Literary First Love – B.A. Shapiro

Today’s post by this month’s featured author, B.A. Shapiro | @BA_Shapiro

B.A. Shapiro

As early as first grade, my teachers began complaining that I was an underachiever. There was no denying this, but what they didn’t know was that I was an overachiever in one area: reading — just not the reading assigned in school. Our family went to the library every Saturday morning, and I took out many more books than the skeptical librarians believed such a young child could read in a week. But I did, returning the following Saturday for another batch. My mother says this is what kept her from despairing for my academic future.

I loved being read to, and I loved reading books by myself. My best friend Linda and I used to spend afternoons stretched out on the two twin beds in her room, reading side-by-side. And I’m not just talking rainy afternoons. While the other kids in the neighborhood romped around outside, Linda and I read in compatible silence. They thought we were boring, we thought we were in heaven.

But I didn’t know anything about heaven until I picked up Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. I can still see the book: thick and substantial, rough-edged pages, silvery-blue with a wide binding, two columns running down each page. I must have been about ten at the time, and I read it through in three days. As soon as I finished, I turned back to page one and did it all over again.

I’d never been so captivated, so grabbed and thrust into a world I knew little about, missing, as any ten-year-old would, some of the story’s less endearing qualities. I believed I was there, that all the characters were real, some my friends and others no so much, that their disasters and triumphs were mine. And I was completely taken with the idea that Mitchell had just sat down and conjured it all up. What an amazing and wonderful thing to be able to do. I decided then that when I grew up I would be a novelist — and Scarlett O’Hara.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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2 Responses to Literary First Love – B.A. Shapiro

  1. Janie Dempsey Watts January 11, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    What a wonderful discussion of “falling in love” with reading, and characters. Thanks for sharing your story.

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