Novel Nostalgia: The Beginning

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to start a series revolving around the books of my childhood. This series will span a range of topics, from spotlighting certain novels to simply reminiscing about the books I grew up with in the late ’80s into the ’90s and early 2000s. I have two reasons I was inspired to do this. 1) My memory is pretty horrible. I can’t recall every book I read, and I’d love to dig in with some research, and maybe even reread. And 2) my oldest son is getting to the point that I can share or reread some of these books with him.

For the inaugural post for this series, I thought I’d go with the idea of beginnings.

Books that got me into reading.

These are those books that really fanned the flames, moving me from a casual reader to a bibliophile. The ones that I think of fondly. Of course, this is a quick list: the first three that came to me.

Goosebumps by R.L. Stine

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When twins Lindy and Kris find a ventriloquist’s dummy in a Dumpster, Lindy decides to “rescue” it, and she names it Slappy. But Kris is green with envy. It’s not fair. Why does Lindy get to have all the fun and all the attention? Kris decides to get a dummy of her own. She’ll show Lindy. Then weird things begin to happen. Nasty things. Evil things. It can’t be the dummy causing all the trouble, Can it?

Like so many kids in the 90’s, I was obsessed with these books. I owned nearly every one. Night of the Living Dummy is the most memorable to me, because it was the most terrifying. It reminded me of when my sister made me watch It and the Chucky movies at too young an age. Despite hating to be scared (and being scared of the dark), I loved these books.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think of life before the war. It’s now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching through town. When the Jews of Denmark are “relocated,” Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be one of the family. Soon Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission to save Ellen’s life.

I read this book a little later in my reading life. I think it came out when I was in middle school, but I just remember being fascinated. As a kid, many of these tragic events are glossed over, and it was interesting to read from this perspective. I ended up purchasing this book again in college.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

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This classic poetry collection, which is both outrageously funny and profound, has been the most beloved of Shel Silverstein’s poetry books for generations.
Where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. There you’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.

Silly, off the wall, and often really bizarre poems were right up my alley as a kid. I loved the fact that I could skip around and keep coming back to them. They made me laugh, I remember reading it over and over. I picked up the collection again to share with my son.

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Please share your favorite books in the comments! I hope you’ll join me on the journey into the past!

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