not that my parents didn't encourage reading but books are considered expensive in those days (well they still are) and most of all, I could always go to libraries for books. To earn more income for the family my mother became a babysitter (or a nanny) to a family with two young children (during those days it was very common for middle-aged housewives to be babysitters. These days, however, is hard to even find a nanny since most would rather employ foreign domestic helpers as not only they could help take care of the children but they could do household chores as well.)

Anyway, the children's mother worked full time in an office and as a child she gave me the impression of a modern woman who is generous and knew how to dress well. And every Christmas she would give my younger sister and I presents. I remember there was one time in which she asked me what I wanted for a Christmas present, and without hesitation I told her I wanted a book. I wish I have a picture of the edition I owned but it was lost during the move. I googled it and the picture below is the edition I used to have.
Black Beauty is a great classic, and now looking back I can understand why this book makes a great gift to children and adults alike. While this book is written in the style of an animal autobiography, it is also very much a story that teaches its readers to be kind, sympathetic, and respectful in general, be it people or animals.




By the time I got into secondary school, I decided to use some of the money I saved to buy books. Nancy Drew books remain my favourites and I bought my first Nancy Drew's -  "The Mystery of the 99 Steps." Imagine the exhilaration I felt for getting my hands on it! My reading horizons have also expanded during that time, since the secondary school library has so much varieties as compared to the primary school's. Barbara Cartland's, the Sweet Dreams series of numerous standalone teen romances (such wonderful memories as I think they are all out of print now) were my favourites too.



It is no surprise I later signed up to be the school librarian (I'd participated in playing volleyball and was a cadet with the school's St. John Ambulance but being a school librarian remains the top.) Looking back, I am glad my passion for reading continues through adulthood. After all, reading is not only a form of communication but also as an escapism; to promote creativity and analysing things from different perspectives. And last of all, reading is fun.


Thanks so much for sharing today, Melody!

Leave a comment for Melody below!

18 comments :

  1. This is a lovely post, Melody! What a nice story about your mother and your gift of BLACK BEAUTY. It's not a book I ever read. I was a mystery reader, even as a girl. Nancy Drew for me. And I didn't realize that Barbara Cartland wrote teen romances. I certainly read enough of her adult books. And, yes, reading is an escape, or so it's always been to me.

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    1. Kay - I was definitely a mystery reader as a girl; and after reading Black Beauty it had touched me in so many ways - the story, and of course the nice lady who bought me the book.

      I wasn't sure if Barbara Cartland wrote teen romances, but I did know she wrote fine historical romances back then and they were available in my school library!

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  2. I have no idea what was the first book i exchanged for money.....I do remember going to the library on a regular basis with my mother (my father worked full time and his main input was to read to us - he has a lovely reading voice).

    As we got older there were two things we were allowed to do during the school breaks: 1) Make our way back from the swimming pool (the swimming guard - incl my cousin - knowing we were serious about swimming so we were amongst the few children allowed to swim during the "adults" swimming hour because we were quite prepared to do "lengths") and 2) make our way to and from both libraries in town (one round the corner from the swimming pool, the other round the corner from my dad's shop)

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    1. Nordie - That was lovely that your father read to you! I remember my father worked all the time, not that I complained since he was the sole bread winner in the family.

      I wish I'd learnt swimming when I was a girl; I was so afraid of the water and didn't believe that one could float, lol.

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  3. Oh, I remember how I loved Black Beauty! And I was a fan of Nancy Drew, too. The library was my main source of books, but I treasured those I got as gifts. Like Kay, I never realized Barbara Cartland wrote teen romances!

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    1. Jenclair - Black Beauty is sure a classic. I'm glad the book is still widely read today.
      As stated in my reply to Kay, I've no idea if she'd wrote any teen romances but I know I read a few of her books from the school library. I wasn't even sure if they are considered as one, and since the school had them I thought it must be fine to read them. ;-p

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  4. Beautiful copy of Black Beauty! And I think it's evident that in most avid readers, it's their parent/s who really encouraged it from the beginning. I love it when you talked about your mother, and the impression that she put on you. And ah, Nancy Drew. I read that also when I was younger only because my sister who was 4 years older than me was obsessed with them, and I had to like whatever she liked of course. I was more of a Babysitter's Club kind of girl at the end of the day.
    So much fun to look back at childhood books, great post :)

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    1. Jillian - Yes, I think parents play an important role in encouraging their children to read. I think many of us grow up with Nancy Drew books. :)

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  5. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing :)

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  6. Love this post, Melody! I share the same fond memories of the Sweet Dreams books. Oh gosh, I loved those. I would love to find one in a used bookstore one day.

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    1. Iliana - Thank you, Iliana. :-) I bought several used Sweet Dreams books at eBay last year; I was so thrilled despite the yellowed pages. Makes them all so vintage isn't it. ;-)

      I hope you're able to find them in a used bookstore. I couldn't find them here.

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  7. A great post Melody and a nice trip down memory lane for you I am sure. I saved some of my childhood favs as well, your last photo is similar to the ones I used to read.

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    1. Naida - Thanks, Naida! I'd a fun time writing this as it brought so much fond memories to me. :)

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  8. Such a sweet story! Thank you for sharing! I think I need to get a copy of Black Beauty for my daughter now. I don't think I have my old copy anymore either.

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    1. Tif - Thanks for reading! I hope your daughter enjoys reading Black Beauty. :)

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  9. I've had Black Beauty for years now, but still haven't read it. It sounds as if I really should get on that.

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    1. Ryan - I hope you'll enjoy it when you get to it! :)

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