General Question

mcbealer's avatar

First book you couldn't put down?

Asked by mcbealer (10229points) March 1st, 2009 from iPhone

This question was inspired by MrMeltedCrayon on a thread talking about the book Siddhartha: Which book do you remember reading cover to cover, because you couldn’t put it down? Also, if you would – please tell us how old you were at the time and also if you have gone on to reread the book later in life.

Mine was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert C. O’Brien when I was in the 5th grade. I have reread it once since then, and somehow still have that same copy in my library.

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86 Answers

tb1570's avatar

“Where the Wild Things Are.” Three years old. Still love it.

gailcalled's avatar

Probably the first book I ever read. Can’t remember name.

sdeutsch's avatar

Skipping over all the Dr. Seuss and Berenstain Bears books, which I always read all in one sitting, I’d have to say Ender’s Game – I was probably 11 or 12 the first time I read it (I’ve read it at least a dozen time since), and it’s the first one I really remember not being able to put down. There were probably others before that, but that’s the one that sticks in my memory…

SuperMouse's avatar

Ordinary People by Judith Guest. I was probably 15 years old, I found an abridged copy in one of my grandmother’s Readers Digest condensed books, read it in a couple of hours then ran to the bookstore to get a full copy. It was the first book ever to make me cry – man I loved that book. I wonder how it would hold up now.

ladytmerie's avatar

For me it was third grade The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and also The Hobbit. They are both to this day still my favorites and I have read each entire series several times in the last 29 years since.

Sakata's avatar

The Long Hard Road Out of Hell by Marilyn Manson & Neil Strauss. It’s MM’s autobiography and VERY well written. I was 19–20 when I read it.

As far as rereading it, no. I lost it years ago which pisses me off because it was an autographed copy.

BronxLens's avatar

Had to be one of the books I read in high school or college, but which, hard to tell. I recall “The Last of the Breed” by Louis L’Amour among them.

gailcalled's avatar

After the Raggedy Ann series, I loved Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web.

Sorceren's avatar

Probably my first library book, at 6, and it held all the charm of novelty: The print was bigger, I could hold it in my hands while I read it, and it was only an inch and half or two thick: The Bobbsey Twins at Whitesail Harbor.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle. Age 11 or so. Earth-shattering.
Since adulthood:

At 12 the bookmobile’s librarian correctly judged my taste and put The Corinthian into my unsuspecting hands. Many of Georgette Heyer’s 50 books I still reread about every year or so; I collect them. They may no longer thrill me as much as they first did, or as the following still do once a decade or so, but I find “an abiding delight,” to quote Dorothy Sayers, and great comfort both in watching Georgette’s wonderfully drawn characters inevitably act out their personalities and in watching her wield the language like a rapier.

Shibumi, by Trevanian. I’ve probably lent (given) five copies of it away.

Shogun, by James Clavell. (Did any of your friends go through a “Shogunning” period?)

Rules of Prey, by John Sandford.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.

Ride With Me, Maria Montana, by Ivan Doig.

Ask me again in a month or so!

Bri_L's avatar

The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe

buster's avatar

Morris the Moose was the first book I read. That moose cracked me up. After that I read the whole original Hardy Boy’s series.

Bri_L's avatar

@buster I loved the Hardy Boy’s series. I am a twin and for some reason we thought that made us especially equipped to play Hardy Boy’s

mangeons's avatar

Well, I finished it last night, it’s probably my FAVORITE BOOK EVER as of now, but I couldn’t have read it cover to cover, I have school and such too! But I read it rather quickly, with every spare moment, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. One of the biggest, most interesting, attention grabbing book I have ever read. It’s my favorite book as of now, whereas it used to be, but is now a second, The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, a great book as well. :)

purephase's avatar

I was in elementary school when I read “The Figure In The Shadows” by John Bellairs. Illustrated by Mercer Mayer. It was about this overweight shy kid who lived with his uncle. He finds an amulet that gives him luck, but with the good also comes the bad. his personality changes for the worse and he begins seeing a figure that resembles death. Very suspenseful and very engrossing for me at that time. It was part of a trilogy with the main characters.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline series. I was 2 or 3.

