In the September 2020 newsletter we asked readers what the most memorable novels they read while growing up. Here are the responses:

Ayesha: When I was little I adored A Little Princess, which I found fascinating (the time period more so than the references to the main charachters early life in India) and when I was a bit older I loved Tex by S.E. Hinton which while not about my generation (I’m not THAT old! Ha) I probably could relate to as I also grew up in the country and competed with my horse (though in my case it was mostly eventing and gymkhanas, but we couldn’t ever resist the barrel racing when the rodeo came around…)

Paul: The most memorable book from my youth would be THIS ISLAND EARTH by
Raymond F. Jones.
This is the first fiction book that I ever read and was the reason that I fell in love with the science fiction genre as a kid. From here I discovered Arthur C. Clark, Ray Bradbury, Ben Bova and Isaac Asimov to name a few. There was even a science fiction periodical that I subscribed to (forgot the name) of short stories edited by Ben Bova. As I grew older.I discovered other authors and genres but science fiction will always be my first love.

Michele: My most memorable book from my youth would have to be Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. My 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Trotter would set aside time every day to read aloud a chapter from this magical tale. We would sit enthralled, mesmerized as she projected vivid images with her expressive voice giving life to each character. Me and my classmates looked forward to her daily reading.
When she stopped and attempted to close the book we begged her “Please one more chapter!” I had mixed emotions when the story ended. But, it truly sparked my love and passion for the next reading adventure.

Matt: My mother was an avid reader. It may have been her most favourite activity. It was so important to her that she taught me how to read before I went to school. At first, it was all comic books. Then, in Dec 1956, for my 5th birthday, I got 4 books and entered a new world. They were books 1 & 2 in the first Hardy Boys series, and books 1 & 2 in the Tom Swift series. I was hooked.
These series (along with The Rover Boys, Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins and others) were created by Edward Stratemeyer, writer and publisher, founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The Rover Boys series was actually written by Stratemeyer himself, the others mostly by hired ghostwriters. Stratemeyer was one of the most prolific writers in the world. He produced more than 1300 books himself, selling more than 500 million copies. A Canadian writer and filmmaker, Leslie McFarlane, authored 19 of the first 25 Hardy Boys books, under the pseudonym Franklin W Dixon. Many of the early Tom Swift were authored by a newspaper reporter, Howard R Garis. He and his wife Lilian, were possibly the most prolific authors of children’s books in the early 20th century.
As I said, I was hooked. The Hardy Boys and Tom Swift introduced me to mystery, puzzles, danger, crime, detectives, spies, adventure and the belief that even kids could accomplish things. They also established in me, a passion for reading series with the continuing and developing hero. Since that day, almost 64 years ago, I have rarely been without a book in my pocket, ready and available for whenever I can find a few or more minutes to read. It is without a doubt, my favourite activity thanks to my mom and Edward Stratemeyer.

Glenna: I’m NEW!
Thanks for making this Order of Books available. My favorite book as a child was Ferdinand the Bull. While spending many years outside of the USA, my landlord introduced me to her bookshelves containing authors Bodie and Brock Thone and I devoured all of the Biblical fiction books they wrote – and hoping for any more! FANTASTIC! Their depth of research and realism made it tough to make myself stop reading by 2:00 a.m.!

Mark: “The Phantom Tollbooth” full stop. The search for rhyme and reason has become my life’s guiding philosophy.

All other books I read as a kid are merely in a battle for second place.

Trevor: Hello once more,

You ask about books of one’s youth. Now that’s a tricky one as it depends on how ‘youth’ is defined: I’m still in mine, despite being 69.

Like you, I read a lot of Enid in my early days, but also got into the “Marmaduke the Lorry” series and the “Little Grey Squirrel” series. I moved on to Narnia and the Bobbsey Twins but then, as a teenager, I quickly disposed of the entire James Bond series before moving to science fiction. In that genre, my favourite author has to be Robert Heinlein, whose books were often thought-provoking.

Claire: Some of my most memorable novels are:

Nancy Drew series. Growing up, my sister-in-law (my brother is 15 years older than me) sent me a boxed set of five books. I really loved them and read them over and over. Nancy Drew got me hooked on the mystery genre.

In high school, Flowers for Algernon was required reading and till this day, I can’t forget how I felt back then after reading it. I cried back then, and after re-reading it last month, I still cried. It is such an emotional read for me.

In college, we were required to read Dante’s Divine Comedy. I hated it — even more so because we were forced to read it. Ask me if I can remember anything about it because I can’t. I just purged everything after reading and writing a report about it. I’ll probably try and read it again just to see if my opinion has changed.

Well, those are just some of the novels that left a lasting impression — good and bad.

June: As for this month’s question about what we read as a child, our family of 6 kids spent most of our time playing outside. Reading in school was See Spot Run (I am dating myself here). When I discovered our library when I was about 12 then it was Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldan.

Joy: I discovered the Nancy Drew books as a young inquisitive girl after the librarian at school suggested them. I checked one out of the library but was so interested in them, I had my Mother purchase them. .I could hardly wait until my Mother purchased the next book and then the next one.
I even had her purchase me a magnifying glass. i would look at everything up close. I never solved any mysteries with it!
I loved reading then and i still read a lot.

Jennifer: Believe it or not, mine is… Jane Eyre! Not your typical youth novel. I was in 4th grade, and my 8th grade cousin had been assigned it to read, so I wanted to give it a try. She gave me this cute little lecture about looking up the hard words and all that, but there weren’t any. I loved it and re-read it annually for at least 5 years. (This may also be why The Eyre Affair is one of my favorites as well, though obviously that came along many years later). J.E. probably whet my appetite for gothic novels, which I used to really enjoy: Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and their ilk (not so much anymore).

