Round Table: Books We Remember From Childhood

So this month the three of us chatted about books we remember from childhood – that golden age between about 6 and 12 when we read EVERYTHING WE COULD GET OUR HANDS ON. What stood out? Why? Good things, bad things?

At the end is a list of books we really remember, and do tell us what books YOU remember from those crazy golden years.

Tessa: ok. so. books we remember from childhood.

Maggie: I remember seas of books. Individual titles, not so much. I remember sitting in the stacks reading books because I had too many to take home from the library.

Brenna: I was thinking about this, and at least for me, the books I remember aren’t just memorable, they also either shaped how I write, or maybe just represent my personal taste

Tessa: for me, I remember images from beautifully illustrated books, then long series that were never ending and easy to lose myself in, and finally the books i read over and over and over and fantasized about living in and being part of.

Maggie: I remember shocking things. Like the first book I ever read where someone got killed, violently, and didn’t come back. It was one of those combo Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drews books. And one of the Hardy Boys’ girlfriends got exploded by a car bomb at the beginning. And baby maggie was like O_O.

Sorry if that was spoilery for anyone reclaiming their 80s youth through popular literature. But. She dies.

Brenna: I remember quirky books, because when books were weird, they were SO much weirder than movies

Tessa: Yes, firsts, and shocking things. I remember the first time I read THE VAMPIRE LESTAT. I was 12 I think, and I was like “omg, I didn’t know you could write like that” because it was first person POV and he was AN ASSHOLE. I was used to Nancy Drew and heroines from fairy tales who were kind and beautiful and brave… not like Lestat.

Brenna: One of the first books that made a huge impression on me was THE TWITS, by Roal Dahl, for the same reason. They were MEAN.

Maggie: Roald Dahl always left an impression because he did not go easy on kids. The Witches made my eyes bug.

Tessa: this might get me kicked out of the YA club, but I hated all of his books. I might have come to them too old though. (I hope. That’s my salvo.)

Brenna: that was another of my absolute favorites, THE WITCHES

Tessa: hate

Maggie: I read them at an age when I didn’t hate any book. I wasn’t exactly sure what a less than “love” response was for a book

Brenna: yeah, me too–ages 5-9

Maggie: because that was all I seemed to have. Read it. Or Loved it.

Tessa: I was appalled by the whole mouse thing. It wasn’t appealing to me. I liked books that made me want to live in them.

Maggie: So, like Ballad.

Tessa: Exactly. How did you know?

Maggie: Because you proposed to Sullivan the other day.

Brenna: hahahaha

Tessa: Ohhh that WAS quite the tell wasn’t it. (ps. i have a really nice ring.)

Maggie: (he is fond of large rings)

Brenna: when I was really young, I don’t think I knew that you could want to live in a book

Tessa: (…..*being quiet*)

Brenna: I always felt like I was watching through a little window. I mean, the Twits legitimately scared me–I thought they wanted to eat me–but I liked them anyway

Tessa: Oh, Brenna! That was my default. I talked to characters I loved and imagined walking into their cities. And being cool. and they all thought I was cool. I might have been imagining early-form fanfic. HA! “I thought they watned to eat me, but I liked them anyway”That says so much about you.

Maggie: HA! This tells me TESS STOP USING MY WORDS. I was about to say that. But Tess takes everything.

Tessa: I’m a taker.

Maggie: I was about to say “I can tell you what doesn’t stick with me” and then I realized that I was about to list books that actually had. i.e., the babysitters club. Because I still remember reading the book where Stacy had diabetes (oh ho I drop another 80s spoiler). Of course, none of the others. but I remember that one. I think it was that shocking thing again. Because it was permanantly shifting their status quo, and that is sort of not allowed in young middle grade

Tessa: That’s interesting – do you think, Maggie, it’s bc your childhood was… stable?

Brenna: I remember one, this one book where Mary Anne is babysitting (imagine!) a kid, and the kid gets sick, and I kept waiting for something terrible to happen and nothing did

Maggie: Quite probably. My parents were married, nobody died. I think it was more because I read so many books where the stakes weren’t high that when they were, they stood out. Yes, like the one Brenna just mentioned. which, by the way, is the second book in the series. There was no stakes in that. I mean, she was sick, but you knew nothing bad would happen.

Tessa: I can’t believe you remember htat.

Maggie: But then when something DOES. Shut up, Tess.

Tessa: I only remember books I’ve read 10+ times.

Maggie: Don’t judge me.

Tessa: It’s my memory. One of the reasons I’m able to imagine a long happy life with Sullivan is that I’ve already mostly forgotten how BALLAD actually ends.

Brenna: you made up your own ending? with you in it?

Tessa: Yes. I’m very very very good at that.

Brenna: I think I thought that if the kid got sick, the book would be about that, and instead it was about her coping well

Maggie: Yeah. Which was very within the scope of a Babysitters Club book.

Maggie: But when Stacey or whatever got sick, you just figured, okay, she has, I don’t know, tendonitis or a mild case of nettles, and she’ll be fine. But she WASN’T fine. And also, I wrote Tess into the ending of Ballad. She plays the stage.

Tessa: I thought I was the doorway he walks through at the end.

Maggie: OH YOU WISH

Brenna: okay, now I feel totally misanthropic, but I never got too concerned when book characters weren’t okay, but I was always SHOCKED when something bad happened to animals

Tessa: OK – that point about stakes, I think that’s one reason people have a love/hate relationship with Joss Whedon. Not to be all BUFFYRULZ, but he is not afraid of killing, maiming, and otherwise completely altering everything about the show in two seconds.

