Ageless Discussions: Recollecting

Friday, April 14, 2017

I've always loved books but I haven't always collected them the way I do now. Lately I have been in the habit of trying to track down hazily-remembered, favorite childhood reads. The ones that I loved, secretively or loudly and were formative in how I approach and appreciate novels even now. The ones I took out from the library and never returned (I'm sorry but Daine and Numair!). Some of these books I've managed to hang onto in the twenty-something years since that first reading (A Royal Pain --- like the Princess Dairies but funnier!), but others have gotten lost: in the various moves of college, in those times later in teenage years when you decide you're "so over" anything younger-you loved.

Sometimes this is an easy process. I can remember the title, the cover, or the author's name. This is how I re-collected most of my childhood collection. I bought the boxed set of the Samantha stories last year, for example.

Other books are harder for me to remember, or just harder to track down a physical copy. In the case of the latter, there is one book (Walk Through Cold Fire - an 80s YA obviously inspired by The Outsiders even to a reader who has never read The Outsiders) that is veeery hard to get nowadays. I knew I had a copy so one afternoon last year was spent by me tearing apart every bookcase, box, cabinet I owned to find my tattered copy -- just to make sure I still had it, could read it when I wanted.*

The worst ones are the books where I can vaguely remember the plotline and but I intensely remember how that book made me feel. I'm left scrambling key words on Google ("a girl named Scottie wants to be a writer but the publisher wants her to pay") , sending out echoes of inquiries into Twitter (a book where a girl gymnast moves to a new school and falls for a boy gymnast! His sister's also a gymnast!) in the hopes that someone out there has had the same thought or has read the same book.

(Those are The Great Mom Swap by Betsey Haynes and Head Over Heels by Lurlene McDaniel.)

The worst is when my memory is good enough to remember things like there was a love interest named Francis... but not the main character's name. I could remember that the main character's cousin had come visiting from California and that a pool (???) and murder were somehow part of the plot. For a couple weeks, I would reword that info and google or Bing the key words.

It ended up being My Crazy Cousin Courtney and its several sequels. I found it by Bing-ing (boy that does not sound as good as "googling") "90s book about a cousin visiting from California" -- and then checked the IMAGES not the links that returned. Or in another case, searching various combinations of "girl moves from California and her dad makes snow shovels." (This was The Year My Parents Ruined My Life by Martha Freeman.) I eventually found it only because after nights of trying to remember more, the name of the town it was set in - Belletoona - surfaced in memory.

I think the reason I have decided to recollect these books is that I can now see a lot of them influenced the kind of reader I became. Clemence McLaren's Inside the Walls of Troy was the first historical fiction novel I remember reading and it made more than a lasting impression. (I loved it so much I forgot to return my friend's copy. I was a terrible child.) To this day, Hector is my first and most beloved book boyfriend. Though it's a light and probably silly read, the sheer happiness that flooded my body when I found My Crazy Cousin Courtney shows how much younger-me loved that book. The title is problematic and now that I am older I know that, but I will be buying this come pay day. I feel I owe it to... myself.

There are still other books from childhood I am trying to find or remember and it's definitely becoming more of a goal for me going forward as a reader.

What about you? Are there any books out there you've searched years for? That you can kinda remember but not really?

Or have you read any of these random novels I attached way too much investment in?

*not available in kindle, and even if it were, NOT THE SAME when I loved my physical copy to the point of having to self-laminate the cover.**

**I taped it with clear tape, okay?


  1. Oh my god this happens to me all the time! I always vaguely remember a book from childhood and become determined to read it again and/or add it to my shelves. I started rereading some Joan Bauer books because of this feeling haha. I used to love Amelia's Notebooks and the Amazing Days of Abbie Hayes when I was younger.. I wish I still had some of them around! Gooooood times.

    1. Yes! Like something random will set off a memory.. and then I HAVE TO FIND it and reread it. I can't say I know those titles but I def know the feeling of regretting losing a childhood fave :( Hopefully you find them someday :)

  2. I woke up from a dead sleep one night like, "What was that weirdly religious book about the massive family of kids who ruin Christmas?" (The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, btw.) Like, why brain? I started a GR list when we talked about this on Twitter last month: I can't believe we both read The Great Mom Swap. I still feel like that is so random.

    One I'd like to read again that I rediscovered while making my list is Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix, though since the only thing I remember is the MASSIVE twist, it would probably suck. I did buy and reread The Betrayal and it's cracky goodness and I should get the sequels. Witches cursing each other for 200 years, resulting in a Romeo-and-Juliet-plus-ghosts thing? Bring. It.

    1. yesss GR lists are awesome. I also have one for this and am using to slowly find and track down others from elementary and middle school.
      AND IT IS WEIRD but it is AWESOME and I need you to find a copy so we can buddy reread.

      OKAY that sounds bananas but also kinda awesome?

  3. I was really big into series when I was younger - so I read all of the Animorphs, Babysitter's Club, Goosebumps and Boxcar Children books I could get my hands on. As I got older, I started borrowing my mom's books and found that I really enjoyed John Saul. So most of what makes me stop to think are ones I read by him...psychological thrillers with a semi-paranormal twist? Haha

    1. Oh yes!! I also loved all of those -- except Goosebumps because I am a giant wuss, lol. I even got the special Andalite Chronicles books for the Animorphs I was so into it. Wow, I haven't thought about that one in years!!
      Ha, I had a massive Mary Higgins Clark phase in high school so I am not judging! ;) It's interesting to see how our reading taste evolve, I think. Even if younger-me was super weird sometimes in her choice of reading material XD

  4. I love thinking about all the books I read when I was a kid but my memory is extremely hazy with the majority of them. Your mention of your first historical fiction book made me remember this WWII book I read and loved (Moon Bridge by Marcia Savin) and was thinking about how that's likely the reason why I still love stories of that ilk to this day. I was also a HUGE Goosebumps fan (and Fear Street) and they are absolutely why I still love horror novels to this day. So fun to take those walks down memory lane. :)

    1. Oooh I am going to have to look up Moon Bridge on GR! Goosebumps was so big for so many of my friends -- I just got so scared! I read one Fear Street book about a girl that was haunted and like drowned herself to kill the spirit? It messed me UP.

      .... and now I need to know the title. Damn you, Bonnie! ;)

    2. The Awakening Evil! Ahahah oh man it looks so cheesy now but I bet I would still have to hide it in the library once I finished rereading.

  5. INSIDE THE WALLS OF TROY!! I remember that book!! One series like this for me is the Magic Anywhere Ring, which I was obsessed with. I think I have quite a few childhood favorites at my parents' house still but I'd have to look. Then there are some books I didn't remember until I saw someone else mention them or the cover and it's like a lightbulb goes off in my head. I have a similar problem actually with this game (for lack of a better word) that I had as a kid- it was disney and you played an audiobook and moved the pieces around which projected on the wall. I can see it SO CLEARLY in my head but I've never found the name of it or a picture of it online and it is my white whale in every sense. Drives me nuts. I hope you've been able to find a bunch of your favorites!


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