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Topic: Who hooked you?

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Subject: Who hooked you?
Date Posted: 5/19/2012 6:52 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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Bonnie and Shelley are talking in the May What are you reading? thread about Eleanor of Aquitaine, and how reading about her hooked them into loving HF.  That got me thinking: who hooked me?  I've been reading since I was four, and believe me, that's a loooong time.  I'm trying to remember what HF book really got to me.  

While I stir the ole memory cells, let me ask all of you:  what book/character really hooked you on HF?

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 7:20 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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It was a movie I saw in the 60's, called the Warlord with Charleston Heston.

But authors that hooked me were , Roberta Gellis' Bond of Blood, also Margaret Mtchell's, Gone With the Wind.

Last Edited on: 5/20/12 3:57 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/19/2012 7:23 AM ET
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I am new to reading.  I mean, I've always read newspapers and had lots of magazines, and any books I read up until this point were only of one topic-- frugality (Tightwad Gazette) and get out of debt- and make your pennies scream kind of books.    But I didn't start reading or really reading like you guys dosmiley until a year and a half ago.


The first book I read hooked me onto historical fiction, and that was The Secret Wife of King George IV, by Diane Haeger.  Then shortly after that, I read Outlander.   Then I was hopelessly hooked!  

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 5/19/2012 7:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
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My 11th grade History teacher loved historical fiction and had us read several books, Taylor Caldwell's  Captains and Kings  and Jame Michner's Centenial. Both hooked me in and I have never stopped reading HF, although there was a long stretch that read a lot of fantasy.



Date Posted: 5/19/2012 7:39 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
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I've always been a reader, but for many years I was addicted to true crime. Then I started branching out by clearing out some old MMPBs I had buried, one of which was Born of the Sun by Joan Wolf. I never looked back, and I can't see myself ever reaching for contemporaries again. History is just so darned interesting. If I'm in the mood for brain candy I just pick up a historical romance.

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2009
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Been a reader forever-seriously.  The worst grounding my parents could give me was taking my books awaycrying....  Thought I was a "straight" romance reader-until I came here and realized I've been reading alot of HF for decades-Jean Plaidy, Roberta Gellis, John Jakes.  Several of the authors that I knew for years as romance authors now write HF-Susan King, Jeanne Westin and others-so that helped as well. 

Time period?  My favorite is the Tudors-has been for years.....

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 9:59 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
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I really never thought of them as HF - just books I liked to read: Hawaii by Michener; Centennial (read it twice); (Deb B.'s favorite) winkWar and Peace. These are the first ones that I remember reading and would say that they "hooked" me. I do still read contemporary fiction, though.

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 10:09 AM ET
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A good portion of the books I read as a kid were either HF or books set in time periods that were "historical" to a kid in the early 1990s. Some of my favorites were Gentle Annie by Mary Francis Shura, Young Joan by Barbara Dana, and Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski. I'll also second Letty and say that GWTW was a favorite as a teen. I visited several Civil War battlefields over a summer vacation with my family, so a lot of my interest was in that period. Les Miserables and Jane Eyre were favorites as well, though I think Les Miserables was just so I could feel superior walking around middle school with a 1400 page book. I was a dork, what can I say. blush

Once I grew up I mainly read classics, YA, mysteries, and historical non-fiction and didn't really persue a whole lot of adult HF. I judged many a book by the cover and deemed them "too romancey" before giving them a chance, I guess. Or I worried that the history wouldn't be spot-on, and that it would detract from my enjoyment of the book. It wasn't really a particular character or book that turned me back on to HF--it was all of y'all! Joining PBS exposed me to a wealth of HF authors that I'd never heard of, and helped me figure out what I liked and didn't like about the genre. I now know that a bit of romance is okay (and inevitable) and that I won't have an apoplexy if the history isn't perfect--plus I'm reading books set in time periods and locations that I have very little prior knowledge of, and I'm learning all sorts of new things!

Last Edited on: 5/19/12 10:11 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/19/2012 11:11 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
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Like most, I've always been a reader. While two of my favorite books when I was young just happened to be HF (Island of the Blue Dolphins and Witch of Blackberry Pond), I read just about anything (Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins). We went to the library regularly and I received books every birthday. Have certainly read much more HF since reading Daughter of Time by Tey a decade ago which led me to Sharon Kay Penman's Sunne in Splendour which then led me to the rest of her books and eventually to this forum -- but I still read non-HF, especially classics (how can one not love Dickens?), mysteries, memoirs, some non-fiction, and occasionally contemporary. The genre matters less to me than whether a book is engaging, entertaining, and/or enlightening -- just so happens that there's lots of HF that meet those criteria.

