Last month I talked about the first of my influential books, The Magic Finger. You can find that post here if you're interested!
This is probably a bit of a weird choice, and it probably says something about me that what first drew me to this book, when I was around 8 years old, was the promise that it was going to teach me about human sacrifice...
A lot of you probably know by now that I love history, and I've loved it since I was very small, so it's only natural that I grew up reading this series. I can still remember the first time I came across them; they had their own little rack in a Wilkinson's that my Mum went into a lot. One day she found me looking at these, so she told me if I picked one she'd buy it for me.
I was torn between The Angry Aztecs and The Incredible Incas, and to this day I'm still not entirely sure why those two in particular caught my eye. I knew practically nothing about the Aztecs or the Incas - which might be why they interested me - but I think it might have simply been that their covers caught my attention.
Whatever the reason I chose The Angry Aztecs when the back of The Incredible Incas told me the Incas used to eat guinea pigs. I had a guinea pig at the time, and somehow I felt like he'd know if I brought home a book about the people who ate his ancestors.
I devoured The Angry Aztecs and every Horrible Histories book my parents bought me afterwards. I was hooked.
I loved the way these books didn't shy away from teaching children, or anyone else who wanted to read them, the nitty gritty parts of history that you don't get taught in school. In fact these books taught me that there was history outside of school I wasn't being taught (something we obviously know when we're older, but I was only 8 at the time!) and that I could learn about it if I wanted to, simply by reading the right books.
These books encouraged my love of history, and encouraged me to do my own reading and research in my own time if school didn't answer the questions I wanted answering. The skills I learned from reading these books are especially important now; writing a Historical Fiction novel means research has become a regular activity for me, and I'm so glad I was able to start with the basics thanks to this series.
I suppose I could have chosen any Horrible Histories book, but it felt right to put the very first one I read on this list. If I hadn't read this one I wouldn't have read the others, and there's no knowing if I might have picked them up at a later date.
What about you? Did you read these books when you were younger?