I’m tricky like that

On April 10, 2012 by Eden M. Kennedy

This post is sponsored by Chronicle Books. I like books, and people who read are the kind of people I want to know.

I’ve taken somewhat of a break from posting because I was tired of having opinions on the Internet. There are millions of other people telling you what they think on an hourly basis, and I suddenly felt pretty stupid trying to pretend that my opinions had any more value than anyone else’s. I certainly wasn’t enjoying trying to be heard above the din; I all but abandoned my gig at Babble and last Friday I finally worked up the nerve to quit The Stir. I just wanted to work, go to yoga, sit in the sun, and check my e-mail once a day. So for three weeks, that’s what I did. It was heaven.

The rest of my recovery program was given over to trying to organize our new house (read: wandering around Bed Bath & Beyond with an armful of skirt hangers) and reading books. I read The Hunger Games (not much character development but quite a page-turner); Just My Type (a brisk, anecdotal history of typography); I finished the Mindy Kaling book (which read like a chatty, friendly, and sometimes point-free series of blog posts); I started and then abandoned the first Nancy Drew book (but I mean to check it out again later because it was AWESOME); I read and then became very afraid of The Secret (which may be another post down the road, if I can assure myself that it won’t give me nightmares); and I’ve just started listening to The Glass Castle in my car, which is so absorbing that makes me miss freeway exits.

The other part of my reading-recovery was spent cuddled up with Jackson every night at bedtime. Jackson reads plenty for school, but I’ve always hoped he’d do a little more recreational reading without us turning off the TV and forcing him to. Here’s one of the ways I’ve tricked him into it.

The Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure Novels are Chronicle’s new series for kids. It’s like playing a video game in story mode: you get to choose how you get to the end. Chronicle Books is not the first to come up with this idea (I think Italo Calvino took a shot at it, and those Dictionary of the Khazars books that came in Male and Female editions), but it’s still a good idea in a nicely-designed package. Jackson immediately snagged the Amazon one and told me he thought I’d like to read Mars. (Here’s a trailer for the Mars book.) If you’d like to win all three books for yourself, leave a comment below telling me what your favorite book was when you were a kid and I’ll use Random.org to choose a winner.

UPDATE: The winner is Steph (who loves Roald Dahl). Thanks, Steph, and everyone who shared their favorite books.



84 Responses to “I’m tricky like that”

  • I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure series as a kid! Would love to snag these for the reluctant reader in our family.

  • I am not commenting to win (so if I’m chosen, pick someone else, for reals) but to chime in that YES! READING! I have found that I am so happy when I’m in the middle of a good book. I do like cranking music, opening the sunroof and singing, but during my commute I LOVE audio books. Also walking and listening to them = better than therapy for me.
    When I was listening to The Glass Castle, I would come to work with a look on my face. People would ask me if I was ok & I wouild tell them, “I’m listening to The Glass Castle” and they would respond, “Ohhh!” knowingly. (they’re teachers; they’ve all read it.)

  • I need to read Bossypants, thanks for the reminder. I still remember how proud I was when I finished my first chapter book – Charlotte’s Web :)

    Little House on the Prairie came shortly after… bit of a farm theme there I guess.

    My favorite books ended up being anything by Roald Dahl. If I had to pick one, it would be James and the Giant Peach. I have a thing for bugs :)

  • Oh pick me, pick me! Our son is reading his first ever chapter book & I want to make sure we have more on deck for him to keep him engaged. I think my favorite book as a kid would be a tie between Phantom Tollbooth & Pippi Longstocking.

  • Much to my mother’s chagrin – she was an author – I was a huge Babysitter’s Club and Sweey Valley High addict. I’m guessing my boys won’t enjoy either one of those. I’ll have to see if my oldest would like these. Right now all we can get him to read are Dragon Ball Z comics.

  • I loved Peppermints in the Parlor, so much so that I pretty much forced my kids to read it. I think one of them actually finished it!

  • My first response for that questions is the Chronicles of Narnia. If I think about it longer I can come up with dozens but those are the closest to my childhood heart. The idea that magic is waiting behind the everyday is one I still adore.