I wasn’t totally precocious, so I read children’s books as well. Do kids still read Elizabeth Enright’s books, such as the ones about the Melendy Family? How I enjoyed The Saturdays and The Four-Story Mistake and the others, in part because I wanted to be them.

Teresa W: If I can remember that far back …. preteen and teens my top 5 would be Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn, Flowers In the Attic by V.C. Andrews, Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Teresa: I have two memorable series that i read a long time ago – they are the Cherry Ames series and the Nancy Drew series.

L.Em: As a child, English was my second language until elementary school. Books were the bridge between my family’s native tongue and our country’s first of two official languages. I have Ann M. Martin to thank for my love of reading in third grade. Soon, I had a bookcase filled with so many paperbacks of “The Baby Sitter’s Club” books, “Sweet Valley High”, and the “Goosebumps” series. I learned what autobiography meant from Abby’s Book. I learned about type-1 diabetes because of Stacey’s health condition. I even remember asking for one of the special BSC editions for Christmas one year.

Then, for mature reading, I started reading Anne Rice’s vampire books. (Paranormal Romance is still my favourite genre to this day.) After I finished that series, I discovered her Mayfair witches. Through Rice’s descriptive writing of New Orleans, I fell in love with the city, despite not ever visiting it. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed John Berendt’s “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Charlaine Harris’s inspiration for True Blood, and the “Night Huntress” novels by Jeaniene Frost. The rich histories of magic, voodoo, and secrets were the perfect backdrop for these southern gothic stories.

Hazel: Enid Blyton Famous Five was a favourite of course and being horse mad anything about lucky children who owned one especially Ruby Ferguson’s Jill series.

When it comes to stand alone novels though you can’t beat:

The Incredible Journey
The Secret Garden
The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
All the Green Year.

I still have my original copies and still read them occasionally.
And my “youth” was good few years ago now 🙂

Susan: My most memorable books to read when I was growing up included Little House in the Big Woods and all the books to follow written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I got the first book for my eighth birthday and gave it to my daughter when she turned eight who passed it to her daughter when she was eight.

As a teenager, I loved the Nancy Drew mysteries written by Carolyn Keene.

Thanks for bringing these memories back to me! I continue to enjoy my love of reading.

Mary: The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster

Christine: I absolutely loved the Nancy Drew books, and it was my very first series of books that I got into. I remember we had this big stenciled wooden chest full of all the Nancy Drew books that got passed down from sister to sister (there were 4 of us). I read them in order and just thoroughly enjoyed the adventures that Nancy and her friends got into. Attached was a note I had sent my Dad while away for the summer with my Grandmother, “Baby”, asking him to please remember to bring one of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories with him when he came. As an adult, while at the library with my niece during story hour I took one of the Nancy Drew books off the shelf and silently re-read it while the librarian read out loud a book to the children. It transported me back in time and didn’t disappoint. I had to laugh at how quickly I read the entire book as an adult versus as a child (1 hour compared to a week or so) – HA!

Trang: Oh my goodness! I, too, devoured Enid Blyton’s books when my dad was posted to New Delhi in the early 1970s for 4 years. I don’t quite recall my first EB book, but it could have been one from the O’Clock or Brer Rabbit series as I began supplementing my list of Flower Fairies books by Cecily M. Barker. I do remember transitioning to the series about Mr. Pink-Whistle, Mr. Meddle, Amelia Jane, the Wishing Chair. As I transitioned from one grade to another, I added the Adventure series, Fabulous Four, Famous Five, Secret Seven. By 5th grade, I was reading the various school series: Naughtiest Girls, St Clare’s (oh, how I loved Carlotta who became my secret friend!), Malory Towers. Having 2 younger sisters, I often went back and re-read several of Enid Blyton’s books. Every so often, I would find an older edition of one of her books at a second-hand bookstore. I know I can get them from Amazon, but I prefer treasure-hunting at bookstores.

Pat: I read the usual for a girl of my time, the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden series.

I also read a lot of Jules Verne which would be considered pretty heavy going these days but which I was fascinated by. And The Swiss Family Robinson, I was intrigued by all of the descriptions about how they invented the things that they needed from the limited material available. Pretty nerdy, eh?

But the books I would say really grabbed me were The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series that I read in my mid-teens. I read them at least twice in my teens and several times since then. The complexity of the world that Tolkien invented, with the languages and history was wonderful. It felt like there was a lot more to that world than just the story that we were focused on. And of course the story and characters weren’t too bad either!

Linda: For me, that book was Watership Down. It just amazed me. Rabbit society! I often think about it, and want a copy for my library! I’ll have to research to see if the author wrote anything else!!!

Janis: I was hooked on Walter Farley’s “Black Stallion” series. I also remember a science-fi series about a teenage boy stowing away on a spaceship and his adventures. I wish I knew the author- I got hooked on sci-fi after reading the series.

Carl: Books from my youth…I’m 64 so this takes a little thinking. I read the Bobsey Twins books and at one time had the whole series. What my mom did with them after I went to college I don’t know nor remember. lol…In junior high (middle school now) I discovered Agatha Christie through the Scholastic reading program and have been collecting her books, movies and TV series on dvd (from A&E mostly) ever since. I have a couple books in French and one in German. Those are the 2 series that stand out to me.

Bev: Wow, that is a hard one to remember. I am almost 85 yrs. and memory not that good. Bobsey twins seem to jog my memory as I still have some. Tom Sawyer & Finn ones as I just gave them to my great grandson recently. Our library is not regularly open only to phone in books for hold. I have been recycling my garage full of books of my favorite books from a few years ago. Hope this is not too long a letter. Really like your news letter

Wendy: Thanks to our great librarian when I was starting Middle School, who when I asked her to find me interesting adventures, turned me on to Willard Price. He lived a long life and wrote many books that I am sure all will love.

