Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


TGIF, dear readers!

It seems appropriate to talk about books today, as reading is one of my favorite weekend leisure activities. (And I’m going to need plenty of leisure after surviving two days of double muay thai classes–brutal!)

Can you remember what your favorite book was when you were a child? Tell me about it–why was it your favorite? Did someone special read it to you? Do you still like it today? If you have children, did you pass it on to them? Is there any resemblance between the types of stories you liked as a child, and the kind you like today?

The first book I can remember loving is A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s a very old book, originally published in 1885, and my edition of it was a huge volume with a white cover and many whimsical illustrations of children and nature between its pages.

If possible, my mother loved this book even more than I did, so she read it to me frequently before I could read it myself. When my old copy fell apart, she bought her own edition.

Most of the 65 poems are simple and short, but they effectively capture the imagination of a child. An example:

Travel by Robert Louis Stevenson

I should like to rise and go

Where the golden apples grow;–

Where below another sky

Parrot islands anchored lie,

And, watched by cockatoos and goats,

Lonely Crusoes building boats;–

Where in sunshine reaching out

Eastern cities, miles about,

Are with mosque and minaret

Among sandy gardens set,

And the rich goods from near and far

Hang for sale in the bazaar;–

Where the Great Wall round China goes,

And on one side the desert blows,

And with the voice and bell and drum,

Cities on the other hum;–

Where are forests hot as fire,

Wide as England, tall as a spire,

Full of apes and cocoa-nuts

And the negro hunters’ huts;–

Where the knotty crocodile

Lies and blinks in the Nile,

And the red flamingo flies

Hunting fish before his eyes;–

Where in jungles near and far,

Man-devouring tigers are,

Lying close and giving ear

Lest the hunt be drawing near,

Or a comer-by be seen

Swinging in the palanquin;–

Where among the desert sands

Some deserted city stands,

All its children, sweep and prince,

Grown to manhood ages since,

Not a foot in street or house,

Not a stir of child or mouse,

And when kindly falls the night,

In all the town no spark of light.

There I’ll come when I’m a man

With a camel caravan;

Light a fire in the gloom

Of some dusty dining-room;

See the pictures on the walls,

Heroes fights and festivals;

And in a corner find the toys

Of the old Egyptian boys.

Your turn, dear readers! What was your favorite childhood book and why?

Have a fantastic weekend.

Thanks for reading!
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  1. kungfusinger

    My favorite book as a child was one that I discovered in my school library when I was in the 7th grade. By then I was at quite an advanced reading level. The first book I read was The Wizard of Oz in the second grade. That book took me all of a month to read, a few pages a night with my mom helping me sound out the words. So by the time I was in the seventh grade, I was quite bored with the “kid’s” books that the elementary school library held. After three years of nothing but picture books, I was ready for some “real” books.

    The junion/high school had better books. There was one that caught my eye. It was a hardcover with a white dust jacked and the images of bright red roses in full bloom. I took the book home and read:

    I was the youngest of three daughters. our literal minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour, but few people except perhaps the minister who baptized us all three of us remembered my given name. My father still likes to tell the story of how I acquired my odd nickname: I had come to him for more information when I first doiscovered that our names meant something besides you-come-here. He succeeded in eplaining grace and hope, but he had some difficulty trying to make the concept of honour understandable to a five-year-old. I heard him out, but with an expression of deepening disgust; and when he finished I said: “Huh! I’d rather be Beauty.” He laughted; and toldeveryone he met this story of his youngest child’s precocity. I found that my ill-considered opinionbecame a reality; the name at least was attached to me securely. – Beatuy: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast – Robin Mckinley

    The first paragraph captivated me completely. I was a goner. I laughed with Beauty, I quailed from the Beast with her, and when the Beast almost died I cried with her. The book introduced me to new worlds and to new words (such as egregious). I borrowed that book from the library so many times that they had to get a new borrow card for the back. Remeber the days before barcodes?

    When I graduated from high school I could not bear being separated from my favorite book. It would be like walking away from an old friend. I walked to the bookstore with my life savings to date. I laid down $25 to special order the book in hardcover.

    This book has travelled with me everywhere. The dustcover with it’s beautiful red roses is long gone. The book now is fairly battered with
    fraying around the edges. I have read it to my husband on a road trip, and when my son is old enough, I will read it to him too.

  2. kungfusinger

    Sorry, the title is Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

    I was typing faster than my brain, I think

  3. Melissa Bowersock

    My favorite books were the Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett. These stories are delightful in that they transport Elmer, the protagonist, and the reader to a magic land of dragons and wild beasts where Elmer is able to outwit the beasts with his collection of lollipops and rubber bands and free the dragons. Uncluttered by the appearance of parents or any ordinary goings-on, these books are pure fantasy and pure pleasure. I buy a set for each grandchild as they grow.

  4. Kim

    I have a gazillion books I could talk about.

    The first one I remember reading by myself was:
    “Button Soup” which was a Disney version of the “Stone Soup” fable where Uncle Scrooge McDuck has his neice Daisy over and she makes soup out of just one button. I still read that book to my kids.

    But the ones I read as I got older are also very memorable.

    Judy Blume of course — everything.

    Enid Blyton — as much as I could find but especially the “Adventure” series (Mountain Adventure, Vally Adventure, Circus Adventure)

    Roald Daul — Charlie and the Choclate Factory and others but I especially remember “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More” — which was short stories, the most memorable of which was about Henry Sugar who had ESP and could see through cards etc.

    A Wrinkle in Time… that series.

    Its funny because I never really liked the “girly” stuff — Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables. People bought this stuff for me but I never connected with it.

    Then I discovered Stephen King at about 13 and that dictated my reading tastes till well into my 20s.

  5. Lisa

    I read many books as a child. I remember going to the local library and taking out between 7 and 10 books and reading them in a week. I don’t remember which books exactly I was drawn to – but these are a few that stand out for me:

    Dr. Seuss – Maybe that was the seed that started me writing poetry – I LOVED rhymes!
    L. Frank Baum – The Patchwork Girl of Oz
    C.S. Lewis – Chronicles of Narnia

    And then there’s my favourite childhood poem of all time (my mother used to read it to me and every time I am on a swing I think of this poem!)
    The Swing – Robert Louis Stevenson

    How do you like to
    How do you like to go up in a swing,
    Up in the air so blue?
    Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
    Ever a child can do!

    Up in the air and over the wall,
    Till I can see so wide,
    River and trees and cattle and all
    Over the countryside–

    Till I look down on the garden green,
    Down on the roof so brown–
    Up in the air I go flying again,
    Up in the air and down!

    Today I still love the fantasy-type books and am reading the Percy Jackson series to my youngest son (read the Harry Potter series to my oldest)

  6. Laura Best

    My mother used to read from a big book of bedtime stories when I was really young. How I loved those stories!

  7. Story Teller

    Thanks for your contributions, everyone. It’s always interesting to see what other people love(d) reading.

    @ Kungfusinger – funny, I love that book, too. Darbi gave me a copy when we were in high school, and I still have it.

    @ Melissa – welcome to the blog! I’m not familiar with those books, but they sound really interesting.

    @ Kim – Judy Blume is fabulous. One of my favorite YA books is still “Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself”.

    @ Lisa – Seems a lot of children were reared on Robert Louis Stevenson poems. 🙂

    @ Laura – do you remember what the book was called? Were they fairytales?


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