  • My first response for that questions is the Chronicles of Narnia. If I think about it longer I can come up with dozens but those are the closest to my childhood heart. The idea that magic is waiting behind the everyday is one I still adore.

  • I loved anything Judy Blume touched. Well, except for that awful, contraband copy of ‘Wifey’ my best friend stole from her mother’s dresser drawer!

  • Wow, one favorite? That’s really hard. I know I read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over again, and the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, and the Little House books… My favorite, though, might be Little Women, and I’m sure I’m not the only English professor inspired by Jo.

  • I read so much as a kid, I don’t have a favorite. For a while my favorite author was R. L. Stine (slightly embarrassing). I think these would be amazing for my son when he’s older, and possibly for my husband now….

  • I love a good audiobook recommendation… immediately added The Glass Castle to my Goodreads and put it on reserve at the library. Thanks!

    My favorite book as a kid? I read anything I could get my hands on but the one that stands out most was called Dancer by Shelley Peterson. I was obsessed with it as an early tween.

  • It’s so hard to pick a favorite — I was one of those kids who had to be forced to put the book down, turn out the lights, and go to bed. So I’m going to pick two favorite writers: John Bellairs (creepy! eerie! un-put-downable!) and Jane Langton (magic! mystery! Ralph Waldo Emerson!).

  • These look awesome.

  • My grandma worked at a school, and brought home books they were discarding from their library. Why they would have discarded all those great Encyclopedia Brown books is beyond me. They were also a “choose your own ending” type book, I think, or maybe it was, “figure out the mystery then turn to the back to see if you are right.” Anyway, we loved them. My nephew is a reluctant reader, same age as Jackson. I’ll look up those books you mentioned. Also, Glass Castle – oh my goodness. I heard Jeanette Walls speak in Pasadena before I read the book, and it was incredibly heartbreaking to think of her, that actual person, surviving all of that.

  • Oh i loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series. I also wanted to say that you’ve got the best smirkychuckle ever, thanks!

  • Try Carry the One by Carol Anshaw, just out last month. Great story, great writing, keeps you thinking about it for days after it’s done. (imho.)

    Also, you’re back. Yay!

  • My favorite book when I was a kid was The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I read that book somewhere in the neighborhood of a million times. I loved it so much. I still think of it when I think of jock o’lanterns, carding wool, and Puritan girls with names like Charity, Prudence, and Mercy. I am afraid to go back and reread it as an adult, though, because what if it’s awful?

  • Wow, just one book? I can’t remember any early favorites, but as teenager I read Joy in the Morning over and over.

  • Anne of Green Gables, and there wasn’t another book that even came close. I also loved the shoe books. And A Wrinkle in Time. And Little Women.

  • Oh my gosh, I forgot about The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Must go find that TODAY at the library. I suppose I’ll cast another vote for the Narnia books- they made me so happy. But I also read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn a zillion times as a kid.
    I loved this video of yours- your eyeroll toward the beginning cracked me up.

  • Waves of books were important to me through childhood and late childhood. I’m going to pick Alice in Wonderland. But the Sherlock Homes books are close on her heels.
    My brother found old Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books for his boys to read. They’d love these.

  • I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid (and I think my boyfriend’s son would dig these new ones), but the first title that popped into my head was the Phantom Tollbooth. If I actually thought about it, I’d never narrow it down. Seattle Public Libraries only let you check out a hundred books at a time and limited you to a hundred books on hold, and I actually hit those limits multiple times growing up…

  • I LOVED Encyclopedia Brown!!

  • I loved the Wild Magic and the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce. I just started re-reading them a couple days ago! My 12 year-old self loved the adventure and the girl power!

  • I read Heidi as a kid a million times. I just wanted to BE her. But I did adore everything Judy Blume.

  • “I read and then became very afraid of The Secret (which may be another post down the road, if I can assure myself that it won’t give me nightmares)” … Please, oh please, oh please. I’ve never read The Secret and I have a feeling I’d rather read your blog post about it.

    And for favorite kid books…I honestly can’t remember one. Yet another indicator that I was raised by wolves is that I don’t remember reading books until I was in high school and it was required. The first book I was really into was Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

  • anything goosebumps

  • Coming back to second and third The Phantom Tollbooth.