Maggie: I agree with that about Joss Whedon. And also about animal maiming. It still irritates me more than people maiming

Tessa: I like animal maiming.

Brenna: we know

Maggie: which reminds me, Sam should get a dog.

Tessa: You’ve been saying that for 2.5 books now.

Maggie: I know. He doesn’t get one. He never gets anything he wants.

Brenna: you have yet to produce the dog

Tessa: except Colelovin

Maggie: Grace is more likely to produce a — wait, that’s spoilery

Brenna: you don’t let him have what he wants!

Maggie: strike from the record. Aaaaaaaanyway. I also remember weird turns of phrases. I still remember some random fantasy book where it said: “she kissed his bruised lips” and I was still at the age where kissing was vaguely gross (yes, this was before Shiver) and also, I wondered how she could tell they were bruised.

Oh, I remember swearing too. I remember the first time I read “Damn” in a book. It was Dogsbody

Tessa: really? you kids are so cute.

Maggie: and a dog had just bit Duffy’s leg. Smart ass.

Tessa: Speaking of dogs, I read my first doggie-style graphic sex scene in 5th grade, and it all went down hill from there. That REALLY made an impression. I’ll never, ever forget that book. Don’t tell my mom.

Maggie: and she said damn and I was “WHOA! SHE REALLY SAID THAT!” It was sort of like that fan letter I got from that student who was all amazed that I got his teacher to say ‘ass’ in assembly while reading my letter to them.

Brenna: okay, not that’s something I remember: reading “Rage” by Stephen King, in the library, and without warning, he busts out one of the worst words EVER

Maggie: Which word? Spell it with your fingers.

Tessa: does it rhyme with grunt?

Maggie: hussy

Tessa: that isn’t very bad

Brenna: Yes! I was 12 and somehow hadn’t realized that you could write it down. I thought I was going to get int trouble for reading it in the library.

Tessa: awww

Maggie: That’s the thing. With “Damn”. I knew it existed, but I hadn’t seen it in print before, and I just didn’t think it was done. I must’ve been very small. Because I found anarchy after that, and everything went to pot.

Our conversation went to pot around this point, too. So we’d like to leave you with a list of the books we really remember from childhood and why we remember them.

BRENNA:

THE TWITS because it was the first book I’d ever read where the main characters were completely awful and unrepentant
HIGGLETY PIGGLETY POP because it was so strange that I was surprised it could even be allowed, and because Jenny sticks her head in the lion’s mouth
MOOMINLAND MIDWINTER because it’s another completely strange book where you have no idea what’s going to happen next–quirky details galore
DRAGON WINGS because a lot of people get dragged out of opium dens (I think by the police)
WHISPER OF DEATH by Christopher Pike. This was a glossy series horror novel like all his other glossy series horror novels, only the plot centered around abortion. No, I’m not joking.

TESSA:

THE FORBIDDEN DOOR by Merilee Heyer, because of the amazing illustration. I adored it, but barely paid attention to the story. It was the images.
THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean M. Auel, aforementioned crazy doggie-style sex. I was too young and impressionable.
THE VAMPIRE LESTAT by Anne Rice, because the narrator was an a-hole and I didn’t know you could do that. Also I barely understood anything that happened.
THE LITTLE MERMAID, because the illustrations in my version were gorgeous and the HEROINE DIES. *shock*
BEAUTY by Robin McKinley. It changed my world because it retold a fairy tale in novel form.
THE HERO AND THE CROWN, because Aerin says “ah, hells” and I loved it, and she kills a dragon 1000 times her size.
THE NANCY DREW FILES WHERE NANCY AND NED BREAK UP, because I was horrified. Nancy and Ned 4EVR.
A SEASON OF PASSAGE by Christopher Pike because it scared the CRAP out of me. (hey, Brenna and I both have Pike!)
THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN QUEEN. Portals! Unicorns! Portals! Unicorns!

MAGGIE:

THE LAST KISS OF SUMMER- Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew SUPER MYSTERY! I remembered this because Joe’s fiancee died. Not in an explosion, as I’d remember (hoped?), but by a hit and run driver. And she stayed dead. And there was angst. Pretty much, it became my genre. Killing people and making other people sorry about it.
DOGSBODY, Because it was the first time I read “damn” in a book. When Duffy got bitten by Sirius. On the calf. I remember it vividly. Also, I remember certain scenes from this one, like the cold hounds and the dog sex, that I will never forget.
SOMETHING CAT, I can’t remember the name, but it was a fat book about a cat during world war II and there was cat sex. Yes, there was.
A TALE OF TIME CITY Because the protagonists eat “butter pies” and I always thought they sounded delicious.
FAIRY REBEL The first faerie book I ever read with evil faeries. I was totally hooked. Also, the protagonist was named Bindi, which is not a name, and she had a lock of magical blue hair that she tied around her mother’s gimpy leg to heal it. I think maybe it stuck with me because it was the first book that hit all my buttons, before I knew I had buttons.
DOG MAGIC, I know this one is because they were performing experiments on the animals and I thought that was horrifying and great to read about.
SILVER ON THE TREE/ DARK IS RISING, Because it had Arthur in it, and I was like OMG IT’S ARTHUR. IT’S REALLY HIM. Again, the itch scratching thing.
Lloyd Alexander’s WESTMARK series, Because it had high stakes, swearing, and really really dead people in it. Also, on one of the covers, one of the characters was really cute and I was in love with him. I’m trying to find the sexpot cover, but I can’t see to. Oh yeah, here it is. http://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/1586058.Westmark Damn, that shirt is cut to WHOA and he’s got some sort of flintlock pointing out there. A flintlock is a gun, you dirty people.
Whichever Babysitter’s Club book where Stacey got diabetes. I think because I was used to things reverting to normal and they did not revert to normal.
THE RAMONA BOOKS, Because apparently, I was Ramona, and for a long time, I mistook these books for my memories.

