Hi guess what, my age begins with a 3 now and I’m gonna write it wrong for like a month, just like I do the date every time we enter a new year.
I figured I’d lighten my existential dread a bit by creating a list of my favorite books from my childhood, teens, and twenties. Could be neat, could be neat.
The I Spy books by Jean Marzello were a huge part of my childhood. I had a lot of these books, and they were the main books I’d look for in school book fairs and book orders. They were the ‘thing to do’ in my neighborhood growing up, and we’d all gather up and look at them at the same time. It was neat.
The Pokemon Chapter Books series by Tracey West was another series that I really loved as a kid. 1999 was the year I became a nerd. aka it was the year I picked up Pokemon, Digimon, Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. After that there was no turning back. These books too I would get from school book orders, and for a while I had a complete set. I don’t know if I still do. I have some now, and there’s a chance I have more in storage at my parents house – I’ll have to ask them. As a kid these took me maybe 45 minutes to read, so I loved sitting and binging them. Out of all of them, this one was my favorite.
I have come to realize that people either tended to grow up reading the Bearenstein Bears or Little Critters. I was definitely a Little Critters kid – these books were formative in my ‘learning to read’ years. I remember being super duper little and picking them up with my parents, and we’d read through them together. As I got older I’d do so on my own. I used to have all sorts of collections and whatnot of these books.
I don’t know if the Garfield comics by Jim Davis would be late childhood faves or early teenage faves, honestly. But when my sister and I were tweens, we loved these. We had almost every volume, and a lot of them actually ended up getting destroyed because we were so careless with them. Honestly I should really rebuy them. My dad used to have a lot of single volumes that we’d read as well and being the little shits we were, we didn’t take care of those either. I feel so bad about it honestly. Maybe I should rebuy them for me and for my dad. It’s the least I could do, my goodness. But Garfield was the first comic that we really got into. We’d read them for hours, we had favorite volumes, favorite comics! We’d scan them, print them out, and tape them on our walls. We were obsessed.
I realize bringing this series up might be a bit of a touchy thing. I’m fully aware of and do not condone the actions of she who must not be named, and will be making a point to not invest any more funds towards her. I have to acknowledge though, the effect these books had on my teenage-dom. (which… is why the author’s actions are so bitterly disappointing to me. Anyways). These books technically were first introduced to me when I was 9, in 1999 (again, the year I became a nerd). My 4th grade teacher read the first one out loud to the class – he did the voices and everything. I remember it super well. After that, maybe a year later, a classmate of mine had mentioned finishing the fourth book – this would be fall 2000, and the book came out summer 2000, so it was really picking up a lot of steam at that point in popularity. That’s when I picked up the first one myself to read.
My dad would take my sister and I to the library every other week growing up, starting when I was little to my mid to late teens, and starting from when I was about ten or eleven up until I was maybe thirteen or fourteen, I’d rent and re-rent the Harry Potter books. At the time, five were out, so I’d read all five, then start over. I’ve probably read the first five books forty times each. The sixth and seventh are another story. When I was a young teen I actually got my own copies for my birthday, so I stopped doing the library thing at that point and switched to my own. But weirdly out of all of it, I remember the smell of the room in the library where the books were. That’s the memory that sticks out to me the most.
I think the most memorable series from my teenage years that has stuck with me until today is Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi. I started with the anime though to be fair. My neighbor friend when I was about 14 years old came to me one day and started telling me about this show and after the fifth or sixth time hearing her talk about it, I stayed up late to watch it with her. I was smitten immediately. This show too is the reason I have so many online friends. This is the first series that got me into a fandom. Like, I learned what fanfiction was through this, I participated in forums, I found fanart, I drew fanart, I participated in online roleplays and played these characters through different plot lines! Through the fandom I met three of my best friends all online, and to this day, I still have those friends. Two of them I’ve met in person now, the other we’re still figuring it out. Hell I flew across the world to Malaysia to meet one of them, and we still talk all the time. And it’s all thanks to this show.
Right now I’m actually rewatching the show with the friend the originally introduced me, in anticipation for the sequel that’s coming out this October. I still don’t know how to feel. I’m hesitantly excited, is the best description I guess.
But man, this show – this book series, was definitely a key part in forming who I am and who I’m friends with. And because of that it’ll forever be a favorite in my heart.
My twenties were when I really started tracking my reading. I made a Goodreads account in August 2011, so I had just turned 21. From that point my reading basically exploded, as I became more and more involved in the online book community through it, and in 2014, through this blog.
The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik I probably first picked up in my late teens or early twenties. I know this because I read it for the first time when was I attending community college, which I think I did from late 2008 until early 2010. This is one of the few books I’ve reread during my twenties as well. When I was a teen, I would mainly just reread things. It was rare for me to branch out. But as an adult I started reading almost solely new things. I’m not sure why that changes. But this series man, this one has always held a wonderful place in my heart. My best friend was always more adventurous in her reading than I was and picked this up on a whim. She loved it and made me read it. Honestly this was one of my first bouts into adult fantasy, and since then I’ve become a huge fan. I recently reread this series, finishing off the last four books that I never actually read as well, and it’s definitely solidified itself as one of my favorite series of all time. If you haven’t, you should really check it out.
Black Butler by Yana Toboso. I fully realize I’ve been gushing a lot about this series lately, and that’s because it somehow wound its way deep into the cockles of my heart, to the point where it’s one of the defining series of my twenties. I’m like not even kidding. At twenty nine years old – months before my 30th bday, I picked up this manga for the first time and fell in love. I’m telling you, it’s like… it’s amazing. And if I wouldn’t have bought it on a whim, I would have never known.
To be fair, I had watched the anime of this beforehand, maybe three years ago, and I wasn’t a huge fan. It was okay, which is why I put off picking the manga up for so long. But hey, turns out most of the anime is filler, and the plot in the manga is just so much more and it’s hard to put into words how great it is.
Really. Out of all the manga series I’ve read ever since I was fifteen years old, this one gets a spot in the top three. Black Butler, Rurouni Kenshin, Fullmetal Alchemist. They’re the best.
Out of all the hundreds of books and manga I’ve read in my twenties, and looking at them it’s literally hundreds, I think Robin Hobb’s books are the ones that have hit me the hardest. The one I have listed above is the first one in her Farseer trilogy, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve read almost all her books at this point – I have two left, and each one has really stuck with me. I pine for them, for the characters, for the setting. I love these books, and think about them all the time. Robin Hobb is my favorite author, no question. Her books are my favorite books, period. Don’t ask me to pick between them though. But really, out of all my favorite books – I have 45 or something, according to Goodreads – these are the favorite of the favorites. They’re just… man, they’re just wonderful. I really hope I can get my future kids to read these, because they’re ones I’m going to keep with me for the rest of my life.
And that is it. Being thirty is weird. It’s not bad, though. For some reason I thought it was gonna feel more stressful than it is. But thirty isn’t bad. I’m sure I’ll have another crisis when I turn 40, believe you me.
So for three decades I’ve been reading books. It’s really hard to believe. I feel the same as I did when I was 25. I feel like mentally I stopped aging around then. We’ll see if I still feel 25 in another ten years I suppose. In the meantime, I hope to read a lot more books, and discover many more favorites.