  • I absolutely loved the Encyclopedia Brown books and happily, so does my almost 10-year-old daughter. Fingers crossed we win!

  • are you planning on doing more videos? i really liked that!
    i loved those choose your own adventure books as a kid. i also enjoyed the ramona series, and anything by roald dahl. i don’t really remember what i read when i was jackson’s age and older, but i was a bookworm all through childhood and into my teens.

  • Hmmm…it’s hard to choose, but I really loved both the Choose Your Own Adventure series (which this sounds a lot like) and Encyclopedia Brown. Good times. My kid likes my old Encyclopedia Brown books, but I haven’t found a good stash of the CYOA books yet, but these sound pretty close!

  • I loved the Little House on the Prairie books, and read all of them in order when I got them as a birthday present. I saved the whole set and gave it to my 9 year old, but she has no interest in them.

    However, I was a latchkey kid and took to reading some very unsuitable choices for my age (btwn 8-10 yrs). My two favorite books at the time were The Amityville Horror and The Shining. I still get a little shiver every time little red lights shining in the dark like that darned pig’s eyes.

  • Harriet the Spy was one of my favorites.

  • I loveloveloved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.

  • Ghost of Opalina by Peggy Bacon – I still love it!

  • I was pretty obsessed with Mrs. Piggle Wiggle for a long time in addition to lots of the favorites mentioned here. Reading is such a joy in my life and unfortunately my Son was diagnosed with Dyslexia last year. I don’t know if he’ll ever be much of a reader-for-pleasure, but I am going to try these books whether I win them or not. (He does love to be read to and we have great moments doing that.)

  • As a pre-teen boy, the series that prepared me for the awesomeness of Lord of the Rings was Lloyd Alexander’s Book of Three series. I will always remember with fondness Gurgi, and his poor tender head, and his magic wallet of dried meat that was never empty. Or anyway, I remember it as a jerky wallet. I could be wrong.

  • It appears I’m in good company. I really loved the Little House books when I was little. Still have my complete set waiting for my daughter. She’s a bit of a reluctant reader as well, but in the last couple of weeks decided she wanted to take on chapter books (1st grade) without me forcing her.

  • I had a lot of favorite books. When I was Jackson’s age I think it was R is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury.

    I also loved S is for Space.

    I am tempted to go back and re-read them–I re-read A Wrinkle in Time and that was very satisfying in a strange way because my expectations weren’t that high. But re-reading didn’t go as well when I did it with Raymond Carver or Jack Kerouac.

    It is true the opinions! I personally am a constant fountain of opinions–literally non stop. My kid could go all day too. It runs in the family or something. We have that pundit gene. But really it is your writing style and your storytelling skills that put you in a special class of internet people. I don’t really peg you as a ‘forcing opinions on me’ kind of person.

    • Thank you, Snozma, that makes me feel better.

    • I agree with Snozma! One of the reasons I love reading your stuff is that you don’t come off as trying to force us to adopt your (sometimes wacky, always legit) opinions. I come here for the writing, stay for the adventures. So please don’t go away. It would be so cruel.

  • I was a voracious reader since I was single-digits, I sped through the SRA materials in elementary school; like others above I loved Encyclopedia Brown (BOOOOO Bugs Meany), Alvin Fernald, Dr. Doolittle!!!, Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians (go Toad!) and a lot of non-fiction (mostly biographies). I discovered science fiction/fantasy in high school in Andre Norton, moving on to Bradbury, Asimov, Clark, Tolkien, etc. These days I anxiously wait for the newest Terry Pratchett.

  • So many books, I don’t know how to pick a favorite! I guess I’ll go with James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small series. I read them so many times.

  • The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. I think your son would love it. I would rush home from school and would not srop it till bed time.

  • I loved reading anything by Beverly Cleary. Ramona and I were kindred spririts. I also liked the Boxcar Children, The Bopsy Twins, Judy Blume books and a book about showing dogs called “The Dog in my Life.”