Vicki N: Thank you for the newsletter each month. I always find books or authors to add to my wish list. I’ve been a reader for all of my life, unlike my three brothers or my mother. I do remember my father with a paperback sometimes, always a Western story, like Zane Grey. My parents were born in the early 1920’s, so I’m an old lady now myself. Upon retirement a few years ago, Reading became my full time occupation, and I love it!

As a young girl, I owned all of the Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew books, spending my allowance (50 cents a week!) on the newest one. As I got older, the library was my best friend, and my choice of books became almost unlimited.

But the book I remember most vividly was Gone With the Wind. After seeing the old movie on TV one Sunday afternoon, I had to get the book! So my mom let me join a Book Club, where I could choose one book a month to be mailed to me. GWTW was the first one I ordered. I read it in two days (hot summer days in Georgia, with no A/C in about 1960).

When I was old enough to drive myself to the library, I would choose a subject and read all the non-fiction books in order on the shelves in that subject, like the British monarchy, or the American Civil War, or World War 2. I also chose a lot of fiction as well, of course.

Too long for your newsletter, and I don’t expect my remembrance to be mentioned. I just think I wanted to share it with you because you are a man after my own heart, someone who loves books as much as I do.

Vicki H: I can’t remember many titles from the books I read as a child. By third grade (8 or 9) I remember reading authors Dr. Seuss, Enid Blyton, Beverly Cleary, and Walter Farley. as well as the Encyclopedia Brown series. We also owned the popular I know I read voraciously, but those are the ones that have stayed in my head. (This would be the 1960s.) My family had a collection of children’s anthologies we read so often that we wore out. And I remember reading Charles Addams cartoons with my Dad.

By the end of junior high (14?) I had read adult books like Gone With the Wind and Jane Eyre. I remember one biography about Martha Ball Washington, George’s mother, that I read two or three times. I also loved Elizabeth Thane’s Williamsburg series and other Revolutionary War “romance” stories. I first fell in love with science fiction when I was 12 or 13, starting with the People short stories and novel by Zenna Henderson. That quickly led to novels like Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank.

Now that I review my reading habits before high school, I see why my tastes are all over the place now…

Regina: The first full size book I remember reading was Mary Poppins. I was pretty much hooked as a reader after that (3rd grade).

By junior high school I pretty much spent my summers reading. The ones I still remember are the ones I consider my favorites (after all that was 45+ years ago).

I really liked My Side of the Mountain (author ?). It was about a boy who left home to see if he could survive alone in the wilderness. It was probably set in the 1930’s. I was just so impressed by a 12 year old kid that could do what he did and survive alone.

I read my first science fiction novel by Andre Norton titled Forerunner Foray. It was so out-of-this-world I was immediately hooked on sci-fi.

I inadvertently got a hold of The Day of the Jackal which was a very adult espionage thriller. However, I was stuck on the genre for many years (espionage, not ‘adult’). I read lots of Cold War stuff after that: Ludlum, Le Carre, and others. I was kind of young for that kind of stuff; maybe it was all the suspense.

Those are the ones that come to mind and they’re the ones that turned me into a “reader”. That and the fact that my parents read to me a lot when I was little !

Karen: Since I am too old to remember what I read in my youth, I will tell you what captivated my granddaughter (now a college sophomore): The Rangers’ Apprentice and the Brotherband Chronicles both by John Flanagan. We shared these stories over and over for years – even playacting them.

puzzlepat: I read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. That started me on my quest to read as many mysteries as I could. I still read a lot of them. I love Stuart Woods and also Sue Grafton. I also love the husband and wife team of Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller. I like Joanne Fluke and her Hannah Swenson series. But truthfully I love almost any mystery. To me they are like puzzles and I try to figure them out.

Pam: The most memorable books from my younger days are the Trixie Belden books. They were written by different authors: Julie Campbell started the series. Then Kathryn Kenny wrote some. All were equally wonderful. About Trixie, her older brothers and her best friend, Honey. They would run into adventure after adventure, get into trouble, and solve mysteries. After reading these books, I yearned for an older brother of my own. I wanted to be Trixie Belden! I also absolutely loved the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. Checked them out of our school library and read and re-read all of them many, MANY times. Dug out my Trixie Belden books within the last year, I have read them again. I was pleasantly surprised that I found them every bit as enjoyable at age 70 as I did when I first started reading them at age 10 or so. Have now passed them along to my grand-daughters, who love reading, of which I am very proud.

Mary Lou: I was a big reader as a kid. I went to Catholic schools and reading was strongly encouraged. My Mom was also a reader when time permitted.
I started with all kinds of comics, then to dime store novels then on to Great Books.
The one book that came to my mind when you asked this question was Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
I remember staying up all night under my covers ( I shared a rooms with a sister) to read it. I may need to reread now that a “few years” have past.

Maria: These would most definitely be the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. I remember reading them over one summer. I had always read as a child (C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and the Nancy Drew books, if those count as “novels”), but I had never read like I did those books. I didn’t move off the couch for anything, just sat and read all day. It was the first time I had ever done that and thankfully has not been the last!
I also wanted to mention a quick, complete series; the Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies. I had to read them (well, the first book, I went and found the other two) in college and gave them to my brother a few years ago; he still comments on those books, but I can barely remember them! I need to read them again.

Louise: Your monthly post got me to thinking about books from my childhood. Most must be very forgettable, because I was a huge reader. But I realized that my all-time favorite book from that time was Now You are Six by AA Milne, and of course a Winnie the Pooh book. I still have that very first book, and an annotated edition because it remains one of my all-time favorite books. Love the Winnie the Pooh wisdom! Similarly, Alice in Wonderland was then and is today a favorite story. These just have lasting joy for the reader and significance no matter one’s age.

Joe: In 8th grade I got hooked on Miss Marple. My mom read a lot and loved Agatha Christie Whenever she finished a mystery I would grab it and read it, especially during the summer. Back then I did not care for Hercule Poirot, but Miss Marple kept me going until high school, when I started reading Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and went on to become an insatiable reader.

