Monday, April 14, 2008

Milestone Books

A couple nights ago, I was hanging out in the coffee shop at my local bookstore, typing away on my current project, when a mom sat down with her young son and a bag full of just-purchased books. The son begged his mom to let him read one he'd just picked. Though I pretended to continue working, I couldn't help but listen in as the boy read the book to his mom. For me, that book was a milestone: When I was in kindergarten, that book--Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish--became the first book I ever purchased on my own. I still have that copy.

Listening to him read made me think about other "milestone" books. For instance, I'll never forget the first mystery I enjoyed so much I immediately re-read it: Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Or the first romance novel that made me say, "Wow!"and want to write romance. That'd be Julie Garwood's The Bride.

Then there was the first book that made me think, "Does my mother REALLY know what's in this?" even though she let me borrow it from her when I was thirteen: Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear.

Another milestone was the first book specifically for teens that I read as an adult, one that made me (no, I'm not kidding) choke on coffee I was laughing so hard. Louise Rennison's Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging was also the first book that made me think I'd enjoy writing books for teens (even though my writing style's completely different from Rennison's.) It reminded me how irreverent a character can be.

What about you? What books pop into your mind as "milestone" books? What was it about them that made them so memorable?


P.J. Ruditis said...

For me, the milestone book was EYES OF THE TAROT by Bruce Coville. (What? You were expecting, maybe, CATCHER IN THE RYE?) It was part of a collection called DARK FORCES, which was kind of like the Simon Pulse Ro Coms in that there were different authors writing a series under a theme, but this theme was horror.

EYE OF THE TAROT was the first mass market young adult book I ever read. It was 152 pages long! And there weren't any pictures!! It was also the first book I remember not being able to put down. AND the first time I ever got so into a book series that I would stalk the bookstores looking for the rest of the books while plotting out how to make the most of my allowance so that I could get them all.

I still have all 15 of the books in that series on a shelf in my office. I have no intention of ever reading them again, because I suspect that they would not hold up to the memory of them.

Jennifer Echols said...

Growing up, I loved me some Judy Blume and Lois Duncan. But when I read Paula Danziger's CAN YOU SUE YOUR PARENTS FOR MALPRACTICE, which is sexy (for eighth graders) and hilarious, I was absolutely floored. It was so good, it seemed wrong.

Micol Ostow said...

This is going to sound weird and seem like way too much information for you, but my mom was also big into horror and I SO wanted to read her Stephen King library. Naturally, she wouldn't let me, but ever the wily one, I broke away from her one weekend library visit and devoured half of THE SHINING before we had to meet back up. I finished it two weeks later via the same ruse.

To this day I am a huge horror devotee, to the surprise of no one.

ps: Couldn't sleep for a week after I finished that book.