I was far from a stellar student as a kid, definitely not a born reader, and despite my teachers' best efforts the classics I was being shown in school weren't doing anything to change that. Dickens left me cold. Hawthorne bored me. Poe and London were ok, but overall literature felt alien, irrelevant, dry fodder for essays on themes and symbolism.
And then I discovered comic books. Spiderman, Batman, X Men, Avengers, Daredevil. Whatever I could get my hands on. Every week I would get my little allowance and go over to the 7-11 and comb through the racks. The fun monthly stories eventually led to the darker and more complex work of people like Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns. Daredevil: Born Again. Batman: Year One) and Alan Moore (Watchmen. Too many other awesome things to name) and from them to short genre fiction in magazines like Twilight Zone. By the time I moved on to writers like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, Frank Herbert and others, I was hooked. I would read anything. Fiction. Non-Fiction. Literary. Genre. Any book. Any time.
I think of those comics now as my gateway drug, the things that gave me the taste for reading and led to this lifelong obsession. Once I understood that reading was entertainment, not work, then I was able to go back and appreciate all those classics that bored me so much as a kid.
I guess I had to love reading before I loved books. If that makes sense.
What do you all think? How do you make a reader? What were your gateway drugs?
Posted by Jeff Hirsch at Wednesday, May 04, 2011
The League of Extraordinary Writers is a group of debut YA authors who write science fiction and dystopian works. The ten of us have works that run the gamut of near-future mind control to far-future space travel, but they do have one thing in common: a future where the Earth we know now is twisted, gone.