What books stand out most clearly to YOU? Why?

99 thoughts on “Round Table: Books We Remember From Childhood

  1. Tessa, we would be great friends.

    I wanted to name my daughter Aerin from THE HERO AND THE CROWN.

    Okay, mine are:
    Christopher Pike novels, especially DIE SOFTLY because the mc dies, but he still beats the killer. There was another one I can’t remember the title of, but it creeped me out.

    I also read a lot of R.L. Stine.

    Babysitter’s Club, Nancy Drew – Maggie, the Nancy Drew that stuck with me was the one with the fashion show where she got poisoned. ZOMG she almost died!

    I loved Roald Dahl – the BFG and the Witches were my faves. He was a little creepy, too, wasn’t he?

    Then I moved into fantasy, and I still adore pretty much anything by Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey.

    You ladies are awesome!

    Oh, hey, I’d love to see a post/roundtable about how you three got started and how your critique group works. šŸ™‚

  2. My friend and I were obsessed with The Babysitter’s Club and The Boxcar Children! LOL! OMG this brings back so many memories! I read a lot of Greek mythology and fairy tales when I was little and those had a huge effect on me. It’s probably why I love paranormal stuff so much now. I keep hoping real magic exists somewhere in the world.

    Roald Dahl and Judy Blume were my heroes. I need to reread all of those books. My favorite was probably MATILDA b/c I thought her power was epic and I wish I could do that, STILL! The Count of Monte Cristo was one of my favorites as well, and still is. I remember being amazed by all the things Edmond Dantes learns, and I wanted to be that badass too.

    God, reading is SO MUCH FUN!

  3. MATILDA was . . . I don’t even know how to describe it. My indulgence book?

    I read it on a regular basis, but every single time, I made sure that I had a whole afternoon and someplace nice to sit and something to eat. It wasn’t just a book–it was event.

  4. Oh, DIE SOFTLY! I was in 6th grade when I read that, and it gave me a *truly* distorted view of high school. I don’t remember the details, but I recall it involving murderous drugs rings and cocaine? Yay, high school?

  5. Oh this is such a fun entry! I feel like the books you read are a lot different from the books I read, though…no doggy-style sex in my childhood. šŸ™‚

    My favorites were Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Children, the Song of the Lioness quartet, the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, The Babysitters Club, and Sweet Valley Twins. Dahl was never a favorite, but I loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the movie of Matilda. And I, too, have vivid memories of reading The Twits and being really confused because the protagonists didn’t have a happy ending.

    Hmm, why do they stand out? I feel like ND, Boxcar, and Babysitters are childhood staples. The Alanna books and the EFC got me hooked on fantasy. Oh, I also adored Ruth Chew. She wrote really great stories about children who discover something magical in their ordinary lives…kind of proto-urban fantasy. And how could I forget, Edward Eager’s Half Magic! One of the best books ever!

  6. Oooh, childhood books ā¤

    When I was in elementary school, it was all Babysitters Club and Boxcar Children and a mystery book from the 70's that took place in Williamsburg… haha, which led to me being positive I would be a colonial farmer when I grow up and churn butter for the rest of my life *swoon* (that's my 9yo self swooning, not my 29yo self, btw).

    And I used to bawl my eyes out over my Aunt's book of fairy tales, because I loved The Little Mermaid so much.

    Its really the books from when I started sixth grade that stick out the most in my head. So here they are.

    THE CASTLE OF LLYR was my FAVORITE book of all times. Pretty much anything Lloyd Alexander when I was about 11 and 12

    FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC – goodbye innocence. What sick friend of mine passed that book over to me at the age of 11? But then I ended up reading EVERYTHING VC Andrews, so I guess I didn't mind too much.

    MONSTER by Christopher Pike, which kicked off my love for YA horror.

    THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE – LOVE. Do I need to say why? Or is this one a given?

    THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE – also LOVE love. love.

  7. Great topic! Here are my favorites.

    I read every Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books I could find. Although, since I wanted to imagine I was part of the action, and there were no girls in the books, I changed Bob’s name to Beth when I read them. I was so frustrated when they tried to update them in the 80’s and give them cars and girlfriends. It just wasn’t the same.

    The Bunnicula books, specifically Howliday Inn. I still laugh when I read that book.

    Blubber by Judy Blume. I swear the exact same thing happened to me in 8th grade.

  8. I too read voraciously, anything I could get my hands on. I volunteered as the librarian’s assistant grades 5-6 and got to reshelve books… which meant sitting on the library floor all through recess reading as many of them as I could before the bell rang and I shoved them all back onto the shelf. My bus driver knew me as the kid who had a new book every single day of the week… he’d ask me to show him the cover every day, since it was always tucked under my arm. Yeah, I was that kid. (And I suspect a lot of other people who comment on this post were that kid too).