Grisson's avatar

I was given a book of fairy tales when I was 5. The illustrations were amazing. I still have it somewhere, I let my kids read it, though they were not as impressed with it. That may be because it was pretty ratty looking by then, the spine is torn.

forestGeek's avatar

Catcher in the Rye ro sure. Think I was 17 when I read it.

galileogirl's avatar

Hawaii by James Michenor, I was 12. This isn’t the kind of book you can read straight through because of it’s length but I was reading it every spare moment, including by the nightlight after bedtime. It had me from the description of the volcanic formation of the islands to the drama of 20th century miscegenation.

essieness's avatar

Man, it’s hard to remember way back when, but probably Bridge to Terabithia.

Jack79's avatar

The Alchemist. I read it in the army. I was supposed to have duty until 2am, then wake up the next guy to take over. Ended up doing his shift and the one after that, kept reading till I finished the book around 6.30am. It made at least two other soldiers happy :) and several terrorists who came in while I was reading and stole all the nukes I was guarding…

SuperMouse's avatar

@Jack79 The Alchemist had that same effect on me.

timeand_distance's avatar

I read Go Ask Alice cover to cover probably more than 12 times before I even got to middle school.

Sucks it was a sham, but I still think it’s a pretty good book. Doesn’t portray the drug highs accurately, but the message is still a good one.

Blondesjon's avatar

@ladytmerieThe Hobbit was my first as well.

@mangeonsThe House of the Scorpion was fantastic. One of my boys brought it home from school when I had nothing new to read. I cracked it open out of curiosity and couldn’t put it down.

I would also like to mention that the first “adult” novel I read was Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I was 10 years old and fell in love with not only the content but the style. I don’t limit myself in my choice of books but that first King novel made me a lifelong fan. Call him a hack, say that his forays into other media have sucked (they have), or ridicule his complete disregard of grammar in his writing, you still have to admit he can tell a helluva story.

Darwin's avatar

According to my mother it was “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which was Dr. Seuss’s first ever book, but I think it was “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,” by Virginia Lee Burton.

After that it was almost any book I could get my hands on, including the entire Nancy Drew series, anything written by or about Jacques Cousteau, anything written about ancient Egypt or Troy, anything written by Marguerite Henry (“Misty of Chincoteague” and so on), anything by Arthur Ransome (as in “Swallows and Amazons”) and every single mystery book in the school library when I was in 3rd and 4th grade.

I used to get in trouble almost every single night for reading under my covers with a flashlight.

The first adult book I read (and one I couldn’t put down) was Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man.” I was in 5th grade. I didn’t get to Tolkien until I was 12, when I was allowed to pick out any book in a bookstore for my birthday, and I chose “The Hobbit.”

Blondesjon's avatar

@Darwin…I read The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series as well. does anyone remember the tv series I also read a series called The Happy Hollisters. It was a mystery series as well but it centered around a family of amateur sleuths.

You also reminded me that at one time I couldn’t get enough mythology. I focused primarily on Roman, Greek, and Native American but you have me curious about Egyptian. Thanks for bringing back some very fond childhood memories with your answer.

Darwin's avatar

@Blondesjon – I, too, read The Happy Hollisters and The Hardy Boys (yes, I do remember the TV series), as well as parts of many other series. These included anywhere from 3 to 10 or so volumes of The X Bar X Boys, Mark Tidd (aka Marcus Aurelius Fortunatus Tidd), The Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, The Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, Encyclopedia Brown, and Cherry Ames (an intrepid nurse who solves mysteries while caring for patients).

