Are we talking about children’s novels? I can’t remember what the first adult novel I read was.Or Young Adult.
I can’t remember what the first children’s novel I read was either but I remember that it was an Enid Blyton book. I may have read novels before this but I can’t remember. I think it was one of the Famous Five ones or one of the Five FInd-outers ones. I can’t for the life of me remember which one it was, but I do know that Enid Blyton and her children and the worlds they inhabited consumed me for many many coming years.I re-read a few favourites well into my teen years, each time I needed comforting or was just bored. Her mystery books and her boarding school stories are simply divine. I can’t wait to introduce them to my own children. I have my mother to thank for my time with these enthralling, timeless books.
Till this point, I had read a lot of comic books like Tinkle, I had read a whole lot of Amar Chitra Katha, I regularly read Champak ,Chandamama, etc. I had read a fair number of illustrated short stories for children with those glossy illustrated pages. I devoured the stories in my English textbooks, I had read fairy tales. I had read Aesop’s fables, Akbar and Birbal, Tenali Raman, and all of those other Indian childhood heroes. I also read joke books, fact books, (or books of trivia), and also Childcraft and other Encyclopaedias.
I just cast my mind back and I remember two humongous books of short stories that I hoarded and read in my pre-novel era.
One was a book called the Adventures of Dennis by Victor Dragunsky, translated from Russian. It told the story of a boy Dennis and his friend Misha. I think my mum thought it had something to do with Dennis the Menace when she bought it for me because I loved those comics in the newspaper. It didn’t , but I still loved it. One particular story sticks out to me even now. It was the story of how Dennis hated that his father smoked because cigarettes “have enough nicotine to kill a horse”. His aunt Tamara gifts his father a cigarette holder but his father’s cigarettes are too short to fit in it. His dad asks him to trim the cigarettes and Dennis trims the end with the tobacco and nicotine in it. I can’t remember how this ends though. The weird things one remembers from childhood defy all logic.
Another book that I hoarded was a book of Ukrainian Folk tales, It was a massive brown hardback and I haven’t the faintest idea how i got my hands on it but I read these weird stories again and again.
But novels? Not that I can remember.
Anyway, let us amble back up memory lane to talk about what is actually required, shall we?
I was 9 and I had just returned from summer camp, the staying-over kind, which was for a full 10 days and it was the longest I had ever been away from home.I had had a lot of fun but I was glad to be back home. (I was and still am a bit of a homebug, happiest in my own room in my own bed.) My parents picked me up and took me home and I was looking forward to idling the rest of the summer away. But alas! It was not to be.
My mum told me I had been signed up for swimming lessons till the end of my idyllic summer vacation and I was to leave at 7 in the morning to take them.This was what annoyed me the most, I think. (I loved water and I’d still have the rest of the day after that to chill.) Even as a child, I disliked waking up early almost as much as I hated sleeping early. It’s good to think back and realise that some things never change, even if they are the things that make me a failure at life.
My mum is smart though. She knew what buttons to push on her lazy, nerdy, bookworm daughter to cheer her up. She still does, in fact. She gave me two Enid Blyton books from the new library at which she’d gotten me a membership. Those shut me up and I got down to them immediately. And it was… the start of a new era. The era of Enid Blyton, but also, I think, the era of novels in my life. May it never end! 🙂
Also, since I need to not break the rules of the challenge, I think it was Five Run Away Together. I can’t be sure though.