Readers And Writers: When Did You Fall In Love With Books?

I am so happy to have Priscille Sibley here with us on Women’s Fiction Writers today.  I’ve known Priscille for years.  We were Backspace babies, in a way, cutting our teeth on the forums, sucking in information, learning to share, finding our way.  I read Priscille’s novel when it had a different title, before it went through more edits, before she had an agent and before THE PROMISE OF STARDUST sold to William Morrow.  Priscille’s debut will be published next year (I’ve heard January rumblings, but that’s unofficial, don’t say you heard it from me).  

Please welcome Priscille Sibley to Women’s Fiction Writers. Show her a little WFW love in the comments, would ya? 

Amy xo

When did you fall in love with books?

by Priscille Sibley

I was seven when my grandfather moved in with us. Dan Dan, as we called him, brought only a few things from his old house: a blue chair that went into our living room, an upright piano which he played in a speakeasy during Prohibition – and books. So many books! Beautiful books. There were over a thousand volumes he treasured enough to bring with him. Some were older than he was, a few from the 1800s. As we unloaded the crates, I felt like I’d moved into a library, and the sensation was elevating.

The books he brought were all well above my reading level at the time. They had titles like Les Miserables and Ulysses, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and The Descent of Man. There were old bound National Geographics with maps from exotic parts of the world. He brought with him science and fiction and history. He brought with him his love of books.

His son, in other words my father, was an avid reader, too. When my father was a boy, he suffered from rheumatic fever and he spent an entire year in bed unable to stand the so much as the pressure of a sheet on his legs, missing school but not missing out on his education. He always had a stack of books, mostly ones he borrowed from the library, but books were not a luxury out of reach. They were a necessity and as important as food and clothing.

I grew up believing books were virtually sacred. So when I fell in love, it was no surprise I found a man who feels the same way I do about books. My husband and I have no spare bookshelf space in our house (and we have a load of bookshelves.) Each one is double stacked. And my kids have stuffed bookshelves in their rooms as well.

I think Emily Dickinson said it best: “There is no frigate like a book.” With a book and our imagination we can transport across time and space and into the heart of someone very different from ourselves. Isn’t the possibility of transporting a reader one of the most heady experiences of a writer has?

For me the two most enjoyable parts of writing are the research and the times when the characters come alive in my imagination. Suddenly I’m there with these people who are not real to anyone else but me.

When someone, your first reader, your beta reader, your agent, your editor, when someone else tells you your story swept them up, that you transported them to someplace else – that is an amazing feeling. One person told me she read my entire book in one sitting. Wow, I thought. My little inner world became someone else’s if only for a little while.

You see, that is the power of a book.

Neither my father or grandfather is still alive, but I believe each of them would have been thrilled that my novel will be published. And I am grateful to them for instilling a love of books in me.

So…when did you first fall in love with books?

Priscille Sibley is the author of the upcoming debut novel THE PROMISE OF STARDUST (William Morrow, 2013). THE PROMISE OF STARDUST is a love story about a family torn apart by a medical crisis and the ethical dilemma of keeping a pregnant woman with no chance of recovery on life support for months in an attempt to give her unborn baby a chance.

A few people always know what they want to do when they grow up. Priscille Sibley knew early on she would become a nurse. And a poet. Later, her love of words developed into a passion for storytelling.

Born and raised in Maine, Priscille has paddled down a few wild rivers, done a little rock climbing, and jumped out of airplanes. She currently lives in New Jersey where she works as a neonatal intensive care nurse and shares her life with her wonderful husband, three tall teenaged sons, and a mischievous Wheaton terrier.

You can visit Priscille’s website or follow her on Twitter @MarcilleSibley (no, that’s not a typo).

38 thoughts on “Readers And Writers: When Did You Fall In Love With Books?

  1. I was going to say with great glibness that of course it was LITTLE WOMEN when I was 10, but that would be wrong. It was when I was six and my brother gave me two Little Golden Books for Christmas. They were MINE, that no one else had had first (I was the sixth of six–nothing was EVER new), and I never looked back. Cool question!

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    • There is power in owning books! I was the third child and nothing was new there either, but books don’t have to be. I still have some of my grandfather’s old books. I’ll never give them away–except to my children.

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      • There certainly was joy in those books. It’s wonderful knowing others will experience that joy as well. Wonderful memories!!

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  2. We didn’t have too many books at home, but we treated the library like an extension of our house. I would always come home with more books than my mother thought I could ever finish, and always had to go back sooner than she’d planned.

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  3. Books became a close confidant of mine when they first introduced the ‘I can read books’ to us. So I guess that’s about 6 or 7 years old? I always enjoyed hearing and making up stories but being able to actually read it myself-well it was game on then! (naturally it wasn’t long until I devoured every single Babysitters club book and the likes) lol.

