Book Memory

In anticipation of meeting Ann M. Martin on Thursday, for the release of her much anticipated prequel: The Summer Before, I started to think about all the things I loved about The Babysitter’s Club series when I was a kid.

Despite the fact that I read every single Babysitter’s Club book in existence…I have absolutely no memory of any one of them in any kind of detail.

This made me think a lot about my memories of books. They always seem to be small, simple, strange snapshots. A hazy look at what happened once, long ago, in a quick moment. Most of the plots have completely escaped my mind.

So, I thought it might be interesting if I re-capped some of the strange things I remember about my favorite books as a child…

The only distinct memory I have of The Babysitter’s Club is Claudia Kishi’s phone. Claudia Kishi had her own phone. In her room. This was epic. A lot of girls wanted a phone just like Claudia Kishi’s.

The only thing I remember about Black Beauty is that my childhood friend, Mimi, loved this book and had a very melodramatic, romantic image of herself riding across green pastures with her her hair flying through the wind. I hope you lived out that dream, Mimi, wherever you are…

I know the basic plot of Charlotte’s Web, but what I remember most is the cover. Charlotte’s hair looked like pencil scratches with thin and messy swirls.

The only thing I remember about Heidi is that I left the book in my friends backyard. And it rained. When I recovered it, it had dried up and all of the pages were stuck together. When I tried to separate them, they would rip. All the beautiful pictures were blurred.

I remember nothing about Sweet Valley Twins, another series I devoured. I think one of the twins might have been named Jessica. I feel it would be unfair to google it now. I just remember that when I got to the next level, Sweet Valley High, things got A LOT racier. I actually didn’t want to tell my mother I was reading these books and decided to confiscate them from myself before she did. (Oh my goodness, was I that prude?!)

I had a similar experience with Flowers In The Attic. But I was a bit older by this time. My friend Kim recommended it, with the caveat that this had to be read in the library stacks after school, not at home. I knew that everything that was going on in this book was seriously naughty. And now I have all kinds of weird affinities for stories about incest (don’t judge.)

My favorite book as a tween (although I’m not sure what they were calling that age back then) was Homecoming by Cynthia Voight. It was about a group of siblings. I don’t remember the where, the why, the what. Only the how. They walked, by foot to their destination (I’m talking across state lines.) There was a beautiful sister, who couldn’t speak. The themes are shockingly similar to the novel I am writing now.

I think it’s interesting that the books I sigh over and remember with such fondness, books that instilled a love of reading and a love of story, books that I could not get enough of and begged my parents to buy for me or take out of the library, told stories I can not, for the life of me, remember. I think it may be time to scour the old bookshelves in my childhood home and figure out exactly why I even like to read. Geeze.

How well do you remember the books you read as a child?

Photo: Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard

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3 thoughts on “Book Memory

  1. Ha! Love this: “…books I sigh over and remember with such fondness, books that instilled a love of reading and a love of story, books that I could not get enough of and begged my parents to buy for me or take out of the library, told stories I can not, for the life of me, remember.”

    Looks like we had similar tastes in books growing up, too. Except I read Flowers in the Attic in school, I think. Is that possible? Or is my memory completely distorted. Huh.

    Well then. I write YA, and I would love to see my books influence someone as these books have influenced you, even if they don't remember any specifics.

    By the way, good luck with the agent search!

    Like

  2. It's great reading about what struck you in books you read.

    I inhaled books as a kid and have vivid memories of many of them. I loved and read over and over: Charlottes Web, The Lorax, and many Judy Blume books, among others.

    That's why I like to write – I'm hoping to impact others the way books have impacted me.

    I wrote a post on a similar subject on 03/29, if you want to check it out:
    http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com/2010/03/trips.html

    Like

  3. So true! I remember some very specific details of childhood books… and the rest is just a blur. One of my favorites was a MG by Bonnie Pryor called The 24-Hour Lipstick Mystery. I also devoured the scandalous SVH books.

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