What were your formative reads? Which books did you love as a child/teen? How did your reading habits and choices change (if at all) once you moved to the US?
My father considered himself to be in charge of my education, which meant that I was handed books like 2001 Space Odyssey, Collected Works of Shakespeare, and Greek Plays by Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides and expected to have a go at it. Sometimes I bounced because I was too young. Three Musketeers was not a go at 10, but I tore through the entire Dumas backlist at 12.
In addition, I was given free rein in the family library, which consisted of floor to ceiling shelves in my parents’ bedroom. This is the reason why I’ve read Carlo Gozzi, Prosper Mérimée, Jules Verne, Maurice Druon, etc. A lot of my understanding of American history was shaped by Thomas Mayne Reid, whose work didn’t age very well. A lot of stuff that we had available was “classic,” and colonialism was strong. It took several years in US before I realized the context.
I violently hated Hemingway’s entire body of work and still do. I think it’s an exercise in overwrought navel gazing by a man deeply insecure in his masculinity. I refused to read Miguel de Cervantes, because the idea of an older confused gentleman, clearly mentally unbalanced, being the laughingstock of society is too much for me. Read Dickens. Read Victor Hugo. Didn’t like either. Life was bleak enough.
But parallel to all of this, I was still a kid and I was in charge of my own fun books, which I obtained from the library, so here is a brief list of fun kid books I read in between all the serious reads. I would go to the library and then drag a giant stack of books home.
Warning: some of these did not age well. At all. So exercise caution and take these less as a recommended list and more as an interesting glimpse of my weird childhood.
For the sake of speed I am linking everything to Amazon, or I will be here all morning.
Moomintrolls by Tove Jasson
Adorable trolls and various friendly critters live in Moominvalley and have adventures. It is so charming and yet it sometimes had these gently scary moments. It has a kind of magic. I still remember the illustration of a dark hobgoblin riding his panther looking for rubies and the flood. It is very popular in Russia.
Ronia the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren
Astrid Lindgren is probably best known in US for Pippi Longstoking and Russia for Carlson on the Roof, but this was my favorite. This is where the forest in the Edge came from.
The Battle for Castle Cockatrice by Gerald Durrell
Gerald Durrell is best known for his nature books about his adventures of going to foreign lands and kidnapping wild animals for British zoos. This particular book is a fantasy. It was available under the title of Talking Parcel and it used to be one of my favorite reads. I can’t read it in English. I was so excited when I found it. I was going to read it to the girls and … I can’t find a sample from this book, but here is an excerpt from Bafut Beagles.
The Cross River picks its way down from the mountains of the Cameroons, until it runs sprawling and glittering into the great bowl of forest land around Mamfe. After being all froth, waterfalls, and eager chattering in the mountains, it settles down when it reaches this forest, and runs sedately in its rocky bed, the gently moving waters creating ribs of pure white sand across its width, and washing the mud away from the tree roots, so that they look as though they stand at the edge of the water on a tangled, writhing mass of octopus-like legs. It moves along majestically, its brown waters full of hippo and crocodile, and the warm air above it filled with hawking swallows, blue and orange and white.
Just above Mamfe the river increases its pace slightly, squeezing itself between two high rocky cliffs, cliffs that are worn smooth by the passing waters and wear a tattered antimacassar of undergrowth that hangs down from the forest above; emerging from the gorge it swirls out into a vast egg-shaped basin. A little further along, through an identical gorge, another river empties itself into this same basin, and the waters meet and mix in a skein of tiny currents, whirlpools, and ripples, and then continue onwards as one waterway, leaving, as a result of their marriage, a huge glittering hummock of white sand in the centre of the river, sand that is pockmarked with the footprints of hippo and patterned with chains of bird-tracks. Near this island of sand the forest on the bank gives way to the small grassfield that surrounds the village of Mamfe, and it was here, on the edge of the forest, above the smooth brown river, that we chose to have our base camp.
Durrell, Gerald (2017-02-20T22:58:59). The Bafut Beagles . Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.
My eye is twitching. This is actually not too bad for him, because he has no problem saying things like “Jim!” I ejaculated joyously. “We found it!”
There has been some criticism of Durrell for his representation of African natives as well and if you are interested, you can read more about it here. Regardless, this book was a big shiny part of my childhood, so here it is on the list.
‘The Wizard of the Emerald City’ by Alexander Volkov
In late 1930’s Alexander Volkov decided to translate the Wonderful Wizard of Oz into Russian. What he ended up with was fanfiction of Baum’s original novel. It was cracktastic. It had Harry Potter like popularity in Russia and then he wrote sequels. I wish the whole series would be available in English in a bit better translation because the Seven Underground Kings was a thing of beauty. You can read more about his biography and body of work here. I would love to translate this. With illustrations. Someone make this happen, haha.
And there you have it.
Karen the Griffmom says
Moomins! Someone who read the Moomintrolls besides me! I still have them on my bookshelves.
Loved the Moomins too….
I love them as well. I traveled to Finland on pre-pandemic times and they have all the Moomin Merch there is ^-^ so happy
In primary school we did a Ronia play. Such a grat story. Astrid Lindgren is gold!
Terrie Cunningham says
When I was a kid, I loved Grimm Fairytales. And I have had nightmares for life. LOL ????
Patricia Schlorke says
I read Grimm’s too. That was in part thanks to older siblings and a mother who didn’t mind me reading “Sweetheart Roland” when I was 5 or 6. 😀
I also read the Grimm collection and the collection of Hans Christian Anderson. HCA was more nightmare fuel for me than Grimm. It did, however fuel a desire for myths and folktales that has lasted to this day. Especially as a child who found a book on her parents shelf of the collected myths of the Indigenous People [Edit- Mod R] of the pacific northwest.
Sally Edler says
Add to those the Andrew Lang coloured fairy books, Tales of Greek and Roman gods and hero’s including the Iliad and the Odyssey plus the odd book like the firebird & just so stories and you have the non PC bloodthirsty tales that kept me occupied as a child before before I had to graduate to the more school acceptable Ronald Roald Dahl, CS Lewis & L. Frank Baum. Nothing could make me read about preppy girls schools and teenage angst.
In former USSR a guy by the name of Nikolai Kun, pronounced Koon created a slightly more sanitized kids friendly version of the Greek myths, including his own novelizations of the Illiad and The Odyssey.
Formative reading as a child is interesting. Like you there was no censorship in my home.
My memories (I am old) go from lots of Paul Bunyon stories to Leon Uris and Exodus. After examining how miserable people are to each other I moved on to Georgette Heyer, James Harriet, and eventually Ilona Andrews!
Since my formative years I have stayed out of the books that want to delve into the grim parts of life and wallow there. Most of my reading must have a happy ending!
Thank you for all the hours of joy!
Omg, yes! and we must be of an age together, as that’s a similar progression and my exact attitude. Thanks!
I read all the James Herriot books as a child. They are filled with joy in my memory. I didn’t find Heyer until a few years ago, in my 40s, but her books are wonderful.
This was fun! Love the Easter Eggs.
Dixie Miner McIlwraith says
I guess my all time favorite book when I was around ten and for years later, was The Comte of Monte Cristo. But I also liked the Three Musketeers. The Scarlet Pimpernel was a great favorite. And I read everything by Richard Halliburton. Then I discovered Sherlock Holmes! And from there, with many stops along the way I rolled into science fiction which I believe has been responsible for more liberal thinking and voting than any civics glass. I have to say, I did like Victor Hugo and he is responsible for my hating the death penalty to this day. Never read Don Quixote but I share your aversion. Still, I should try it, right after I read Tolstoy.
Moderator R says
I will never be tired of rereading Le Comte de Monte-Cristo! Draws me in as much now as it did when I was a child! I also used to have it on vinyl as a recorded radio play- it was fantastic. The Abbé Faria was so dramatic it used to scare me hehe.
I loved the Count of Monte Cristo as a kid! I checked it out from the library so many times. I still wish I could find the translation that I read as a kid, because it is burned in my brain (for better or worse) as the “correct” one. ????
Ronia the Robber’s Daughter was my very first book. In Germany it is called Ronja Räubertochter. Astrid Lindgren was a big part of my childhood. The Moomins are called the Mummies here. We saw them then as a cartoon.
Ronja! Yes, I read that, too, even if I was not that little anymore when it came out. But I learned reading with Spider Man and Perry Rhodan; later I graduated to the Lord of the Rings and Conan.
For those who do not know: Perry Rhodan is the world longest running science fiction series, there is a new episode every week since 1961. This form of literature is known as „Groschenroman“ (because of the low price it had when it started out in the last century). Yes, it is still running, with a continued storyline, at more than 3100 episodes, now on the third generation of authors. It is only available in German, though the first 100 or so were actually translated and released in the USA. I quit somewhere around episode 1500…
Perry Rhodan freaks me out a bit. How ever will you catch up readingwise and getting all the books now, seems like a big investment ^^*
You probably cannot. They have been reworking the series by editing and bundling multiple episodes into books, but they still are too many. Furthermore, while I can reread some episodes because I remember fondly reading them in my youth, the style they were written in the 60s and 70s would not appeal to a new reader today.
Still, it is a unique literary phenomenon, and while most of it is not high literature, there a some gems. Also, they managed to develop a kind of future history spanning centuries without too many contradictions while dealing with typical long running series problems, e.g. power inflation.
Thank you for sharing! I think the books we loved as children always have a special place in our hearts. For me it was Anne of Green Gables, Eight Cousins, and Pride and Prejudice. ????