  • A Wrinkle in Time for me. I still love that book. I have an eleven year old boy at home that needs these books.

  • My 9 year-old son is all about XBox & Wii at home, so I’m always glad when he brings home his book reports from school and find that he is reading some great novels. He recently wrote about Little House in the Big Woods, and in it mentioned that his favorite part was when they blew up a pig bladder and used it as a football and wow! I loved that series and that is the part that always comes to mind first when I think of it because dude…a bladder? Any other pig part wouldn’t have been nearly as fascinating. Then again, I still laugh about the time Peewee peed the word “oui” into the grass, so maybe I have to work on some issues.

  • Like a lot of others, my favorites were Nancy Drew, Little House, and Judy Blume. Another book that sticks out in my memory is The Woods At the End of Autumn Street. Probably better for older kids- I can’t remember how old I was when I read it- but really really moving. I should probably re-read it sometime soon.

    My 9 year old son also likes the funny and has been a big fan of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Maybe I will try reading Bossypants with him.

  • My favourite book as a child was a tie, actually, between Harriet the Spy and The Secret Garden. :) Even if I don’t win, I’ll be seeking out these books for my four boys to explore!

  • Favorite books as a kid? It was tucked away in a private corner of our elementary school library. All the girls would go over and look at it when it was library time. The pages were worn and the corners were curled from hundreds of curious, pre-pubescent girls quickly turning the pages, rereading the same few pages over and over again.

    Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret.

    Periods? Boobs? It was a gold mine of information no one’s mother was sharing with them. I’m sure Henry would enjoy it to bits.

  • Yay reading too! Serious involvement with the Little House books, encyclopedia brown, choose your own adventure, richie rich and Archie comics, Lloyd Alexander series, and the d’aulaires Greek and Norse myths books. Then Flowers in the Attic, oh god.

  • Hmmm…I loved Nancy Drew, The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, and A Wrinkle in Time. I also fell in love with biographies when I was in fourth grade!

  • The Adventures of Robin Hood.

  • I read like a fiend as a kid and enjoyed many of the books already mentioned. Favorite, however, was probably Where the Red Fern Grows.

  • Oh god, I have to pick one? Um. Ohkay.
    Another vote for The Phantom Tollbooth. I wore the cover off it reading in my tree fort.

    Also: I love your blog for many reasons, but one is the respect you show your readers. I feel like you’re sharing, not forcing, your opinions with us. And I’m honored. Also, you crack me up, and you’re local. Like, my neighbor kinda! And that’s extra cool too.

  • Oh, man. I’ve never told anyone this before, but “The Secret Garden” and “Valley of the Dolls.”

  • Thanks for the contest! I was a big fan of the Narnia books when I was a kiddo (and still today).
    Graphic novels are a way I hook my first grader into reading, although he’s truly a bookworm on his own.

  • Are you there God, It’s me Margaret…Judy Blume. I must have read and re-read this book a zillion times. “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!”

  • As a really young youngster, I was all about the Beverly Cleary and Amelia Bedelia. Like many others, I have fond memories of A Wrinkle In Time.

    • I love that you and your son read comedy together. Might I gently suggest Terry Pratchett books? I’ve been reading them with my 9-year-old son since he was 7 (some of the Discworld books require a little editing out, but the Tiffany Aching series is awesome).

  • I loved Anne of Green Gables and The Phantom Tollbooth.

  • When I was young, it was the Little House series, but as a preteen, it was anything by Judy Blume. Without those books, I would have been lost.

  • Hands down winner: “My Side Of The Mountain”. (Come to think of it, if your son hasn’t read it, I’d recommend it). Synopsis: Runaway kid lives in a hollowed out tree. Best. Story. Ever. (well, it was to angst-y ol’ me). Also loved “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret”… and everything Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary… and this series about… wait for it… a mosquito detective. “Incognito Mosquito”. It’s where I began my love affair with puns.

  • I loved the Last Unicorn. First I loved the movie, then I loved the book. Sometimes I still pretend I’m the last unicorn. Maybe I’m not pretending. I also like your blog.

  • Oooh, I am such a reader! When I was a kid my faves were the Laura Ingalls books and Anne of Green Gables…also Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. Those books sound awesome.

