My departure from young adult fiction was rather abrupt. When I was in seventh grade I found that I had out grown the Boxcar Children books, and I was up-to-date on Harry Potter; eagerly awaiting the next book. But that left me with the conundrum of what I should read in the meantime. At this particular time, the young adult section wasn’t the expansive place it is now.
So after some initial hesitation, my mom recommended Chromosome 6 by Robin Cook. She thought it might fill the void that I was currently experiencing. She had read it many years before and thought it might interest me. She was right. I loved it. It had adventure and mystery and my favorite…science. I proceeded to read almost every other book Mr. Cook had published. I became fascinated with forensics and couldn’t get enough of Patricia Cornwell’s novels either. There was a distinct time period that I had my nose stuck in a Cook or a Cornwell novel at all times.
It showed me I could not only get through a fair sized adult book, but it could be really good. I realize that Harry Potter books are quiet girthy themselves; however, Chromosome 6 wasn’t really meant for my age group that made it a bit intimidating. Nevertheless, it drew me into the story, and if I could read one there had to be so many more.
My teachers didn’t seem to mind. At least I was reading of my own volition. As time went on I broadened my horizons ever so slightly. I read some Doyle, Christie, Dan Brown. But I must give a lot of credit to that first book. Had it been bad I can’t say that I would be the avid reader I am today.
And I discovered my reading also had unexpected perks. Every Friday in Social Studies we played a trivia quiz bowl. The teacher would split us up into teams and then there were different categories that we could choose from. And each category had questions that were worth different amount of points. Obviously the higher the point value, the harder the question.
My team decided one Friday to go for the goal and choose Arts and Literature for 80 points. The question was to name the main reoccurring character of Patricia Cornwell novels. Without even thinking, I simply looked at my teacher and said, “Dr. Kay Scarpetta.” There was an instant flash of hatred in the eyes of my teammates until Mr. Krambeer’s lips quirked into a smile and he said, “Correct.”
I think that day was a real win for nerd-dom. My classmates didn’t think quite as little of me and my reading as they once had. And it was probably the first time my free reading knowledge had been useful. It was reinforcement that all reading has merit.
I don’t read many books these days like those of Mr. Cook or Ms. Cornwell. I may have over done it in high school. But they will always be remembered with a nostalgic softness because they made a difference at a critical time in my reading career.