Two for Tuesday: Two Books that Helped Me Fall in Love with Reading

Today’s blog post is my second time to participate in “Rae’s Reads and Reviews Blog” #TwoForTuesday blog post prompts. I learned about it in her January 8, 2019 blog post:

My third grade teacher, Miss Ruth Jarrell, was a soft-spoken woman with beautiful handwriting. When a student asked Miss Jarrell how long she’d been teaching, she said that was her 13th year. We thought she was ancient if she’d been a teacher that long. It was only when I was in my mid-30s that I realized I was as old as Miss Jarrell had been when she taught me. Thirty-five no longer seemed old.

Another thing I remember Miss Jarrell for was her reading to us. If we behaved in the school cafeteria, she would read to us when we returned to our classroom after lunch.

White Squaw:  The True Story of Jennie Wiley, by Arville Wheeler

White Squaw: The True Story of Jennie Wiley, by Arville Wheeler

The book Miss Jarrell read to us that is still vivid in my memory was White Squaw:  The True Story of Jennie Wiley, by Arville Wheeler. Jennie was abducted by Native Americans in 1789 in Bland County, Virginia and taken to Kentucky. After almost a year in captivity, Jennie escaped and was helped back to her husband in Virginia.

The word “squaw” is offensive to us today, but since the word is part of the book’s title, I decided to write about it anyway. Any book that one has fond memories of more than 50 years after hearing it read deserves recognition.

Teachers never know which seeds they plant in their students’ minds will take root and flourish. It was only when I was thinking about today’s topic that I realized White Squaw was my introduction to historical fiction. Miss Jarrell didn’t live to see me pursue a career as a writer of history and historical fiction.

Follow the River: A Novel Based on the True Ordeal of Mary Ingles, by James Alexander Thom

Follow the River: A Novel Based on the True Ordeal of Mary Ingles, by James Alexander Thom

Twenty or more years ago, Janie Snell, a friend of mine who lives in Ohio, recommended that I read Follow the River, by James Alexander Thom. It is a novel based on the experiences of Mary Ingles – not to be confused with Mary Ingles Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame.

This Mary Ingles lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She was kidnapped by Shawnee Native Americans in 1755. After being held captive for months, she escaped her captors and by herself followed the Ohio, Kanawha, and New Rivers back to her home.

It is merely coincidental that White Squaw and Follow the River are about white women who were abducted by Native Americans in the 1700s. They are the two books that instilled in me a love of books – a love of reading.

If allowed to name four books

If today’s blog topic prompt had been “Four Books That Helped Me Fall in Love with Reading,” the other two I would have written about would have been Roots, by Alex Haley and Centennial, by James A. Michener.

Three of the four books I’ve mentioned today were read when I was an adult. It was as an adult that I started reading fiction. As a young adult, I was a snob – a nonfiction snob. I thought reading fiction was a waste of time. When I had time to read for pleasure, I wanted to read something true, something real.

I have to laugh at my old self. I still enjoy an occasional history or political science book, but now I prefer fiction. My sister thinks it’s hilarious that I’m now trying to write fiction after all those years of turning my nose up at fiction and the people who read it.

Since my last blog post

I’m relieved that the glitch I was dealing with when I prepared yesterday’s blog post has been resolved, so I was able to include images in today’s post.

Let’s continue the conversation

Which two books helped you fall in love with reading?


11 thoughts on “Two for Tuesday: Two Books that Helped Me Fall in Love with Reading

  1. Yes, Laleh, I never dreamed when I was sitting in Miss Jarrell’s third grade class listening to her read White Squaw to us that it would have such an impact on my life. I’m sure she didn’t either. Too bad she’s no longer here so I could tell her what an influence that book had on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So ironic! I was just learning more about Jenny Wiley last week. (My wife was working in the area of Jenny Wiley State Park and my family hails from nearby there.) Thank you for sharing! This makes me want to get back into writing again (other than my blog.) I will have to check these books out at some point! =)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have such memories of a teacher as you have of Miss Ruth. In the fourth grade she saw promise in me and taught me and started me off getting my work published, and winning writing contests and so on. Forever grateful to her.

    Funny that you should have transitioned from loving nonfiction to fiction when I experienced the reverse, but I’m happy for you that you’re sticking with fiction now because it makes you so happy. Even when you have frustrations with it you are still happy,

    The post was nicely laid out–little selfcontained sections that made the reading fast.

    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. David,

    I’m glad you also had a teacher like Miss Jarrell who sparked an interest in you and put you on your life’s path early on. If I had told Miss Jarrell how much that book captured my imagination, perhaps she would have guided me in the direction of historical fiction. She might have saved me from years of studying and working in public administration; however, I don’t regret those years and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if not for them.

    Thank you for commenting on the readability of my post today. I appreciate feedback like that. It’s the best way I will learn how to better use this platform.

    Best wishes to you,


  5. The world needs more Miss Jarrells. My equivalent was Miss Sullivan in the first grade. The Hobbit was my fifth grade book that got me loving stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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