*Prejudice, stupid auto-correct. ????♀️
Moderator R says
Fixed it for you 🙂
Being Canadian, Anne of Green Gables and all the associated books were a must. Followed by all of Laura Ingles Wilder. When I was 8 I was horse crazy so it was Black Beauty and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. Some that really didn’t age well like Enid Blyton’s Famous 5 series.
C. S. Lewis drew me into Fantasy and Robert A Heilein into SciFi. I had to get special permission to withdraw more than 7 books at a time from the public library. It’s not like we visited daily, I needed enough to last until we returned next week! ????
I loved all the various horse books as a kid, Black Beauty, the Black Stallion (and its sequels) and pretty much everything Marguerite Henry wrote. And Marilyn Halvorson had few that fell into that horse book phase of mine.
Animal books scared me. I read one where the dog died and I was afraid to read more in case the animal died in it. They should come with a warning.
Yes to Wilder, Black Beauty ( which broke my heart), and the Black Stallion series, particularly Black Minx, the first filly.
And Wrinkle in Time, Edith Hamilton’s Greek Mythology, McKinley’s The Blue Sword, and all the original Nancy Drews.
Oh,me too! The head librarian came to trust me and let me borrow many more than the children’s limit. In summer, I used to stuff my bicycle basket full and sometimes had extra plastic bags dangling from the handle bars. I would balance a book on the handle bars and walk home pushing my bike, reading all the way. Bliss!
My mother started my love of reading and a book a day habit with Little Golden books when I was a toddler, purchased from a not generous grocery budget. As an adult, more than once I’ve had the startling experience of picking up a Little Golden book and thinking “I know this book!” and realizing it was read to me, probably dozens of times, many decades ago.
I’ve read, reread and reread so many of the books mentioned in these posts and still own favorites, some purchased with hard earned babysitting money when the hourly rate was 50 cents and my cherished Narnia hardbacks were $3.50 a volume. Though I read all the kids series including Tom Swift, Ted Scott, the Hardy Boys and Tarzan, which belonged to my father as a boy and I had to sneak out of my greatgrandmother’s attic, fairy tales and fantasy were my prime genres. My dear mother who only reads nonfiction was so worried about this lack of interest in reality, she made me take out at least one of the Childhood of Great Americans series every time she took me to the library. Remember those? Orange covers and illustrated with silhouette pictures. I didn’t mind. I thought they were interesting and she let me read everything else I wanted. Books have been never failing friends and I have had the joy of sharing them with my 3 children and, soon, a granddaughter.
I finally remembered (with Google’s help) what the name of my other favorite book was as a child. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede. ????
There is a collection of that. I picked it up some time ago. It doesn’t contain “Utensil Strength” which takes place after Daystar frees Mendanbar.
I don’t think I’ve read that, only the 4 with dragon in the title. I tried looking for it, but no luck. I’ll keep trying! Thanks for the recommendation! ????
Margaret K says
“Utensil Strength” is a short story. Look for the anthology “Book of Enchantments”
Pablo Alvarez says
Age 7-8: Famous Five (Enid Blyton)… Undoubtedly a big part of why I run a Scout troop and take kids for adventures in the woods.
Swallows and Amazons (Arthur Ransome) see above.
All of Jules Verne: my intro to SF
Age 14-up: Asimov, lots of other SF, eventually Tolkien before any other fantasy.
We read the same books, although I started Tolkien at 11 and haven’t stopped for 40 yrs! I would add Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant and all the books by Alan Garner.
Yes! This was me too! in terms of book reading progression. Not the cool job.
I’d add Agatha Christie & Holmes in the middle too!
Our school had a 100 days of school celebration, and they would cover the walls of the cafeteria with kids’ book reports – if they had managed to finish a 100 in a 100 days. Oh, the week upto the celebration I spent sleepless and with cramped hands from finishing up. I am Indian, so my mom would help me put in Indian – English authors as well in there, and despite many attempts, not a lot of Indian – Hindi authors. While she has spent her life reading Hindi translations of every Indian book she could get (India having 29 official languages plus a bajillion (~500) dialects).
I finally understand & appreciate Hindi to a greater extent. & since I can read a little Russian, maybe I could try & finish some of the above too!
I had the popular classics ranging from Beverly Cleary,Judy Blume, Lloyd Alexander, Robinson Crusoe, Dumas, Dr Seuss, all the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Trixie Belden I could get my hands on. But… it was the Bobbsey Twins that was my “eye opening, let’s have a conversation with parents about why is this Black nanny written like she’s a slave?”. That, then led to my learning about the slave trade and my start of appreciating biographies, starting with Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas. Then, starting in grade 8, my teacher handed me Anne Frank, Madeline L’engle,Octavia Butler and started me on my life long love with Anne McCaffrey. Shakespeare didn’t really take hold until I was about 16, then I gobbled up EVERYTHING. I ended up taking an English major in university and my favourite course was “Children’s and Young Adult” literature. Now, as a grown woman, I am revisiting my youth, but this time with a focus on African-American/Canadian/European authors and stories. It is glorious!
Oh, I grew up in Nova Scotia, so of course…Anne of Green Gables was a requirement from birth 😉
I forgot to add Anne McCaffrey to my list! I loved (and still do) all her books! ????
Yes to McCaffrey!!
The Happy Hollisters, Trixie Belden, Honey Bunch, Cherry Ames, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Sherlock Holmes. Obviously, this is where I came to love books that are published in series. I was happy to raid my grandparents’ attic for books and resorted to the adult section of the public library at an early age. I’m still an absolutely voracious reader.
You are the only person that I have heard that knows about the Homey Bunch books!
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle!! ❤❤❤
Anna L says
Omg as a russian we grew on similar books! I also read astrid lingred ronia and also another swedish story mio my mio. I also grew up on mayne reid, im so suprised that someone else read him. I wish someone translated volkov as well. I also read polish writer Shlyarsky who wrote adventures of Tomek. I also read Master and Margarita at age 10
FYI – Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter was made into an anime series by Studio Ghibli!
It’s available in the US on Amazon Prime — Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter
Moderator R says
Just checked, on Prime UK too- thank you for sharing!
Whaaaat, how come I am only learning about this now? Gotta go…..
The Half Magic series by Edward Eager. The first book I took out of the Library, and my love of fantasy was born
I read that book to my kids, and we still quote it to each other year later.
Moomins! The animated TV series was such a big part of my childhood in the 90s.
Fun fact: there’s a Moomin theme park in Naantali, Finland – if you’re ever in Finland, I recommend it for all fans! (In Finland because the author Tove Jansson was a Finn.)
As a kid, my mom used to read me the books about Uncle Fedja (Fedor?) by Eduard Uspenski. I think that might have been on Ilona’s reading list too as a kid?
Moderator R says
Matroskin the Cat and his advice about eating salami sandwiches from Uspenski’s book made it at number 4 on this top of famous Russian cats https://www.rbth.com/arts/2017/05/22/8-compelling-cats-that-changed-russian-culture_767529 . A Learned Cat that may be familiar to everyone who has read A Questionable Client is at number 2 ;).
Totally with you on Hemingway. I have not made it through a single one of his books.
That Durrell fantasy is new to me, and I thought I had everything he’s written. Soon, it will be MINE, BWAHAHAHA! I also have a biography of him, which addresses a lot of the controversy and context of his colonial outlook. He did evolve to some extent, more so than some we could mention, but certainly not as much as we’d like.
Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is available as a series on Prime video, but spelled Ronja. I ❤️ knowing that the forest in the Edge was inspired by this!
I am old. When I was young it was things like Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Enid Blyton books, Beatrix Potter, Narnia
By grade 7 or 8 I read The Master and Marguerite, Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, Ngaio Marsh , Agatha Christie etc. Lots of other books too that I can’t really remember
I am a prodigious speed reader. Consequently, I read everything I could get my hands on, from shampoo labels to the Merck manuel. I’ve read the bible from cover to cover three times, because of lack of something else to read. My favorite childhood books were Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series. I also wandered through Nancy Drew, a year-long phase of biographical non-fiction, and then meandered into historical romance. At 15, a very nice grandma neighbor introduced me to The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.Ah, fantasy! I’ve never looked back. Reading what someone else can imagine is fabulous.
I started reading at age 3 and never looked back. I was reading from the grownup section of the library at 10 so I don’t remember too many kids books. However, I did read the Black stallion books, Marguerite Henry, Heidi, and anything about horses. I got into sci fi around age 11, and at 12 when a cousin loaned me his copies of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, I was all in on epic fantasy.
As I’m sure most of the peopke here are I was an avid reader in my youth and I still am. I read many series back then, Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys, The Black Stallion, George Seldon books (The Cricket In Times Square), The Saturdays series byElizabeth Enright (favorite!), Little Women series by Louisa May Alcott (the series gets better as it goes), C.S. Lewis, Watership Down by Richatd Adams. But by far the one series I couldn’t wait for the next book to come out was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House On The Prairie!
I have one book that i remember borrowing from the library at a very young age that I’ve wanted to own for years and years. I don’t remember the title is my problem. It was a book about a little native Indian boy and his adventures. Oh how I loved that book!
How is watership down as a book? I still have emotional scars from the movie as a kid.
You will laugh, cry and mourn with the book too, but it is so good. I reread it every few years still.
All time favorite book from when I was young!! Loved the movie too. The book has all the adventure and feels!
