Top 10 Books From My Childhood That I Would Love To Revisit
I am actually doing this through my Throwback Thursday: Retro Reads feature. Rather than review the books, I post lengthy, detailed recaps. I got a lot of hand-me-downs from older cousins and used books from other places so I read books from a lot of different eras. I was a big fan of series books — and series back then were looong! While the kids and teens of the 1930s-1960s had mysteries to solve along with their favorite characters, the ’80s and ’90s readers had books fraught with soap opera drama.
01. The Boxcar Children (1924-ongoing) – The first book was written in 1924, but the second didn’t come out until 1942. I had no idea these books were still being written! I think I only read the first 20 or so, but I have since collected a few of the later ones. The Boxcar Children were sibling orphans living in a boxcar in the woods when the series first started. Though young, they seemed so grown up to me. They had to be, living on their own with the oldest of them being only 14. Life became easier once they moved in with their grandfather and set out on a series of adventures and continued solving mysteries.
02. Nancy Drew (1930-2003 + many spinoffs) – Nancy Drew is my favorite book character ever. I basically wanted — and still do — to be Nancy Drew. I hadn’t realized that these were published for so long. Looking over the titles, I think I read the first 78 and I remember that the paperbacks (57-78) were not as good as the older hardcovers (1-56). I collect Nancy Drew books and I think I have most of them through 78. I might have to see if I can pick up some of the later ones sometime.
03. Trixie Belden (1948-1986) – Trixie Belden was another favorite amateur detective, along with her group of friends and siblings. Trixie and her group were in their early to mid-teens, so they were more limited in what they can do than Nancy. They always had to ask for permission to do things and to work around school schedules. Nancy, at 18, had more freedom and better connections and seemed more glamorous. Trixie was just a normal kid who happened to keep finding mysteries. I recently recapped the fifth Trixie Belden book, Mystery Off Glen Road. I might do more in the future but I’m working on another series right now.
04. The Happy Hollisters (1953-1969) – The Hollisters were a sweet family of mystery-solving children. I dearly loved tomboy Holly with her Laura Ingalls Wilderesque braids and her cat White Nose. I preferred the Happy Hollisters to the more well-known Bobbsey Twins.
05. Donna Parker (1957-1964) – The Donna Parker books are less mystery story than books about a girl’s life in the 1950s and 1960s, but she does run across some mysterious happenings and has one true mystery to solve. I can easily imagine the Donna Parker books as a TV show along the lines of The Donna Reed Show or Leave It to Beaver.
06. The Girls of Canby Hall (1983-1989) – Set in a New England boarding school, this series is probably the reason for my love of boarding school books. I have already recapped the first seventeen Girls of Canby Hall books. The first set of girls graduated and the series was rebooted by a new set who I didn’t like as much, so I’m moving on from the series. I may revisit those later books at another time.
07. Cheerleaders (1985-1988) – Can you guess what this series was about? Like the Canby Hall series, there are two groups, although there is some overlap. After most of the first squad graduates, the series follows the new squad. I think I liked the second set better in this series. This is actually the series I’m currently recapping for Throwback Thursday, with the first book’s recap coming up next week.
08. Sunset Island (1991-1997) – Three very different girls travel to an island off the coast of Maine to be nannies the summer after graduating from high school. They become best friends, fall in and out of love, and somehow even manage to do their jobs.
09. Ocean City/Making Waves (1994-1998) – One series, two titles! I don’t remember much about this series, which is kind of disturbing because I actually read it as an adult, which means more recently than I read most of these books. I remember buying them all on ebay and that it’s about a group of people, probably high school graduates, who go to Ocean City to work for the summer. They all end up renting the same house, so it’s kind of like MTV’s The Real World. Without cameras.
10. Making Out (1994-1998) – This is another series (and by the same author as Ocean City/Making Waves) that I read as an adult. I loved these books because, like Sunset Island, these kids lived on an island. I think this series was pretty scandalous because, as you can see, the title of the first book is Zoey Fools Around. According to Wikipedia this is being republished as The Islanders starting this year. YA has come a long way since 1994 so it will be interesting to see if today’s YA readers are interested. I hope it’s being updated or that it’s clear that it’s set in a time before there was a cell phone in every hand and the internet in every home.