10 of the Best Books I Read, NOT for School
I hated reading school assigned books. I have an aversion to reading what I’ve been instructed to. I physically can’t retain anything, which I feel sounds like an excuse, but I mean it. No matter how much I try, no matter how much focus, I can’t connect to the story and it doesn’t stick.
So, I thought this was a good opportunity to talk about the books I was reading instead! These were my favorite childhood reads, the ones I hid under my desk to read in secret.
1. Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume
My sister and I loved this so much. It felt like us, what the girls were going through. Their friendship, but also their middle school problems. It was first kisses, school dances, and becoming a woman. Words like chartreuse will always hold special meaning, and for me Richard Gere was really named Benjamin Moore. All thanks to this book.
2. Charlotte’s Web by EB White
I think we all loved Charlotte’s Web. It feels like this was one we all read as children. It’s one of the most iconic children’s books on the market, and for good reason. The story of Wilbur and Charlotte is the perfect story for young kids. We should all hear stories about unlikely friendships, and beating the odds. And has an adorable cast.
3. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
This was a regular read for me growing up. It’s one of my all time favorite stories. I guess back then I loved reading, or watching, everything that would make me cry. I loved emotional stories. These days I steer clear, because life is hard enough, but kids are protected. Back then I could handle this heartbreaking ending.
4. The Secret Circle by LJ Smith
I read Vampire Diaries more than a decade ago, long before the television show. Actually, I read most of LJ Smith’s books, and enjoyed them. The Secret Circle was my favorite, by far. I loved the witch history, the incantations, and the lore. It made me want to be a witch, and I used to pretend I was a Diana or Cassie in my yard. (I was in love with Nick.)
5. Heaven by VC Andrews
Most people talk about Flowers in the Attic, I liked that series too, but I adored the Heaven series. It was definitely my favorite. I loved Heaven’s brother Tom, and I also loved her boyfriend Logan. For me though, it really took off during Dark Angel. I adored Troy. Even now I look back on the story and he’s the first one I think of.
6. Nancy Drew Files by Carolyne Keene
I read so many Nancy Drew books growing up that it’s surprising that I don’t read mysteries anymore. I loved the excitement of the cliffhanger chapter breaks, and figuring out who the bad guy was. I especially loved Nancy, her best friends, and her boyfriend Ned. (I kept every copy I owned and still have them today.)
7. Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal
Sweet Valley High was the sister series to Nancy Drew. It’s the other series that filled most of my time. Again, I read a huge portion of the entire series, and I made sure to keep every book. I never related to Jessica, I was definitely more of an Elizabeth growing up. Sadly, thinking of this series makes me upset about Sweet Valley Confidential all over again.
8. Witch by Christopher Pike
This is like a trip down memory lane. Christopher Pike was another author that filled my youthful bookshelves. There was something about Witch that I loved so much. I remember, we had this after school program where we performed poetry or monologues and I took the intro to this book and turned it into a performance. My copy still has the highlights.
9. Summer Sizzle by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
I didn’t read the Pen Pals series at all. I don’t even know where I got this book. I just remember reading it over and over when I was growing up. I even continued to reread it into my older teenage years. There was something that was so fun about it. I think maybe it was the group all getting together and summer camp. I had the most fun at camp.
10. If Wishes Were Horses by Maggie Dana
When I was younger I was obsessed with horse stories. (I still love everything horse now.) If Wishes Were Horses was my favorite. It’s the story of a girl who saves a starving horse from a glue factory and turns Tapestry into a champion jumper. (I also loved Black Stallion. You probably see a trend.)
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