Linda Costain says
Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Kim’, perhaps? It is Victorian…
Patricia Schlorke says
My mom loved to read and taught all of us kids (there were four of us) the love of books.
My first book was “A to Z” by Gyo Fujiwaka. The illustrations in the book was made for children. I loved that book so much I cracked the binding of it (I was 3 or 4 at the time). Another book I loved was “A Child’s Book of Poems” by the same author as the A to Z book. There were some poems I liked, and others I could skip. What made me go back again and again was the illustrations. They were out of print for a while, but I saw them almost 10 years ago in Barnes and Noble. I got a copy of the “Childs Book of Poems” just in case the original one wasn’t found. Sadly after I bought the book, it was out of print again.
I, too, had access to my mom’s library as a kid. I read James Clavell’s Shogun when I was a pre-teen (8 or 9). That was before e-readers, so I was so happy when I got the middle of the book. 🙂 I also read Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin, and Noble House. I couldn’t read King Rat. That book disturbs me.
I also read some of Asimov’s books as well as Tolkien. I read “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert A. Heinlein. I read a lot of very racy romance books. When I was a teen, there was no such thing as young adult books. You either read children’s books or adult books. So I read adult books when I was around 11 years old. 🙂
In Mexico they didn’t really have public libraries (which says a lot about our public education system), but I did go to a private elementary school, which would frequently have a group of teachers make trips to Laredo or McAllen (we lived 4 hours away in Monterrey) to buy books from the Scholastic catalog. Some of my best childhood memories in the 80’s were bringing those catalogs home from school, poring through the book descriptions, and basically picking out almost as many books as I wanted, then waiting and waiting until the big day arrived. I still have many of those children’s books. Toys and clothes? Limited. But books? Free reign.
Later on the cycle would repeat as we made our own trips to the border as a teenager. Basically spent my time at the mall at Waldenbooks (in between shopping for clothes, of course- teenager) and spent the rest of my allowance on a huge heavy bag of books to read on the way home. Romance novels, science fiction, native american fiction, a few fantasy books here and there. And the leather-bound, collector’s edition of the complete works of Louisa May Alcott!
Love all the Moomins! I discovered them as an adult, then bought the books for our son so he could grow up with them. Moomin Summer Madness is one of my favorites.
Old here, too.
My mother always told me that half of the “Little Golden Books” in our local (very small town) library were originally mine, donated after I “outgrew” them. I do remember reading them, though the one I remember best was illustrated children’s songs. I always wondered why she didn’t keep them for my little sister, but perhaps one avid reader in the family was all she could take.
Our local library was not particularly well funded, but I read what there was. Robert Lewis Stevenson, the Secret Garden, the Black Stallion series, Kjellgard’s dog books, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys – I read all of those that we had. I devoured Robert Heinlein’s juveniles. There was even a copy of the Hobbit, though I was the only one that ever checked it out. (I knew that because my name was the only one one the check out card.)
I basically read every book in the children’s section multiple times before the librarian would let me into the adult section, but I was reading those by 10 or so.
That got me Georgette Heyer, more Heinlein, Asimov, Dumas, a lot of “high adventure” books (Captain Blood, anyone?) and some things that did not make sense until I was much older…
Growing up, I always had books checked out of the library, but didn’t own many until I started spending my snack money on paperbacks when I went away for college. When my husband (another book dragon) and I moved from our first house to our second, we moved 34 boxes of books. I’ve been trying to control the book population ever since. (I don’t think it’s worked very well.)
The Secret Garden is a gem. My mom read it to me and my sister when we were 10 and 8. A joy.
Hardy Boys, Tom Swift books, picked up Andre Norton’s Star Mans Son then went to her Witch World books then everything I could find she wrote. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley. Louis L’Amour, Max Brand,Zane Grey, Grace Livingston Hill, Georgette Heyer. I was born in 1955 in a small town of less than 2000 people and when I found an author I liked I read everything I could get the town library to order. I left the town in 1973 and returned for awhile in 1999 and had been the last person to have checked some of those books out of the library.
I read a ton as a kid and had kind of a similar experience of my parents just letting me pull stuff off the shelves around the house. Anne of Green Gables was my first ‘grown up book’ that I actually finished and mostly understood and fell head over heels in love with. Still periodically try to dye my hair red some 25 years later, because obviously this time my skin tone will have changed and it will look good. My mom also used to read the Maigret and Agatha Christie mystery series to me with the more gruesome stuff skipped over and both series are my go to comfort reads.
Thirded on Hemingway!
The pain of reopening something you loved to read as a child, and looking with modern eyes realizing how deeply problematic it is… and then having a crisis of conscience wondering how that early subtext influenced how you interpreted the world… so sad.
My first chapter book was a Nancy Drew from the fairly exhaustive collection in our attic. I found one with a cool title, opened it, found a “story” (chapter) with a cool title, started reading, understood nothing, took it to my mom, and she explained the concept of books that were only one story. I know the next thing I read after that was Dragonflight.
I LOVED Anne McCaffery and am so delighted I found her early on. My mom read mostly fantasy, “soft” sci-fi (which included Asimov), and romance. I read my way through all her shelves. I was nine when I first came across a series where I had to wait for the second book to come out, so I adjusted young (it was David Eddings, Pawn of Prophecy, The Belgariad).
I also had free run of the library and I worked my way through their smallish fantasy & SF section, which according to the norms of the day were ALL classified as YA. I read a dozen books on one shelf, and couldn’t find any of them again until I grew up and came across Dianne Wynne Jones. Every book I remembered with crystal clarity from that shelf was hers.
About 5 years ago, I met the wife and daughter of my younger brother’s best friend from university. The daughter was around 11, and THRILLED that I also loved fantasy. I spent easily three full work days — 24 hours — putting together an excel spreadsheet of all my favorites, old and new. It was LONG. And thorough. With many notes. I sent it off and never heard back.
Two years ago, at the end of this month, I ran into the mother at the funeral of my oldest brother. She and my youngest brother’s BFF were also friends with my eldest bro, and she flew down for the wake. I asked her how her daughter had liked that list, and she gasped and said “do you mean THE BIBLE?” (And was fairly appalled the daughter hadn’t thanked me). But it felt so good to pass on my favorites.
I’ve done the same for my friends kids. Its such fun to pass it on
It was eye-opening. My brother’s friend is Hispanic and his wife is Black, and it made me realize how incredibly White my list was. I took time out to read non-White authors so I could put them on the list, but I couldn’t find ANY from my childhood years, they were all recent (and in many cases, incredible).
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series was one of my favorites growing up. So much so, that I collected all the books as an adult, almost all first editions, and even made my own white dragon sculpture.
I can probably recite Dragonsinger, or at least come very close. I was reading my mother’s copy, and she had gone through at one point and counted off the days in pencil, to see for herself it really covered a full sevenday (or maybe that it was only seven days). Those little notes, literally just Day 1, Day 2, etc. are the basis for my own obsessiveness with time in books. You’d be surprised how often writers mess up their own timelines.
The Belgariad series was my intro into sci-fi. Still love that series today.
Even more than the series itself, David Eddings book The Rivan Codex was formative for me. The first essay, where he breaks down essentially how every fantasy works, taught me how to read analytically.
As much as I hate his current politics*, Orson Scott Card was just as formative for me with his non-fiction. There was an anthology I’ll have to look up the title to, but it had several essays on how to read. I may not remember the name of the book, but I will never forget the lessons I learned.
I ADORE Diana Wynne Jones, I still read her books as ‘pièces de résistance’. She might be the reason I enjoy Kate, Curran and everyone out of the IA-world so much.
No disrespect to JK Rowling for her writing, Harry Potter was a phenomenon and changed the way YA is published.
But I have seen so many articles calling her groundbreaking and saying her stuff had never been done before, and it makes me want to take the authors of said articles and rub their faces in piles of DWJ books like bad puppies.
My mom received a book of Shakespeare sonnets when she was 5.
Milton when she was 6.
She loved Shakespeare hated Milton.
My mom loved Dickens, I like his names of characters and language.
I was raised on Grimes fairy tales and Arabian nights. My mom was an artist so all these stories came with drawings. Still can remember Little red riding hood with wolf with very large teeth. Really large teeth.
Peanuts stories and Shakespeare.
Then Nancy drew and Tricia Belden.
Tolkien and Agatha Christie.
Poul Anderson and Mercedes Lackey.
Teenage years started my love of mysteries.I inhale books. Hated Hemmingway and Virginia Wolfe.
Found Terry Pratchett and Elizabeth Peters, Robert Parker and Charlaine Harris.
The War of the oaks Emma Bull. Dune Frank Herbert.
Spenser and Hawk city mysteries.
Joe Pickett western mysteries.
I have diverse taste.
One of the reasons I love Ilona Andrews is that the books are very descriptive. You see Linus house, Want honey muffins. Feel the cold of Saiman’s original form.
I grew up listening and seeing the stories come to life. Complex stories that you need imagination to understand.
Ilona Andrews does the same thing.
I think parents reading to and encouraging children to read are very important to a child’s growth.
My introduction to Science Fiction was Tomorrow’s Children, edited by Isaac Azimov. It was a collection of fabulous stories by wonderful authors. I read it over and over and over. That got me started on Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and so on and so forth.
I read many of the Enid Blyton books and my favourites, even today, are the Adventure series and Mallory Towers.
I adored Wind in the Willows. Read all the classics like What Katy Did, Eight Cousins, Heidi, Black Beauty etc.
