Friday Speak Out!: When Reading Changed My Life, Guest Post by Vicki Batman

Friday, February 03, 2012
When Reading Changed My Life

by Vicki Batman

What day, you ask. D-day? Anniversary? Birth of children? The day I sold my first story?

Way back in eighth grade, my English teacher had given us the assignment to read a book and present an oral review.

At those words, my insides had twisted into a hard knot. I was terribly shy and hated speaking in front of a large group. (Fortunately, I grew out of this.)

And it had to be a book of an adult level. That stumped me because I hadn't a clue about leaping to adult level.

I was fortunate to get the Scholastic newsletter. I'd poured over its pages, looking for an affordable and likeable book. I'd settled on one about a family with twelve kids, set in a time before me--Cheaper by the Dozen.

The book was a fast read and I was enthralled with the family antics. So happily, I'd prepared my report and managed to squeak through my presentation. To my horror, the teacher reprimanded me in front of the class: "You are capable of reading a higher level book than that."

Floored, I'd sunk into my chair and prayed someone would throw dirt over me. When recovered, I asked my classmate, who'd received praise for her book, what was the name of the one she'd discussed? What she told me changed my reading for life.

Rebecca. Aah, you say. That one, the one by Daphne du Maurier.

Yep. Here's the clincher: I'd never heard of it. But what I decided was if my friend could read it, so could I.

I don't remember much about what I'd thought when reading Rebecca for the first time. What I do remember is how it impacted me. And if this book was this cool, others were too, and I wanted to read them all.

That's when everything changed. I discovered Mary Stewart, Agatha Christie, Emilie Loring, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney. At Half Price Books, I picked up a tome about mystery authors with the premise being if you liked one particular author, you might want to try this one. That worked for me.

Through the various recommendations I found Dick Francis. I thought who is this guy and why would he be recommended a couple of times?

So I read his short bio and decided to give him a try. I went to my nearest Half Price store and bought several. I devoured them like chocolate. And bought more.

When I told my hubby about my fascination with these books, he asked me "why?" That's when I finally admitted, "I wish I could write like him."

It took me twenty years to try. And now, look at what I've done. Squee.

So even though I thought unmentionable things about my eighth grade English teacher at that time, she did me a very big favor.


Is there one particular book which changed your life? I bet there is.

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Vicki Batman has had eighteen short stories published in the last two years. Man Theory and Other Stories will soon be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Find Vicki at: OR at:

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Sioux Roslawski said...

Vicki--It was Marilyn French's "The Women's Room" that changed my life as a female writer. I just knew that--just like Marilyn French--I had at least one good book in me. (Way before that, I read Dickens' "Tale of Two Cities" in high school, and fell in love with the idea of impacting readers with a powerful, well-written story.)

I enjoyed this post. Thanks for sharing.

Sasha Summers said...

I love, love, love Rebecca. I have a hard back, dog eared copy in my keeper bookshelf. Isn't it astounding - the power of a book?
Thanks for sharing with us Vicki. Congrats on the new release!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Sioux! I'm so glad you posted your fav. I had no idea when I read Rebecca how my life would change.

Hi, Sasha! It is such a good book and the first line... OMG. The movie is pretty good. Mrs. Danvers--yikes!

And "blushing," thank you. Man Theory and Other Stories is so much fun!

Unknown said...

Wow! I haven't read Rebecca. I'm feeling like I missed out on something, LOL. Never too late, huh? I actually began Norman Vince Peale when I was quite young (9 I think?) and I was fascinated at the time although my views have changed slightly since, the mature content was addictive. Catcher in the Rye haunted me as did Lord of the flies in high school but my love of books came at age 11 with my mother. Romance...all the way romance with HEA a must. Thanks Vicki! You are just amazing and I love reading your experiences.

Wendy said...

goosebumps, Vicki! and tears in my eyes.

'I stood on the outside of chaos looking in.' Dick Francis

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Hi Vicki!
Interesting post.
I loved to read Dickens, Austen, and Louisa May Alcott, but then one day I stumbled across Jamaica Inn (also by Daphne du Maurier) and I don't think I was ever without a book after that.

Marianne Stephens said...

I can't say there was any one book...I got hooked on Shakespeare as a reader! As far as romance books, Barbara Cartland books got me interested in anything romantic! I then turned to writing romance and finally got published.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

I haven't a clue why my post didn't go thru; so I'll try this again.

Hi, Karen: and now I know the perfect gift for you.

Hi, Kat: Louisa is fantastic and I didn't get to Jane until an adult (can someone explain why in my educational years I read All the King's Men and The Great Gatsby 3 times?) Thank you so much for stopping.

Hi, Marianne: While others were reading Barbara, I cut my teeth on Emilie Loring. I have two bookshelves of these and someday, want to have all in hardback. Thank you!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Wendy: I just love Dick Francis--did I say that? LOL

His style, everything. I've read and reread and gifted his books to many people. Thank you for posting.

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