What books influenced you as a child?

I loved TREASURE ISLAND and still remember the scene in JOHNNY TREMAIN when his injury occurred. THE WIND AND THE WILLOWS was a favorite too, as I recall.

I read the Hardy Boys, of course, but my favorite series was the Hitchcock-sponsored Three Investigator books by Robert Arthur. Can't remember the plot to a single one but I devoured them as fast as I could check them out of the library.

There was another series from that era (1970s) that I loved too, but I can't remember the names of any of the characters or the author. The books were about a group of boys who had a science club of some sort. In one story, they built a hot air balloon that everybody thought was a UFO. Hilarious hijinks ensued and they solved some crime along the way. That ring a bell with anybody?

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Now I feel weird for not having any pinpointable book "influences". My parents' home was a library and I've outdone them because my home is a book warehouse. Mother used to read to us regularly and Dad would conduct educational games and contests. Impossible that it wouldn't stick.
Like others have said, I grew up on a steady diet of MAD and CRACKED magazines (even an issue or two of CRAZY), Encylopedia Brown mysteries, Choose Your Own Adventure Books, Spider-Man, Werewolf By Night and Man-Thing comics, and whatever looked interesting at the Frankford library. Oh, and borrowed copies of OMNI magazine from my dad.

That UFO/hot air balloon series doesn't ring a bell, but it sounds like something I would have read.
Spider-man, the Hardy Boys, James Bond... and movies... lots of movies... indiana Jones for example.
I totally forgot the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE series. And there was also a fantasy one with dice rolling for extra geekiness.
Harry, I'm almost positive that the books you're thinking of are The Mad Scientists Club series by Bertrand R. Brinley. The hot air balloon as UFO brought it right back to me. I devoured those books myself. It turns out Brinley's son has created a website dedicated to the books.


You already mentioned Johnny Tremain and the The Three Investigators books, which made me the man I am today.
I was gonna say this too, but Vince beat me to it. As I recall there were two of them, one of which I stole from the library, the other I bought through Scholastic.

I also read the Hardy Boys and the Three Investigators, the Jupe, Pete, and Bob were definitely the better series. Of course Dennis Lynds ("William Arden") was one of the writers.

I also have a soft spot in my heart for Tom Swift. My childhood dreams of being a scinetist were probably put paid by all the mumbo jumbo I absorbed from those books.
That's it! I almost said MAD Scientist Club. Thanks for remembering.
that scene in johnny tremain was so powerful. i read that book several times. witch of blackbird pond was a book i remember loving. i also read a lot of zane gray.
Every Friday I went to the Philadelphia public library and took out the allotted five books. I read every series they carried including Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I loved the Maude Hart Lovelace books, the All of a Kind Family books. My reading was monitored by a children's librarian who kept urging me to give up the fairly unambitious series' books for the classics. But I loved books that were about everyday life more than those about boys who were cast out to sea or girls who fell in holes. I was a real disappointment to Mrs. Robinson at the West Oak Lane branch of the Philadelphia Library. I'm sorry Mrs. Robinson.
Yegods, I remember reading Trixie Belden too!
Well, A.A. Milne comes to mind.
His humour had a slightly mean streak if you looked for it. The story about Tiggers don't climb trees, and Piglet meets the Heffalump come to mind.
Saddly, I didn't read the Narnia Chronicles until I was in my teens, but I love them now.
I started on Conan Doyle when I was about 12 and was hooked immediately.
As for Mad magazine? Nothing finer- especially the margin drawings by Sergio Arragones(sp?)
Let's see, there was the Three Investigators, Choose Your Own Adventure, Encyclopedia Brown, Beverly Cleary books, started reading Erma Bombeck in jr. high, Stephen King in 9th grade, Peter Benchley, read the Dune series in high school. I think I avoided Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys because when I was younger there were these cheesy 70's tv shows so I refused to read the books on principle.

I also read the Wrinkle in Time series, and I think I started subscribing to Alfred Hitchcock Monthly Magazine in 8th grade. We had the Scholastic Book Club deal at our school and I know I was always ordering books, but now I have no idea what they were.


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