Jane Eyre was another favourite. I vividly remember a book called Plain Jane by Barbra Softly that inspired my love of historical novels.
I cannot disagree with your take on Man of LaMancha, however I think there is a valuable lesson in the perseverance and honor displayed by Don Quixote even in the face of his delusions.
Here are a few that still stick with me.
Little House on the Prairie- the whole series
Wizard of OZ plus some of the other ones he wrote
Mrs. Frisby and the rats of Nimh
Some Mark Twain
Plus hundreds of other books, we didn’t have much money when I was growing up but my Dad liked to read so he didn’t mind taking me to the library.
In High school we read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and then saw the movie. It really spoke to me and to this day that is one the few book to movies I thought did a good job.
Kylie in Australia says
Yeah, Mrs. Frisby and the rats of Nimh, i won an award at school and was given a book voucher and thats the book i bought. still have it to this day.
Also, Futuretrack 5 by Robert Westall, love it, had to track it down when i was older so i could have my own copy
Kylie in Australia says
And Pride and Prejudice, mum had 3 different copies (in different book
collections) and i’d read all of them before I was 12, and whatever else was in those collections.
Enid Blyton was my favourite author as a child. I loved them all Famous Five, Secret Seven and anything by her. I did read other authors and nearly wore out my library card.From there to Agatha Christie, Louis L’amour,JT Edson and Mills and Boon.
I read a lot and when I find someone I really love I tend to buy everything they write. Ilona Andrews of course, Nora Roberts, JD Robb, Heather Graham, Sharon Sala to name but a few.
I like nothing better than to reread a series of books it is like meeting an old friend.
I can never understand people who say that they don’t read or don’t read a book twice,what joy they are missing . At least that’s my opinion.
Cool post. I love seeing people’s reading list as kids.
My earliest fan behavior was when my first grade teacher read us My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Styles Gannett. It’s about a little boy who runs away to find a baby dragon who is being held hostage by animals on an island that they use him to fly them to the mainland. I drew dragons in that style for years. Then, my best friend in HS wrote Random House and got me a first edition from 1948 (this was before publishers dumped remainders. I’m old LOL } This was in 1976. I cherish it to this day. She wrote 2 other books in the series. It was the runner up to the 1949 Newbery Medal but didn’t win cause they felt it glorified running away and was violent. https://smile.amazon.com/Fathers-Dragon-Ruth-Stiles-Gannett/dp/0486492834/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2SP1ALZGU1WH7&dchild=1&keywords=my+father%27s+dragon&qid=1616009191&sprefix=my+father%27s+%2Caps%2C218&sr=8-1
OMG Ronia! I totally forgot about her but i used to love her too as a kid. My Mom had a tape and I used to listen to it non stop for some time. Thanks! Now I want to listen to it again to see of I still like it as much.
Marianne Eybye says
OMG!! You’ve read Ronja! That was one of my favorite children’s book as well as the brother’s lionheart (which had a huge impact on my young mind. My cousin named her firstborn, Ronja, after the character. ☺️ My family is full Scandinavian and I’m 1st gen. American.
Jeaniene Frost says
“I violently hated Hemingway’s entire body of work and still do.”
*grins* I knew there was a reason that we were friends!
Erich Kastner books, H. Rider Haggard, Hans Christian Anderson, also Arabian Nights, and then Patricia McKillip, Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings, Piers Anthony. How I waited for each new book…still do : )
Thanks for the nostalgia
I had one Moomin book, it consisted of gorgeous screenshots from the Moomin 1977 stop motion show, funnily enough about the Hobgoblin looking for his ruby and finding the Moomins having a party. I’m 34 and still have the book. I read a lot of Asterix and Obelix, a beautifully illustrate copy of The magic faraway tree, the little golden books, i had 3 jem and the holograms books the show never aired in my country, Famous Five, to my shame some Sweet Valley Kids, i loved books but struggled to find something I wanted to read, I couldn’t articulate what it was I was searching for, until I discovered the Chimney Witches and realised fantasy was what I was looking for. Thank god for Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones and Animorphs, they got me through my tween and teen years until Harry Potter finally made fantasy books more mainstream.
barbie doll says
I haunted the bookmobile. They tried to keep me in childrens books but lost the fight. I loved E Nesbitt also enjoyed Mary Poppins. i read a lot that didn’t make sense until I was much older. Gone with the Wind comes to mind. It is lowering to read some of these books as an older person and see the misogyny and racism. A lot of it I read over and didn’t internalize. Nancy Drew just never did it for me. I was the first and only female to take the sci-fi class at my University. It was daunting to know that I was better read then all those males. Books have been my friend forever. I shall probably be holding my Kindle on my death bed
Started with The Black Stallion series, Chronicles of Narnia, Alexander Key’s books, and of course Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.
Then as a preteen moved to Edith Hamilton Mythology and Bulfinch’s mythology, King Arthur, Historical biographies, and discovered Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey and David Eddings and was hooked for life. Actually won an award from my library as the most prolific reader for youth.
For me it was Enid Blyton. Loved her books.
The local library! Anything with horses!
But the book I still have is a handed-down (#5 of 6, 18 year age spread. Poor Mom.) printed in 1934 Grimm’s. The Evil Stepmother is placed in a barrel stuck through with nails and dragged through town by a Team of White Horses, presumably wild. Unlike Disney, evildoers get no sequel, no justification, no chance to show they’re misunderstood. Evil is Punished, Poor Choices fare little better, but have a chance to redeem their mistakes.
I do wish more of Kate Seredy’s books were still in print, or available on Kindle. Stories of pre-WWI Hungary, The Chestry Oak was my favorite.
I was not really a reader until I was about 12 (when I read The Hobbit for school), and from that point on for the next several years, I exclusively read fantasy.
However, my favorite book prior to that was The Girl Who Owned a City. I think I was in the 4th grade or so when it read it. It’s a post-apocalyptic book centered in a Chicago suburb after a plague kills everyone over the age of 12. The Wikipedia recap is pretty grim and I should re-read it again to see if I can figure out what I liked so much about it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_Who_Owned_a_City
Post-apocalyptic stories are a mixed bag for me. I LOVE the whole re-building society part. I like the scenes where the people come together and figure out how to make it work again, how to improvise solutions, how to delegate and build. I like the innovation and practicality and the communal aspect of it. But inevitably, the books begin to focus on the less appealing side of human-nature: those who would rather do the easy work of killing, stealing, and enslaving than the hard work of building and unifying. The unrelenting inhumanity begins to wear on me after a while, and I typically abandon the books or series in the middle. (Same as with The Walking Dead. After that guy showed up with his baseball bat, I just couldn’t stomach it any longer.)
When I was VERY little, my favorite books were Babar the Elephant and the Berenstain Bears. (My favorite Babar book was “Babar Visits Another Planet.” I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi!)
I had to read Don Quijote as a Spanish philology major and I really hated it for the same reasons, although I have to admit that the writing is brilliant and it’s a great parody of society Cervantes’ times, but I still couldn’t like it.
Cervantes did write lots of other things as well, and I enjoyed some of his novellas.
Beth byerwalter says
Thank you. I love hearing of books that people love. Hope at some point in the future you can add a list of books to your blog that you have read and enjoyed.
Moderator R says
You can find such a list by following the Recommeded Read tag on the Blog for Ilona’s recommendations ???? https://ilona-andrews.com/category/recommended-read/ .
There is also a big BDH Recommends post with lots and lots of reading suggestions https://ilona-andrews.com/2018/open-thread-for-author-and-blog-recommendations/
Hope this helps 🙂
I was not a reader as a child. My grandmother used to recite nursery rhymes and I learned memorization reciting back. Still a good skill. I could read -just chose not to. Then 4th grade; had to have a parent/child/teacher conference because I would not read the assigned book. Finally settled on Black Beauty. It was wonderful and quite traumatic to my 9 year old, horse loving heart. The plus is that it kick started a love of books that still continues. My nieces loved Dr. Seuss and the Disney movie books so got a few kid books as an adult. Still won’t read or watch any version of Black Beauty though.
What about Krapivin and Kir Bulychev?
I loooove Kir Bulychev! One of my favorites. Never read Krapivin. Will look for his books.
Deborah St.Laurent says
By cosmic coincidence, I was just thinking about this 2 days ago whilst contemplating my eclectic reading habits:
Fantasy- Fairytales, then Tolkien when it came to the USA (freshman French in HS was spent passing notes in Elvish)
Mystery- Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Sherlock Holmes, later Dashiell Hammett
Science Fiction- Heinlein, Asimov, etc.
Romance – Georgette Heyer
Animals – Marguerite Henry (Brighty of Grand Canyon anyone?)
Thrillers – Dumas, Hugo, The Papillion ………….
Danielle Chapman says
When I was little I fell in love with The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye.
It is still one of my favorite books today!
A Bean says
Oh I loved that book! I still have it on my keep-forever shelf. 🙂
Deborah St.Laurent says
Poetry – Nursery Rhymes, Kipling
Words – Dictionaries
OMG the Moomins cartoon was one of my favourites as a kid
Books-wise definitely all of the Enid Blyton books – Faraway Tree was my gateway fantasy book and Mallory Towers led to a yearning to go to boarding school.
Worked my way through Tolkien and Eddings and Pratchett as a teen, alongside Judy Blume and Paula Danziger
I loved Gerald Durrell as a kid but I only liked the nature stories, not any of his fiction (although I’ve never seen that one). He’s the reason I spent several years thinking I wanted to be a naturalist.
