Not too long ago, I took a trip back to my parents’ home. I was collecting a few more of my items from my old bedroom (cleaning up stuff I left unfinished) and began to slowly but surely pack away a few dozen books from my old bookshelves.
Now where I live now, I don’t have enough bookcases yet. I need a lot more than the two I currently have to hold all the books I love. Books have always been part of my life. I’ve read so much over the years, and there are a few that stuck out to me growing up.
So since it’s my birthday month and I’m super nostalgic, here is a list of my top 10 favorite books from my childhood.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
This is one of the few books I’ve reread on my own accord. I don’t usually reread books. I don’t believe I’ll be able to capture the same feelings I had the first read through. But this book was just fantastic. It’s a fantasy about a girl who goes on a mission to save her sister from a plague. It’s full of tense situations and it’s one of the first books I cried over. It’s so good and I still want the table cloth that gives unending food.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
This is the second book I read twice. I think the amount of books I’ve read more than once is less than five. I loved this story. It made me curious about a thousand things. I will say the first time I tried, I was a little young for the book. My mother had a copy from a college class she had and I tried to read it. It can get confusing, but I finally did get through it and loved it. I also loved the second book in the series. I have yet to read the third, but I think I should put it on my list now.
The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison
This book is one of the more romantic books in my young life. I believe it’s one of the first more romantic books I read which then had me dovetail into being a hopeless romantic. I would tell you what story it’s supposed to be a magical retelling of, but then it’d ruin the whole story. I would definitely check it out.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
I think Gail Carson Levine just understood me as a young fantasy loving child. I only read the two books, but she was just so good. The romance, the suspense, the story! I loved every second of it. I even loved the movie, but trust me this story is more suspenseful and intense than that movie ever tried to do.
Mandie and the Secret Tunnel by Lois Gladys Leppard
This book was part of a series I read the crap out of. I distinctly remember where the librarian kept this series and also I technically wasn’t supposed to pick out books from this section at the school library because of my age. They were 5th grader books while I was a 2nd grader, but the librarian loved how ferociously I read books and let me pick out books from any section of the library. This book was about a girl who runs away to look for her dead uncle’s mansion that holds secrets. As a kid, the mystery was too much to ignore. I will warn you though, I don’t think it holds up as an adult. I will never reread these books. The story was fanciful and the writing a little subpar, but this isn’t about the best written books. This was about books that I loved as a kid.
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
This was the start of my love for mystery novels. Even before Nancy Drew which I read and bonded over with friends of mine. This was a defining story. When I was in 4th grade, our teacher gave us each a book she thought fit us perfectly. She gave me a book in this series. I read most of the series as a kid and devoured them in a day. I also cried when good things happened to these little orphan children.
The Teacher’s Funeral: A Comedy in Three Parts by Richard Peck
You’ll notice, like Gail Carson Levine, Richard Peck ends up on this list a lot. I just loved how he wrote. He was hilarious when he wanted to be, serious and suspenseful when needed. And honestly, this story was hilarious. The title was jarring (and partially why I grabbed it off the library shelf), but I had already read a few by him so I took a chance. I would definitely read this one again.
Amanda/Miranda by Richard Peck
Okay. This had the prince and the pauper motif on the backdrop of the Titanic…what more do I need to say? I loved this book and it being Richard Peck just helped it find a place on this list.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
If we promise to ignore the terrible Disney movie that just came out and ruined everything about this series, we can talk about how great this book is to read as a kid. It’s the first series that introduced the anti-hero to me (and in a way I understood completely). Artemis is a “bad guy” but he slowly evolves into something else. We understand his goals and why he does things. We go along this journey with him and everyone else. The book is just a great mix of fantasy and modern day.
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye
I will admit, as a kid I didn’t have a lot of books that were culturally different. I did have the Little Bill books and as good as they are, they were for a younger audience and I don’t exactly feel comfortable promoting them. This was the first real book that I read about someone from a different culture–but it was still a teenage girl experiencing life. I learned some about arab heritage. I learned about conflict, religion, and other countries. It opened my eyes to more and was a gateway book into reading about other people with different problems than me.
A lot of these books probably wouldn’t hold up now. Some too cheesy (Mandie series), some too flowery and “romantic” (Habibi). But that doesn’t matter. These books shaped my love of books and learning. It definitely shapes how I pick books now. More women authors. More women protagonists. Fantasy novels throughout.
I would love to know about books you read as a kid, or if you read any of these and found them your favorite (or not). Let me know in the comments below.