When I was a kid I devoured series books. The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High and of course all the morbid books about death and disease like Six months to live, I want to live . . . And of course then there was Judy Blume and Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine.
A love of reading begins with finding books you love to read.
My reading tastes have matured, but I don’t like to ever discount what got me to love reading. It is why when I talk to parents about reading I tell them to let their kids read what they love (except when they come home with an age inappropriate book, not that that ever happens in my house) A love of reading begins with finding books you love to read. Okay, yes. The statement seems obvious, but it isn’t always. People often think about reading as improvement or knowledge. Of course it can be, but we often forget it is supposed to be fun, a release from the real world a place to escape to.
That is what those books were for me then and I still have those comfort reads as an adult. They just have changed.
Trade Sweet Valley High for Stephanie Plum or Charley Davidson series.
If you loved the Sweet Valley Series try Janet Evanovich or Darynda Jones. My go to series when I want absolute escape is the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovitch. Yes, I know one of her cars will explode. Yes, I know I will follow her on again off again relationship with Morelli. I know she and Lulu will eat at Cluck A Bucket of chicken at least once. I know that Ranger, will show up as his hot, mysterious self. Sometimes I don’t want to learn. I want to be entertained. I also recently discovered Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series. She is a strong character who can see and talk to and help Dead People. It reminds me a little bit of the TV series Dead Like Me. I love the main character and it is becoming a fast favorite of mine when I want to unwind.
Trade Christopher Pike and RL Stine for psychological thrillers
In fifth/sixth grade I read Christopher Pike like candy. RL Stine before Goosebumps had a lot of stand alone thrillers. I loved these books because they spooked me but not too much. The market is saturated with psychological thrillers especially domestic suspense. There are so many good ones but my favorites are Mary Kubica, Ruth Ware and BA Paris. I love every book these women write and each one gives me that hurry up feeling that I enjoyed as a child reading the thrillers of Pike and Stine.
Trade Babysitters Club for Debbie Macomber, Jennifer Chiaverini or Kate Jacobs
Babysitters Club was all about friendship and finding something in common that strengthened the bond. Yes Stacy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Kristy and Dawn had their ups and downs, but they were friends and no matter their problems they worked hard at their business and their friendships. That is why if you enjoyed those books as a kid you might enjoy the Blossom Street books by Debbie Macomber. Knitting brings together an unlikely group of women and friendships bloom. Jennifer Chiaverini does the same with her series Elm Creek Quilts and Kate Jacobs hits a home run with the Friday Night Knitting Club. These books make you want to sit next to a fire with a glass of wine and escape into a world where there may be problems, but happily ever after happens by the end of the book.
Trade books that left you sobbing as a teen for books that make you sob as an adult
I get made fun of ruthlessly for my spree of books about heroines with incurable diseases. There was always a shelf of them at our school’s book fair and I would buy each one and proceed to read and cry for the next week.
There are just times we want to cry. And when you aren’t up to watching Beaches or Steel Magnolias there are books. Taylor Jenkins Reid has become that author for me. Her books are full of depth and I almost always have a huge book hangover after I hit the end. Forever Interrupted had me crying throughout. The same with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. She is a master at moving through time to evoke strong emotion in the reader. Have tissues ready. Or Karma Brown. Her first book, Come Away with Me, left me sobbing. The Choices We Make another tear-jerker but this time about friendship and not marriage. In This Moment had me crying about those quick moments that change everything about who we are or who we thought we were. And her newest book The Life Lucy Knew promises to be a book that I need a Costco membership just for the tissues to get through.
Trade Judy Blume for Judy Blume!
Judy Blume writes for adults and the books are fantastic. I don’t know what it is about her writing that engages me. It didn’t matter if she was writing the Fudge series or Dear God It’s Me Margaret or Forever. I loved her books and I enjoy the books she wrote for adults. In the Unlikely Event, Summer Sisters, and Smart Women. All have that same character or characters who aren’t perfect and so relatable even if you have never experienced what they are going through. She is what captured my love of the emotional journey of a character, which is why I believe I developed an affinity for women’s fiction and character driven books. I seek out books that I can immerse myself into the lives of the characters and no one writes that like Blume!
What books did you enjoy as a kid? How did that impact your adult reading life? What books would you add to the list?