Ys

Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

(You are very much not forgotten)

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Blasts from the past...
Ys
ajodasso
What novel do you remember most fondly from your pre-teen/early teenage years? For me, it's got to be Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game. It has that rare combination of side-splitting humor, engaging plot, and characters with genuine emotional depth. I've just placed an order for it, as my old copy is, I think, shut in an attic in Pennsylvania.

I've been pretending that my new apartment complex is Sunset Towers and that my neighbors will turn out to be just as wacky and worthy of spying-on as the cast of the novel. But so far, they only play loud music and come in at odd hours. Goddamn, where's Madame Hoo when you need her? Or the makeshift bulletin board in the elevator? I put a note up a couple weeks ago asking if anybody was willing to share their wireless till ours got hooked up in exchange for cookies or something, but the note got taken down and nobody responded anyway. People around here just don't appreciate intrigue. Or cookies.

ETA: At long last, Connie Willis's new novel, Blackout, is being released next month.

Bah, I totally would've shared wireless with you in exchange for baked goods.

You know, I can't think of a novel that I really remember fondly from that time. I spent far too much time being cranky at Tolstoy and Dickens around that period.

This building is full of generally disinterested people. Plenty of wireless signals - I can see them when my AirPort does scans, and now my signal is one of them - but nobody who would put out for consumables. If we get a new neighbor, I will be the first person knocking on their door telling them what our wireless key is so they can use it till they get themselves sorted. I swear.

firynze Expand
ajodasso Expand
OMG THAT ONE TOO. Tears my heart out <3

Re: Blackout, FREAKING FINALLY.

Her interview about it in the most recent issue of Locus is really good. Made me look forward to it all the more :)

I can't remember exactly at which age I read what, but most of my favorites were fantasy novels, and probably Arthurian. I loved Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising books (and still do), and Lloyd Alexander, and Narnia to a lesser extent.

I probably have something resembling more of a top three or a top five than just one, but The Westing Game gives me so much joy on so many different levels that it's just ridiculous. I also adore Tuck Everlasting and Jacob Have I Loved. Lynne Reid Banks's Indian in the Cupboard series was good until it started getting a bit too cracked-out in the later books. OH. Also Ghosts I Have Been. Richard Peck is a ghost-story-writing genius.

Edited at 2010-01-25 04:41 pm (UTC)

obopolsk Expand
ajodasso Expand
ajodasso Expand
HOW TO PICK JUST ONE. Um, but anything by Diana Wynne Jones probably counts as the be-all and end-all, with Witch Week probably taking the ultimate prize. Does that count if I still reread it every couple of years?

Yes, because I reread my favorites every few years or so, too ;)

I am so very excited for Blackout and All Clear!

The Little House books absolutely captivated me from age 8 through... well, age 27. I still re-read them every other year or so. I can't put into words what I love so much about them, but no other books in my childhood can compare to the happiness the Little House books brought me. I used to write "letters" to Laura Ingalls and tell her about how things in the world had changed since she was a kid.

The Little House books never really grabbed me - we read excerpts in one of my elementary school reading classes, but I found myself sort of bored by it.

I have very fond memories of that book as well! Unfortunately I re-read it a few months ago and did not enjoy it as much. It's still a brilliant book though.

It'll be interesting to see how it strikes me now that I'm 28, because I think I must've been about 18 last time I read it (and I still liked it then).

The Pushcart War, The Phantom Tollbooth, An Edge of the Forest, and A Wrinkle in Time.

The Phantom Tollbooth was AWESOME!

Also loved the Dark is Rising series. And anything with the following in: druids, King Arthur, eagles, elves, wolves, dragons or sorceresses (note - not witches, at age ten I'd've probably been very touchy about the difference - I think it came down to the fact I liked the word "sorceress" better)

God I used to get through 2 or 3 books in a day way back when - previous to "reading as work" becoming a regular thing. It's so difficult to remember all the brilliant books I read. Also kind of sad when I think about how long it takes me to read stuff now.

ajodasso Expand
ajodasso Expand
A couple books that stand out in particular for me are Jane Yolen's The Devil's Arithmetic, and The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I was also really into fantasy and ghost stories, but most of those have blurred together in my head.

