Over in the book section of Guardian's website, they have a short video of writers for Guardian and Observer reminiscing about the book that first sparked the passion for literature:
This got me to thinking about the book that started my love affair with great literature. I had been reading all of my life, but one of my earliest steps into the world of "literature" happened when I was about 12 or 13. I was spending a week at my grandparent's house, and I rented the 1949 version of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I was immediately captivated by the story, so my grandmother went out and bought me all three of the books involving the March girls.
I'm still not exactly sure what it was about this story that grabbed my attention. Perhaps it was because I saw so many parallels between the story of the March family and my own life. Like the Marchs my family at the time consisted of my parents and four girls, and I often compared each of my sisters and myself to the girls in the story (except we had two Jos and no Beths). I always saw myself as Meg, the oldest child with a sense of responsibility and a desire for the good things in life. My sisters K. and M. were each Jo, wild and untamed yet tender-hearted as well. And my other sister T. was Amy, the artist. There were so many portions of this story that I loved dearly. I smiled when Jo and Laurie had their arguments. I laughed when poor Meg tried to make jam and John brought home a visitor. And I cried as Jo experienced the loneliness of being the last of the sisters at home. The simplicity, the warmth, and the love found inside this book opened my eyes to the way literature can impact your life.
Today, ten years after first reading it, Little Women continues to be one of my favorite books. The poor paperback copy my grandmother bought for me is worn, dog-eared, and slightly torn, but I don't think I would trade it for any other copy. Jut seeing it on the shelf brings back so many delightful memories of the time I spent growing up with the March girls.
If you have a memory of a book that got you started in literature, please feel free to share it in the comments.