We lived out in the Pacific mainly as a child without access to libraries. I can remember my mother giving me 1 maybe 2 Nancy Drew hardbacks as Christmas gifts and the $1.25 each was hard to justify for a book. I got books from school libraries, but can’t really remember which ones. Life was mainly an out of doors experience then. I do remember the first book my mom bought me was about becoming a ballerina. I loved that book. Disney books were also a big thing, Daniel Boone, Perry the Little Gray Squirrel, etc.
My real reading addiction came in the tween/teen years when I got into mysteries and the gothic. Mary Stuart, Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, Best Books Ever!!). I only read the classics for school usually because they always made me sad for some reason. I remember reading Traesure Island and Swiss Family Robinson, those were great. Things like Moby Dick and The Old Man and the Sea, East of Eden, Of Mice and Men were just downers. Opps, forgot Jane Eyre! OMG, what a story!
All in all, I think books basically saved me more than once in life. I’m forever grateful for all the the authors sharing their gifts with me and the world. What would we do without a good story.
Thx for the walk down memory lane.
I was a book lover from an early age, and an early reader. My favorite book at age 2, and for a reasonable while thereafter, was Charlotte’s Web. As a young child I decided that I would grow up to be a pig farmer, and I would give a pet pig to anyone who came to visit me. I didn’t quite get the concept that most adults consider pigs more useful as bacon and less of a beloved pet animal.
For picture books, my favorites were “The Cat Who Wore A Pot On Her Head” which was apparently not a bestseller because none of my friends had ever heard of it until I gifted a copy to one of their children; and I also loved the works of Jan Brett, but my favorite was “Annie and the Wild Animals” which is apparently one of her less well known works. And my dad is a James Herriot fan, so I had a collection of the picture book versions of his stories and later graduated to collections of the stories and eventually to his novels.
For chapter books, I loved “Beautiful Joe” by Margaret Marshall Saunders, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle (did a major book report on this one in first grade lol, I wish I still had that, I really want to see what my six-year-old self had to say about it!), and “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls, “Rascal” and “The Wolfling” by Sterling North, and “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling. The whole anthology, not the Disney version. I liked Rikki-Tikki-Tavi best.
I loved Beautiful Joe and still have a copy of it. Time to read it again.
I loved Charlotte’s Web so much, as a young child, that I read it around 30 times!
My parents were both big readers, so my siblings and I grew up with lots of books. We loved the library and the Bookmobile. Two of my aunts worked in publishing, and many birthday and Christmas gifts were books, which were received with great joy!
My 6th grade teacher read aloud to us on Fridays after lunch if we had behaved well and did our classwork all week. (Believe me, 6th graders are not too old to have books read to them – it was a good way to “bribe and reward”!!) Favorites: The Good Master and The Singing Tree, The Secret Garden.
In jr. high found some of Ray Bradbury’s short story sci-fi collections: R is for Rocket and S is for Space; then Something Wicked This Way Comes. “Girls don’t read science fiction” – ha, try and take this book from me!!
In college, Dune by Frank Herbert (power read that in three days) and Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGiun. Also The Hunt for Red October.
“(Believe me, 6th graders are not too old to have books read to them – it was a good way to “bribe and reward”!!)”
My last family trip, we drove home with the woman who is now my sister-in-law (she had been at a family celebration near where we were vacationing, so we invited her to join us when she was done) and I think she thought we were a bit nuts, because as soon as we were all in the car, we started demanding that Mom read to us (and she did). My brother and his now-wife were 21. I was 23.
I haven’t read a lot of Ray Bradbury, but “There Will Come Soft Rains” kept showing up on reading comprehension standardized tests and I liked it a lot better after I read the rest of the Martian Chronicles. The first couple of times I read it without context it really creeped me out. I still find it eery, but I guess I just understand the point better.
Susie Q. says
Maj Lindman was a Scandinavian author/illustrator who wrote in the 1930s about the adventures of Snipp, Snapp and Snurr, who were boys triplets in Norway and Flickr, Ricka and Dicka, girl triplets. I am of Scandinavian background so the location was interesting, the historical differences that 30 years between publication in the 1930s and reading them in the early 1960s and the illustrations made them a favorite although by second grade I was pretty much reading mostly the adult books which my parents never censored for content. Our library in Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, where I spent most of second grade, was pretty out of date so I read older books like the Lockridge mysteries, all of Thorne Smith fantasies which was actually pretty racy and I didn’t comprehend a lot of it until I reread them as an adult. I loved Walter Farley and Trixie Beldon. I received a Nancy Drew book every year from an aunt for Christmas which I read because, hey it was a free book, but didn’t cart home from the library. I even read the World Book encyclopedia from A to Z. Already an addict.
Early favorites were the Danny Dunn, Boy Scientist books. No one seems to have mentioned those yet. I loved that his two friends were Irene, physicist, and Joe, poet. I also stumbled onto the Anne McCaffery dragon books and classic sci-fi like Foundation and others by Asimov. My favorite was probably The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein. I also loved nonfiction for some odd reason. I was a weird kid. A biography like book sticks with me: Fate is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann. It tells about the beginning of commercial aviation and is beautifully written.
Wilbur Ringo says
Danny Dunn and the Automatic House! I read all the books, although this is the only title that sticks with me.
My parents didn’t censor my reading as a youngster so I’ve read all sorts of stuff, the ones that stuck with me are the Judy Blume books, a few of the Beverly Clearly books, Anne McCaffrey’s books, the entire Wizard of Oz series (even the ones written by authors other than L. Frank Baum), the Chronicles of Narnia series, and Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series.
I agree with Ilona about Hemingway, reading his stuff was torture as it was required reading my HS English class.
I also have a book that has stuck with me for years. I can’t remember the title or the author, but it involved a man carrying a violin case into concerts to record them and somehow crime related hijinks ensue, I think it was made in to a movie in France. I should look that up one of these days, I remember it fondly.
I always remember going to the library and coming home with as many books as I could carry…and the day the librarian called my mother because I had worked my way through the entire children’s section and had moved on to the adult section. She wanted to make certain that my parents knew and were ok with that.
I forgot a few the first time around! Jane Yolen’s Dragon’s Blood, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series; this is one of the first ones I remember having to wait for the next book to come out; Gordon Korman, especially his Bruno & Boots series (a couple of which were made into TV movies that you can find on Netflix) and his Son of Interflux, I really wish this one would come out in ebook form my paper copy is getting a bit tattered.
I also remember read Hans Christian Anderson with my grandmother, she had a copy that had illustrations done by children, I really wish I still had that version, but we couldn’t find it after she died.
As a preteen I graduated to my mom’s bookshelf and started with Janet Dailey, Jude Deveraux, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Jude Deveraux. I got in trouble for reading Glorious Angel by Johanna Lindsey in class, I don’t remember what scandalized the teacher more; that I was reading in class or the book cover! https://pin.it/5yo8v6m
This is a great post idea. I also preferred Ronia over Pippi and still own that book! However my favorite books (the love extends past childhood) is in no particular order:
1. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series (ignore the movie). I was saddened when my 11th birthday came and went with nothing out of the ordinary happening.
2. Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time quartet (also ignore movie). It is as close as I will ever get to quantum physics. I also love A Ring of Endless Light and how it works through grief and weaves in poetry- don’t think I would’ve been exposed to Vaughan otherwise.
3. Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain because Assistant Pig Keeper, ‘nuff said.
Outside of fantasy, I also still have love for the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Which after seeing the security at the Met I’ve concluded is also a fantasy.
I also love the Mixed Up Files… What a great premise for a story. There was also The Phantom Tollbooth, Rose in Bloom, every Georgette Heyer, Amelia Bedelia, Babar the Elephant, Anne of Green Gables and countless others. My foray into fantasy/sci-fi began with Spider Robinson and all of the Callahan’s books, then I graduated to Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey. Reading was uncensored in our house and I am ever so thankful my parents encouraged it.
Phantom Tollbooth! I haven’t thought about that one in years! Now I have to search it out, thank you!
I adore Phantom Tollbooth and the Mixed Up Files had a huge impact on me. Wonderful story.
Like you, I read pretty much whatever I wanted from the library. My favorite author in middle school was Tamora Pierce, especially the protector of the small quartet and the Circle of magic. I still sometimes go back and reread them still.
I didn’t read Pierce, aka Queen Tammy, until adulthood, but everything she writes is gold.
Yay, Alexander Volkov‘s wizard stories. I read those in East Germany at my cousins when we visited from the West, back in the early 70s. It was a big deal to find and have them.
10 or 15 years ago I figured out that there is a new edition and I splurged and ordered them from amazon.de and had them shipped into the US.
Still liked them as an adult.
Here they are
Shannon (from KY) says
My mom started us on Little Golden Books as soon as we could pay attention. Nancy and the Hardy boys of course. SE Hinton introduced me to teen angst and Andre Norton is responsible for my love of Victorian architecture via “Octagon Magic”. Then came harlequin romances from my moms bookshelf. Wasn’t much for sci fi although I loved horror comics like House of Mystery. Good times.
Judy Schultheis says
I read my mother’s copy of “The Iliad” at age seven. She decided right then that she had no hope of trying to control my reading, and argued with any librarian who tried to tell me I couldn’t check something I wanted out because I wasn’t old enough. I found the Baba Yaga stories when I was eight. Still like them.