John: any and all “Hardy Boys” books, Gene Shephard, books and his radio show. first semi adult book was “Up the Down Staircase”.

Karen: My all-time favorite book was and is “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” by E.L. Konigsburg. I also read a lot of the Nancy Drew mysteries. Middle school had me reading “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S.Lewis. In high school, I had my first deep book discussions while reading “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens.

Joanna: When I was in 4th or 5th grade my mother read a Reader’s Digest Condensed Books volume that contained “Young Bess” by Margaret Irwin (I think)…that turned me into a rabid fan of English (British) historical fiction, and now even detectives and procedurals and flat-out nonsense…add Chesterton, Hilton-Jacobs, Perry (the William Monk series), Penman, Rutherfurd (I bought “Sarum” on a choir tour of England), Dexter (from Masterpiece on PBS), Follett, Tey, Sayers, Seton, Sansom, Lurie, Heyer, Wodehouse, and I’ve just re-read Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Chronicles…I destroyed my thumb crocheting too much, so I have tons of time!

Jack: 1st ever-Beltane the Smith read in 1950(author unknown
2nd Thunderhead, Son of Flicka
Thereafter James Fenimore Cooper
Kennetth Roberts series (best fictional stories of early America and the War of Independence, including Northwest Passage (Spencer Tracy movie), Anne Arundel(about Maine), Rabble in Arms, etc. Great reading if you have kids.

Neil: I enjoyed the Tom Swift books when I was in the 6th grade, I remember I loved them and begged my mother to let me buy more (we didn’t have a lot of spare cash) Then my older sister gave me a copy of Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island. I loved it and my love for reading took off and I went to the library to read all the Verne books I could find.

Irene: Great question and thank you so much for putting this newsletter out every month and then some!

My earliest book memory, although not the first book I read, was a Little Golden Books book called “The Color Kittens” which stuck with me all these years since it introduced me to primary and secondary colors. I learned from the kittens combining paints to make green and orange with primaries being blue, red, white and yellow. It’s funny what you remember, isn’t it?

I also recall that the runaway favorite book in my first grade class was a Maurice Sendak book called “Chicken Soup with Rice” a book of verse and not the more famous “Where the Wild Things Are” which came out somewhere around that time. (I’m old, I guess.}

However, my favorite books were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and then the Nancy Drew series. I read CATCF first then saved up all of my allowance money to buy it. It is one of the few children’s books I still keep in my library and is the original copy costing a whopping $3.75 to buy at the time. The Nancy Drew books were left in my mother’s home. I had the full library that again, took a long to save up for. Full of adventure, she provided an early feminist role model I still cherish to this day. It wasn’t until recently that I learned these were written by several authors under the name Carolyn Keene in a book about the series.

My foray into adult novels came when I was introduced to another series of books written by Agatha Christie, who gave me plenty of books to read through, starting with Murder on the Orient Express. While not the first in the series, it whetted my appetite for more so in I went.

Thank you for all you do and giving me a chance to relive some of my childhood favorites and influences.

Doug: I wanted to respond to this month’s question regarding the favourite books of my youth.

When we were kids in school, my circle of friends used to pass around the Hardy Boy Books by Franklin W. Dixon, and we loved all of them. This was in the 1960’s, and we read the original versions, not the shortened down, more politically correct ones released in later years. I am a sports fan and also loved Chip Hilton sports books by Clair Bee.

In the late 70’s when I started University and turned to more adult fiction books, the first two that got me hooked were The Chancellor Manuscript by Robert Ludlum, who remained a favourite author until his death, and The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett. Then thanks to Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow I began to turn to legal fiction books in the 1980’s. Those are three very influential books in my reading life that remain classics to this day.

dbutler: Sherlock Holmes series – best of my youth list plus Dumas.

Jan: The first books I remember my parents reading my sisters and I, is of course, Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne and the whole Thornton Burgess books Mother West Wind, Peter cottontail, Reddy the fox, Paddy the beaver, as snuggled on his lap, my Dad instilled in us a love of Nature and protecting our environment. A Child’s Garden of Verses which we memorized…Mine has a hood and I curl up small and nobody knows that I’m there at all…Vespers by A.A. Milne (not exact quote)!
Pookie the little rabbit with red wings, by Ivy Wallace, which I received from visiting English cousins (I still have it today 50 some odd years later)! Then he started us on Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Of course the Quintessential Canadian books Anne (with an E) of Green Gables, all of the above I reread by myself as soon as I could and cherish to this day. Another series at Dad’s knee was the Bobsey Twins, no longer a socially correct series because of the way the black housekeeper & her husband were referred to, but we innocently adored them.
My first reading books were the Golden books The Pokey Little Puppy & the Saggy Baggy Elephant which I then read to my little sisters! Chicken pox at 8 or 9 saw the lady across the street send over Enid Blyton and her son’s Boys Big Book Annual from England(I think it was called) which introduced me to my first mysteries, Sir Arthur Connan Doyle’s, Sherlock Holmes!
I’d better stop here as you have my memory juices flowing and I could go on indefinitely…thanks for bringing back those cherished memories, especially of my late Dad’s voice & Love
Thanks too for your web site I use it constantly and enjoy your newsletters!

Eileen: Sue Barton nurse books by Helen Dore Boylston. This was a series that went from student nurse (at a slightly disguised Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston) to public health nursing, military war nurse and on. It’s what made me decide to be a nurse. I got my diploma at MGH too. And I’ve been a nurse and nurse practitioner for 47 years! Life changing books.

Diane: Nancy Drew series

Barbara: My youth was a long time ago, but I fondly remember reading the Betsey, Tacey and Tib books by Maude Hart Lovelace. I’ve tried to get my granddaughters interested in reading them but I guess they are too tame for this generation of readers. My oldest daughter loved Encyclopedia Brown which her daughter is now reading; and my younger daughter loved Babysitters Club, which her daughter is now reading. That’s what I love about books, generations reading and loving the same stories.