I was and still am a book junkie as well as a very fast reader. A typical Nancy Drew mystery would take me about 20 minutes to read if I got to sit in one spot without being interrupted. They also didn’t cost much – about $2 each for hardcovers, so I could afford to buy them with my birthday and Christmas money.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Darwin…You are the first person I have ever talked to that doesn’t give me a blank stare when I bring up The Happy Hollisters. I do have to admit that besides Encyclopedia Brown and The Bobsey Twins I am not familiar with the other series you mentioned. Still, it’s nice to talk to somebody who reads for enjoyment.

i know too many people that groan if they have to read anything. i’ve actually been asked “gawd, you fuckin’ read?”

Jeruba's avatar

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. I was 8 or 9 and already a committed reader. That’s the first book I remember being so absorbed in that it was as real as my own life and twice as interesting. In all these years, I’ve never reread it, and yet many of the scenes and the emotions they evoked are still clear in my mind. I think that was the first book that was an emotional experience for me and not just a what-happened-next story.

Darwin's avatar

@Blondesjon – I think there is a higher proportion of readers on Fluther than in the real world. I was amazed at how many subscribers to the New Yorker showed up on a question about what magazines folks read. Here in the real world I know exactly one person outside of my immediate family who reads it.

BTW, the other team parents involved in the various athletic undertakings of my children refer to me as “You know, the one that reads.

sdeutsch's avatar

@Sorceren I had totally forgotten about A Wrinkle in Time – that’s probably the very first one that I couldn’t put down, followed by A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which is still my favorite book to this day (I never really liked A Wind in the Door – not sure why…). I haven’t picked up that series in years, though – I think it’s time for another read!

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

The Encyclopedia of Glue and Adhesives by A. Sticky Messenger.

kevinhardy's avatar

the first 3 dune boooks br frank herbert

then hellbound heart by clive barker

Blondesjon's avatar

@kevinhardy…The whole Dune series was phenomenal! I always wanted to try the spice.

the movie was an atrocity

mangeons's avatar

To my embarrasment, I used to be obsessed with The Hardy Boys and Hank the Cowdog books. I thought Nancy Drew was horrific, along with all those other “girl” books. I thought they were petty and unrealistic. I prefer science fiction and horror. :)

augustlan's avatar

The first book(s) I ever loved with all my heart was Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. I first read the stories when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, and re-read them often, all through my teenage years. I wish I still had those books. :(

EmpressPixie's avatar

I Hear A Noise (picture book). I took it everywhere and memorized it and loved it. But the first book I read literally to bits was Ella Enchanted in like sixth grade or something. I just really loved it—read it until it fell apart in my hands. Pages falling out. My sister got one of those fake book boxes made of wood and painted it to look like my original copy of EE in memory. (My second copy—of course there was a second copy—had a different cover. Slightly.)

jsc3791's avatar

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

It was amazing to me how he could capture the female perspective so perfectly, being a male. I read it for the 1st time when I was 15 or 16, again when I was 20 and again at 25. Every time I read it I get something else out of it.

Looking forward to reading it again in the future!

galileogirl's avatar

For those of you who liked the Dune books, have you read Asimov’s Foundation books. They have the same kind of scope but they don’t have the same religiosity. The look more at intelligence/knowledge as the center of everything.

Blondesjon's avatar

@galileogirl…Isn’t religiosity (beautiful word) the very foundation of fiction, science or otherwise?

aprilsimnel's avatar

The other book as a wee gel that I read again and again and AGAIN: Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook EVER!

The first book I read repeatedly when I was a little older was the Stories to Read with the Lights On compilation “edited” by Alfred Hitchcock.

Trance24's avatar

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” was a real good one could not put it down.

galileogirl's avatar

While I really like the Dune books, especially the political and sociological themes, sometimes when it went into the Messiah stuff it was harder to stick with it…just a personal preference. I liked Dune but liked Foundation better.

augustlan's avatar

@aprilsimnel I loved the Alfred Hitchcock compilations! I still have Stories That Scared Even Me, from when I was about 12 years old. Complete with stickers and my ‘signature practicing’ all over the end papers. :-)

I still read it every now and again, and have turned my daughters on to it.

