I don't remember what the first book was that I read. But my parents gave me and my three siblings (all born in relatively quick succession) books as birthday or Christmas presents as soon as we could read well enough. And they were for the most part quite thoughtful about it, considering what could be interesting and entertaining for each one of us and appropriate for our age. From easily digestible and readable children's stories to more "challenging" and enthrallng novels and whatever we developed a liking in, also more educational books (of which there were also always many available in various "for children" formats), or "profane" entertainment like comics, everything from Asterix over Disney and Marvel Comics to "the little Asshole" (a very politically incorrect and dirty German comic). And of course then we also had always enough to exchange among each other and share mutual interest in this or that particular novel franchise that we were at the moment excited about, and this kind of mutual encouragement and sharing our interests (amongst us siblings - not parents, they were out) definitely added to the fun.
I think the pinaccle of my reading enthusiasm I reached in my late teenage years when I read the "Lord of the Rings", another fantasy novel series called "Dragon Lance" (both of which my elder brother [as the first] and later my little sister were also avid fans of), then Harry Potter towards my beginning twenties, but since then I have not read too many books for pure entertainment. (Maybe because of some kind of "existential crisis" or what one may call it - which also led my interest towards reading the buddhist scriptures and wanting to understand their meaning).
Of course we also had to read books for school, often more classical stuff like Schiller or Goethe. Which was also entertaining for the most part when I did read it. But of course we always had to read it with the thought of being tested about it in mind, doing homework about it etc., which was a major turn-off.
I remember when I was 17 we had to read Lessing's "Nathan the Wise". I never did my homework at that time and paid no attention in class, spending all my German lessons immersed in drawing pictures, reading computer books or doing homework for other classes. The day before we were to have an exam about it I had not read a single page of the book. I just went to my brother and asked him what the story was about. He explained it to me in five minutes, and summarized what the most important philosophical points and similes were in the story. And I got an "A" for it, the best exam in my class, and was lauded by my teacher for my deep comprehension of the subject.
This lack of any correlation between the effort and interest put into reading and understanding something and the "test results" from school were more the norm than an aberration. So I can totally understand that such kind of initiation is not the most helpful for developing a liking and enjoyment in reading for pleasure.
I also lost most of my fascination with and enthusiasm for math in the course of studying it in university for too many years.
(As an aside on the "deserted island" topic:
I don't know which books I would consider taking with me and what kind of interest in and use of such possessions I could have in that situation. Maybe some suttas would be helpful for "spiritual nourishment" in the long-run, although I'd perhaps doubt about their relevancy to a large extent in the face of total isolation. The "Tao-Te-King" (or however one should best spell it) is maybe also nice in that regard. For anyone still undecided about what to take with them before the impending departure I recommend all books by Arto Paasilinna, a finnish author who writes quite grotesque and fun-to-read adventure novels.
edited addition (after reading more of the thread): OR
the "Dragon Lance" saga - mostly (or only) the "Chronicles" and the "Legends" [and maybe some other stories by the original authors Tracy Hickman an Margaret Weis are also good, but I have not read them; and there are a number of spin-offs by others which are not nearly as good by a wide margin (as far as I could try)], if it is about "never experienced that magic myself"
, because I have definitely never experienced more magic of being so deeply immersed in a fantasy world as with these books (although Tolkien's Lord of the Rings comes as a close second for me, and is surely superior in terms of artistic literary style [for lack of a better expression, not knowing the right technical jargon if there is any], but somehow I believe perhaps more appealing to male readers [although of course I cannot tell for sure - and not all women are equal, and not all men are equal anyway]).
There is one caveat, though: I found the first third or half of the first book rather boring, not of particular literary elegance (in the German translation) or ingenuity in its general setting, and only read on because my brother told me it will be great and I should not give up; it built up and developed slowly into a dramatic, thrilling and deeply absorbing story to get lost in while shutting off the real world around for hours at a time; I had the feeling that the authors were developing greater ingenuity and artistry, and probably more familiarity with their collaborative skills in the course of the story's development. Maybe that kind of fantasy story has more appeal to teenagers, and the kind of fascination can't be replicated by long grown-up adults, I don't know (and I could surely never read it with the same interest again, because I know the story now, of course). But one could give it a try, so I offer this as a recommendation and advertisement here. It is perhaps also somewhat "spiritually" inspiring in parts, uplifting as well as depressing, and causing questioning "why! why! oh why!", and Raistlin Majere is a very cool looking character
. But better to just read the books and no spoilers on the internet.
Okay, enough advertisement, and I hope I will not cause anyone to feel like they have wasted time afterwards
- not totally
sure if it is worth the try, and of course tastes vary widely... )