If You Like….

At Angel B’s suggestion, in honor of the Hunger Games, this week’s If You Like post will be about favorite books of our tween years. I don’t know about you, but I had plenty of guilty pleasure reads in those teen years, including:

— Lois Duncan’s teen suspense novels (my favorite was Down a Dark Hall, set at a mysterious boarding school);

— ditto Richie Tankersley Cusick’s teen suspense novels, especially Trick or Treat and Vampire;

— moving from horror to fantasy, I read and re-read Robin McKinley’s fairy tale retellings, Beauty (I used to be able to recite that first page, word by word– I can still remember most of it if I try), The Door in the Hedge, Deerskin;

— I was also addicted to Robin McKinley’s Damar books, The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, in which our brave, underestimated female heroines learn to wield a sword and Defeat Evil;

— in the same vein, Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet, in which Alanna disguises herself as a boy to train as a knight (and, of course, saves the kingdom many times over);

— along similar lines, there was also Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons series (The Enchanted Forest chronicles), in which our princess, Cimorene, runs off to keep house for a dragon, since she’s had it with proposals from overbred princelings;

— and, yes, I will confess, I did read Sweet Valley High, The Baby-Sitters Club, and Pen Pals.

I’ve also made some wonderful teen read discoveries in my not-so-teendom. The best of the lot? Anything by Rosemary Clement-Moore. Her Maggie Quinn series (starting with Prom Dates from Hell ) is what Elizabeth Peters’ Vicky Bliss would be if Vicky were a teenager battling the forces of evil (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Vicky Bliss). Her non-series book, The Splendor Falls, kept me up until four in the morning right around this time last year. It’s reminiscent of the best sort of Barbara Michaels novel– but technically for teens.

What were your favorite tween reads?


  1. Ammy Belle on March 26, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Oh great category!

    When I was a teen I read everything … but Lois Duncan was among my favourites – I liked “Daughters of Eve”, myself. I also loved the L.J. Smith books now so popular that the CW has made two series into series – “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Secret Circle”. Robin McKinnley is also a favourite of mine, though I started her at 19 near 20, so not sure it’s a teen thing.

    I have recently discovered tonnes of books for teens I am now in love with – Like “The Hunger Games” and “Hush, Hush” and “The Vampire Academy” series.

    I am becoming quite the teen reader!

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  2. Kate @ Musings on March 26, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Will anyone confess to have read ‘Forever’ by Judy Blume?

    When I was a teen, there weren’t many books written specifically for teens, and I am glad that there are so many now. My teen favorites: “Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret” “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” “Diary of a Young Girl” and “Once and Future King.”

    But having teens, I loved reading anything by Tamora Pierce, Ann Rinaldi, Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine!

  3. Christa on March 26, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I’m pretty sure that every “Baby Sitters Club” book ever published made its way into my hands when I was younger! I was also into the Nancy Drew series.

    I also read anything by Roald Dahl – especially Matilda. I still have that one on my bookshelf and read it every once in a while!

    Great post! Very nostaligic. 🙂

  4. Ashley on March 26, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I really enjoyed the historical saga books in the Fear Street series, one of my first introductions to a more historical setting.

    I also really enjoyed a series of books by Cameron Dokey set around historical disasters – Hindenburg, San Francisco earthquake, Chicago fire

  5. Sheila on March 26, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Like some others here, I am of the age that existed before the YA category existed, so I read a lot of everything. That’s when I discovered Georgette Heyer, and Victoria Holt, read everything of theirs. For a while I loved Gothics, and also James Michener. Anything historical, I guess. I also adored Ring of Bright Water and Born Free, and at the time I thought Reader’s Digest Condensed Books were the bee’s knees.

  6. Christine on March 26, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University, Nancy Drew, Fear Street, Freshman Dorm… all among the books that were recently rescued from my parents’ basement and now currently reside in a closet in my house.

  7. Gina on March 26, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I am so happy to see Tamora Pierce on this list! I came over here from facebook to ramble about how fantastic she is. I’ve read her Tortall quartets many, many times over.
    I was a huge fan of The Giver (is that a teen book? maybe younger, I don’t know) and various Meg Cabot books, though I can admit they weren’t particularly good.

  8. Hannah on March 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

    As a tween/teen, I read just about everything in the YA section and the adult romance section in the library, especially through junior high when I lived in a very small town. My favorites were Judy Blume, Regency and other historical romances, Gothics, and L.M. Montgomery. I read all the original Sweet Valley High books and many other series books as well.

  9. April on March 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High of course. Bought every one and when I went to college I donated them to the library.

    A favorite author was Christopher Pike. He wrote teen mysteries. Once again owned them all. I even kept one Remember Me after my purge for college.

    And does anyone remember the Sunfire series? The were always one girl, two boys to choose from and some even or job the girl was involved in. I used to borrow those from the school library.