    Maggie, I think the cat WWII book you’re thinking of was called The Blitz Cat, or maybe Blitzkrieg Cat, or something like that. Cause I remember that book too, it was part of my phase where I read every book about the Holocaust/WWII I could get my hands on. No idea why that fascinated 8-13 year old me that much.

    And I hated The Witches. Or loved it? Dunno, but made a huge impression on me. I started reading it and got so scared I couldn’t finish it for another like two years. In general, I adore Roald Dahl though, for pretty much the same reason as I love The Hobbit — such amazing read-aloud books.

    Other than that, the books that I most remember would probably have to be the ones that I read 10+ times: Little House on the Prairie series, Narnia series, Enchanted Forest series, The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, Spindle’s End, Ella Enchanted, The Hollow Tree (definitely one I imagined myself into, and would play out the rest of the characters’ lives in my head. Also the first book I ever got autographed) …

    Hm. Apparently my childhood reading was shaped by pioneer stories, fantasy, and WWII stories.

  9. OMG – I was trying to remember this series! Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators!!! I LOVED them! I remember checking them out of the school library one at a time and being so sad when I had read them all!

  10. THE NANCY DREW FILES WHERE NANCY AND NED BREAK UP, because I was horrified. Nancy and Ned 4EVR

    THIS. omg. I was really excited when I found out there were new Nancy Drew books out there, and THEN I READ THAT ONE, and I was so horrified I immediately swore off the new series entirely.

    A Tale of Time City– Oh man, I must have read that book a dozen times. It was only years later that I realized it was by DWJ, and no wonder I liked it…

    There was also the Tripod series by John Christopher– those creeped me out, omg– and the Dark is Rising series, of course, and this one really odd little book that no one else I’ve met has ever read, called The Power of the Rellard; I discovered it again during a recent book-clearing-out, and I’m contemplating reading it again, though I suspect it’s probably actually quite bad.

  11. My childhood book memories are kind of weird, because I really started to read and love reading when I was in Scotland, and I didn’t have access to a lot of children’s books. I started reading with the Storyteller series, which were monthly magazines that came with a cassette tape, and I would read them until I wore them out. I still remember some of the stories in those to this day, but no one else does, unless they also grew up in Scotland in the 80s. Those books taught me that a good story is worth waiting for, because many of the stories were told in serial form, and you’d have to wait a whole month before you could read the next part, which was a lifetime to a five year old.

    Because we couldn’t aquire a lot of things to bring home with us, whatever my mother was reading, I read as well. Thus I was introduced, like Tessa, to Jean M. Auel and Stephen King at a very young age. When we returned stateside, I was given my mother’s set of Nancy Drew books, and I also remember reading Charlotte’s Web,which is still a favorite, for both the actual real not coming back death of Charlotte and the value it placed on people who write. I read the Babysitter’s Club and truckloads of R.L. Stine books, but I didn’t stop reading adult books, and Gone With The Wind was my very favorite book in middle school.

    “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”
    ā€” E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web)

    And I still love Stephen King.

  12. Aerin is a GREAT name. šŸ˜€

    Christopher Pike was one of my go-to authors. I’d buy a book by him just bc it had his name on it when I was 10.

    I seem to remember Nancy frequently being in Mortal Peril!

    and AW, I moved on to Lackey and McCaffery, too! I still own all the Valdemar books and Pern. Aw. Dragons!

  13. My brother and I and the neighbor boys used to play Escape From The Orphanage, which I’m sure was influenced by the Boxcar Kids. LOVE.

    I am convinced that real magic DOES exist. It has to. šŸ˜€

    I have never read The Count of Monte Cristo. Weirdly, I’m kind of anti revenge stories.

  14. You’re probably less messed up than me due to the lack of doggie-style sex in your childhood. Heheh.

    GOD, I adored Song of the Lioness. I still reread those books every few years. GEORGE. The Enchanted Forest! Yes! I haven’t thought about THAT in forever.

    children who discover something magical in their ordinary lives

    I think that was very influential on me, too. Ok, actually that’s STILL my favorite thing. It’s what my books are about, too.

  15. I… had completely blocked Flowers in the Attic. But now I remember. Incest FTW! lol.

    And yes, again, Christopher Pike! I still feel the tragedy of my mom giving all my Pike books away. Exciting that they’re rereleasing so many of them. God, Monster was awesome.

    The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is another one I can’t believe I forgot.

    Which reminds me of THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND and ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS. How could I leave them out of my list?!?!

  16. There were Alfred Hitchcock…. books?

    I changed Bob’s name to Beth when I read them.

    This makes me love you.

    Ah, Bunnicula! I took a picture of a bunny statue in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England bc it had fangs, I swear to God. I’ve got to find that picture for you.

  17. What is this Hollow Tree? I know and love all the rest of the books you mention, but don’t know that one!

    I can’t get enough of McKinley, even today. And yes, I was that kid. I used to walk to school reading at the same time. A local police officer used to drive past me in the mornings and started calling me Belle. I was both embarrassed and proud! šŸ˜€

    I’m a bit jealous of your librarian’s assistant job!

  18. I was just glad Nancy and Ned got back together. WHEW.

    I remember the Tripod series, too! That WAS creepy. I can even picture the cover.

    I still have a crush on Bran from the Cooper series.

  19. ā¤ that quote!

