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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There were no books at home to speak of (The Reader's Digest Encyclopedia in three parts and a big, old bible) so I spent a lot of time trotting to and from the library. Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys... all sounding very similar to other people's experiences. There was some other stuff, too - American, kids in a scrap yard, Red Gate Rover... anyone know who they were? I also read Roger Zelazny (loved the Princes in Amber and Damnation Alley especially), Conan Doyle and Noel Coward's plays.

The saddest thing that happened was that I asked for book tokens every Christmas and birthday and started to amass a little pile of (mainly) Enid Blyton books. Then the daughter of some friends of my parents got divorced, and I was obliged to hand over my books to her daughter to make her feel better because she didn't have a daddy anymore. I still miss 'em, saddo that I am.
I loved Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, the Bobbsey Twins... and later Agatha Christie.

A few years ago I went back and reread some of the Madeleine L'Engle books I had loved, and was delighted to find two things: they are just as complex for adults as for YA (on different levels, and with hindsight) and how eyeopening it was to see some of my most deeply held beliefs on life and the world. I think the Wrinkle trilogy shaped me views most, followed by some of her standalones. I hope my boys come to love her books as much as I did.
Wowza, what a trip down memory lane! Loved The Three Investigators, Encyclopedia Brown, Trixie Belden. Also loved Edgar Allen Poe's short stories ("Hop Frog" is my all time favorite - totally gruesome!), Heinlein ("Have Spacesuit, Will Travel"), and a bunch of other stuff I had no business reading (including "The Amityville Horror" when I was 9 or 10 - I was convinced I could see red piggie eyes at my bedroom window!). My mom was a secretary for a World Books Encyclopedia rep., so I spent a lot of time flipping through those, too. I was an omnivore and read pretty much everything. Guess that hasn't changed much.
I loved 'Have Spacesuit, Will Travel'! I still use the 'mother very thoughtfully made a jelly sandwich under no protest' mnemonic to remember the order of the planets from the sun! Being a geeky kid, I liked that Earth was Terra and the asteroid belt got a mention. (Maybe should have kept that last bit to myself...)
We had only a few books and no library in our very small town. But an "uncle who was 80 years old came to visit and brought me books - a Golden Book of Poetry, Anderson's and Grimm's fairytales, Alice in Wonderland, and a few others. And my grandmother gave me Little Women. I have no idea how many times I read and reread those books. As an only child often with adults, reading was what I did - and making up stories. Later found Trixie Beldon and Cherry, Nancy, Donna Parker, Ginny Gordon and Bev somebody or other, and the Hardy Boys, and then in the new library when I was 12, I met Emilie Loring and Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner and John Creasy and Louis L'Amour my world was full. (Although the librarian kept trying to get me to read the "good" books. :)
I'm sure I'm totally dating myself, but my first thrillers that I really enjoyed were AFTER THE FIRST DEATH and I AM THE CHEESE. We actually read them for school, I think it was 7th grade, and I remember being shocked that a book assigned for school could actually be good.

Then again, I also read CATCHER IN THE RYE and THE BELL JAR in 7th grade, so maybe my opinion is slightly skewed...
I still remember reading "The Lottery" in school - middle grade I think. It was a story in our reader, but it was also the first really dark, unexpected twist I'd ever read, and still remember sitting at my desk feeling a bit queasy as the ending sank in. Part of me hated it and part of me was enthralled by it.
It started a life long reading love affair with Shirley Jackson.
I remember thinking, "Ooooohhhhh! What ELSE has she written?"


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