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Monday, December 12, 2011

In Trouble: Books I Loved As A Kid

In third grade I made an enemy out of my school teacher. How? With books. We had a regularly scheduled reading period and while normally I looked forward to it, with the extremely limited supply of books in class it didn't appeal to me in the slightest. I'd quite honestly read them all. More than once. When the teacher bugged me about reading, I quite simply told her that I'd read them all and could I please get a pass to go to the library. She obviously didn't believe me and quizzed me on the content of a few of the books. I answered correctly, even on the book about how fingernails grow. She ordered me to read anyway. Angry, I refused unless I could go to the library. And got my first ever detention. After school. Lines on the chalkboard and everything.

Considering I was a goody-two-shoes, this was incredibly horrifying.

Obviously, this started a life-long love. Here are some of the books that started it all:

The Chronicles of Narnia: My taste in reading was always geared toward the SF/F even then. When the other girls started reading the Babysitter's Club, and Sweet Valley High, I started on the Chronicles of Narnia. Actually, I have to thank a very fidgety and overly harassed teacher's assistant named Mr. Quidgin for that. No kidding. That was his name. I just knew that there were mythical creatures, talking animals, epic battles, kids with swords, and did I mention a badass Lion with a capital L?          

The Black Stallion Series: I have these books to thank for my grade-school obsession with all things horse related. What young girl didn't want to have a giant, beautiful, black, nearly murderous Arabian race horse as a pet? Okay, maybe you didn't, but I did. There's something in these books that turns the horse into something of near mythical majesty. Also I'll note that I never actually rode a horse until well into my twenties, where the whole pooping on my shoe thing ruined the majesty. 

The Time Quartet: If there was one book that started my initial love for SF/F it was A Wrinkle In Time. I identified most with Meg, an awkward smartie-pants, glasses-clad older sister to a genius brother with strange mental powers. Again, I didn't read much into the connotation of the whole evil IT thing, all I know is that it seriously disturbed me enough to want to leave on the nightlight. 

The Xanth Series: …At least until about book 20 or so. Okay, so I know it's not YA, but I read it and the early not-quite-as-puntacular books when I was in junior high school. What kid doesn't wish that they had a singular and unique magical talent? I gobbled up the lot of these, wondering why I had to live in boring Mundania while there were grumpy-old Walter Mathau-esque Magicians answering questions for the likes of everyone but me. Not to mention the centaurs, hippogriffs, manticores, and slew of other magical creatures. 
The Dragonriders of Pern: Again, not YA material, but how could I resist a story about giant telepathic dragons on another planet fighting deadly interplanetary spores? The first three books in the series are still some of my all-time favorite re-reads. And I'm ashamed to admit, the first time I ever wrote fan-fic (although I didn't know that was what it was called back then) was for a Dragonrider Mary-Sue type story.

The Vampire Chronicles: I have a theory that most teenage girls go through a phase where they have a slightly unhealthy obsession with vampires. As this was a pre-Twilight era, Anne Rice managed to paint for me an emotionally tortured, sexy, vain, baddest-of-the-bad-boy vampires with a strange Oedipal complex and a penchant for being a rock star. Luckily, my vampire obsession stopped just short of me ever wearing all black, dyeing my hair, or getting otherwise embarrassing piercings in mighty unattractive places. 

What were some books you enjoyed as a young'un?


At December 12, 2011 at 9:48 PM , Anonymous Carmen Echeverria said...

Well, I DID read The Baby-Sitter's Club when I was in elementary school. Hey, it got me reading, didn't it?

In junior high and high school I enjoyed the young adult romance series of L.J. Smith: The Forbidden Game trilogy, The Night World series, and The Vampire Diaries. (I read The Vampire Diaries a good ten years before the T.V. series came into existence, thank you very much. While we're on the subject, they should make a television adaptation of The Night World series. That would rock!) Yes, you're right. As a teen I did fantasize about taming my own sexy, brooding, vampire. I'm not (too) ashamed.

As an adult, I thoroughly enjoy the Harry Potter series and the movies...even the bad ones. I still want to be a wizard!

By the way, AWESOME BLOG!

At December 13, 2011 at 2:19 PM , Blogger B.C. Matthews said...

Thanks, Carmen.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the Babysitter's Club or Sweet Valley High, just that it didn't have much appeal for me when I was young.

Plus, who DOESN'T want to be a wizard?


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