I loved fairy tales, but my entire childhood and adolescence, my favorite story was Rudyard Kipling’s “The Cat Who Walked by Himself”. I’m told this explains a lot about me.
I discovered science fiction and historical fiction on the same day, about three weeks after I turned ten. I think “Storm Over Warlock” may be the worst book Andre Norton every wrote, but it’s still pretty decent. I still have no idea what a gawdawful sex and sensation Elizabethan potboiler like “Magnus the Magnificant” was doing in a grade school library; but I remember reading it in one sitting.
And “Pride and Prejudice” has been my favorite book since I was thirteen.
Loved reading your picks. I grew up loving the Andrew Lang Fairy Tale color books, The Princess and the Goblin, Madeline L’Engle, Little House, The Good Master, Nancy Drew, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Alexander Key, Ben Bova, Mary Poppins, Half Magic, The Five Children and It, Farmer Josh McBroom and his 1-acre farm, Boxcar Children, Phantom Tollbooth, Oz books and his one Monarch of Mo book … I also loved local author Zylpha Keatley Snyder, Mollie Hunter, Mary Stewart, Charlotte Bronte, Susan Cooper, Tolkien, CS Lewis, Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, Ray Bradbury, and many, many more.
I see I have more books to try. 🙂
My first full length English book that didn’t have pictures was Famous Five, went from there to Nancy Drew. We didn’t have much money for books so I became a student librarian just so I can read 🙂 the library has always been my happy place. Devoured Asterix and Obelix and lots of comics and manga (guess i can’t stay away from pictures !).
Before discovering Ilona Andrews I was very into Mercedes Lackey, which I read throughout my teens, and to this day I remember a line from her Heralds of Valdemar series that shaped how I relate to the world and the people around me – “there is no one true way” – its a constant reminder to be slower to judge and to always try and consider points of views, and accept that not everyone will or has to see things my way.
I’m loving this soooo much! I think I’ve read way more than I realised because I wanted to “+1” to at least 3/4 of the posts today. First book that I really remember (to this day!) was Go Dog Go because they were having so much fun and I wanted to go to that dog party in tree at the end. Then Andrew Henry’s Meadow because I wanted to go to that kid party in the woods. I didnt read Pippi Longstocking but my best friend and i watched the movies over and over. I don’t remember reading much on my own or with my parents but I had a fourth grade teacher who read to us regularly. I remember Black and Blue Magic and The Egypt Game so well that I went and found them as an adult so I could have them on my shelves. Mrs Wardell, I love you, thank you for opening the door.
My gateway drug to reading on my own was 5th grade, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, quickly followed by A Wrinkle In Time. Madeleine L’Engle was my favorite author for years. Still have those books, had to replace Wrinkle In Time and A Ring of Endless Light because I wore them out. Hunting the sequels down led me to the middle school library and then the high school library. I think I just started reading everything on those shelves, Black Beauty, Black Stallion (what preteen girl doesn’t love horse books!), Charlottes Web, Little House on the Prairie, all Judy Blume, all Alexandre Dumas, Treasure Island, Secret Garden, Where the Red Fern Grows, A Separate Peace, The Outsiders, Island of the Blue Dolphins. Has anyone read The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles by Julie Andrews (yes, THAT Julie Andrews)? No one has ever heard of it but I loved it. Another teacher gave us The Hobbit in 7th grade and I discovered science fiction, Piers Anthony, Edgar Rice Burroughs (still love John Carter and Tarzan even though they are dated!), Ray Bradbury. Watership Down was, and still is, one of the best books ever.
High School brought me to romantic suspense, Mary Stuart, Barbara Michaels (Elizabeth Peters), Daphne du Maurier and Harlequin romances. These led me to the public library and Pickwick bookstore. Anyone remember Pickwick? Ours was 2 stories and had tall narrow aisles that felt like a maze full of BOOKS. Heaven. I cried when that store closed.
I never liked Dickens, Hemingway was ok, Shakespeare is awesome, couldnt get into Austen but loved the Brontes and I can’t stand Hunter S Thompson.
So basically I haven’t stopped reading since I was about 9. I’m 53 now, I read every day, I re-read my books too. I read to my kids everyday, they don’t read as much now but I still love them even though they are defective ;). In self defense my husband bought me a kindle because we have shelves and shelves of books, boxes and boxes of books. Every time we moved the movers charged us more because of the number of book boxes. My husband was an English major at UC Berkeley and I read more of his assigned books than he did. I’ve been organizing my house since I have some time at home right now and I was finally able to bring in the books that were still boxed in the garage due to limited shelf space (my romances and mysteries). I forgot how much I love handling books, reading the book jackets, scanning through and trying to remember the story. I was trying to get rid of stuff but even though I wont read some of it again I had to keep all of my Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss because of how much I loved them years ago. Reading this post and comments has been like a lovely trip down the library memory lane so THANK YOU!
Now I need to go dig out either A Ring Of Endless Light or Watership Down.
I still haven’t finished unpacking the boxes and boxes of books after my move. I’m out of shelf space even though my new house is larger. I did have some success with getting rid of a few when it first started unpacking, but after the easy to part with ones, I have so many more that I loved when it read them years ago. Like you in kept all of Jude Deveraux and Johanna Lindsey books, plus the Nora Roberts and Kay Hopper books…and so many others.
My first favorite was Laura ingles wilder, all mythology, Grimm fairy tales, and then my mom suggested Andre Norton… and I have never looked back on my favorites…but I also really liked agatha christie, so my next book choice to lighten the sci-fi are mysteries.
Moomin is insanely popular in Scandinavia, especially in Finland. I was pretty confused by the white blobs with eyes that appeared everywhere when I first moved to Oslo.
My childhood was very similar to yours when it come to books and reading. My dad was a voracious reader and a massive sci-fi fan so I read Dumas, Herbert and James Clavell alongside classic children’s fairytales. My list was pretty eclectic but I loved it. It shaped my love of reading until this day.
We have some classic Romanian fairytales as well. I think some are even translated. They typically include the heroic Făt-Frumos, the beautiful maiden Ileana Cosânzeana and the Zmeu (a mythological creature specific to Romanian folklore that can appear both as a dragon like creature or as a human). Romanian fairy like creatures (called Zâne) and the mischievous Muma Pădurii (who can be both good or evil) typically assist or slow down the hero along the way.
My favorite though has always been Păcală, an intelligent young man who spends his life tricking, mocking and punishing bad rich men and stupid people.
Loved the Pippi books, all of the Oz series, but after I received my own library card I read more books than I will ever remember!
Being dutch I read a lot of dutch children’s books when young, e.g The Beckman. Astrid Lindgren was also widely available and I loved Ronja but the book dearest to my hart was Brothers Lionheart. I still reread it every couple of years and it still tears me up.
Mrs Jacqui Murphy says
Tales of Magic Land 1,2,3 are available on Amazon in England in paperback. As is Gerald Durrell’s The Battle for Castle Cockatrice
I loved Narnia, although I didn’t finally read it until I was in my early teens. When I was really young I read My Father’s Dragon. I mostly really loved non fiction if it was about horses, mythology, dinosaurs, or whales.
OMG! Someone else who read My Father’s Dragon!! It was my favorite book at the time. I’ve never known anyone else who has read it. My friends were not great readers at the time. Wow, u made my day!
Theodore D. says
I grew up with Chronicles of Narnia and got quickly bored with Tolkien. I was 10, reading books from the high school library!
I also read Animorphs, R.L. Stein’s various series and The Far Side…
Mammoth hunters by Eduard Storch was the go to book when I was a child. Especially the bride kidnapping was interesting to ten year old me.
Then there was Karl May and his books. Every child wanted to play Native American and to have a Native American name [Edit-Mod R].
And my dad colected KOD when he was child. The books of bravery and adventure. So I stole some. Becouse I wanted some adventure and the books have pretty colorfull bindings.
trailing wife says
Because you like Karl May, Veronika, who is no longer known in America, you might find Mercedes Lackey’s _From A High Tower_ interesting. It is the tenth book in her Elemental Masters fairytale-based realistic fantasy series. Herr May appears already in the Forward, and his books are central to the story.
Oh this sparks memories!! The Tales of the Magic Land were translated into German (der Zauberer der Smaragdstadt) and played a huge part in my childhood (and Urfin in my nightmares). I loved these books so much and for a big part of my childhood I had no idea that these were not the original story and was very confused when I saw the wizard of Oz for the first time 😀
I have to read them again!
Dancing Corgi says
As a horse crazy girl, Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby series was central to my childhood. The first SF I ever read was a paperback copy of Ice Crown by Andre Norton that I bought out of a sale bin with my saved up allowance. My fascination with ancient Egypt was sparked by Eloise McGraw’s Mara, Daughter of the Nile. I read all of Gerald Durrell’s books and, I’m ashamed to say, it never occurred to me until I was an adult, how terrible it was to take these animals out of their natural habitats and have half of them die on the ship back to England.
Ooh, Mara! I loved that book! I keep looking at the Kindle version but don’t want to spend the money in case it doesn’t match up to my rose colored memories. Too many favorites have not!
Bullfinch’s Mythology for me! I read many of the same books as above, and I’m thrilled to see someone mention Cherry Ames! But on re-reading many favorites that I remember waiting anxiously for the next in the series, I have been disappointed at the awfulness of the writing. Did I just skip over all the extra words??
