For as long as I can remember, I’ve been devouring books. Some of my fondest memories are of my mom taking me on trips to the library. I remember sitting in front of the rows, and rows of books, trying to choose just a few. In middle school and high school, I was that girl sitting alone at her desk between classes, reading. Sure, I liked my friends, but I just had to find out what would happen next in the story!
Books have been so much a part of my life that when asked to pick five of the most unforgettable books I’ve ever read, I feel a bit daunted. It’s like asking me to choose which of my daughters is my favorite. It’s stressful and impossible. So, I’m going with the books that have left a lasting impression on me, or have changed my life in one way or another. These are not necessarily favorites of mine now, or even when I read them, but they stayed with me for one reason or another. There are more books than these five, but I’ll feel guilty for leaving them out later.
Sweet Valley Kids / Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Pascal
The first books I can recall reading were the Sweet Valley Kids books. I went through those books like they were going out of style. I can probably guarantee I read every single book in that series. When I think of my library days, these are the books I picture. Looking through all the titles, hoping to find one I had not yet read. I actually found a copy of one book in the series, Jessica’s Mermaid, at a garage sale a couple years ago. I bought it in the hopes that my oldest daughter (who is just about 9 now) would be interested in reading it. So far, she’s not, but I may just read it myself (again!)
When I outgrew the Sweet Valley Kids books, I moved on to the Sweet Valley Twins series, featuring the same girls, but now in middle school. The two books in this series that left the biggest impression on me were called Sweet Valley Saga, and featured the story of the twins’ ancestors. One book followed their moms ancestors, the other their dads. All I really remember was that one of their great-great-however-many-greats grandmothers, ran off to join the circus. I really do want to get my hands on the Sweet Valley Saga books again.
I did not, however, go on to read the Sweet Valley High books, because by then I’d moved onto paranormal, which brings me to #2…
Night World by L. J. Smith
The Night World series is about a secret world, hidden within our own. A world where vampires, witches, and shifters are real. And every book features the concept of soul mates. I actually still own these books (technically, I never owned them when I read them in middle school, but they were recently re-released in 3 volumes, each with 3 books, and I immediately had to have them.)
While the writing style is fairly simple compared to the teen books of today, I still love these books and look forward to reading them again. The final book in the series was supposed to be released in 2000. I’ve now been waiting 16 years, and will continue to do so, until the author finally finishes this book! These were probably some of the very first paranormal books I’d ever read, starting my lifelong love for both the paranormal and teen fiction.
Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite
This is kind of an odd one to add to my list, because I don’t remember much of what actually happens in the book, I just remember searching the public library for any book with vampires. (I was obsessed with vampires from an early age, like, I saw Interview With The Vampire at age 10, and I remember loving vampires even before that!) I remember this being so different from any other book I’d read. It was very dark and probably meant for readers older than I was, but it showed vampires in a different light. This was the first book I read with a vampire birth. (That’s right, Poppy Z. Brite did it long before Stephenie Meyer!) Someday I’m going to find a copy of this book and re-read it.
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
I can’t have a list of my most influential books and NOT include the Harry Potter series. I grew up with this series. To be honest, when I read the first book shortly after publication, it didn’t completely blow me away. I was probably 13 or 14 at that time, so a little older than Harry who was only 11. Also, I preferred to read books about girls. I liked the story, and I went on to read the next book, but it wasn’t until book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban, that I was really invested. When the movies blew up and we were all waiting for the next book to be released, it felt like I was a part of something. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, felt like an outsider, and being a part of the Harry Potter fandom, I finally felt like I had a place. Well, a place with people who I knew outside of the Internet. 😉
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I will be among the first to admit that the Twilight Saga is not a literary work of art. But you know what it is? Entertaining. More than that though, it brought me back to books.
After high school I went on to college, I had a boyfriend, and I had an addiction to the MMORPG World of Warcraft. I didn’t have much time left for reading. The reading I did do was for college and wasn’t usually fun. The rest of my time was spent either doing homework, working, or quite often playing WoW with my boyfriend. Even after we were out of college, married with a kid, and I’d given up my WoW addiction, I still didn’t make time for reading. I wish I could pinpoint the time when I gave it up, and figure out my reasons for that, but I can’t. What I do know is that in 2008 I was working nights in a print lab. It was very mindless work, and we were allowed to listen to music. I made a really good friend there, and she introduced me to the world of audiobooks. My first audiobook was Twilight. Then New Moon, followed by Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. Repeat four times in a row. I kid you not, I listened to those audiobooks 4 times in a row. I ended up asking for the print books for Christmas and got them. To be honest, I haven’t read them all since. But thanks to that friend, that job, audiobooks, and Twilight, suddenly I was reading again. I started with re-reading all seven of my Harry Potter books, and made it a point to do so every year. Since then I’ve branched out. These days I’m reading an average of maybe 7 books per month, and striving for more. So, say what you will about Twilight, but without it, I don’t know if I would have as much of an obsession with books as I do.
Author Caroline Andrus, July 15, 2011.
Even being 7 months pregnant wouldn’t keep her from opening night of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.
Caroline Andrus was born and raised in the St. Paul suburbs where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and Henry McCoy—her cat, who is actually a wild cougar trapped in a housecat’s body.
She divides her time between writing, Facebook, designing, and managing her household. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, rocking out to the radio, and gardening (but only in the hot summer months.) She is passionate about both reading and writing teen fiction, and is pretty sure she will forever be eighteen at heart.
She is the author of ‘Running Late’ featured in the Propose To Me anthology and Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now featured in the upcoming ‘Second Chance For Love’ anthology, both from Satin Romance.
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