Blondesjon's avatar

@galileogirl…I guess I’ve shied away from the Asimov because I find his style of writing very similar to Ray Bradbury’s. a little stiff

I’m more of a Heinlen guy.

mangeons's avatar

I loved Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook EVER! We still have it. :)

kevinhardy's avatar

alan moore graphic novels, great stuff

tabbycat's avatar

‘Alice in Wonderland’ or ‘Stuart Little.’ I didn’t discover ‘Charlotte’s Web’ until I was about nine. I loved that, too.

fundevogel's avatar

I don’t remember what the first book I couldn’t put down was. It was probably a picture book so it wouldn’t have exactly been a huge time commitment. But the first book I read over and over (and one of the only) was the Dun Cow

It was also the first book to scare the shit out of me, actually I don’t think another book has ever scared me as much as that one. Of course I was ten and a bit easier to scare then.

mcbealer's avatar

@Bri_L ~ The Chronicles of Narnia are fantastic!
@purephase ~ Mercer Meyer is one of my all-time fave illustrators! It’s amazing how beautifully, especially when one is a child, stories are brought to life by the illustrator
@forestGeek ~ this remains a classic I’ve never delved into—but have heard many good things about. A definite next read.
@galileogirl ~ Michenor visited my elementary school when I was in the fifth grade! I still remember that, he was so down to earth. He gave us 2 pieces of advice: go to Swarthmore College (his alma mater) and how traveling the world was one of the best educations anyone could ever hope for.
@essieness ~ big lurve for Bridge to Terabithia, which is the first book I remember reading and crying for days over. After that I couldn’t read another book for a long time! Then I dedicated myself to reading books off the Newbery Medal award list.
@jsc3791 ~ I loved She’s Come Undone. Wally Lamb is indeed very gifted! Have you read any of his other books? His poetry is very moving, as is Couldn’t Keep it to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters, a collection of poems written by female prisoners. I also really liked his book I Know This Much is True. I still haven’t read his most recent book, The Hour I First Believed, but it’s on my list.
@tabbycat ~ big tears from Charlotte’s Web, but yes, it is one of the most endearing stories from my childhood, and a soothing agent now as an adult when I come across a spider!! My copy of Alice in Wonderland was illustrated by John Tenniel, is very treasured, and still in my library. I used to spend hours marveled by those drawings!

tb1570's avatar

@mcbealer So, did you go to Swarthmore?

mcbealer's avatar

@tb1570 ~ ha ha, no! but I’m doing my best to travel as much as possible :)

tb1570's avatar

@mcbealer Yeah, traveling in, living in, experiencing other cultures is where it’s at.

glassglitterandbeads's avatar

Are you there God, it’s me Margaret.

jonsblond's avatar

@glassglitterandbeads Thank you for reminding me of my first book I could never put down. All I could think of was the Monster at the end of this Book.

mcbealer's avatar

@jonsblond ~ Grover is way awesome

Bri_L's avatar

@jonsblond – that book forever changed the way I looked at the world because Grover not only talked to you the reader but appeared to physically interact with the book. It affected how I treated every art project I ever did. Mine was always the “different” one.

Jeruba's avatar

What’s Grover? Is that the title?

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Jeruba – The Monster at the end of the book in Sesame Street’s The Monster at the End of This Book is cute, furry, lovable muppet Grover..

Gosh, that’s a blast from the past! When did that book come out, 1973 or something?

jonsblond's avatar

@aprilsimnel I’ve seen conflicting dates, the earliest was 1971. I remember it being one of the first books that I really enjoyed as a child, for the same reasons Bri_L listed.

janbb's avatar

@jonsblond and blondsjon Love the new look. Ooooo Peter!

I loved reading The Monster at the End of This Book to my kids. Also, Where the Wild Things Are.

