I had the absolute pleasure of growing up the daughter of bookworms. As such, my life has been surrounded by books, some of which I have since learned are a bit more obscure than I thought growing up, at least in that, of my friends and acquaintances, most of the books I loved growing up were not the ones they were reading. These are not listed in any strict order, but simply starting with the first ones I can remember, and ending with the more recent ones.
Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop
So great. I honestly don’t remember too much of the plot, just that a boy found a castle in the attic, and also found the ability to shrink down into that world, and he had to save the people from the rats. It was magnificent, and the main reason I want to live in castle.
Earth Times Two by Pamela Reynolds
This book, besides just being a fascinating book that first taught me about doppelgängers and sparked my interest in AU stories and urban fantasy, it also was an excellent example of Never Judge a Book by its Cover, because even as young as I was, I had very strong opinions on the design of that cover, and they were not positive. It had it’s flaws, of course, but it fed my imagination in a way that the Babysitter’s Club and Nacy Drew just couldn’t.
First Test by Tamora Pierce
Honestly, I love everything that she produced, but this was my first, and I loved Kel, who was strong and resilient, but kind and gentle and feminine and awkward.
The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper
Let me tell you about these books, friends. These books single handedly are responsible for my love of England, Wales, myths, magic, and pretty much everything I like writing about. In a lot of ways, I think I liked Harry Potter because it softened the void that opened up in my life when I finished the last one. It has a great cast of characters, the plot is phenomenal, and though they are definitely written for a younger age group, it is well written. They also made a movie some years ago. I’m not one to get too upset when movies differ from the book, because you can’t ever translate it as exactly as we would like, as readers, but that movie gave me rage. So. Much. Rage. I almost wrote a letter.
Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
The first (and for a while the only) first person book I adored, and taught me the power of having a distinct voice when is comes to narration.
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Absolutely lovely book; it’s witty, it’s got magic and dragons that host dinner parties with cherries jubilee. Definitely prepared me to love Robert Asprin, Pierce Anthony, and Jasper Fforde. So great.
Belgariad and Mallorean by David Eddings
Holy World Building Skills, Batman! But seriously, though. The characters and the world Eddings crafted are practically alive; I would personally place him on the same level as Tolkien, in terms of world building (I.e. Culture and mythologies and history), but without (and please forgive me, Tolkien; your works are masterpieces, just very very slow, at times) the long stretches of boredom (in my opinion, at least. The Lord of the Rings, while a monumental and ground breaking work, is not always my cup of tea to read. Oddly, I’m fine listening to it.) I’ve read and reread the Belgariad and Mallorean far too many times to count in my life.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
I cannot wax eloquent enough about Fforde’s works, but this whole Thursday Next series is phenomenal; a book written for Readers, for the bookworms. It also demonstrated that books can be science fiction (ish) and funny and well written and be a great story. It also is one of the best examples of rule breaking done right, and how effective that technique can be.
Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card
Orson Scot Card has never shied away from deep philosophical issues in his books, and always manages to really delve into those issues without sacrificing his story or narrative, especially in this last chapter of Ender’s story. Serious book goals right there.
That’s not the title, and I’m afraid that it isn’t a book that you’ll be able to find on the shelf (at least as far as I know.) It was s book written by one of my mother’s closest childhood friends, a lady I only know as Aunt Kerry. I got to read her manuscript once a very long time ago. I don’t believe it was finished, nor do I think it has since been finished. I don’t remember the plot, or the character’s name, or anything other than I that I loved the story, and even now I’ll be walking along, and I’ll get a craving to read that story, only to remember that I can’t. It’s actually rather distressing, but it taught me that just because a story is unpublished, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be absolutely phenomenal. I’m still living in hope that I’ll be browsing the book store one day and see it there in all its glory. That would be a great day.