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What were your favorite books as a child/teen?


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94 replies to this topic

#76 grace

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Posted 15 June 2003 - 03:59 AM

now now guys - i told you it's too easy to be scornful of these things. however, i agree with syr about humour, and wouldn't mind seeing the spoof. :)

#77 artist

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 04:19 PM

My favorite books were (and I don't remember the authors to some):
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Peter Rabbit
Nancy Drew mysteries
Where the Sidewalk Ends
The Giving Tree
The American Girl Doll collection
The Doll in the Garden (sparked my love for mysteries)
Flowers for Algernon (really touched my heart)
The Secret Garden
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
The Color Purple
To Kill a Mockingbird
Animal Farm (the second time I read it)
Night
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Joyluck Club
Native Son
The Jungle (got better after the first hundred pages)
Huck Finn
Fahrenheit 451

#78 dirac

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 04:43 PM

Thank you, artist, for reviving this golden oldie of a thread. I read The Adventures of Huck Finn after The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when I was very young, knowing nothing about the background or writing of the books, and I couldn't get too far into Huck at that time - I recall that the description of Huck's dad spooked me. This made sense later on when I read about the backstory of both novels.

#79 Gina Ness

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 01:06 PM

The Secret Garden; Wind in the Willows (I read this every summer for years sitting under my neighbor's apricot tree); Raggedy Ann books; the Wizard of Oz. During my teen years (and to this day!), The Lord of the Rings...Now, I look forward to reading this whole thread for new ideas!

#80 bart

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 02:21 PM

Lots. I still have a several volumes from what was once a 12-or-more volume series of illustrated stories, poems, tales, etc. from around the world. (Meaning mostly Europe in those days.) Publisher was The Book House for Children, in Chicago.

The texts were miraculous to me -- and usually ended with a moral that actually made me think. The detailed, beautifully colored illustrations -- many of them based on works of art from the past -- were spectacular and still are. There were maps, simple footnotes, and lots of people in marvellous historical and traditional costumes, and images of castles, cities, landscapes, sailing ships, cathedrals, marketplaces. They brought history, glamour, romance, adventure and color to a late-40s-early-50s suburban childhood when tv was merely black and white,

Right now I have Tales Told in Holland in front of me, opened to a little children't poem "Klein Klein Kleutertje" with a charming full-page illustration taken from a painting by Peter de Hooch. I flip a few pages and come to the story of Frans Hals, with illustrations based on many of his works. Followed by a re-telling of the Dumas tale, The Black Tulip.

My favorite was and still is "The Lady of Stavoren" ("A Tale from the Province of Friesland"), in which too much pride and too much wasted money bring ruin to the burghers of a Dutch city; "Where once a haughy city stood, is now but a sleepy village ... But everyone remembers still the story of the proud Widow; and the sand bank, which spoined the harbor, is called to this very day, Vrouwenzand, or Lady's Sand." Decades later, I travelled there.

Nursery Friends from France was for younger readers, but included the music and French words to many nursery rhymes. If I need to be reminded of the lyrics to "I Would Tell You, Mother Dear," I can turn to page 85 and fine: "Ah! Vous dirai je, maman." The volume gives you beautiful children's visions of chateaux -- Watteauesque ladies and gentlemen, flanked by peasants in wooden shoes, dancing "sur le pont d'Avignon" -- Napoleonic soldiers -- a 15th century poem of Charles d'Orleans illustrated with lords and ladies taken from a tapestry that you might find hanging in the Hotel de Cluny-- young children paying a soldier game in "La tour, prends garde."

Inexpensive but stunning books like these were my real emotional introduction to history, Europe, foreign language, challenging literary themes, and the history of art. With them, my world expanded geometrically, and in directions I wanted to travel.

Perhaps video games do the same for children today.

Later they were joined by inexpensive editions of the Complete Works of authors like Dickens, Thackery, and Twain -- all of them, I believe, purchased as part of promotional deals sponsored by daily newspapers in New York City.

I also have to thank the Book of the Month Club. I learned an awful lot by picking up the monthly selections after my mother had finished reading them. Heinrich Harrer's 7 Years in Tibet comes to mind.

And don't forget the wonderful Classic Comics.

#81 carbro

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 08:19 PM

I still have a several volumes from what was once a 12-or-more volume series of illustrated stories, poems, tales, etc. from around the world. (Meaning mostly Europe in those days.) Publisher was The Book House for Children, in Chicago.

You do??? Awwww! I so vividly remember that shelf of green bindings gradually bleeding to dark blue. I'm a little jealous of you, but very jealous of my sister, who snatched up the set as soon as her pregnancy test read positive for what was to be the first baby of our family's next generation. That kid is about to turn 21, and if my sis hasn't handed the set (or what might remain of it) to our youngest nieces, I want it back! :angry2: It was, after all, a gift to my parents' first-born -- ME!

