Teen Book Scene Blog Tour.
I asked Christine what her favorite books were favorite books were growing up.
Reading has always been an important part of my life; I can’t imagine what life must be like without books. What would you do on long car trips? Before bed? In the morning when you are eating breakfast or blow-drying your hair? Between appointments or in line at the post office? What do you do during the commercials? Or when you’re relaxing at the beach or on a hammock? Honestly, it’s an utter mystery to me. Books have been my constant companion since before I was old enough to actually read them. There were times in my life when I had less time for them, but I never forgot about them. And now, when I look back, most of my important memories are colored by the books I was reading at the team.
When I was five, I was anxious, timid, and painfully shy. Curious George delighted me precisely because he had none of those problems. I also had severe asthma as a child and zillion allergies, so I spent much of my time at the doctor. George’s positive experiences at the hospital—and his fearlessness—made me less afraid. And, come one, that part where he swallows the jigsaw puzzle piece is riveting!
When I was eleven, I couldn’t get enough of Judy Blume’s books. I was especially fond of the Fudge series, probably because Peter and Fudge and the gang lived such different lives than I did. Living in an apartment building with a doorman in Manhattan is about as far from Fargo, North Dakota as you can get. Judy Blume helped me to understand that there was a big world out there, one that I wanted to experience.
At eleven, I was also a fan of books about camp, probably because I never went to a sleep-away camp (and wouldn’t have been brave enough, even if there had been one in the vicinity of where I lived). Laura’s Luck by Marilyn Sachs was my absolute favorite book about camp, followed closely by Love, Betrayal, and Hold the Mayo by Francine Pascal. I’m long past camp age, but I still secretly really want to go.
Eleven was also the year that I found the Sweet Valley High books. I was pretty convinced that high school was going to be just like it was for Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. (It wasn’t). I should’ve savored sixth grade more. Once junior high started, there was no more SSR (sustained silent reading). What I wouldn’t give for my employer to implement SSR now! (Hmmm, must write proposal immediately.)
When I was sixteen, I discovered VC Andrews. I read Flowers in the Attic so many times, I practically had it memorized. And Heaven was a close second. Something about the melodrama of those books—the utter cruelty of the one-dimensional villains and the innocence of the victims—delighted me. I think sixteen is an age when we need to believe that there’s justice in the world. VC Andrews’ books might’ve been filled with gruesome (and, let’s be honest, pretty kinky) events, evil is always transparent and goodness always prevails (you know, after twenty-plus years of suffering).
When I was twenty, I was a junior in college, the year I decided to study literature. It was that year that I started reading the classics, not just because somebody made me do it (as in high school) but because I really wanted to. I loved Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, Fitzgerald, Wharton, and Steinbeck. That critical year propelled me toward advanced degrees in English (though I still snuck VC Andrews when nobody was looking).
It seems like there’s an explosion of great books now, especially YA books. When I was a kid, I would’ve adored all of these epic series we’re seeing. I also think I would have been a particular fan of Sarah Dessen’s books. I wish I could travel back in time and tell my younger self about the Kindle. It would totally blow my adolescent mind!
The beauty of YA books is that we’re never too old for them. The inner young adult lives in all of us, and I can still enjoy these great books now. And you know what’s even better about reading these books when you’re old? No more bedtimes. I can stay up as late as I want!
So what are your pivotal books from your childhood/teen years? Do they still resonate with you?
Wow! We seem to have a lot of books in common that we read while growing up! Sweet Valley was my go to choice. I loved the Twin, High, Senior, Year and University (and I even read the new one that recently came out!) And then I loved V.C. Andrews. There was something so wrong about the books, but they were addicting. And now I'm back to YA. Love it!
Thanks for joining us Christine!