I saw something on Twitter the other day about a new release of an audio recording of Rosemary’s Baby. I loved that book as a teenager, still do in fact, the chills it could send through me as I read it, and it started me thinking. Firstly, about the fact I’d love to read it again, see if I still feel the same some twenty five plus years later, secondly, that it would be interesting to see exactly what books informed my youth and how they have influenced my reading in later years. If there was one thing we did have plenty of in my house, it was books, and we were always encouraged to read. And boy did I love it.
When I started to look back, I can’t say I was exactly surprised by my findings and if anyone has been following this blog, I don’t think you will be either. As I’m getting on a bit, I’m breaking this down into decades. 0-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31+. I’m ashamed to say that the 21-30 bracket will be the lightest one of all as after leaving Uni I didn’t really read much. I was more about the visual arts – theatre and cinema. I could post thousands of images of movies and musicals I watched over those nine years – reading… Yeah. Not so much.
So here goes. Part One:
My Baby Years: 0-10
Seriously. Who didn’t love the Mr Men. Mr Happy, Mr Tickle, Mr Chatterbox, Mr Messy… God I loved these little guys. There were no Little Miss back in my day. My youth predates political correctness and female equality in characters. But it’s okay. I found the Little Miss’s a bit annoying anyway when they showed up in town. My favourite… Mr Small of course. We have a lot in common. Apart from appetite. Then I’m more in tune with Mr Greedy. 😉
Yes. Like all good children I grew up on a diet of Beatrix Potter. I think Benjamin Bunny was one of my favourites but then I also like Jeremy Fisher. I really don’t know why, but I’ve always had a thing about frogs. I have a massive box of collectables under my bed, mainly as I don’t know where else to put them, but my favourite is a little Jeremy Fisher figurine which you can wind up and it plays music back. No idea what the tune is, I probably should know, but I love it none the less.
Hey. This may not be the scariest collection of ghost stories out there, but I still loved this book. When I was a kid, practically every summer we’d set off up to Scotland for a camping break at Mortonhall campsite on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It was generally wet. It was always uncomfortable. It was the best point of my whole year. In 1981 we did a bit of a tour, starting in Edinburgh and taking in the east coast, across to Inverness and Fort William, and back to Edinburgh. I loved visiting the old castles, especially Glamis with its mystery window, and it was during this trip I picked up this book. I was 6. I remember reading it constantly, even taking it into school and reading the stories to my friends, scaring them silly. Love it. I was stoked to be able to pick this up on Kindle a couple of years ago and re-reading the stories brought a smile to my face. I may now have been as chilled as I was as a kid, but it still hold special meaning.
I lost count of how many times I read these books. We had a full set and by the time me and my sisters had finished, they were knackered. Well worn, well loved books. I think Five Go To Smuggler’s Top was probably my favourite but I loved them all. And yes. I watched the TV show too. Like all the time.
I read all of the Secret Seven books too, but The Famous Five was my favourite series. The one that stuck in my memory the most. I couldn’t tell you a single one of the Secret Seven’s names, but I’ll never forget Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog.
Ah. How I loved these books. Again, we had loads, probably all of them, and they were read a lot. Over and over. A bit like The Famous Five books, I loved the mystery contained within the pages, the excitement of the adventures they got caught up in and the tension (as it felt to an eight to nine year old) as you waited to see if they could solve the puzzle. Even when I re-read the books, they still felt new and exciting. And yes. I watched the TV show too. I’m only human.
Finally. A bit of girl power. In the male dominated world of mystery and mayhem that made up my youth, Nancy Drew was a wonderful surprise and treat. A girl!!!, every bit as intrepid and intelligent as her make counterparts, this was another series I devoured. And yes, another TV series I watched.
I’ll be honest. At this stage in my development I had no concept of gender bias or any belief that girls were expected to be less adventurous than boys. Nancy Drew still came as a nice surprise and maybe her tenacity and bravery is what helped me to realise that there is no real difference. Go Nancy!
These weren’t all of the books that made up my formative years but they’re a good example and the ones I love the best. There was a series about a dinosaur I read in Infant School. I remember it because I was books ahead of where I should have been, devouring reading set for kids 2 years older than I was, but I am buggered if I can remember what it was called.
So. Did any of these hit your reading list as a child? Or are you too young to have even heard of these wonderous teenage detectives? Can you possibly guess from this early selection what direction my teenage years took when it came to reading habits?
Well. If you’re interested then I’ll be posting my teenage years next weekend. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Have a fabulous week of reading all