Thursday, August 16, 2012

Top 10 Favorite Childhood Books

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.


  1. I still think "Where the red fern grows" is the saddest book ever written! :`(

  2. I laughed so hard I cried at your description of Judy Blume's books while reading your blog over breakfast this morning. My husband now thinks I'm nuts.

  3. I loved The Phantom Tollbooth. A few years ago I had to get a new copy because my first one was falling apart. I also loved Where the Red Fern Grows and To Kill A Mockingbird.

    A few you didn't mention:

    Beware the Fish: about boys at a boarding school. Made boarding school seem kind of cool.

    The Bagthorpes: This is a series and all the books are hilarious! You should give them a try

    Little House on The Prairie: I loved the idea of living at that time. I thought it would be really fun to never see another person for months and have it take all day to drive the wagon to town just to buy flour. Also to go to a one room schoolhouse and only take a bath once a week.

  4. "I think there's a little piece of all of us that's afraid of getting sent to fat camp"

    OMG! That is why I never read this book! You just validated a deep seeded childhood fear of mine!

    Thanks for the list, fat camp fears aside, these are books my kids are ready for an you've reminded me of them!

  5. I think maybe what you're referring to in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the turkish delights? I recall having no idea what those were either. Years after reading that series, I was very disappointed to learn they were religious allegory. I liked them much better before that.

    My favorite childhood book was The Blue Sword. It had everything I loved (and still do) - beautiful horse, brave girl, magic, love that wasn't too mushy.

    1. They're like gumdrops, only coated in powdered sugar. European candy.

    2. I thought it tastes like gummy marshmellows

  6. The Evil ReceptionistAugust 16, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Thank you for reminding me of "Jelly Belly"!

  7. Are they in order? The Chocolate Wars rocked!

  8. HAHHAHA. Awesome.
    I would include A Wrinkle in Time, and the Great Brain books.
    and probably more. I can't remember things.

  9. The Bridge to Tarabithia. I cried, and cried.
    Where the Red Fern Grows: first book I remember making me cry. And not just cry; hardcore sobbing.