ETA: And yes, I remember liking War and Peace, but I read it so long ago that I don't remember it at all and probably didn't even understand most of it. Definitely time for a re-read which is why it would be a great choice for a read-along. ;-)

Last Edited on: 5/19/12 11:20 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/19/2012 11:37 AM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
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When I was in 5th grade they showed the movie Johnny Tremain at school.  That led me read the book (WAY better!) and my love of historical fiction was born.  I inherited my love of all things British - especially their history - from my mom.

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 11:59 AM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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Philippa Gregory was my introduction to historical fiction.  I had been a huge reader in high school but it was mostly Star Trek book (yes I love Star Trek-not so much into it these days though...), Star Wars books, the Oprah book club type stuff and Bridget Jones/Nanny Diaries/White Oleander type stuff. I spent my junior year of high school tearing through Danielle Steel books.  Then I went through about a six year spell where all I really read where Gregory Maguire books and the Philippa Gregory Tudor novels after grabbing Other Boleyn Girl because of the cover.   I did read Gone with the Wind, and Roots and Queen by Alex Haley which I loved.  My best friend told me about PBS in 2007 and I stumbled in here to ask where I should go after PG.  The rest is history.

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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Oh my gosh, that's really having to go into the way back machine...I've always loved reading ever since I can barely remember.  I loved myths about Greek and Norse gods and heroes as a very young girl and checked the same books out from the library over and over again, so I suppose it all started right there.  The first actual historical fiction book that I can remember reading was a book about Queen Esther,  Behold Your Queen by Gladys Malvern.  That did it, I was totally hooked and I think I read that book about 5 or 6 times.  I was very obsessive as a child.

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 3:11 PM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2006
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I loved to read as a kid but mostly I was always too busy doing other stuff. We lived in the country and I spent a lot of time out doors. I did have a huge box of comic books though-everything from The Archies to Casper to some sort of romancy ones, don't remember the names. I also loved the Boxcar Children and always wanted to be one of them.  When I was a senior in high school my English teacher required us to read and give an oral report on one book every nine weeks or so. Back then all I really read were romance and some of those trashy True Story magazines which I could hardly give an oral report on. blush Anyway, she had a small bookcase in the classroom that she allowed us to choose books from. Of course I searched for the shortest one I could find and came up with Anne of the Thousand Days. To my surprise I loved it! While I didn't go looking for more HF at the time, I did in later years read an occasional one.(A few bodice rippers, I confess) I spent many years reading nothing but mystery/suspense/thriller type stuff. Then, when The Other Boleyn Girl came out, I thought "Hey, I might like that!" and I did. After that I started to branch out more and read more HF although I still read a lot of Mystery. So I guess Anne Boleyn hooked me. I have always felt sorry for her and wondered what she was truly like, and thought how afraid she must have been as a young woman going to her death.

I have to say though--I had no idea of the really good HF I was missing out on until I started reading this forum!  Thanks!!

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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Way back into the time machine for me, too.  I've read all my life as far back as I can remember.   But easy answer: Laura Ingals Wilder and Little House on the Prairie.

Johnny Tremain was another early favorite; Rifles for Watie, We Were There series.





Date Posted: 5/19/2012 7:55 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
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I was having a hard time remembering what turned me on to HF.....it's just what I've always preferred to read. Then Sharla mentioned the Little House books and the light bulb went off! That was it! (I always hated that snotty Mary and thought she got what she deserved when she went blind!)  I also read all of the Nancy Drew books and that started my love for a good mystery. 

Date Posted: 5/19/2012 9:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
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Have always read a variety of books.  Still do.  HF is only one genre I read but it is one of my favorites.  No particular book comes to mind.  I get tired of reading in one genre so try to mix them up to keep the enjoyment there.  Have started reading some history books, too, thanks to Valli and a book I read about Antartica by Mawson.  HF is fun but so are many other genres - fantasy, YA, contemporary, mysteries, and classics. 

Last Edited on: 5/20/12 4:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/20/2012 12:39 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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So much fun reading these posts ... and what a trip down memory lane ... I feel like Deb was writing for me when she mentioned Island of the Blue Dolphins & Witch of Blackbird Pond! And, then Johnny Tremain & Rifles for Waitie and other Newbery Award books! And, of course, the Little House books.

When I moved from the Children's Library to the Adult Section, I found Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Jane Aiken Hodge & Phyllis A. Whitney. Also Leon Uris.

But, when I read the opening post to this thread, the "name" that immediately popped into my head was Josephine de Beauharnais (the book, of course, is Desiree by Annemarie Selinko).