    Also, no WONDER you enjoyed Sunset Motel, you serial reader, you! šŸ˜‰

    The three of us talked about how when we were kids we didn't notice the difference between adult and kids books, really, aside from there being pictures or cussing. But that happened after the conversation totally devolved.

    It's a good point though: the categories are so much defined by marketing and context… not really what somebody will/can or won't/can't enjoy.

  20. LOL – Nancy was in danger a lot, but maybe it was that she kept getting sicker and sicker…I dunno. That one is the only one I can really remember vividly now (I have a bad memory unless I’ve read the book over and over and over).

    I own all of the Valdemar and Pern books, too! I do read those over and over and over. And they keep writing more! Yay!

  21. Oh… so it was like a gradual feeling of dread and death. Creepy! I also remember a ND File where they went skiing. Maybe because skiing was so foreign to my experience.

    šŸ˜€

  22. The Hollow Tree, by Janet Lunn. It’s about Loyalists who have to flee to Canada during the war, and super amazing. Actually come to think of it, that book probably falls into your whole “we remember things that were shocking” category, since there’s a lot about hangings/executions/punishments for being “traitor” yet the traitors are Loyalists just trying to be true to their beliefs… I think moral ambiguity sort of washed over my head as a kid, but I still remember and love that book.

    Janet Lunn’s other books are also awesome (The Root Cellar and Hawthorne Bay immediately spring to mind) but The Hollow Tree always has first place in my heart.

  23. I used to read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books – the originals – where no one EVER dies and Nancy and Ned never broke up. I used to get very annoyed because Nancy was like 17 FOREVER even though a lot of summers have passed, and I remembered thinking to myself, “Is she like a vampire?!”

    Also, I probably read an alternate reality version of Dogsbody because I don’t remember any dog sex. I mean, one would remember something like that, right?

    *Goes off to check out Dogsbody*

  24. HEE! I too read “Clan of the Cavebear” a bit too early (I had to look somethings up in Grey’s Anatomy afterwards, because my mother had specifically forbidden me to read the book until I was 12 and I was only NINE, so I couldn’t just ask her), but I like to think I’ve managed well enough. I wouldn’t put it on my list of books though. When I was little I read mostly adult fantasy and sci-fi…and now I read YA pretty much exclusively.

  25. There were Alfred Hitchcock…. books?

    I read one in grade three when a teacher was all “No more Cam Jansen for you! You need something challenging“, and it was SO BORING. In hindsight, I’ve learned that there’s a big difference between being old enough to read it and old enough to get it.

  26. I just had to comment…

    I spent every Sat. from the age of 4 at the library with my sister. We were there so much, the librarian used to let us shelf books, punch all the cards & check out books for people. (My sister went on to be a children’s librarian.)

    I was never a fan of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, but I liked The Three Investigators and Trixie Belden.

    Some of my favorites:
    May I Cross Your Golden River – about a teenage boy dying of cancer. Horrible and beautiful.

    The House of Stairs – about a bunch of kids in a building with no ceiling, floor or walls – just endless stairs. They was a bell that rang when food pellets were put out. It was so bizarre.

    My favorite (and I don’t remember the name) was about a girl who had an evil doll named Dodi. Scared the crap out of me.

    I was sneaking my father’s books by the time I was 9 or 10.

    My favorite of his was The Other – about a boy with an evil twin. It turned out his twin was pickled in a jar (he’d died at birth) and the kid was just crazy.

  27. Oh, I forgot about The 3 Investigators! I loved them! I swear The Case of the Crooked Cat scared me off carnivals more than Something Wicked This Way Comes. And it was also what got me hooked on mysteries! šŸ™‚

  28. For me . . . the standouts are THE TIME KEEPER trilogy because of the way the author tied everything together.

    THE WHITE MOUNTAINS – The rest of the Tripods series is great, but this one stuck with me in ways the next two books didn’t. I suspect it’s because the girl I wanted the hero to end up with was already capped . . . and that just struck me as deeply tragic.

    I also recall the library in Lewisville, TX had a set of SF short story collections. I remember one story in particular about a group of kids living in a shelter below ground digging their way out through a ventilation shaft, hoping to see trees and sunlight, only to find themselves in the middle of a landfill. (Wish I could remember the titles on those books.)

    The DRAGONLANCE Chronicles – do I need to give a reason?

    RILLA OF INGLESIDE – Because Una’s grief with no means of expression felt both terrible and perfectly right as an ending – not just, not fair – just right.

    The FIREBRATS series – I’m still bitter it ended at four books.

    Ray Bradbury – “A Sound of Thunder”, “Kaleidoscope” and “Long Division.” The last two are less known, but are burned into my memory.

    It’s not that hard for me to figure out what stuck with me . . . they’re all still sitting on my bookshelves.

    BTW, Maggie, my wife says the book you’re thinking of is BLITZ CAT.

  29. The House of Stairs was one of those we read in 8th grade. What a creepy book . . . I need to find a copy.

  30. Haha, I kind of wish I had blocked out Flowers in the Attic, too. Yes incest FTW! Ugh, that is so horrible. And I loved it! Eleven year old me had issues.

    You know, I forgot about The Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Witch of Blackbird Pond, because they were both books we had to read as a class, and reading them felt more like homework at the time. Although, those books, and a few others we were required to read in class (like Tuck Everlasting and Where the Red Fern Grows!) bring back memories of feeling guilty for reading ahead of the rest of the class when I wasn’t supposed to.

