I’m in the mood for a Throwback Thursday post. I’ve been thinking about starting a TBT series on the blog to revisit some of my favorite books from childhood.
The ones that stand out to me most are my middle school reads. I think this is when I established myself as a bookworm. I definitely read less in high school (although I do remember a reading surge around senior year) and hardly at all in college, but I always have this memory of the beginning of the school year (probably 6th grade) and the teacher asking how many books we read over the summer break. The most common answers in the class were in the 2 to 4 range, and then I remember as it got to my turn someone announced, “Alex probably read 8!”
I honestly don’t remember exactly how many books I did read that summer… but 8 sounds right. What I do remember is feeling proud that what made me ME was being a bookworm, and my peers knew it. And respected me for it. I wasn’t shamed for it, or teased about spending my summer reading… I remember my classmates being impressed. Well, that’s how I remember it anyway. 6th grade was a good year for me.
When I think back on what exactly I was reading back then… Caroline B Cooney books stand out. I think I read these later on, 7th or 8th grade… well, whatever year I read them they really defined middle school for me.
The Janie Johnson books:
I don’t remember how these came into my life. I think I borrowed the first one, The Face on the Milk Carton, from a classroom library and became obsessed. It’s about a girl who one day at school looks down at the… you guessed it… milk carton and recognizes the little girl as herself. WHAT!? Are her parents really her parents? Was she… kidnapped?!
I remember my heart racing as she walks through school in a fog, feeling what she must be feeling. The doubt, the panic, the confusion. I could so easily insert her into the familiar hallways of my own school to the extent that I have vivid memories of the physical building- bathrooms, lockers, hallways and conversations- that I have to stop and go, ‘wait… that wasn’t me, that was a scene from the book’. (Does that make me crazy? Oh well.)
Her support throughout the book comes from the boy next door. That’s right, the boy next door…oh did my tweenage heart pitter patter for this slightly older boy that she had grown up with, and was now developing an all new set of feelings for. I was so disappointed that my neighbors held no romantic prospects for me. I realize now that Janie and Reeve were my first OTP.
It was around this time that a brand new, TWO STORY, Barnes and Noble had been built not far from where I lived. I had always loved trips to the bookstore but this was a WHOLE new experience. The store was simply amazing and previously, I don’t know that I had ever gone book shopping for something specific. When my dad took me to buy book two in the series, I’m pretty sure I was in a daze. Here I held, in my hands, a piece of my soul, and it was waiting there for me at this magical store… that had a shelf full of exactly what I wanted. **mind blown** I don’t know if I am articulating this well. But basically, this was the first time I knew what I wanted to read and entered the bookstore with a purpose. I didn’t just pick something up because it was there and available. I’m only now realizing I felt that strongly about it.
I’m kind of afraid to re-read these. How can they possible live up to my memory of them? But I did just discover (as I searched for images of the book covers for this post) that there are TWO MORE BOOKS! Well… I have some book shopping to do. Most likely not at Barnes and Noble… what is this the 90s? We have the internet now. (Plus I doubt they’d even be in stores anymore).
The Time Travelers
Now this series has been looming over my head as an unfinished series for… oh fuck… decades, because I’m that old that I can measure time in decades. Ugh.
I read the first two books and then I don’t remember what happened. I couldn’t find the third. Or maybe I started the third and lost my copy. I don’t know what happened, but I remember feeling an emptiness from not having them in my life anymore.
The premise so cheesy: girl goes back in time, meets boy, falls in love, returns to her own time, and has to figure out how to get back to him. This was the most intense romance I had ever experienced at, what, 12 years old. I was so obsessed!
I have a very strong memory of being at a park and coming up on the end of the book and trying to explain to my father the plot and what the next book in the series was called so he could find it for me. I don’t remember if he ever did. I also remember feeling embarrassed to be so flustered over these books that I think I tried to shrug off my enthusiasm for them and play it cool for my father, who is of the opinion that if it’s not a classic it’s not worth reading.
This series I am pretty interested in revisiting and finishing, and I have a feeling it will be laughable. Unlike the Janie Johnson books, I was not so invested in the plot as I was in the romance, so I’m sure the books were actually not as good as they seemed at the time.
Well that was a fun trip down memory lane. It’s crazy what comes rushing back to you when you sit down and start typing.
Has anyone else out there read these? What books did you read when you were younger?
Before I sign off, here are two more 90s memories for you:
Does anyone else remember POGs and Slammers? This was before middle school for me. I remember having POG battles in the cafeteria of my grammar school. Is it sad I kind of want to hit up ebay and see what I can find on there? I don’t even remember how to play.
I’m pretty sure these are still a thing, but my memory is of a kid selling them to the rest of the school for a nickel each in front of the school at drop off every morning. Of course everyone wanted the black ones.
Alright Readers, that’s it for today.