Like many of us, my tastes & interests moved to contemporary fiction for awhile - primarily because that is what was being passed around by friends & those were the titles being talked about. What brought me back firmly & irrevocably back to HF A Catch of Consequence by Diana Norman & When Christ & His Saints Slept by SKP. 


Date Posted: 5/20/2012 7:44 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
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I posted this yesterday before taking off for DD's for the day, and I come back to find such great posts!  I'm with Kelly: you all have provided such fun trips down memory lane, or in the case of sweet Aimee, made me feel ancient. wink

The house I grew up in had a fireplace in the living room, with book shelves on either side.  I remember combing through those in between our trips to the library.  We were in a rural area as well, and trips to town didn't happen all the time.  I spent lots of time outside like Terri (we lived near a lake) but when the boys got to be too much, I would take my current book, climb a tree and just read.  Those bookcases introduced me to Poe, Dickens, Jane Eyre and mythology.

I've always read everything, but I remember being fascinated early on with living in other time periods.  I also recall cartoons leading me to want to know more.  I saw Disney's The Sword in the Stone, and immediately wanted the "real" story of Arthur; and then Camelot with Richard Harris did me in and created a solid love of all things Arthur (and by extension, medieval).   There was also a cartoon of the Three Musketeers which made me impatient for more of the story.  I guess the moral here is that cartoons can inspire further exploration!  I need to tell my mom that today when she calls.  cheeky

I too discovered gothic romances as a teenager, and read Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, et al.  The bodice rippers came soon after but I sprinkled those with mysteries which I have loved since my Nancy Drew days.  

In the end, I think Arthur, Guenivere and Merlin truly hooked me.  I had lots of other interests, but Arthur was the obsession for quite a while...

Date Posted: 5/20/2012 10:54 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
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I got hooked in college when a professor assigned Kenneth Roberts' Northwest Passage. Then I read Rabble in Arms by the same author and I was a goner.

Over the years, I got away from HF for awhile and read mostly literary fiction. I think it was Here Be Dragons by Sharon Key Penman that brought me back.

Date Posted: 5/20/2012 1:54 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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I became an avid lifelong reader in the fourth grade, thanks to a  wonderful teacher.  I've always gravitated toward books about real or imaginary people of the past.  There were two shelves at our local library filled with orange-covered books that were biographies of famous people written for children.  They became my first "chapter books" and I read every one. 

 As an adult, I continued to read a lot but mostly nonfiction and professional stuff.  After retirement, I think the book that got me totally hooked into HF was Michener's "Chesapeake."  I've been having fun reading all of the classic HF writers that I missed earlier during my busy career and child-rearing years as well as discovering some new ones.

Date Posted: 5/21/2012 9:01 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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always been a huge reader....anything with letters, honestly--cereal boxes, instructions manuals, anything....my parents were both readers as well, so grew up in a house just full of piles of books all over. can't pinpoint ground zero exactly, but remember picking up their james micheners from the Book-a-Month Club, and finding Jane Austen....my mom tended towards historical romance and it was probably one of her recommendations that veered a little more towards the HF side than the HR side that pushed me over the edge, to seeking out the genre....thanks Mom!

Bruce -
Date Posted: 5/21/2012 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2008
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It's hard to remember exactly when I became hooke on HF. In my formative years, I was reading Stephen King and spy/espionage/military thriller books from Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, etc. But two of the first HF I read and loved was "The Name Of The Rose" by Umberto Eco and, well frankly I can't remember the name or author of the other book, but it was a murder mystery set in a Medieval monastery (that really narrows it down, eh?). Those books really drew me to that time period and I've developed a interest in monastic life because of them. "Pillars of the Earth" probably solidified HF as my favorite genre.

Date Posted: 5/21/2012 5:06 PM ET
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I've always loved Eleanor of Aquitaine - I remember reading the Amy Kelly book about her in high school for a reading class non-fiction's requirement.

Like others have said, I always liked historical fiction, but honestly the Plaidy books when I was a teenager and a series about the six wives of Henry VIII - I don't remember who wrote them, but they had cream turtlebacks - were the ones that sent me well on my way. 


Date Posted: 5/21/2012 6:42 PM ET
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When I was a kid I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  In high school and early college days I read a lot of historical romances (bodice ripper types).  My "recent" fascination with HF started 6 years ago when I picked up two books to take on a family long weekend ski vacation (I don't ski...) - The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll and PG's The Other Boleyn Girl.  I read both of them that weekend.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 5/24/2012 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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Scott O'Dell hooked me as a child with his historical fiction books about Native Americans such as Sacajawea (sp?)and Pocahontas.