Oh, I loved Egypt Game, too :)

I read so many books, even back then, it's hard to choose. I have a very clear memory of reading "The Chronicles of Narnia" when I was about five, and being scared of it; but I read it again the next year, and immediately devoured the whole series. Mom gave me L. Frank Baum's fourteen Oz books in hardback at that year, too; I read them about six times each! Hm, and then there was "Pride and Prejudice" when I was seven; followed by "The Lord of the Rings" when I was eight; and David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series when I was ten. I think those are the most memorable works from the early years. Eddings' work hasn't worn well, nor has the continuity of the Oz 'verse, but I still revisit the others often.

In my teen years, Connie Willis' "Doomsday Book" made a huge impression; also Jane Lindskold's "Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls". I devoured a lot of generic scifi, too (Star Trek and Star Wars novels especially) but those two are the ones I remember most clearly.

If you want to know what book period I remember the most from my childhood, and willingly paid more than $45 to order a copy of online when I was in college? The 1939 collection of fairy tales called After the Sun Sets, of which my grandmother had a copy. I read that thing almost every time I visited her for years; and she gave it to my younger cousins, who colored all over it with crayons. *jedismash* I had to have my own.

I didn't discover Doomsday Book until my early 20s, but I've been fiercely loyal to Willis since. And I must have been one of the only kids I knew who wasn't into the Narnia books. I'm still not.

My life since age eight has been totally influenced by two series: Harry Potter and The Vampire Chronicles.

I like awkward magical teenagers and fancy vampires.

I read the VCs when I was about 15 or 16, I think. They took up a good few years of my life, and I occasionally pop my head back in to see what's going on. Nothing like in the old days, sadly...

ajodasso Expand
ajodasso Expand
-The Westing Game
-Isle of the Shapeshifters, which was somewhat reminiscent of
-Madeleine l'Engle's Austin series
-The Girl Who Owned A City, which failed its directive of brainwashing me into a good little Objectivist but did lead directly into my adult obsession with postapocalyptica

I've been reading a lot of YA fic lately that I wish I'd had as a preteen. Flora Segunda, for example.

Anything by L'Engle, basically. What a genius, and what a loss.

My mother's sister started me on Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey series when I was twelve or thirteen. Forty-seven years later and I'm still madly in love with Lord Peter and mourn the fact that I've never found a man who treasures me as much as he did Harriet.

A year or so later, I was introduced to The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series and Middle Earth became the favorite geography of my imagination.

I've never read the Wimsey series, but it seems like everybody else has...

Hm, one of the books my mom read for me as a child, and which I reread myself in my young teens, and which I've bought now myself, is a series of books about a cat named Aja Dobbo by Danish author Charlotte Reuter (Bjarne Reuter, famous children's books author). It's also the title of the first book. He comes from a litter of prize winning siamese cats I think it is, but he has a color error, so he's given cheaply to a girl who dresses him up and plays with him. He doesn't like it and longs to get outside, where he sees the alley cats Fuzzy and Kalle walking around. Soon the free life is too alluring and he runs away with the two street cats. Along the adventures he meets a female cat, he meets and defeats my use of brains, the huge cat that owns the area, and many many other things. He also discovers who his real dad is (obv not a price winning siamese).

The part that I remember the best is when he befriends a dog, Noah, who lives by his dead owner's grave in the graveyard. Together they make up a trick to scare two burly cats that are after Aja Dobbo away and they promise to always be friends. One winter Dobbo returns to the graveyard to visit Noah and finds him sitting my his owner's grave as usual. Dobbo speaks to him but doesn't get a response. When he comes closer and looks into Noah's eyes, he realizes that Noah is not there anymore. Dobbo silently thinks that now he is happy with his owner again. That part always makes me cry like a pig, even writing it down makes me teary eyed.

It's just such a good story, but unfortunately they're out of print and I haven't been able to find all of them.

I hate when that happens (out of print).

Oh, I LOVE The Westing Game! That book was beyond awesome.

My favorite book has been my favorite since I was 12 years old: So You Want to be a Wizard by Diane Duane.

Never read the Duane book. I'm discovering a lot I haven't read!

I read so many at that age! Swallows and Amazons and Black Beauty and Oliver Twist and something called, I think Barmey Jeffers and the Quzimodo Walk, which was brilliant but almost nobody else knows.

Also, Lord of the Rings, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon books, and I must have first read Gulliver's Travels around that time, too. And poetry was growing on me: Spike Milligan, Wendy Cope, anthologies of classics from charity shops.

