My favorite books as a child/adolescent:
1. The Chocolate War
This book is about chocolate and is about a war, but unfortunately not in the way you'd think. Still, it's really good.
2. The Twits
Man, this sick, twisted, racist guy was an amazing writer (and sure plays a mean pinball). Really, all his books were awesome, but I especially liked the idea of storing little morsels of food in your beard for later. (Note to self...)
3. Just as long as we're together
Me: "Judy Blume, I'm writing a novel and I can't figure out how to end it..."
Judy Blume: "Have the narrator get her period."
Me: "But Judy Blume, it's a mystery novel..."
Judy Blume: "It doesn't matter."
Me: "But the narrator is a 45 year old man!"
Judy Blume: "Look, which one of us is an award-winning author??"
OK, a lot of Judy Blume books ended with the narrator getting her period. But that's what's interesting to a 9 year old girl. And this particular book had all the essential Judy Blume elements of losing your best friend, liking a boy, and getting your period. This book was my life. I loved Judy Blume. I even loved the book Superfudge, where nobody got their period. I even loved that book about the boy who gets erections and has wet dreams, although I had no idea that Tony wasn't just wetting his bed until like... last year. (I'm a little slow.)
4. Encyclopedia Brown
Until I actually started reading these books, I could never understand why my friends liked reading the encyclopedia so much. I guess this isn't one book, but a series, but since they were all pretty much the same, I am just naming the series. I was always amazed that every criminal made one mistake that gave away the crime to someone just hearing about it. Like what if Bugs Meany hadn't written September 31 on that check? Then what, Encyclopedia? Huh??
5. Sideways Stories from Wayside School
So the school was supposed to be one story with 30 classrooms, but instead it's 30 stories with one classroom in each story. And the rest writes itself.
6. The Phantom Tollbooth
OMG, it's a Witch!!! No, it's a Which. See, because "witch" and "which" sound the same. See what they did there? Pretty clever, huh? Never has learning been so much fun.
7. The Third Eye
Really, I could have picked any Lois Duncan book cuz they were all Teh Awesome. I might have picked I Know What You Did Last Summer, but Jennifer Love Hewitt just ruined it with her big boobs and skinny little body and the singing... ugh. (I don't know if she sang in the movie, but she sang in general, so ugh.)
8. The Chosen
This book taught me what it's like to be an orthodox Jew growing up in Brooklyn. Yeah, Brooklyn! No sleep till Brooklyn!
9. The Indian in the Cupboard
This book taught me what it's like to be an Indian growing up in a cupboard.
You know, I used to think it was cool that they put a toy in a drawer and it came to life... now I just think it's really, really, really frightening.
10. To Kill a Mockingbird
Ah, who can forget little Scout and her adventures with old Boo Radley? And I think we all learned a valuable lesson about racism. Boo Radley.
11. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
I avoided reading this book for a long time because I'm not really into plants, so I figured I wouldn't like the book much. But believe it or not, this book isn't actually about a tree. It's about a girl. Although it IS about Brooklyn. (Apparently, I like books about Brooklyn.)
12. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
This is the one "fantasy" book I really liked as a kid. I can't for the life of me remember anything about it except for this chicken dish that was magic (?).
13. Number the Stars
A really sad, touching story written at the time of the Holocaust about a young girl who goes up against the Nazis. And then she faces her worst fears and battles a room full of snakes. Oh wait, that was Indiana Jones. Still, this was a good book too.
14. Where the Red Fern Grows
This book wasn't just a typical story about a boy and his dog. It was a story about a boy and his TWO dogs. 'Nuff said.
15. Jelly Belly
Kid gets sent to fat camp. Even though I wasn't in danger of such a thing, I think there's a little piece of all of us that's afraid of getting sent to fat camp.
16. Summer Camp Creeps
Kids go to camp, hilarity ensues. I'm embarrassed to pick a book free of deeper meaning, but I just loved this book when I was a kid.
17. Little Women
"How little were these women? Like, scary little?" See, I understand why Rachel would like The Shining, but why would Joey like Little Women? It's such a girly book! And furthermore, the "all work and no play" thing is only in the movie version of The Shining and not in the book at all. Friends, you need to work on your fact checking.
Somehow this top 10 list ended up with 17 books on it. Oh well.