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Childhood Books Remembered



It's probably because it's a cold winter night, perfect for curling up with a good book, that my mind is going back to books I read growing up.

My town's public library was three large, wonderful floors of imagination. The bottom floor was the children's library, where I devoured Enid Blyton's "Famous Five" series, the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace, the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and many more.

There are other beloved books I recall, but am not sure now whether I 'met' them at the library, at the bookstore, or on the shelves in my own house. Among those are Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books, Elizabeth Enright's series about the Melendy children (my favorite was "The Four-Story Mistake"), the "All-of-a-Kind Family" books by Sydney Taylor, nurse series including Cherry Ames (by Helen Wells and Julie Tatham) and Sue Barton (by Helen Dore Boylston), and of course girls' mystery series -- not only Nancy Drew, but also the Judy Bolton books by Margaret Sutton and Trixie Belden series by Julie Tatham ("Kathryn Kenny").

I loved nothing more than to spend time in my room, reading these books and others again and again and again. Some I ended up buying after taking them out of the library numerous times.

Certain books came to mind immediately as being reread especially often. Among these were "The Secret Garden," by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the story of Mary Lennox; "A Little Princess," by Frances Hodgson Burnett, about Sara Crewe; Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind," Johanna Spyri's "Heidi" books, Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" (so it was an amazing experience to finally tour Alcott's house in Concord, MA); and one less well-known but wonderful book -- "All This, and Heaven Too," by Rachel Field, a novel based on the real life of her great-aunt, Henriette Desportes. Also, from the library of books my mother inherited from her mother, I discovered and loved Nell Speed's "Molly Brown" college-girl series, as well as Annie Fellows Johnston's "Little Colonel" books. And as I reached college age, my often-reread list included Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged."

I can't imagine not being a reader. Even after all these years, I am still friends with Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Scarlett, Henriette, Molly, Nance, Judy, Anne, Diana, Gilbert, Laura, Mary, Mona, Rush, Randy, Oliver, Judy, Horace, Peter, Honey, Irene, Lloyd, Sara, Nancy, Trixie, and all the others. Recently I ended up with some of my parents' books, and have had great reunions with some of my favorite characters and their adventures.

What books do you remember most fondly?

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
cogitationitis
Jan. 29th, 2009 09:17 am (UTC)
Books
I was always fond of fairy tales, and read both Grimm's and the Blue Fairy Book at a young age. In middle school, I discovered Walter Farley, and especially liked The Black Stallion Mystery. From my elementary school librarian, I found Lois Lindsky, and discovered I hated Lillies of the Valley, but loved Norse mythology. When I earned money as a kid, I would agonize over spending it on a Breyer horse, or another Nancy Drew book; since I inherited a Nancy Drew from my mom, I knew that she was rewritten over the years.

I came to science fiction rather late in life, at the age of 11, and started reading all the classics: I liked Bradbury and Ellison, and read through our public library's entire stock of Jules Verne. I also liked Poe.

I recall that when my aunt gave me Winnie the Pooh for my 5th birthday, I instantly disappeared into my room and devoured it, only coming out occasionally for a word definition, so I was definitely a precocious early reader.

Also, I preferred Little Men to Little Women.
fudgelady
Jan. 29th, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Books
I didn't touch on SF, but I did read quite a few of the books from my father's collection -- especially the Robert Heinlein juveniles (Space Cadet, The Rolling Stones, Time for the Stars, The Star Beast, Citizen of the Galaxy, and Podkayne of Mars) and some of the Future History. I also particularly remember Asimov's Mysteries.

Other genre books I read a lot of were Emilie Loring romances (from the cozy branch library we once had in Needham Center) and Agatha Christie mysteries from my parents' collection. The Loring books were a recommendation of my grandmother's.

My parents also had Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and I read that many times, too. Some years ago (15?), when I was first online, I remember an Internet chat interview with Miep Gies, and I had the chance to ask her a question. Deep in my files is the printout of her answer; I'll have to track that down. Sometime I want to read some of the more recent works about Anne Frank and her family.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 7th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Thanks for your memories!
I had totally forgotten about "All-in-a-Kind Family" until I read your blog. I loved them and reread them. But they vanished from my memory. I especially remember wishing that I lived in the time of penny candy.

I also devoured the Little House books.

And books that I wish I had saved that I was addicted to were the little Peanuts cartoon books. Where are they now?
fudgelady
Feb. 7th, 2009 06:43 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks for your memories!
The little Peanuts books! My dad had those in the basement, along with the other Peanuts books (I think he had them all) -- the little Charlie Brown was so cute!

I read them all and think I have them now, packed away in a box somewhere -- or at least I hope so!
(Anonymous)
Sep. 21st, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
The Melendys
I love the Melendy books so much! Rush and Mark were always my favorite characters, and Then There Were Five was the best book in my opinion, though The Four Story Mistake is a close second.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )