Favorite Books as a Teen Meme
In spite the amount of sheer hours I spend lobbing my opinions out into the virtual stratosphere, allowing them to whack unsuspecting online trawlers upside the head, I am not particularly fond of memes. I just don’t think that my thoughts on one topic or another are of any use to you. Why would you want to hear me yabber on any more than I do, and off-topic at that?
But I review. And with any reviewer it is best to know their deep, dark, dirty secrets before you determine whether or not you trust their opinions. Which brings us to the most fearsome of memes, the Teen Book Meme. Credit Cheryl Rainfield for thinking to tag me on this one. You’ll note that it took me basically 2 weeks before I got up the guts to respond, so here it is. I am now going to recount with shocking honesty, the books I actually read and reread and (worst of all) enjoyed as a teen. See if you can trust me for even a second after you see this list. I wish that I could say that I was the kid who read classics and Proust during her teenaged years, but there was mostly a lot of good old-fashioned trash worked in my diet. These are the books that made an impact, for better or for worse. Cheryl did 16. I’ll limit myself to five selection. Hold onto your hat.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – That’s a classy way to begin, eh? Watch out, though. This is as good as it gets.
Phantom by Susan Kay – And here we go. Look, these were the pre-Twilight years. Had Twilight been out, I’m sure I would have been all over it. But it wasn’t there. You know what was? Phantom of the Opera spin-offs. So that’s what I read and devoured. Gaston Leroux never had such a devoted fan. The spin-off that really gave my bedraggled heart what it so desperately craved, though, was Phantom. Somewhere in my parents basement it sits in a cardboard box mouldering. I just couldn’t bring myself to take it with me to New York.
Remember Me by Christopher Pike – Are these still in libraries? I did a quick check of Teen Central here at my Donnell Library and found that of the six titles available, most of the books were checked out or lost. Simon Pulse, hear me roar. Y’all need to republish these trashy, infinitely readable books. Oh wait…. you did. I always thought that Pike was waaay cooler than R.L. Stine and the Fear Street series. Unfortunately, Stine knew how to branch off into the younger readers, and Pike’s Spookesville series never attained the same fame. I remember you, Mr. Pike!
Xanth series by Piers Anthony – Hoo boy. I never really realized just how odd the roles of female characters in these books were until Oz and Ends had that April post up about women’s roles in the Xanth universe. Oogy.
Sunfire romances – Don’t pretend you didn’t read them too. Oh, wait. You didn’t? Really? These were the books where each one had a girl’s name like Nicole or Caroline (#3 was Elizabeth and it was sadly out-of-print by the time I tried to find it) and in each book our heroine had to decide between 2 boys. One boy was good and one boy was bad. She didn’t always pick wisely or well, which was sort of the lure. They also all took place at different moments in history too. The Oregon Trail or the California earthquake, for example. I still have one here in New York with me. It’s Danielle. You can borrow it, if you want. Oh! And guess who the author of the elusive Elizabeth was? Willo Davis Roberts. Between Sunfire books and The Girl With the Silver Eyes, I apparently was some kind of Roberts groupie in my youth.
Where’s all the serious fiction and meaningful prose? I went that way in college (goodbye Phantom, hello Temple of My Familiar), but in high school it was silly books like these that kept me afloat. Ah, teen years.
All right then. This has been an oddly contained meme going from only one person to another veeeeeery slowly. So, Jules and Eisha? I’m tagging y’all pronto. Open up and admit it. We all have skeletons in our closet. Time to air some out.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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