Jennifer: Hi, Graeme–

Two books that I read many times as a child were Meg of Mystery Mountain by Grace May North (first time I ever saw the word “cerise,” which captivated me) and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The latter is especially memorable because I got caught reading it in church…

Dave: When I was young, discovering reading in the early ‘50s, I really learned to love books by Jim Kjelgaard. His stories about dogs and their adventures fueled my love for reading and also my love for dogs.

Eugene: My favorite series was the Hardy Boy’s Mystery series. I think that from when I was 10 to 14 years old I devoured these books. Every birthday and Christmas my parents would get me one or two of the books in the series. The books were attributed to the author Franklin W. Dixon whom I understand is the pen name of several writers of the series.
This series was definitely my favorite in my younger days.
My favorite authors as an adult are Herman Wouk. Leon Uris, and James Michener.
Love your emails and website.

Fredericka: I loved the Just So stories and anything else by Rudyard Kipling. I refer to the time between the 5th and 6th grades as my “summer of biographies”. I don’t recall the name of the series but we got them at the library. I read nothing but biographies that summer and I remembered being fascinated particularly by the scientists. Then I went through the Nancy Drew stage, loving every one of those. A little later on I discovered Daphne DuMaurier and I devoured every one of her books. I think she is the one who really got me interested in mysteries. There are probably more that I could write about but I think you get my gist.

Thanks for your emails. I look forward to them and always find something that reaches out and grabs me. So, I guess I can thank you for that pile of books by the easy chair!

Debbie: Nancy Drew got me hooked on mysteries and it’s still my favorite genre today. A big “thanks” to the librarian who suggested them.

Corinne: I have always loved to read, ever since I learned how. My brother, who is 5 years younger than me, tells me I taught him to read before he even went to school, just because I loved it so much. I have no memory of that, but it pleases me to think it happened.

As a young child, I read things like the Nancy Drew series, The Bobbsey Twins; and the Little House on the Prairie box set, which I still own to this day from my childhood. I also read and still own the Anne of Green Gables box set, although I’m not sure if that was from very small childhood or later in my teenage years since much of that series after the first book has to do with Anne’s grown-up life.

The first real novel that I remember reading was the Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey, which I got a hardback copy of (and still own, very much more beat-up now!) at the library book sale. I was 11? 12 maybe? That book sparked a lifelong love affair with dragons, and with the fantasy and science-fiction genre for me. I also read Little Women, which was the first book to make me cry (when Beth died). In approximately 8th grade I read The Shining and I remember being afraid to read it after nightfall, so I’d only read it during the day. As it turned out I wasn’t so much frightened by that book, but I did very much enjoy it.

We too had to rely on the library for books when I was a child. In the summertime when school was out my mom would take us to town to the library once a week, and I would check out a paper shopping bag full of books every Saturday; and read them all by the next Saturday. It was glorious and I long for the time to read again as I had in the summertimes of my childhood. Someday, when I can retire. Meanwhile, I have hundreds of books on my kindle, awaiting the day!

Don: When I was young I hated to read, and only read enough to get a grade (most times not a good one). Then I picked up a book called Greyfax Grimwald by Niel Hancock. It was the first book in the Circle of Light series. I could not get enough. I am 63 now and still remember this wonderful series and recommend it to any parent looking for a book to interest their child in reading.

Chris: I remember this question from the newsletter a couple of years ago. Reading your post from then, Graeme, is when I first learned about Enid Blyton–a writer that I hadn’t heard of here in the US. I still need to track some of her books down–they sound wonderful. For me, the books in the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery and any and all the books by Louisa Alcott were my absolute favorites. Also, receiving a young person’s biography of the Civil War nurse Clara Barton in an elementary school gift exchange got me hooked on reading biographies and autobiographies–an addiction that I still suffer from as an adult!

Malsie: The most memorable book from my youth was, The Secret Garden, by Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett.
I was in the fifth grade when I discovered this magical book and not a particularly good student. ADHD was not known back then. However, this book started my life long, love affair with literacy. Sadly, it did not help much in making me love academics, but I did manage to go on to become a reading teacher.

Martina: Hi,
My most memorable books from my youth are varied. I read The Black Stallion by Walter Farley over and over and whenever I could, I saved my money to get the next book in the series. I even wrote Mr Farley how much I loved his books and I received a letter from him with an image of the Black’s head at the top! I still treasure this letter to this day!
Watership Down by Richard Adams was another book I have read over and over since I was younger. The whole story of how the rabbits interacted and how they adapted to the situations they were in is amazing! They befriended a bird! I still cry when Hazelrah leaves his body!
The Lad books by Albert Paysone Terhune really had me wanting a dog. I wanted Lad who had many adventures similar to Lassie! He had absurdly tiny forepaws, but was a thoroughbred in body and soul. What a fantastic series of books based on a real rough Collie named Lad!
I also was very heavily into the original Star Wars! I read and reread Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi. I rewrote the series with me being Martina Oslo and having the adventures that Han did! I even have the stories on vinyl which I listened to over and over!
Another series that I have read over and over in my youth are the dog books by Jim Kjelgaard. Big Red taught me a lot about the woods and nature as well as telling the the incredible story of the bond between a boy and his dog. All of the books are rich in nature and characters!
I’m sure there are more since I’ve always been an avid reader, but these have always been my favorites! I got into dragons later!
Thanks for posing this question which took me down memory lane.

