The book that changed me

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London’s first annual Social Book Week is almost upon us.

It’s a celebration of the social side of reading – sharing stories, authors, and ideas.

The overall theme is: the book that changed me.

For me, I was a very reluctant reader as a boy. I couldn’t find anything in book form that was as interesting to me or as compelling as films, television, and video games.

This is the stuff that I was into…

Mid 80s, this is what I was into.

Welcome to my childhood!

Luckily, my librarian at Pineland (my middle school) was watching out for me and gave me a copy of After The Bomb by Gloria D. Miklowitz.


You’ve probably never heard of this book. To my knowledge it never won any awards. It’s the kind of book that would be easily swept aside by critics.  But it did one very important thing…

It kept me awake.

It was a gripping, often terrifying, story about a boy surviving a post-nuclear Los Angeles. It was the very first time I wanted to stay up past my bedtime and read. Now, I was a slow reader, but I was so into this story and the character’s conundrum that I was willing to risk the wrath of being yelled at by my parents (who reserve the use of middle names for shouting: “Jeffrey Ryan Hunter Norton, get to sleep…you’ve got school in the morning!!”) to keep reading late into the night.

I’m still a slow reader. I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from a slow start to reading, but after that book, After The Bomb, I gave myself permission to include books as part of my entertainment set.

Today, as a writer, what drives me is to create the book that has that same impact on someone out there.  To write the book that changes them from a reluctant reader into a lifelong one.

What’s the book that changed you?

Join the conversation on twitter via @socialbookweek using #sbw14.

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