I read voraciously, if indiscriminately, from First Grade on. But my Hallelujah moment, when I was 10, was “Moon of Three Rings” by Andre Norton. The story and the book cover were amazing. I was enthralled and never looked back. I loved her SciFi and her Fantasy novels, and I still wouldn’t turn down a barsk if one showed up on my doorstep… Then my neighbor gave me a paperback edition of Lord of the Rings, the one where the covers were an illustration cut into three parts (I was 12). I read it in a week, then I read it again. She practically had to pry it out of my hands to get it back. I loved Eowyn and Shadowfax, but I think my favorite part was the Raising of the Shire. Narnia came next, then Robin McKinley and Damar. Fifty years later, Fantasy is still my first love, but I enjoy reading a lot of different authors and genres, now.
McKinley is still one of my very favorites, where I read everything she writes, along with Tamora Pierce, Patricia Briggs, and House Andrews, of course!
Nancy Heald says
Thank you for your take on Hemingway. Masterpiece, shmasterpiece – it is all boring and dry.
I ripped through all of Dumas when I was a kid too. It was probably a natural progression from me being seeped in Louisa May Alcott at the time.
Lina Christenson says
O my goddess! Ronja Rövardotter was my favourite Astrid Lindgren book too! And the movie that came out when I was a baby and played on Svt a lot as I was growing up was soooooo good and scary and I still have to close my eyes when vildvirrtorna comes as she is stuck!
Thank you for telling us that forrest inspired the edge forrest, that lends so much to the spookines now ????
Ps. And who doesn’t love Mumintrollen? And the three musketeers ????
Ships Cat says
One of my favorite reads as a child, and still is, for its story and wonderful illustrations is The Golden Cockerel by Elaine and Willy Pogány. I used to wake up my children with the cry: Awake! Arise! The foe’s at hand! Seize your arms! Defend your land! It was published in 1938, so probably not available anymore.
Der Zauberer der Smaragdenstadt – Alexander Volkov
In Eastern Germany we had the German translation of Volkovs Russian translation.
This will always be my favourite book for all times. This book feels like my childhood.
Elli and Totoschka and the Scheuch and the Eiserne Holzfäller and the Feige Löwe…
If I had to choose one book of all books, it would be this.
Moonintrolls – loved them though a late discovery & probably didn’t get to read all according to library availability.
Andrew Lang fairy tales, Georgette Hever (still a favourite & treasured 2nd hand corner bookshop editions, for the gorgeous old covers plus newer version with bleugh cover illustrations but no danger of losing pages). Always preferred escapist fiction…as you say life can be bleak enough
I had the “Сказочные повести скандинавских писателей ” which included 3 Moomintroll books that were read so many times I still wonder how the book didn’t fall apart. My parents brought it all the way to South Africa. They also brought” The wizard of Emerald city”. Interestingly, there was an attempt to update some of the parts and this edition was met with derision and the original text was returned.
What about the simplified Greek myths by N. Kun?
The famous pink book with Moomintroll on the cover
Ronia the Robber’s Daughter has a Ghibli-produced series on Amazon Prime! I’ve not seen it, but it’s come into my feed.
One of my favorite as a child was Karlson Who Lives on the Roof (Russian translation). Since my kids do not speak Russian I founf it in English , and it was the most boring book in the world. I could not read it. I actually found a Russain bloger who lives in Switzerland. She did a video why Karlson is so popular in Russia but not in Switzerland , a lot of it due to a very good translation into Russian language. Basicaly the translator made it better than the actual book.
Jude C says
Wow, so many memories! Orlando the Marmalade Cat was an early favourite, Mrs Pepperpot, Carbonel and the Green Dragon. Moving on I read a lot of Noel Streatfeild and Susan Cooper – very British. I loved Anne of GG, Little Women, The Little House books, What Katy Did, and learnt north American history and geography. Anne Holm’s I am David and Ian Seraillier’s The Silver Sword both set in central Europe still provoke powerful memories. All of Narnia (although the Christian imagery passed me by). I found sci-fi, then fantasy then urban fantasy.
Ellen D says
My favorites were Dr. Seuss. Before I was 10 I was working my way through my mom’s Ian Fleming collection of 007 James Bond. I can still see her eyes bugging out when I asked her what a word meant. This was followed by her squawked “What are you reading!!” The family was quickly alerted to keep an eye on their bookcases when I was around. Ian disappeared and was replaced with the adventures of The Black Stallion.
I remember Ronja too!
I devoured books as a child- i probably read more widely than i do now.
Enjoyed the James Herriot books and Gerald Durrell ‘my family and other animals’. I liked historical fiction/adventure stories like The Scarlet Pimpernel. My favourite was always fantasy – The Hobbit, The Princess and the Goblin, The Little White Horse.
Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy was absolutely formative, as was Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – I read all her books, but Howl was my favourite. When I was about 10 I wrote her a letter about how much I liked it and she wrote back to me – I still have the letter over 30 years later!
Raelene Gorlinsky says
Oh, I really enjoyed Gerald Durrell’s children’s fantasy adventure stories! Now I’m going to have to try the Moomintrolls.
Some of my favorites I haven’t seen mentioned yet:
Very early on:
Timothy and the Two Witches (loved the description of her hair floating)
Everything Mercedes Lackey wrote ever
Elizabeth Moon’s Paksenarrion series
“I violently hated Hemingway’s entire body of work and still do. I think it’s an exercise in overwrought navel gazing by a man deeply insecure in his masculinity.” 100% true! This made my day; thank you Ilona! 🙂
The Moomintrolls!!! Loved that series when I was younger, but hadn’t thought about it in ages!
Ronia, Robber’s Daughter was one of my absolute favorite books when I was a kid! Most people don’t know it, when I recommend it. The other very important books of my formative years were Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and Robin Mckinley’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast. (Well, her first. She rewrote it again later in a totally different way.) I still have all my original copies. ♡
I credit “Ronja” for my love of all things “fantasy” in my books. I loved it, still do. Every child in my family got a copy from auntie Edi and they all loved it too. They have good taste. 😀
I also loved many of the books mentioned here – but Robin McKinley’s ‘Hero and the Crown’ and ‘The Blue Sword’ buried within my teenage heart and wouldn’t let go. I adored those books. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Ilona.
I loved reading Maj Lindman’s Swedish triplet books when I was little. Flicka, Ricka and Dicka were the little girls and Snip, Snap and Snurr were the little boys.
I remember Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, along with all the Black Stallion by Walter Farley, all the dog books by Jim Kjelgaard, a really big book of Mother Goose stories and poems, Rachel Carson’s wonderful books about the sea and Winnie-the-Pooh (also Now We Are Six, House at Pooh Corner and When We Were Very Young), Pippi Longstocking.
I was twelve when I read Tamora Pierce‘s „Alanna: the first Adventure“ (then in the German translation) and this book made me a fantasy fan for life and a fan of the strong female protagonist. Nowadays I read all four books in English and I still love them dearly (what is KD for me today, Alanna of Trebond was for my younger self).
The story about the girl who changes places with her male twin, disguises herself as a boy to train in the palace to become the first female knight is still awesome.
Hmm, when I was a kid I read the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery, the the author’s less known Emily trilogy which I loved very much, most of the Enid Blyton books, all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, Tricia Belden books, the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I was also given a lot of classics to read with varying levels of success. Jane Austen is very boring for a kid and Dickens was equally hard to get through ( the ones I remember were thicker than Harry Potter books and considerably harder to read). I also remember reading To Kill A Mockingbird as a kid, it was okay to read but made a lot more sense when I reread it when I was older and also studying it as a literature text. While it was interesting to read classic texts as a kid, I think I didn’t understand a lot of the subtext then even if my vocabulary was able to technically understand the books. Also, it’s still very relaxing to reread children’s books sometimes as an adult 🙂
Oh I loved the Moomins as a kid!
As you seem to be in the mood to anwer questions: Texas was one of the first states in the US to end the official pandemic, or at least abandon the restrictions. I’m from Austria and it made our news! So I want to ask someone who is actually living across the pond, because we are still in an never ending lockdown and our government is on a one track train.
Ordinary Princess by MM Kaye
Winter of Magic’s Return (and sequel) by Pamela F Service
The Ghost Belonged to Me by Richard Peck
There was one about a dragon and a bat that I can’t remember the name of anymore.
I’m sure there’s more but I can’t remember them now. I still have all my childhood books somewhere
Teenage me loved the Frost series by Robin Bailey. I read it so many times. Silverglass series by J F Rivkin and Shadow series by Anne Logston. So many authors I loved, and they all quit writing years ago. IDK if they passed or just couldn’t get published anymore 🙁 So thankful for the internet. Traditional publishers are great and all, but there’s so many amazing series I read now that traditional publishing would never have given a chance.
Oh my goodness – Ronja is my favorite children’s story. It’s my “happy place book” – I’m nearly 40 and yes, I re-read it last year and still love it. It’s got everything – there’s an adventure, a bit of suspense, family drama, friendship, comedy. I’m so glad to see it on this list. 🙂
Wow had to think, to remember what I read back in the day! Grimes & Andersons Fairy tales, Happy Hollister & Encyclopedia Brown & Mad Scientists Club as pre-teen. Then moved on to Edgar Rice Burroughs–terribly racist, looking back! But I always considered those imaginary worlds, so never bought into those attitudes as acceptable for the real world– and Robert Heinlein. Heinlein also terribly paternalistic, while at the same time embracing elements of the 70s! Interesting dynamic–but man could he tell a story! And H. Beam Piper also had a definite influence. All books i could get at my library, yay! Gotta love the library.