#82 Paul Parish

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 09:23 PM

Ah yes, MY BOOK HO)USE -- we had 6 volumes of it, and I thought that was all there were.Kate Greenaway drawings (or at least in her style -- I didn't know her name at the time, but I'd recognize that style anywhere.... East of hte Sun, West of hte Moon, Snow White, Rose Red.... yeah, it was a whole world. Thoughi think I liked the rhymes volume the best. Hickory Dickory Dock, what a great poem! "Deedle deedle dumpling, My son John" -- they don't make them like that any more.

#83 bart

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 05:09 AM

Carbro and Paul -- you're the first people I ever met who knows these books! Wonderful! I just googled "book house for children" and "olive beaupre miller" and found that many are available for sale. Here's one of the results, including illustrations of front covers, which may evoke some memories.
http://www.childscap.../bookhouse.html
I wonder how they were marketed. Somehow they don't have the loook of something picked up at a bookstore one at a time. did people subscribe to a series, receiving each new one as it was published?

#84 Estelle

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 08:01 AM

I also have to thank the Book of the Month Club. I learned an awful lot by picking up the monthly selections after my mother had finished reading them. Heinrich Harrer's 7 Years in Tibet comes to mind.


Small world: Harrer's book (its French title was "Sept ans d'aventure au Tibet") was one of the favorite books of my dad when he was a child... :-)

#85 Marga

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 01:16 PM

The first book that comes to mind, always, is The Secret Garden, so I suppose that had the greatest impact on me and qualifies as my favourite. I remember imagining the making of the garden very vividly. I was, and knew I'd be, disappointed when I saw the movie, because the garden depicted, although lovely, was not the garden I had made up in my head as I read the book. Too, the characters looked different than the way I had pictured them to be.

The books I was most fond of (I've probably forgetten a few):

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
My Friend Flicka
Eight Cousins
The Bobbsey Twins
Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka
Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates
The Big Wave
Out of Darkness
Black Beauty
Heidi
Pippi Longstocking
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle
All-of-a-Kind-Family

and later, in my teens:

Silas Marner
The Scarlet Letter
Franny and Zooey
Ethan Frome
Tender is the Night
the plays:
The Glass Menagerie
Our Town

but, above all,
The Great Gatsby

#86 Paul Parish

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 05:32 PM

Horse- books. I read Black Beauty and My Friend Flicka and loved them, but my favorites were the whole series of books about the wild horses of the Chesapeake-Bay island of Chincoteague. I have no idea how I'd feel about htem now, but they really sank into me deep -- in fact, when I see Serenade, and all those girls galloping around, it always reminds me of how I felt about Misty and Sea Star....

SImilar in its poetic appeal was Green Mansions, Rima swinging through the trees -- there must have been a plot of some kind, but all I remember is an eternal lyrical tireless ongoing sweeping rush, flying through the top of the Amazon jungle, better than Tarzan....

In a very different way, I loved Little Women. And I must say, if you haven't seen Katherin Hepburn play Jo March, you MUST. hepburn herself said someplace it ws the best hting she ever did, and, well ,she really WAS Jo.

ALso Little Men, Under the Lilacs.

Dr Doolittle was read to us by my 4th grade teacher, Miss Polly, along with the Wonder Books -- what an inspiring woman. SHe felt that all education begins in wonder, and I'm really lucky to have been exposed to her so young.

And I was addicted to Tom Swift, boy scientist. Science fiction was great - -loved Jules Verne -- but I really liked stuff that seemed to be more like real science, trying ot find things out. The biography of Marie Curie was really important to me, and I was REALLY taken by "Microbe Hunters," it was one of the great reading experiences of my life, people discovering hte deep truths of the invisibilia.

#87 Helene

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 07:47 PM

I read all of the Nancy Drew books. We had a subscription and a new one would arrive every month or two. My favorite was the first, The Secret of the Old Clock. I also loved The Boxcar Children, a book whose full title I've forgotten and for which a search on amazon.com came up fruitless, but something like "[boy's name] and the Santa Fe Trail" and these biographies of famous people that were sold in our supermarket. It turned out that someone took actual biographies and edited and ghost wrote them into biographies for kids, which I didn't know until I read Eva Curie's biography of her mother, and I knew most of the narrative from the one I had read at 10. I don't remember if the biography of Anne Sullivan that I read 40 times was in that series, or the one of Juliet Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.

I also loved a book that I seemed to have checked out of my town library at least once a month; it was a series of short biographies of great Olympic athletes, like Paavo Nurmi, Jesse Owens, Jim Thorpe, and Babe Didrickson. (I think it started with the first modern Olympiad and stopped with the 1964 Olympics.) And I liked the Doctor Doolittle books, and a Grimm's Fairy Tale book. I used to scare myself silly reading "Cinderella" and the tale of the sisters cutting off a toe and a heel, and having the blood rising in the stockings be the giveaway.

