When I was a child, I read voraciously–the backs of cereal boxes, Reader’s Digest in the bathroom, any book my parents left on a table, and books from the library that caught my eye.
Here are a few I can’t believe I read as a child, but I did, and I still remember them vividly.
Charles Colson’s Born Again. Published in 1976. I was 11. I had no idea what “Watergate” even meant, but I plowed through this book, developing an interest in the lives of prisoners even then. (Colson went on to start a ministry to prisoners called Prison Fellowship.)
Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi. Published in 1969, when I was four, but obviously, I read it later. But while still young. I could never forget the women that committed the grisly crimes, nor could I begin to understand. I also read Susan Atkin’s book, Child of Satan, Child of God, (published in 1977 when I was 12) and continue my interest in her story. (Every once in awhile, she’s in the news because she comes up for parole. Frankly, I think she should be paroled.)
Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier (published in 1948) still has a place on my bookshelf, though I’ve only read it twice. The first time, as a mere girl I was sucked into the other world of that book and drowned in the emotion.
The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson, John Sherrill and Elizabeth Sherrill (published in 1963) barged right into my suburban childhood, scaring me to death. From the back cover:
The tortured face of a young killer, one of seven boys on trial for a brutal murder, started country preacher David Wilkerson on his lonely crusade to the most dangerous streets in the world. Violent gangs ruled by warlords, drug pushers and pimps held the streets of New York’s ghettoes in an iron grip. It was into this world that David Wilkerson stepped, armed only with the simple message of God’s love and the promise of the Holy Spirit’s power. Then the miracles began to happen. The Cross and the Switchblade is one of the most inspiring and challenging true stories of all time. It has sold millions of copies throughout the world and has been made into a feature film.
(And the film starred Erik Estrada, before he was a famous motorcycle police officer.)
Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place (co-written, or maybe ghost-written by John Sherrill and Elizabeth Sherrill), published in 1971 (when I was 6), was my first introduction to the Holocaust. Corrie’s true story tells about her family’s suffering at the hands of the Nazis, first while in hiding and resisting, and then in concentration camps. I have never, ever forgotten details about this story, even though I only read it once when I was a child.
Legend of the Seventh Virgin by Victoria Holt (published 1965, the year I was born) is one of the first romance novels I ever read. I remember it for its impression on me (loved it intensely), but can’t remember a thing about the story. Nevertheless, when I found a used copy, I bought it for my bookshelf, though I’ve never read it again. (And I rarely read romance novels these days.)
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, published in 1977, when I was twelve . . . look! I read an actual children’s book when I was a child. I loved this book and still think about collecting coins from fountains, inspired by this book. (I never read it again, but I ought to.)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder) (and the subsequent books by each author) made me long for a childhood in a sod house or in a house lit entirely by lanterns and candles. I also thought I’d be more like the mother in each of those books than the mother I actually turned out to be.
Some childhood books I never read, but intend to read:
All the Anne of Green Gable books. I even have them on my shelf.
Books I never plan to read:
All the Nancy Drew books.
And this concludes my jaunt down library lane. What wildly inappropriate book did you read as a child? (Or were my parents the only ones who paid no attention to what I read?)
[Oh, and I am one of those people who always reads magazines cover to cover, front to back. Although, I’m busier now and skip some things, but I always flip through in order, no skipping around. Then, when I’m finished, I fold over the front corner of the magazine to remind myself I finished reading it. I have a lot of these Rules for Living, but no one else abides by them!]