  10. Joey B. on March 26, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    “Forever” by Judy Blume was the first book that came to mind for me too. Actually all of the Judy Blume books were great. I also read a lot of Betty Cavanna, Beverly Cleary, and Marguarite Henry.

  11. Nancy on March 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    The Vampire Dairies

    Not the TV show, the books were sooooo much better

  12. Sheila on March 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    There was no YA category when I was that age, so I devoured just about anything historical: Heyer, Michener, Victoria Holt, Anya Seton, loved gothics, and Readers” Digest Condensed books, and also read Ring of Bright
    Water and Born Free several times each.

  13. Virginia on March 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I was big into the Babysitter’s Club. I still have every single one of my 200+ BSB books.

    I also loved anything and everything by Tamora Pierce.

    My absolute favorite books from that time (and possibly of my entire life) were The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (by Avi) and The Witch of Blackbird Pond (by Elizabeth George Speare). Move, after move, after move Charlotte and Kit were my constant companions.

  14. AngelB on March 26, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Isn’t it funny..I come up with a topic, but I don’t have any tween books I really read. I read all the Little House books, including the ones written by Laura’s daughter grace. But once I hit my pre-teens/teens, my friends and I were into horror books and books “not appropriate” for our age group. I particularly remember borrowing a copy of Sidney Sheldon’s ‘A Stranger in the Mirror’. My friend had all the juicy parts highlighted. haha

    Series wise, VC Andrews ‘Flowers in the Attic’ was huge. Anything John Saul freaked us out (‘Suffer the Children’, ‘Cry for the Strangers’, ‘Punish the Sinners’ ‘When the Wind Blows’), and the cheesier the better in Harlequin Romances.

  15. Lauren on March 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Angel B, I also remember being mildly obsessed with “Flowers in the Attic”! I read all the sequels…. Those were a little bit twisted– but so addictive.

  16. Lauren on March 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Virginia, I love “Witch of Blackbird Pond”! The romance between Kit and Nat was so beautifully done.

  17. Tracy on March 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I remember reading “Calico Captive” by Elizabeth George Speare over and over. It was set during the French and Indian Wars of which I knew little, so I found it fascinating. I had read all the Little House books a few years earlier.

  18. Linda on March 26, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    I read (and still read) a lot of history, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and some combination thereof in the tween/teen years. There was a lot less of it available in my local library and book store than there is today. Back then it was possible to read the entire shelf of young adult books.

    Some of my favorites include Diana Wynn Jones, Susan Cooper, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney,Robin McKinley, Andre Norton, Madeleine L’Engle, Patricia McKillip, Ursula K. Leguin, Tanith Lee and of course LM Montgomery. (Didn’t everyone identify with Anne Shirley?)

    Upon reflection, Elizabeth Pope, with the Perilous Gard (Tudor) and the Sherwood Ring (Am Revolution), started me on historical romance. The combination of history, romance, mystery and intrigue with a touch of the supernatural is irresistible! I wanted to be as brave and clever as patriot Barbara Graham when she outwitted British Captain Peaceable Drummond Sherwood thereby saving her brother and accidentally winning her foe’s heart. I did wonder what would happen if Peaceable and Sir Percy Blakeney ever met — or even more intriguing – if their wives ever did.

  19. Michelle on March 27, 2012 at 7:25 am

    My favorite teen years reading was about the Titanic and other shipwrecks. I also loved Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. Then I discovered gothic/historical romance! My first ever of that genre was Madeline Brent’s Tregaron’s Daughter. That led me Victoria Holt, Rosalind Laker, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer.

  20. Monica C. on March 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Lauren, you pretty much just named all my favorites from when I was a teenager! Well, my biggest favorites. I also read lots of romance, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and a lot of Anne McCaffrey at that age.

    I still read everything Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and Patricia C. Wrede publish, and I have yet to be disappointed. They are amazing!

  21. Jessica C on March 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    I read everything I could get my hands on as a child, but there were a few series that I remember with particular fondness.

    In my tween years, I loved the Anne books (I very badly wanted to look like Anne and live on Prince Edward Island) and the Rowan of Rin series by Emily Rodda. I was also obsessed with the James Herriot books – I still have a soft spot in my heart for his adventures as a country vet.

    I also went through a few ‘theme’ obsessions. Age 10-12 was Greek mythology. Age 13-15 was communism in Russia and China (so I read every novel I could get my hands on that were set in the times of the Bolshevik uprising and in the early times of Mao Zendong’s rule), 15 was James A Michener’s historical epics. Then I discovered Tolkien and Jane Austen at 16 and 18 respectively, and those two literary loves have driven my taste in novels ever since

  22. Amy N. on March 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    My tween reads were Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Edgar Rice Burroughs (not just Tarzan), and that was just a start. HP Lovecraft, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney and others came along later – I thought these were so on the edge and what would my mother say? She never said anything but she didn’t stop me either.

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