  31. That’s a good point about reading for class. Might be why I hated Where the Red Fern Grows so much. I didn’t read Island or Witch for class, though. I reread them over and over again. I was pretty obsessed with the Puritan culture in Witch and really really wanted to visit Barbados. Still haven’t. Heh.

  32. Nancy Drew as a vampire sounds like something with major potential! šŸ˜€

    *edited for my lameness and misreading*

  33. It’s on my list of books because I *remember* it, not because I loved it.

    When my 5th grade teacher was trying to recommend books for me to read and I told her I’d read that, her eyes bugged out and she started basically telling me to read anything. Starting with Anne Rice. So it was a gateway for me. šŸ˜‰

  34. May I Cross Your Golden River sounds really dirty. >:D

    (Yes, I am immature.)

    House of Stairs sounds interesting! Thanks. And I’m impressed by an evil twin in a pickle jar. Heheheh.

  35. That short story sounds tragic! Gah!

    Ok, Dragonlance I didn’t read until I was older (like, 15 or so) but boy did I love Raistlin. ā¤

  36. OMG no one mentioned Lois Duncan?!?! Her books creeped me out even though looking back, I realize they were FULL of plot holes. But when I was in 5th grade I remember doing my book report on THE THIRD EYE and I filled a paper bag with clues about the missing children and for some reason I put an old napkin with mustard in the bag. Or something. I dunno. It seemed to make sense at the time. O_O

    And YES – Christopher Pike!!! I’m so glad he’s still on the YA radar today. FALL INTO DARKNESS, REMEMBER ME, BURY ME DEEP, so good! Which one was the one with the alien? Was that MONSTER or THE IMMORTAL? Actually, I think there might’ve been a lot with aliens…

  37. The Case of the Invisible Dog scared me because there was actually (shock) a ghost causing some of the trouble.

  38. There were Alfred Hitchcock…. books?

    Yep. He served as a consultant on all of their cases, and they reported to him at the end. At least until he passed away and there were problems with the rights.

    Ah, Bunnicula! I took a picture of a bunny statue in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England bc it had fangs, I swear to God. I’ve got to find that picture for you.

    Bunny vampires!!! This is my excited face šŸ˜€

  39. I second HERO AND THE CROWN because I’ll never forget when she climbed those tower stairs for a hundred years and when she and Luthe had sex on the forest floor. And that dragon head that was spewing nastiness into the castle. What an eerie and unforgettable book.

    Also…

    AFTERNOON OF THE ELVES (can’t remember who wrote this)- Because I knew a lot of kids at my school who were just like the girl with the junk in her backyard and it made me look at them differently.

    WALK TWO MOONS (Sharon Creech)- Oh man, did I bawl at the end when she found the bus. Maybe I am just too dense but I was caught completely off guard.

    THE THIEF OF ALWAYS (Clive Barker) – This book may have shaped my writing more than any other. I love the fish in the back of the castle, I love how it’s a dream and a nightmare at the same time. I love the end.

    To be honest I didn’t really read much as a kid. I didn’t start to really devour books until college. I am not sure why that is.

  40. I remember The House of Stairs. The kids had to beat the crap out of each to get the food to appear. I don’t remember who wrote it, but I read every other book of his in the library.

  41. My favorite was the Doctor Dolittle series especially the one where he sails in the pink snail. I believe it was the Voyages of Doctor Dolittle.

  42. I loved the Ramona books and of course, Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, but the books that really made an impact on me were those V.C. Andrews books Flowers In The Attic and whatnot. I just remember there was all that sex and violence and incest and weird messed up incest created kids and my friends and I had basically no idea what was going on in half the books. It was sex ed. We would get together with my “explaining sex to 9-12 year olds” book that my mom bought me instead of actually telling me anything herself and try it figure it out.

    Christopher Pike was like my hero, and probably my biggest influence because like Maggie I’m all about killing people now, and I couldn’t believe he wrote books where teenagers had sex and did drugs and plotted murders and then actually carried them out! And sometimes there were monsters/ghosts/witches/aliens which seriously I don’t think it can ever get any better than that.

    Also I remember reading the Sweet Valley high books when I was in like 3rd and 4th grade and just being like whoa.

  43. Dude. Other people read Blitzcat. I am astounded now. Though I do not remember any cat sex.

    I feel like the books I remember best are either the books I read seventy billion times (I checked out The Egypt Game and In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson almost every other week…yet never asked for copies for Christmas. huh?), OR totally random books I only had because of the Troll book club. Like The Girl With the Silver Eyes, or some book about a girl who goes into a magical land, and she puts on some gold princess shoes, and almost gets executed…or something? Maybe it was called The Seventh Princess? I feel like, even while I was reading it (over and over again), I didn’t know *why* I was reading it, but for some reason I was fascinated by it.

    Oh, and a smaller category of random, slightly eerie, possibly time-slip books like Charlotte Sometimes (Penelope Farmer) and The Devil’s Arithmetic (Jane Yolen), and The Diamond in the Window and Fledgling (both by Jane Langton).

  44. I remember some time-travel Lois Duncan book that I liked… but it had a cliff-hanger ending, I think, and that made me so mad I didn’t read the sequel!

    This makes me want to go to the library and pull out ALL the Christopher Pike books.

  45. When I first read HERO AND THE CROWN I’m pretty sure I didn’t realize Aerin and Luthe had sex. I mean, she married somebody else (<3 Tor) so of COURSE she couldn't have sex with anybody else!

