Flowers for Algernon: The First Book That Made Me Fall in Love With Reading

Violeta Nedkova
Violeta Nedkova
4 Min Read

If you’re an avid reader like me, I bet you remember the first book that got you excited about reading. I’m not talking about books you barely remember, but the one that got you HOOKED.

For me, it was Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

It was one of the first ‘classics’ I picked up because I wanted to, not because it was recommended by anyone, and I’ll never forget the experience that followed. For the first time, I wasn’t reading a story, I was reading a whole new experience, and I was addicted. I wanted to read more stories like this, stories that broke the rules, that created whole new formats, and that gave me a unique reading experience.

If you don’t know, Flowers for Algernon is about Charlie Gordon, who has a low IQ. There is a surgery that successfully made the mouse Algernon more intelligent, and Charlie is the first human test subject. The entire book is a collection of progress reports throughout the experiment.

At first, you might think that you won’t be able to read this book because of the way it is written. After all, it’s hard to read a stream of consciousness that sounds like it’s coming from the mind of a child and it’s full of grammatical errors and typos. But once you get used to it, you start getting a feel of the character and it starts flowing. Then, as the experiment advances, the character ‘improves’ and his IQ rises, meaning there are fewer mistakes and it gets easier to read.

However, this is not just an experiment in characterization and novel writing.

To this day, I don’t know a person who hasn’t read this book and bawled their eyes out in the end. You’d think such a unique and difficult story would result in an inability to relate to the character, but the opposite happens – you relate so much, you connect with him so deeply, that when the inevitable happens, you become frustrated and heart-broken at the end.

For me, the unique reading experience and the emotional strength of this book were the two factors that turned this book into the first one I ever fell in love with, and the book that led me to seek out more books like this. We have so many books written in the same way that I now actively seek out books that break the mold. Books that say – I am different. Books that break my heart. And if a book does both of those things, I will forever laud it as my favorite of all time.

More books like this are (with a similar plot or unique character/writing):

What about you? What was the first book you fell in love with?

Al always, happy reading!

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Multipassionate book cover designer. Can be found reading and writing romance books, as well as helping indie authors get their stories out in the world.