The first poet I can remember reading, aside from Shakespeare, was, I think, Martín Espada. One of his books was randomly on the trolley at the back of one of my teachers' classrooms.

When I was about 10, I was completely obsessed with this novel -- I must have read it at least fifty times! (And it's still quite enjoyable.)

I've never heard of that one! Another for the list.

Hmmm, I read a huge amount of mythology then, mainly Greek and Norse, some Arthurian stuff, but none of them were special enough to stick in my mind - except the artwork for one of the Norse books - I remember a picture of Hel particularly - I tried looking for it not that long ago, but without being able to remember much about it, I think my chances of finding it are slim at best.

Then there was Narnia of course and oddly, the Worst Witch series. I may possibly have read Lord of the Rings six times in a row when I was 10 or 11 ;-)

Pride and Prejudice remains one of my favourite books.

The Owl Service by Alan Garner really sticks in my mind - it had a properly spooky atmosphere to it.

Hmm a definite theme to my early reading ;-)

Oh, yes, mythology! I read every anthology of stories in the mythology section of my elementary school library :)

Yikes, I read so much back then that it's really hard to pick just one, or even a few. LotR was really, really formative for me, so that's definitely an important one. I also really loved a Norwegian YA Viking fantasy that I've only been able to find in the library - by Torill Thorstad Haugen, I suppose it'd be called The Raven Girl in English. Such a magical atmosphere in that one. I wish I could find it again!

Oh, to have had good YA Viking fantasy!

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.

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Re: Egypt Game & Frankweiler, oh, I loved those ones, too!

There are quite a few books that others have listed that I don't even know. That means I'm going to be 'catching up' on some young adult lit, it seems.

The book I was obsessed with was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and then the sequels, of course). I loved the humor, but surprisingly, it also gave me some insights into philosophy that I carried with me while studying at university. I still re-read it every couple of years.


I discovered that when I was about 14, I think. And I'm overdue for a re-read.

It was probably The Lord of the Rings, which proves how much I've moved on as a person since then. :-P Apart from that, I also really loved Anne of Green Gables, The Little Princess, E Nesbit, Little Women...basically lots of Victorian/Edwardian stuff and not a lot else! (I don't really know how that happened. I suppose it was because I borrowed most of my books from my mother, who had a great stash of old children's books that had belonged to a girl down the street who died of cancer.) The only vaguely modern stories I read was Judy Blume and the Ramona Quimby books.

I was obsessed with What Katy Did (and the sequels) for a bit, which makes me ashamed now because of all the noble cripple bullshit in it.

Edited at 2010-01-26 02:38 am (UTC)

Aside from LOTR, our younger reading habits look very little alike.

So many of the justly beloved books mentioned in comments were written *after* I was eighteen, that I feel like I'm coming from another country. Oops. (Narnia was there, all right, but I didn't think much of it. And LotR was published, but it wasn't on the library shelves or available in paper until my mid-teens. Sheesh, small-town USA!)

A couple of books that were important to me at 10-12 were Clarke's Childhood's End and Piper's Little Fuzzy (which was in an edition titled "The Other Human Race" at the time with the most hideously inappropriate cover art imaginable). Both of those were knocking around the house in 35-cent paperbacks, along with various other SF my father read. I loved Dune, too, practically memorized it. I pretty much read through the library's SF shelves as an early teen and remember Asimov and Heinlein and similar hard-SF guys (and all of them but Zenna Henderson were guys -- I didn't know about Judith Merrill and C.L. Moore until later). Also, adventure dressed as SF, like Poul Anderson, James Schmitz, Keith Laumer, more H. Beam Piper, delighted me.

There were some more complex SF writers also knocking about in paperback (and in Analog) as well, like Avram Davidson and Cordwainer Smith and Alfred Bester, but I really didn't get why they were interesting until later.

On the other hand, one book I read and re-read, but it was a library book and I now can't remember either the title or the author, was the fictional, or possibly fictionalized, memoires of a 1700s Parisian ballet dancer. I didn't do the horse-mad books, ever, but I did the ballet-mad ones and wanted more.

I didn't read Dune until just a couple of years ago, but I thought it was excellent :)

His Dark Materials, and The Firebringer Trilogy. Oh and Silverwing. That was the first book that I bought online.

I love HDM trilogy, but I've never read Firebringer or Silverwing.

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