Donald: The best books I read as a youth has to be tom sawyer by mark twain but I also grew up reading Issac asimov a science fiction author one that you probably don’t know just joking.
I started reading Randy Wayne White “Dusky MacMorgan series” he is a American author of crime and non-fiction. Dusky is a retired Navy who lost his wife and that’s I will say so I don’t blow the book for any reader this book will keep you on your toes. I have a action pack thriller in the production stages coming out by years end hopefully you will review i

Diana: Your question of “memorable novels from your youth” was an interesting one. As I am 75 years old, that goes back quite a ways. Not one novel, but a series for me was not only quite memorable at the time but has stayed with me all my life. That would be Eleanor Cameron and her Mushroom Planet series. Picture a young girl in the 1950’s quite caught up in the planets, rocket ships and the galaxies because of those books! Picture that same woman sitting in front of her then TV screen in the ’90’s hanging on every word of the PBS series “The Astronomers” . And now picture that mature woman (and grandmother) watching and blessing the SciFi channel for all the series like “How the Universe Was Formed”. And all because years ago I pulled a thin a little book, “The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet” from my grade school library shelf!

LInda: It was so interesting seeing all of the authors that other readers say they wait for their new book. So many had the same authors that I love. Then there were some new ones I have never read. Castello is one that I have never read, but she pops up on many reader’s lists. Now as for this months question. When you asked this question before I mentioned a few books and authors from my elementary days. Now I will mention ones from my young adult and teenage years. I read every single Phyllis Whitney that was published. I absolutely drifted away into each and every novel. I also read Victoria Holt who was similar to Whitney in writing genre and style. Then on the flip side I read every Stephen King novel I could get my hands on. I stopped reading every King novel a little later as I enjoyed his earlier books better with the exception of a few of his newer ones. One of my favorites was “Under the Dome”. Then there was “11-23-63”, which I devoured. I started his Mr. Mercedes series and hated it. I even tried watching the Mercedes series and could not get into it either. Either his style change or my taste changed. I also read every Phillippa Carr book, like the Holt and Whitney books. So, as I grew up I changed my taste for books from the Enid Blyton and Marguerite Henry books to the romance/mystery books and the horror of King. Now as an old lady, my taste is different , too. Still love mystery and thriller, but also love the CIA /FBI espionage type books. Then when I want a calming influence I go for the Guidepost mysteries or the books like “The Ladies of Covington”. Reading is one of the most interesting hobbies one can have. So, everyone enjoy your books and thank you for the newsletter.

Susan: Thanks for your great request this month. I’m probably a lot older than many of you, but my favorite writers from my early teens were Walter Scott, especially Ivanhoe, and Robert Louis Stevenson, also a lot of historical fiction by Kenneth Roberts. I loved his books on the French and Indian wars. It’s no wonder I was a history major in college!

Gerald: Hey there Graeme

Like most youngsters, I read the Enid Blyton books such as The Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Adventure series, etc.

However, my favourite books were the Just William series by Richmal Crompton, The Hardy Boys by Franklin W Dixon and the Biggles adventurers by WE Johns.

Both my parents were avid readers and we always had bookcases full of books at home.

I recall reading my first “adult” book at the age of either 12 or 13. It was On The Beach by Neville Shute, I went on to read all his books.

I then “graduated” to all the books by Frank G Slaughter, Geoffrey Farnell and several other authors the names of whom I can’t recall at the moment.

In your most recent newsletter you mention Westerns. As a young adult I used to really enjoy the westerns by Zane Grey, Max Brand and JT Edson.
These days I still enjoy the odd western as a change. I will then usually read a book by Louis L’Amour or William W Johnstone who has written numerous series in this genre such as Last Gunfighter and First Mountain Man, to name just two.

Well that’s my 2c worth for the moment.

AJ: Wow, love this question. Every week we would go to the library – and because I read so much they allowed me to take home 14 books each week – which still only lasted part way through the week. I remember Caddie Woodlawn and Watership Down, Nancy Drew series and Chronicles of Narnia series. I read every book on Thomas Edison and since there were only 2 in the kids section, they let me get all the biographies from the adult section. For a 5th grade book report I read Tale of Two Cities by Dickens and remember enjoying the “grown up” themes. I was always a voracious reader. My mom used to make me go outside to play – so I kept books hidden outside that I could read when she kicked me out of the house.’

Kenicha: My most memorable books from my youth are listed below.

I usually read everything by a favorite author, but I did have some stand-alones that I read multiple times: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin being one. I thought the first paragraph was SO mysterious! I also adored Pippi in the South Seas by Astrid Lindgren and Through the Years with Henrietta by Irene Turnbow.

I read “The Chronicles of Narnia” multiple times. I read all of Beverly Cleary’s children’s books and enjoyed them all. Noel Streatfeild’s books were great–Thursday’s Child was my favorite of hers. I read the “All-of-a-Kind Family” series by Sydney Taylor multiple times. I most enjoyed An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott, although I read all of hers. Finally, I read everything by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Many of these I have re-read or listened to on audio book as an adult. They are still great, so they have stood the test of time!
Joyce: I loved Freckles and A girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter I still have copies of them and reread them every so often. I also read all the Little Colonel books and Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton mysteries. My all time favorite is Rex Stout with his Nero Wolfe mysteries. I read them in my teens and I read them now since they have been reprinted in ebook form.
Thanks for another great newsletter.