I’ve been reading so much for so long that it’s hard to remember firsts. Two of my favorite “read it myself” books were Little Women and Edward Eager’s Half Magic. I read Little Women a couple of times a year through most of my childhood. @Jeruba I have reread and even taught Little Women recently and it holds up remarkably well. I’m still mad that Amy got Laurie!

jonsblond's avatar

@janbb Thanks! :)
The Monster at the End of This Book can never be read only once in a sitting. It’s always “read it one more time mommy, please!?!”.

ajl's avatar

Little House on the Prairie and the rest of that series, age 5.

Blondesjon's avatar

The one my father stapled to my hands. Thanks a lot Dad, to this day I can’t collate copy for shit.

eaglei20200's avatar

Stairway to Danger, a Rick Brant Science Adventure by John Blaine (pseud.). Boy, was it good. And then a couple of years later I found my cousin’s copy of Peyton Place. It was better!

And then I discovered actual literature.

freerangemonkey's avatar

Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

freerangemonkey's avatar

Strike that, I just remembered that it was Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Mostly because I loved the computer game I had for it when I was about 8.

As a young adult, it was definitely Fountainhead around aged 15.

jenandcolin's avatar

Anything by Margaret Atwood…

Bouncy's avatar

“One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” Age six.

Darwin's avatar

The one with the Superglue spilled on the cover.

gailcalled's avatar

The A A Milne books about Pooh, Piglet and the gang (and the poetry in Now We are Six.) I was about six also at the time. I felt like Newton having discovered gravity when I was able to read by myself. I still am amazed at looking at these particular black spots and knowing what they mean.

I have glanced at Arabic, Sanscrit, Cyrillic alphabets and feel the same sense of mystery. However, I did learn the Hebrew alphabet in Sunday School and enjoy being able to follow along with the Rabbi, although I don’t know what anything means. (I also learned to read Greek, badly.)

Blondesjon's avatar

@gailcalled . . . Omat tunteet ovat loukkaantunut teidän laiminlyönnistä.

gailcalled's avatar

@Blondesjon: Kuinka paljon voi yksi nainen tehdä, Jumalan tähde

janbb's avatar

It’s all Greek to me.

gailcalled's avatar



evegrimm's avatar

Although I’m sure there were many books before this, the first book I remember clearly as “un-putdownable” was Philip Pullman’s Clockwork. (I was in third grade, and around 8 years old at the time.)

I stole a friend’s copy (iirc, it had just come in with book orders) and read it in a few class periods (maybe 3 hours? if that); I had to read it super-fast because she kept bugging me to give it back. :D

After that, I was hooked on Pullman…at least, his Victorian thrillers and the HDM series.


Roger Caron’s “Go-Boy! Memories of a Life Behind Bars”

NicoleSochacki's avatar

Anthem by Ayn Rand in 7th grade. When I first realized, felt, thought about, respected, loved the power of words.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

I read so many books…...when I was growing up…..I can’t remember them all. My favorite book (as I recall) when I was around 7 or 8 was Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones. Another favorite that I remember devouring (and became a favorite also) was “Little Witch” by Anna Bennett…it was a very obscure little book (or so I thought) until scads of other women came out of the woodwork thanks to the internet to echo their childhood love of this little story! I also loved, loved, loved Little Women, Jo’s Boys, Eight Cousins.

My favorite young adult novel (which I could not put down and read and re-read) was The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (which won the Newbery Award). It was a story of a young woman accused of witchcraft in Salem. It still is a really good book.

For lighter fare——I read all the “Happy Hollisters” a family that was as far removed from my family as humanly possible. But I thank them for allowing me to escape through their adventures.

Our school was so poor that we did not have a library (neither did our town). So, I read whatever I could get my hands on- and later, when the bookmobile finally came to our school——well, I was a goner. I still buy more books than I should. That’s not possible. I take that back. :)

emeraldisles's avatar

The Hunger Games

augustlan's avatar

@emeraldisles Those were great books. :)

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

The Cave of Time. A choose your own adventure book.

janbb's avatar

Oh Gail! Oh Auggie!!

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