#88 4mrdncr

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 02:42 PM

I'll probably add to/edit this later but, for now... (FYI: I tend to read fiction and nonfiction concurrently)

The first book which made an impression (given to me age 4): "The Royal Book of Ballet", with illustrations by Tasha Tudor. As I posted elsewhere it was the ONLY explanation I ever saw (pictorally or otherwise) which made sense of Odile's appearance at that ball. And those really spooky pics of Giselle trying to stab herself with the sword and then a cadaverously ghostly wili made me more nervous at night.

Shortly therafter...The Secret Garden, and a large compendium of Hans Christian Andersen, Grimm, and yes those same collections of foreign tales with blue/green bindings.

From age 6+ it was mostly horse books:
Acquired or read all of Margaret Henry's in 2nd grade (Misty, Stormy etc. , though Black Gold was the one that made the most impression), and ALL of Walter Farley's two series (Black Stallion & Island Stallion) by 3rd grade. Also the Flicka books. I read it but was depressed by Steinbeck's "Red Pony". "The Chestry Oake" about Hungary pre-WWII, and a biography of the Lipizzans and the Polish Arabian Stud during WWII also made impressions.

3rd grade too was when I read those Nancy Drew books--but my favorite (and the only one I bought) was the case that had to do with ballet: The Clue in the Crumbling Wall.

4th grade, I acquired and read all the Dr.Doolittle books, and by age9 most of Jules Verne--still love "20,000 Leagues..." and that Disney film. (Anyone see that latest news item about the capture of a giant squid?)

Then at age 11, I read in one day (11hrs), "The Once & Future King" by T.H.White. (And ever since, it wasn't just ballet and horses anymore, it was world history, literature, art, and music from 1200 C.E. - now.) Soon after, I read Mary Stewart's series on the same subject and started collecting anything: fiction, nonfiction, medieval textbooks, chronicles that had to do with King Arthur; finally ending up writing a thesis in college on it as one part of my too many degrees.

Age 12-14 it was Anya Seton, GWTW, the Irving Stone historical novels, and James Michener (after seeing "Hawaii" age 8--mom thought it was a G-rated matinee, oh well.) I read Arthur C. Clarke's "2001" about same time to explain the movie more, and then many years later, the sequels.

The most recent fiction series to impress (in last 20years) were the two series (set 15th-16th century) by Dorothy Dunnett--the MOST researched, historically accurate author I've ever read--with literary allusions in 7 languages that required two 'companion reference encyclopedias' for each series, so we could all check the original sources and translations.

My book collection now (mostly all read by high school) runs the gamut from:
Astronomy & Physics (incl. quantum)texts, 'coffee-table' picture books, Ballet (Ballanchine's "Stories of ...", term manuals, ABT, dancer bio's--favorites: Baryshnikov at Work, Makarova, Fonteyn & Nureyev, Pavlova--and of course programs, NOT just Playbills, of all those other companies), Homer, Plato, Roman history, primary sources/facsimiles of medieval documents/chronicles, and secondary source medieval/rennaissance history and/or art books, Shakespeare & 16th c. playwrites (of course), a zillion classic English lit authors, all of Dumas Pere (love Reverte's Spanish historical novels now), poetry--mostly French, & English 16thc, Tolstoy's War & Peace, comparative religions, film scripts & tech manuals and anniversary publications of various PBS programs, architecture and/or interior design books (Arts & Craft, W.Morris, castles, small spaces/apartment storage!), my 'first editions' of all the books by/about T.E.Lawrence, and many many more...I've lost count. I have two rooms at my mother's and two rooms at home that are wall-to-wall books. AND almost monthly I have to fight to keep her from donating them to the local library/charity.

What a funny thread to find on a BT.

#89 bart

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 03:04 PM

The most recent fiction series to impress (in last 20years) were the two series (set 15th-16th century) by Dorothy Dunnett--the MOST researched, historically accurate author I've ever read--with literary allusions in 7 languages that required two 'companion reference encyclopedias' for each series, so we could all check the original sources and translations.

Wow! Another Dunnett junky. Those books were perfect for someone who grew up with kids' literature about, around, based on, and/or illustrative of European history. For me, the child was indeed the father of the man.

I just spent a few weeks reading the Niccolo books for a third time. (I am not so fond of the earlier Lymond series). You're right about the amazing amount of accurate, even if arcane and esoteric, knowledge that Dunnet weaves into her work. There are all sorts of plot developments and mysterious characters for a week-long story ballet by John Cranko. :blink:

#90 dirac

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 05:40 PM

Age 12-14 it was Anya Seton, GWTW, the Irving Stone historical novels, and James Michener (after seeing "Hawaii" age 8--mom thought it was a G-rated matinee, oh well.) I read Arthur C. Clarke's "2001" about same time to explain the movie more, and then many years later, the sequels.
.......What a funny thread to find on a BT.


I cut my teeth on Seton, Stone, and Michener too, and studied 'Gone with the Wind' with an intensity usually ascribed to Talmudic scholars.

It is a funny thread, but some time ago BT began wandering afield in topics unrelated to ballet, and it's nice when the thread is as rewarding to read as this one has been. :)


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