  • My favorite was A Wrinkle In Time. I loved that book and still pick it up when I need a quick fun read.

  • The only book I remember my mom reading with me was Bridge to Terabithia. This book is the one that made me love reading and the memory of my mother and I curled up on the couch crying together still brings tears to my eyes.

  • How the heck can I make such a hard decision?? Favorite book? Hmmm…I guess my “favorite” favorite would have to be Caddy Woodlawn. Yup. Maybe My Side of the Mountain….all the Anne of Green Gables books…..any books by Beverly Clearly… the Narnia Books…The Outsiders when I was a bit older…
    My very unreluctant, would rather read than breathe reader would love these books!

  • Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself, by Judy Blume (it was so hard to choose – I have always been a reader!)

  • I loved Treasure Island and Little Women.

  • Harriet the Spy! Anything Beverly Cleary…and then…the Outsiders, and Black Beauty, and Madeline L’Engle, and oh, everything. I remember every corner of the children’s library in my hometown.

  • I have favorite books for every age but my all time favorites no matter what age are Little House On The Prairie. Followed closely by Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and then I know it’s not childrens literature, but, the collected stories of Patrick McManus. We uses to read them as a family and I about died laughing. Oh and Harris and Me. Awesome book for any kid, it’s one I’ll be reading with mine soon. Another great more recent series that I discovered are the 39 Clues. These are geared a little closer to the 11 and up crowd so I’m going to wait another year or two to rea them with my son, but I devoured them myself a few months ago!

  • Oh, I loved The Blue Sword. I still read it sometimes.

  • Hatchet by Gary Paulson
    My Side of the Mountain
    Where the Red Fern Grows
    The Black Stallion books
    A Wrinkle in Time
    The Dark is Rising series
    Island of the Blue Dolphins
    Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes
    The Black Cauldron series
    The Wizard of Earthsea series

  • I spent all of fifth grade (an otherwise horrible year) compulsively rereading A Wrinkle in Time, The Witch of Blackbird Pond,, and a giant encyclopedia of Greek mythology from my school library.

  • My favorite book(s) as a kid were The Chronicles of Narnia.
    We first read them all through as a family every night before bed and then when I was a bit older I would read through them on my own. I read the series at least 3 times before I was 10.

  • I wanted to comment on your post mentioning celebrities but the comments were turned off!

    I’m totally the same about celebrities….It is fun to meet them although living here in London you get a bit used to it after a while. I’ve met a few really big celebritiy jerks too that have dampened my excitement a tad too.

    Love a gal who rocks short hair….found your blog through Babble….might linger round and read some more. x

  • I used to read piles of books (Cleary, Blume, etc) when I was middle-school aged. Angst-y stuff always a winner!

    My brother wasn’t much of a reader, and one of his teachers encouraged my mom to let him read anything. Comic books, silly stuff, anything. Didn’t matter. And now my brother is a software engineer with a masters degree and two undergraduate degrees, and he reads a lot more than I do.

    I hear many comedians refer to Steve Martin’s book “Born Standing Up”. You and your son might enjoy that.

  • I remember loving the choose your own adventure book, but I think that was probably once I was too old to really be the target audience for that. I know I read all my mom’s novels after she was done – she read a lot of historical romance – and I remember loving Ian Fleming when I was a freshman in high school. I was weird. (I still am.)

  • OK… So I’m a bit behind on my blog reading, but I had to comment because my mom did something similar with me to get me to read. I liked to have her read to me, but I was too lazy to read to myself. So she’d pick out a book with a really intense plot, start reading to me, and as soon as it got REALLY GOOD, she would pretend she had to get up and do something else and would (this is where my memory and her memory are different) tell me NOT to read anything without her. She swears that she told me to go ahead on my own, but I distinctly remember sneaking the book and being careful to pretend that I hadn’t read anything without her. Anyway, I soon became so obsessed with reading that my school librarian suggested I cultivate some other hobbies. Perhaps cross-stitch? Or maybe gymnastics? Ha. I love that tricking Jackson is working. Good luck turning him into an obsessive reader!