    Maybe you were busy doing crazy things like playing outside with your friends! šŸ˜‰

  46. Yes. Incest. I think I’d blocked Flowers in the Attic, but boy am I remembering it now!

    I’ve never thought of Pike as an influence of mine, but I’m SURE he was! šŸ˜€

  47. OH! Zilpha Keatly Snyder? Did she write The Egypt Game? I read that and loved it.

    I didn’t discover Jane Yolen until college! Crazy, I know.

  48. I read mostly animal and wild west stories! My favorites:

    All of Fred Gipson’s books, including Old Yeller, Hound-dog Man, Little Arliss and my absolute favorite book and movie, Savage Sam.

    All of the Ramona books, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing ranks right up there too. I read some of the Nancy Drew tales, but they just weren’t exciting to me.

    And any pioneer woman or cowgirl diaries I could get my hands on!

    **OH! And I forgot – I also snuck out my mom’s Sidney Sheldon books and absolutely devoured them. There is only a few characters I remember, though, one of them being a rich lady racecar driver who loves to sodomize her husband with a cattle prod. Absolute trash, and I was fascinated by it.

  49. one of them being a rich lady racecar driver who loves to sodomize her husband with a cattle prod.

    O_O

    I’m not sure I’d have ever understood what that meant. Heh. Hehehe. Probably a good thing.

  50. I had kind of forgotten about Christopher Pike until Carrie Ryan and Diane Peterfreund did a post on him a few months back. I got out my old box of books and started reading the summaries and was like OMG I totally get myself now! LOL

  51. Oh, this post was so fun to read. (Nostalgia FTW!)

    As a kid, I’d read the trio of scary story books by Alvin Schwartz ALL. THE. TIME., no matter how much they creeped me out. (Or made me laugh, since they showed me horror could be funny, too!) The pictures were even creepier. There’s a few I still refuse to look at today, they scare me so much! (Google “scary stories to tell in the dark,” and you’ll see why.)

    If I had to pinpoint one reason why I love horror but not HEA, it would most definitely be these books. (No wonder my characters hate me. :P)

  52. Oh, The Egypt Game! That was one of my absolute favorites, partly because they actually played the kind of games I played with my friends, and in other books, kids mostly played Little League.

  53. I think my mom still *has* my boxes of Christopher Pikes–I’ll have to ask her, because if there’s one trashy paperback I love, it’s Chain Letter 2 The Ancient Evil!

  54. LOVED them!

    I had the picture of the decaying woman from “The Haunted House” photocopied and taped to my wall *because* it scared me!

  55. Tess, the snail was so awesome–he goes in the ocean! In a snail! When I was 8, I wanted one too.

  56. A SEASON OF PASSAGE is one of mine too! Here I thought nobody read his adult novels back then. LOL! Roald Dahl books, especially MATILDA. That someone young COULD know better than adults and triumph over them was encouraging. IT HAPPENED TO NANCY although I’d been scandalized by Danielle Steel books for three years by that time, it was tragic that someone my age went through that. DARKLING by KM Peyton-horses and a first sexual encounter, the perfect combination (I thought). Now I need to go read what I missed…

  57. It was, wasn’t it? I loved creepy books – still do. In fact, I used to use my allowance to buy Tales from the Darkside comics & smuggle them into my house in Archie & Veronica comics when I was 8 or so.

    Try alibris.com – You can usually find obscure out-of-print books there.

  58. I remember them fighting, but I didn’t remember that they had to beat each other up to get the pellets!!

    I loved the creepiness of it.

  59. Hmm. Definitely Matilda and The Witches. Matilda, probably because it was the first time I found a character I could identify with (Her love of reading, not the abuse, since my mum was the one taking me to the library most of the time, hehe) And The Witches, because I remember being terrified and addicted. My mum was reading it to me, and I was sure I saw a witch fly past the window, and yet I wasn’t prepared for her to stop reading. I was a highly imaginative child.

    I also read about 10 R L Stine “Goosebumps” books a fortnight. So much so, that the local librarian knew my name when she saw me in town with friends. *red faced childhood moment* I remember the Mummy one, and the Puppet. I guess that was the age I realised that books could be scary and filled with supernatural tension, rather than the simple happy tales I could never be bothered reading when they were assigned at school. I never seemed to like books where a young girl got the pet she had been hoping for, or the new boy at school learned to make friends. I liked humour and chills in my books, even then. : )

  60. So I read this

    “Maggie: which reminds me, Sam should get a dog.”

    And I said, “werewolves shouldn’t own dogs”. Out loud, so I had to explain to PDA who said, “Wouldn’t that be like Goofy owning Pluto?”

    Then I laughed a lot.

  61. Roald Dahl was my GOD! I had all of his books and still do in a box in the other room. I also read stuff about growing up, that included kissing and finding hair in funny places LOL.

    I was a prolific reader and still have most of my childhood books! No wonder I need more shelf space!

  62. I loved her A Gift of Magic, I just happened upon it and haven’t read the rest of her stuff.

  63. I’m replying to Bob because I just read Gone With the Wind like two years ago. I met a woman and we struck up a conversation about reading. I said I’d loved To Kill A Mockingbird since I was young and had read three copies to pieces. She said the same about GWTW and I had never read it. She had never read TKAM so we promised each other we would, and then e-mailed each other when we did.

    Oh and I loved it.