Ginny: Mostly I read everything available! But here’s what I liked especially:

1st Grade, maybe earlier: The Boxcar Children (not the watered-down version sold currently)
3rd-5th Grade: Three Without Fear by DuSoe, about a shipwrecked boy. Great book about self-reliance and reliance on friends; I don’t know why it is not in constant reprint.
Green Poodles by Charlotte Baker, about show dogs, another book that needs to be in reprint
No Children, No Pets by Marion Holland, about having to move family, take over a motel
Follow My Leader, about a boy who goes blind from a firecracker
Ready Made Family by Frances Murphy, about adoption
And of course, all of the Dr. Doolittles, all of Mary Poppins (not ANYTHING like the movie), Ballet Shoes
(and other shoes), Beverly Cleary, One of a Kind Family series, Mama’s Bank Account, the Andre Norton magic books (Red Hart, Lavender Green), The Secret Garden, Ready-Made Family, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Enormous Egg, Homer Price, Lang fairy tale books (Red, Blue, Green), The Borrrowers series
6th grade and up – all of Jules Verne (esp. Mysterious Island), Cheaper By the Dozen + sequels, The Egg and I, The Once and Future King, Erle Stanley Gardner, Ellery Queen Jr., Hardy Boys, Eleanor Jewett mysteries, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Lorna Doone (must have been abridged), Anne of Green Gable series, Sue Barton series, National Velvet
High School – (my school gave us a list to choose from, and once I figured out the books on the list were good, I mostly read from the list): early Ann Tyler, Hiroshima, The Ugly American, The Family Nobody Wanted, Black Like Me, The Wooden Horse, To Kill A Mockingbird, Kon-Tiki, Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, The Caine Mutiny, Marjorie Morningstar, The Good Earth, Giants in the Earth, Silas Marner, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Robert Heinlein (esp. Citizen of the Galaxy), The Child Buyer, David Copperfield (and much of the rest of Dickens), The Scarlet Letter, Peyton Place (not on the list, ha-ha!), Desiree, The Raft, Animal Farm, Isaac Asimov

Carole: The most memorable novel from my youth were mostly by Agatha Christie. I was sick a lot in 6th grade and my Grandmother introduced me to mysteries. I read all of her Agatha Christies in paperback and have continued to love her writing so much that I now own her complete works in leather bound editions; that way I can re-read them as frequently as I wish without wearing them out so easily. My early introduction to the mystery genre has made me a lifelong fan.

Beth: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Maureen: In my early teens (I am now 67) I fell in love with the Biggles books by Captn W E Johns. We didn’t have a car then (Mum and Dad got their first when I was 16) but my Aunt did. There was a Biggles collection advertised for sale second hand in the Saturday paper in Sydney. My Aunt drove quite a distance to pick me up and then over to the house where they were for sale and bought them for me. She really encouraged me and my love of reading and it has never waned. I have never forgotten her generosity. I had read all the time before that but that is what I really remember. Another series after that that I got into was by Dennis Wheatley and the Roger Brook books which I also loved. I wouldn’t mind reading a couple of these books now by these authors to see what I thought of them but there are so many books on my tbr pile on my kindle that at this stage I won’t. I always had my head in a book. I even took it to a dance once and read for a while!

Jackie: Some memorable books I read as a young girl are Call Of The Wild, Misty of Chincoteague and Black Beauty. To this day I will read any book that has a horse or a dog on the cover. I like animals in stories.

Marie: My favorite book was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith and the YA novels by Mary Stolz. One title I remember was The Day and the Way We Met.

Tom: Memorable books from my youth.
1) Once and Future King
2) Watership Down
3) Wizard of Earthsea trilogy
4) Hobbit/Lord of the Rings

Awesome site. So many great ideas!

Marlane: The favorite books of my youth would a VERY lengthy list. My family have always been voracious readers. That said two of my favorites are This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart & The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I discovered these in my late tween/early teen years – and have continued to read them periodically over the last six decades. I also think that one of THE most imaginative series ever is the original set of Oz books by L Frank Baum.

mailman: My most memorable books as a youth: Dr. No by Ian Fleming; Great Expectations by Charles Dickens; Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith, and Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. Pretty diverse.

Jjm: I was reading before I started school and moved on to adult books about age 12 or so, but I’m trying to think of books I loved before reading novels like The Grapes of Wrath and The Three Musketeers.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster – reread the most.
Fireweed by Jill Paton Walsh – first book to make me cry.
Half Magic by Edward Eager – probably my first series
The People by Zenna Henderson – the joy of a short story collection
The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander – discovery of books with sad endings

And thousands more.

Lou: My first series of books was “The Hardy Boys” by Franklin W Dixon. You can tell what a big impression it made by the fact I still remember the authors(?) name.

Lavada: On the subject of books read in my youth:
– Beautiful Joe by Margaret Marshall Saunders
– Black Beauty series by Anne Sewell
– Toby Tyler series by James Otis (Kaler)
– Trixie Belden series

Some of them I read multiple times and cried of course!
– Anne of Green Gables had to be a favorite!
We had no TV and reading was it entertainment

Kris: Great question! My favorite author as a young child was Judith Kerr, I adored “The Tiger Who Came to Tea” as a little girl, and “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit” as an older girl. I was a big fan of the Bobbsey Twins books, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators books as well. When I was a young teen, I started sneaking my mom’s Johanna Lindsey books, and I have been a hopeless romantic ever since!

Katy: The one book that stands out from my youth – thanks to a children’s librarian’s recommendation – is The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. It is fanciful, intriguing, delightful and memorable!

Jean: Most memorable books of my youth — three books come immediately to mind:
Little Women
Anne of Green Gables
I know I read other books before these but Heidi was the first book that I remember taking me out of myself. I have loved reading ever since.

Janice: There are several books I read during childhood that are memorable, some of which I’ve read more than once during adulthood. These books hold emotional attachhments, also. My paternal grandmother, for example, was an avid reader, and she would screen her books that she let me read. I believe having become an avid reader during elementary school helped me to overcome many obstacles during childhood, along with education itself; I’ve always loved learning.

Here is my book list from childhood:

Harbin’s Ridge, Henry E. Giles

American Captain, Edison Marshall

Oliver Twist, Dickens

Elsie Dinsmore novels, Martha Finley

The Robe, Lloyd C. Douglas

The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper

The Black Stallion novels, Walter Farley

Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

The books I read mostly in the seventh grade were not fiction. They were the little blue biography books of famous people, such as George Washington and Andrew Jackson. I studied hard in all my grades and found time, when not studying, to read thirty-two books during seventh grade. Yes, I actually kept count.