I came across “Ronia” while wandering the local BIG library (as opposed to our tiny local one-room library) when I was about 10. The cover art drew me in, as has everything by that artist. Here was a girl who wore practical clothes and did things on her own in the wilderness! She also made friends and realized her parents were people. It was one of those defining moments which lead me to become a Park Ranger and a scientist. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.
In addition to a lot of the ones named I loved Gene Stratton Porter. At one time she was a well known international author. However as she died in 1924 you can imagine how different the writing. She was very big on nature and I remember reading “Freckles “ numerous times along with “Girl of the Limberlost”. I also remember a school book from 3rd or 4th grade called “Wagon Wheels”. Another author I enjoyed was Sherwood Smith. I made the mistake of reading “The Taming of the Shrew” when I was about 11 and hated it with a passion. So much I have never brought myself to read any of his other works.
Finland mentioned – see you at the Tori (marketplace in Helsinki)! 🙂
Sort of – as Moomins & Tove are Finns. There is even a Moomin Land where we went each summer by the sea in Naantali. I loved it as it DID not have even one ride. It was all about the Moomin experience. The House, Witches place, Nuuskamuikkunen (Snufkin)… My daughter loved Moomin, we went each summer to meet with the characters. The kids loved hugging Moomin folk. I just wish I was like Moomin Mom – great cook and still loving going on adventures – and always always supporting her kids when they go on crazy crazy adventures. (I worry too much to totally pull that off.. Try a lot).
Oh! I read Ronia the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren! I had forgotten about it until I saw this blog. Weird! I read it when I was 11-12 in Tahiti (old copy in the school library), it was a French translation, but definitely remember the story even if it was so long ago. Must have liked it a lot if I remembered it. I have not read any Ernest Hemingway other than The old man and the sea, my great-grandfather gave me a copy when I was a kid, and I liked it! Another classic I really liked was The Old man that read love stories by Luis Sepulveda. I don’t know why but it touched my soul.
Sydney Girl says
We are also big readers in my family. Tarzan books were read and re-read until they fell apart and were taped up. I came across them when my parents finally moved after 40 years in the same house (never threw anything away) and gave them to my son to read.
So many books and authors are the same for my early reading experiences – The Famous Five (I also wanted to go to boarding school based on these books), the Narnia Series, The Belgarid, The Black Stallion series, Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, and the Silver Brumby series (I think that might be an Aussie author as only one other person has mentioned it). Got all of them through the Scholastic Book Club.
Also loved Stephen King – I would steal them from my sister who had a job and could afford to buy her own. Many a sibling argument would start with book stealing.
My parents had a reader’s digest book club subscription. Condensed books, usually 4 stories, in hard cover. Some of the stories were very confronting (child abuse, war stories etc. Very violent and disturbing for an eight year old) but being the youngest child I think my parents were too busy/tired to monitor my reading habits.
A couple of authors that haven’t been mentioned are LE Modesitt and Sherri S Tepper. Loved there books and along with Austen, Pratchet, Tolkien, Ian Banks, McCaffrey, and Donaldson have special place on my book shelves. True, Tepper can get a bit preachy in her later works but Grass and Rasing the Stones are 2 of my favourite books – always on the re-read list.
We also had World Encylopedias which had a kids nursey rhyme, which I inherited. It also is still on the shelves.
I never read Dumas but I think I might have to rectify that.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Anne-Marie McRoberts says
I too learned to read when I was about three, and haven’t stopped since. I read many of the things that others have mentioned, with a particular shout out to the other reader who mentioned Joy Chant’s Red Moon and Black Mountain, it is wonderful as is the prequel, The Grey Mane of Morning. One person mentioned Swallows and Amazons, I read the whole lot when I was about seven, and they serialised the first one on the BBC. My parents never cared what I read, so long as I did read. Dickens, Walter Scott – Ivanhoe and Redgauntlet were particular favourites, as was RL Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Catriona, as well as Treasure Island. I read everything I could get my hands on that Kipling wrote, and my favourite is and was always, Stalky and Co. My favourite author as a child and she has to be up there in the top ten still, was Rosemary Sutcliff. She wrote several novels for adults too, and her retelling of the Arthurian legend, Sword at Sunset is a wonderful book, not much magic but a wonderful tale of a Roman British Warrior, trying to hold back the tide of the barbarian saxons. Flowers for Adonis, the one about Alciabiades is also magnificent.
Fantasy came early too, my teacher when I was seven used to read to the class for the last 20 minutes every day, we started with the Hobbit, and moved on to the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The paperback was just out, and the term finished before the book. It was the first thing my mother was nagged into buying for me, but she thought I had the title wrong. After that books were my favourite thing, and since my mother was a book work too, persuading her to let me go to the library on my own, after school and come home on the bus was an easy win.
I moved on through the things everyone else has mentioned, and after the first dreadful novel, read the whole Deryni series by Katherine Kurtz. The second one could have been written by a different author! Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and her Earthsea series were also favourites. Another fantasy author no one has mentioned are the strange and wonderful novels of Storm Constantine, Hermtech, Aleph, etc. If you are looking for good contemporary fantasy, I think Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series is phenomenal, as is Ragwitch, and I have a couple more on my TBR pile. Alison Croggon is also wonderful, her Pelenor series starts with The Gift. And the one that is driving me to lunacy and drink at the moment as there has been a gap between the first three and book four, is Helen Lowe’s The Wall of Night series. Happy Reading Compadres!
Jessica A says
So many of the books mentioned here are still on my bookshelf, special mention to Robin McKinley – as well as many of her other books, I have two copies each of The Hero & The Crown, and The Blue Sword. I had The Blue Sword checked out of the school library for about six months straight, and read it several times a week. The librarians were bemused.
A series particular to Australia that many may not know, but anyone who ever loved horses will adore, are the Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell. There’s no humans, the books are told from the perspective of wild horses, and they are brutal and beautiful and unforgettable.
Classics like Black Beauty, White Fang, Call of the Wild. The Dragons of Pern. Narnia. There’s a Reader’s Digest story called Callanish by William Horwood which is about a golden eagle who escapes from a zoo, based on a true story. I must have read that dozens of times.
But really, I read anything I could get my hands on. Books, encyclopedias, dictionaries. A lot of waiting rooms and reception spaces would stock Reader’s Digest and I read any of those I could find. Sometimes the reception folks would tell me to take them with me. lol
Oh boy did this post take me on a journey to the past!
When I was a kid I read every fairy tale book I could get: there was one series that were named after jewels (the Ruby Fairy Tale book, the Emerald Fairy Tale book, and so on). And there was one old book of my mother’s that I still cherish because it had some really lesser known tales in it (such as Ricket of the Tuft and Boots). And then every picture book based on a fairy tale I could find.
Other children’s authors and books:
Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Little Monsters series by Mercer Mayer
Mythology books (again whatever I could get my hands on)
Piggins by Jane Yolen (really anything by Jane Yolen)
Helga’s Dowry by Tomie De Paola
Amelia Bedelia series (I think these have multiple authors?)
The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Mouse Soup and On Market Street by Arnold Lobel
Fairy tale series by Marianna Mayer
Babar series by Jean de Brunhoff
Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans
Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)
Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Serendipity series by by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrated by Robin James
Closer to Young Adultish?
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and Louis Slobodkin (Illustrations)
Secret of the Unicorn Queen book series (definitely younger adult) – I was obsessed with this series
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Young Adultish and Adultish? (really who can tell anymore?)
The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingles Wilder
Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword series and all of her fairy tale books; Beauty was probably first “grown-up” fairy tale retelling
Howl’s Moving Castle and other books by Diana Wynne Jones
Alanna series by Tamora Pierce (I remember dragging my mother to the bookstore and pestering the booksellers for release dates — this was before easy access to the internet)
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Harry Potter series (say what you will, but I read them when I was young)
Narnia series by C.S. Lewis
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Merlin series by Mary Stewart
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
Star Wars books (specifically Kevin J. Anderson and Timothy Zahn)
Deryni series by Katherine Kurtz
Caroline Courtney, Janis Laden, Mary Balogh, and other Regency Romance authors
Who let me have access to the internet and a keyboard today? 😀
James and Giant Peach, The Witches, almost all of Roald Dahl’s works I could get my hands on. Started my love of fantasy early.
Roald Dahl has some great short stories too. I loved his books as a kid as well!
I’ve gotten a decent collection of out of print kids books that were my favorite when I was a kid. Picture books: Bill Peet books, Dorrie the Witch, Weeny Witch. Slightly older: Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, Chronicles of Narnia (like others have mentioned).
We read bedtime stories to them in dramatic fashions with accents: Harry Potter, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
I spent my allowance on the Walter Farley Black Stallion series and also loved King of the Wind, Black Beauty (my parents said when I made money I could take horseback riding lessons, so I did and learned some dressage as an adult). Unfortunately neither of my kids is horse crazy, so I’m not sure where this now 40 year old paperback collection should go.
As a kid @ 7 I was dropped off at the Library as my “camp” and hung around the library all day reading. You can’t do that anymore without Child care services getting involved.
Same as you, I did not like Dickens. But that was when reading it in russian.
Do try reading his books in English. They are full of very subtle humour, making the darkest and heaviest scenes full of light and hope.
Russian translation of Dickens just terrible. As is english translation of Three Musketeers.
Emmy the giant says
If it was a comic book, it was considered okay for kids to read. My parents also had a lot of Doonesbury books.