  64. So much of my wenching is based on Scarlett O’Hara that it isn’t even funny. She taught me how to flirt.

    There is a reason my madam character is named Scarlet…it’s an homage.

  65. Yeah, it was an experiment in conditioning. At first, they just had to do some sort of movement, but then it became increasingly violent. The pellets wouldn’t drop until specific actions had been performed.

  66. AND when I was 14 I read Taming of the Shrew, it was my first Shakespeare. I was all shocked at the tongue in your tail line. Surely My 7th grade teacher Mrs. Palm didn’t know about this line or it would not have been on her shelf for us to read. (catholic school and every thing) I stole both that and her copy of TKAM. I should replace them.

    So is it any wonder my first renfest role was Kate the Shrew? Nay I was brought up to play it.

  67. I…may have forced my cousins to make up a “hieroglyphic” code and then write messages back and forth with it?

  68. And The Witches of Worm, which freaked me out for reasons I can no longer remember.

    I’d always forget to look for books by authors I liked in other sections of the library, so I may not have discovered that Jane Yolen had written *other* books until high school, at least. I know that’s when I stumbled upon Robin McKinley, too.

  69. I loved Christopher Pike too, I think my favourite at the time was one called “Fall Into Darkness” about a girl framing her best friend for her own murder.

    I read every Point Horror book I could get my hands on, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia, and a collection of books my parents got for me called Classical Adventures. There was about 40 of them, things like the Railway Children, Little Women and Pollyanna.

    I think the first book to truly scare me was The Rats by James Herbert. A baby girl is killed right near the beginning and that really shocked me, I think up until then I had only read stories where everyone was all right in the end. I think that produced my love of horror, now I love to be shocked!

    Nikki x

  70. Isn’t it funny how dazzlingly unimportant the author was? Like you not knowing who wrote Tale of Time City for awhile?

    Oh, those young days.

    Also, I was glad she and Ned broke up. Ned= not sexy.

  71. Oh, I read a lot of Yolen. Oh, and the Girl with the Silver Eyes FTW!!! I read that book so many times. And THE SEVENTH PRINCESS, yes. I bought a used copy a year ago and DUDE. It is SO BAD. I loved it, I have no idea why.

  72. I read that as someone your age having to go through the experience of a Danielle Steel book, which on the re-read, is not what you meant.

  73. The Girl With the Silver Eyes was my “escape hatch” book–I hid it in my grandmother’s basement, so I would always have something to read at family gatherings. šŸ™‚

    I can’t fathom my attachment to The Seventh Princess, either. Lost to the mists of time, I suppose…

  74. Oooo Fall Into Darkness!

    It’s pretty awesome what Pike “got away with” when there are all these worries these days about “can I do that in YA?”

  75. Hahah – horses and first sexual encounter – still sounds pretty good to me! šŸ˜‰

    I must find A SEASON OF PASSAGE again. Vampires! Martians! ā¤

  76. I have those books, and they’re all battered and torn. Those illustrations still creepy me out. LOVE!

    Meeee tie dooootty walker!

  77. I was thinking about this post the other night, and I remembered another book, which I cannot believe I left out – RONIA, THE ROBBER’S DAUGHTER by Astrid Lindgren. I read this so many times the book is falling apart.

  78. I just remember reading The Seventh Princess approximately one hundred million times. Also, The Girl with the Silver Eyes. I was obsessed.

  79. Oh, man, I could not read any William Sleator books after Interstellar Pig. He freaked me out so much, and not in a good way!

    In looking back on the summary for it, I don’t know why I was so freaked out by that one in particular, it doesn’t seem too scary.

  80. Man, I totally remember being a 9-year-old at the library and seeing rows and rows of Christopher Pike books on the shelves, all of the titles written in a sort of jagged late-80s font, and wondering what they were about but being too scared to read them! I don’t know why, though…I read Goosebumps, Scary Stories to tell in the Dark, any number of ghost story anthologies. I don’t think I ever actually read a Pike book…I kind of want to now!

    The books I remember most strongly are in two categories: the ones I ended up having to read a zillion times because I had no other books around, but were still great books:
    Felicia the Critic
    Time Cat (introduced me to Lloyd Alexander)
    The Secret Garden (made me want to garden)
    Dragon Cauldron and Dragon War– it turns out these were the last 2 books in a series, but at the time I didn’t know, so I just thought the books didn’t bother to tell you all the back history!

    and the books that were so cool I just remembered them:
    From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
    The Westing Game– I reread this a couple months ago and was amazed at how well it held up, and how the characters I remembered as being “old” were actually around MY age now (i.e., late teens/early 20s)!
    The Chronicles of Narnia– 9 year old me was very impressed with myself for figuring out they were allegorical (though I don’t know if I knew the word “allegorical”), lol
    The Ear, the Eye and the Arm– I still remember being dazzled by the fact that the Mile-High MacIlwaine (a hotel) actually swayed because it was so tall.

    Looking at the one-star reviews for it makes me smile, actually– one person criticizes the author for not including cell phones, even though the book was published in 1995.

  81. LOL – that’s a great review. I remember The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm, and also The Mixed-Up Filed. I liked that one quite a bit.

    We should have a Christopher Pike book club!

  82. Sadly, I still think of The Girl With the Silver Eyes sometimes when I make tuna fish, because the main character made tuna fish and cut herself on the can, and then everyone thought something bad had happened to her because of the blood.

    And yet I cannot necessarily remember what I made for dinner a week ago. Apparently my brain is maxed out.

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