Deborah: Books from my youth:
My mom was a huge fan of the Perry Mason series by Erle Stanley Gardner. That series got me hooked on mysteries. I remember going to the library and wanting to check out more of those books than allowed so mom would allott me some of hers. Since we both loved mysteries it wasn’t really a sacrifice on her part. BTW, she recently rewatched all of the Perry Mason series on CBS. I haven’t gotten to it yet. It’s a very long series and one you can binge watch if you enjoy older shows in black & white.

There’s also a historical book that the plot sticks with me but the title didn’t. I think it was from Harlequin (or something similar) and was one of those series they do that features a different state each month (or several books in a month). It was about the suffragettes and a young woman who worked in a clothing factory. I remember the descriptions of the shirtwaist dresses she wore and the harrowing escape she made from the factory when it was burning. I think it was set in California or possibly New York. It wasn’t a very long book, probably 250 pages at most. I really wish I could remember the title. I’d love to read it again.

bournep: The book series that got me reading as a young child of about nine or so was the “Trixie Belden” Series. This was pre Nancy Drew.

Samuel: I have read a lot of books since my first book on Kit Carson. I was in the 3rd grade and was in bed with the chicken pox and my dad bought me that book. Got me started on my favorite pastime. Anyway the book that stands out in my youth (early teens) is Cricket Smith by Monte Linkletter. Just really an eye opener for a 12 year old. Loved it.

Phoenix: What a wonderful question! And I almost have to laugh at what my favorite book was as a child. Though, for me, it was more my favorite book as a teenager. Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Collected Lyrics.” Yes, a book of poetry! I wrote my college final paper on “Ballad of the Harp-Weaver,” and I still choke up if I read it aloud. I still have the book, by the way. It’s easily sixty years old, the cover is coming off, the binding is shredded, it’s been written in and highlighted, and loved practically to death. I wouldn’t part with this book for anything!
Sadly, her works are still protected under copyright law, or else I’d share a few here. First Fig and Second Fig are great, if you want to look them up.

Dub: Graeme, 65 years ago I was reading the Happy Hollister’s series. I checked on Amazon and they’re still there! While I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, I do remember I enjoyed the books back then. Take care, enjoy your monthly/semi monthly newsletter.

Linda W: My favorite childhood author is also Enid Blyton. Thinking back I’m surprised my suburban Illinois library had a collection of her books. This was in the 1950s. The series The ______ of Adventure was my favorite series. My favorite adult genre is British mysteries, surprise.

Linda M: I don’t know how old I was when I discovered “Johnny Tremain”by Esther Forbes…maybe fifth or sixth grade when we studied the Revolutionary War but I have read it a number of times and just gave a copy to a fifth grader. I still have the copy I had way back when.

Samuel: What I remember most reading starting maybe age 10, were Zane Grey Westerns. I always liked history books and Westerns, later Louis LAmour.

Laura: Good morning,
My love of reading started in elementary school reading the biographies of historical figures. At age 11 I read Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott. My mom Turned me on to Zane Grey and over my summer break I read most of his books. Then on to Louis L’Amour, Emilie Loring and so many others. It is my very favorite thing to do– Whether it is a book, my kindle or an audio book.
I read Gone With The Wind in 3 days. I was a young housewife– nothing else got done! LOL. It is amazing to me how I will go through times and read mostly one genre,but then burn out on it for awhile and on to something else. In my late twenties I started reading horror–Stephen King, Dean Koontz,etc–now I remember those stories and shudder,but still love some of them.
Sorry to ramble. But I do love to read. Thanks for taking the time each month.

Kathryn: Trixie Belden will always hold a warm spot in my heart. It’s the first series I remember reading as a young person and is probably what started my love of mysteries to this day. Figuring out the whodunit and why was as much fun when I was 10 as it is today (and I won’t tell you how old I am today!).

Fred: If you consider youth to be high school age, then no one stands out like Leon Uris. BATTLE CRY and EXODUS were both exceptional to me, and I’ve read both several times over. Coming in second would be Mickey Spillane and the Mike Hammer novels.

Helen: First, thank you so much for your newsletters. I eagerly look forward to receiving them as I have found new authors’ works to add to my bookshelves.

As a very young child, I read the Trixie Belden books written by Julie Campbell, et al. I loved horses so much so these books were really a treat and in reading them, I found a love for mystery books. The second series I fell in love with as a young girl was the Black Stallion mysteries written by Walter Farley. Then, as a young teen I found Agatha Christie. I read The Man in the Brown Suit and I was hooked! I have every book she wrote and I have several biographies and autobiographies and anything else I can lay my hands on written by her or about her.

Kat: depends how far back you would like me to go! the first book i ever ‘read’ (i think i probably memorized it) was 101 Dalmatians before i even started school

grade school age
harriet the spy

the other book that sticks in my memory , but i was a little older, was
Alas, Babylon
always enjoy your questions every month
thanks for the newsletter, lots of hard work goes into it , i can tell

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Most Memorable Novels From Your Youth

2 Responses to “Reader Mailbag: Most Memorable Novels From Your Youth”

  1. Mark Joseph: 4 years ago

    Very interesting. None of the modern political claptrap! Lots of Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, Isaac Asimov–books with stories to tell, not sermons to deliver. I just wonder how many kids nowadays are being turned off to reading by a glut of boring books that are more concerned with “diversity” than with something that would get kids interested in reading.


  2. Nannypiano: 4 years ago

    Since no one bought up one of my most favorite childhood series (which I am now purchasing & re-reading), I’ll throw it out there: The Freddy the Pig books, by Walter R. Brooks. Plus Moon of 3 Rings & the Janus series by Andre Norton which fostered a lifelong love of SF.


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