    It wasn’t until I was older (and by older I mean all of 10ish) when I decided to do a book report on a ‘Mary Higgins Clark’ book, much to the amused pride of my teacher who loved that specific book, that I realized somehow along the way my best friend turned into the love of my life. 

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  4. This made me smile . . .

    The very first book I can remember receiving was Black Beauty – my stepmother (who ended up adopting me and my two brothers) bought it for me and Grimm’s Fair Tales for my big brother. I still have both those books – tattered and worn all these years later. I still am fond of Black Beauty and it shows up in my Graces books.

    lovely post.

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  5. I remember my grandmother letting me buy A POKY LITTLE PUPPY little golden book at the grocery store. I think I was sixteen. Kidding. I must’ve been five or six.

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  6. I can’t say I remember exactly when. Books were always a part of my life. From the earliest I can remember reading Dr. Seuss and walking to the library with my grandmother and sister to take out yet another book to read. My mom and grandma were both avid readers. If it wasn’t a book, it was a paper or magazine. One summer during elementary school, I discovered WUTHERING HEIGHTS. I took it out of the library so often that at one point the librarian told me I had to give someone else a turn. LOL! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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  7. I can’t remember not being in love with books. They’ve always been a part of my life, an addiction for which I credit (or blame!) my mother. She took us to the library every week and I got my card as soon as I could write my name. My father also read though not as avidly. There’s a quote about writing that describes reading just as well, something about it not being apart from living but rather a kind of double living. So true.

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  8. Love any conversation around books we learned to love as kids – and generally converations around being in love with books. Like your dad, I had a mom who was born to read, who hid under the stairs at the rural Indiana house where she grew up so her parents wouldn’t stop her from reading to do chores. Books and stories were the one thing I could count on in a life that felt uncertain and difficult, growing up a stutterer. At least I could read – and then later on, write. Thanks Priscille – I can’t wait to see your book on the shelf of my local bookstores.

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  9. Eighth grade, Sister Edward William’s Class, THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton. I loved reading but up until then nothing really stuck with me. Those cast of characters latched onto me and to this day, it is one of my favorite books. Being from the inner-city, on the borderline of the haves and have-nots, I felt their pain. It also made me smile that Robert Frost’s poem, NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY, played a major role. “Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay Gold.” Sigh.

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  10. Pingback: Are you a book snob? « Ranting on the Lolo

  11. I have memories of Little House books. And Beverly Cleary books from my elementary school library. I started reading for pleasure after college when I spent time on the “El” going to and from work in Center City Philadelphia. That’s when I read all the classics I avoided in high school and college.

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  12. How unique that your grandpa had a piano from a speakeasy! Is it still within your family?

    I remember gobbling up all the Dr. Seuss books when I was way younger. I used to walk home from my library with a stack of them teetering up to my chin. Then, as I got older, I devoured all of the Little House books, and Beverly Cleary & Judy Blume. (Amy, we must be in the same age range. 😉 ) It seems like I’ve loved and revered books forever. Such fond memories!

    Priscilla, the premise for your new release is intriguing! I’ll be looking forward to reading it.

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  13. Like you, it was my paternal grandfather who instilled in me a love of books and storytelling. Our favorites, which he read to me until I was able to read them back to him, were The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe and Black Beauty. He loved to make up stories and, late at night when I was very young and refused to go to sleep, he would sit on the edge of my bed and tell me story after story. The problem was, the stories were so engrossing, I still wouldn’t go to sleep. Thanks for shaking those memories loose for me.

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  14. I have loved books and the library as long as I can remember. In the school library, a child’s rapt expression during story time was magical. My toy grandchildren toy closet contains as many books as toys and games; and the books are often the first choice. A book makes me an armchair traveler.
    I look forward to adding your book to my shelf (hope it will be an e-book as I’m at a downsizing stage of life!).

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  15. I can’t remember not knowing how to read. I was reading long before I started school (I’d just turned five but Dad fibbed about my age so I could go to school).Mom says I started reading at age three – pointing to words and asking what they said. And it’s been a lifelong love affair. I’ve self published a few books (The Long Way Home, on smashwords, Before The Road Came, The Lively Ghost of Howe Sound) had books published by ‘regular’ publishers (including With A Silent Companion, at Red Deer Press) and been commissioned to write a book (The North West Company). My next book (On The Rim) will be published by Dundurn, in Toronto, scheduled to be released this fall. It’s pure fiction and was great fun to write.

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  16. I loved the Beverly Gray novels and devoured them when I could find them. Then came Nancy Drew series. Now I prefer writing stories of my own so I recognize the spirit and heart you put into this book of your own.

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