Turning Back Time: My Favourite Teen Reads

I was adding books to my Goodreads ‘Read’ list , and suddenly found myself reminiscing about what I read as a teen . The name Wild Hearts sprang to mind and I entered it into the search bar . Sure enough, Wild Hearts came up. i can remember going to WHSmith or Dillon’s as it was known before Waterstones was such a presence on the High Street, at every oportunity I got to stock up on these, and my other favourite series, such as Sweet Valley High (known simply, amongst my friends and I, as SVH) . I was also a huge fan of the Babysitter’s Club by Ann .M. Martin (abbreviated to the BSC amongst my friends and I ). I have always been horse-mad, and so The Saddle Club and The Flicka trilogy were also on my bookshelves. I did not take much notice of my dad’s suggestion I should read classics such as Black Beauty or The Hobbit, leaving Black Beauty instead until my late 20’s. To this day, I still have never read The Hobbit, and much less seen the film. I would raid the shelves at Wallingford library in Oxfordshire, so tempted to sit and read the Sweet Valley High books they had on their dusty shelves before I approached the desk to take them out. As I remember, I think I ended up taking all the SVH books out, and renewed them to read them again. In my older teen years, I read the Making Out series by K.A. Applegate.

What made me read these books?

In my case, it was not pure ‘peer pressure,’

With the sweet valley high high books I was attracted to them because of the story line and the fact that they were about two identical twins, Jessica and Elizabeth, and the ins and outs of their lives at high school. I was drawn to these books on a personal level as I was one of identical twins. As with every book, it was the synopsis and covers that made me want to read them. In terms of the BSC, perhaps this was more based on the fact that many of my friends were reading them.I started my own collection, but did not collect too many books, and instead borrowed from friends. With the Making Out books, I was interested to read them because of the fact that they were based in the American state of Maine, where I have family and had been on holiday around the time that the books were released, and also as a teenager . I was also very into Romance books and books that showed real experiences that I could identify with. I could also identify with the life of Ben, the guy in the making out books who was Blind, as I have a personal experience of disability and visual difficulty, and reading about the relationships and love between the characters in the books made me want to have the experience of a relationship myself someday .

What all the books had in common was friendship, love, heartbreak and personal experiences . Before and during my teen years, I found it hard to make friends and was not confident so found these books relaxing and a good escape from my problems. I also found, by reading these books, I had an automatic topic of conversation with my likeminded friends. These books gave me the courage to face situations in life that were thrown at me during my teeange years, and I though ‘what would that character have done in this situation?’ and so they were more than just fictional characters: to me, they were role models. I also liked the Sweet Valley University (SVU) books, and after reading them , could not wait to go to University myself .
Now, at 32 years of age, I find myslf seeking out those books again, and they are books I will pass on to my kids in the future, as they tought me valuable life lessons.

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