In honor of Halloween (really, a holiday focused on dressing in costumes and gathering mass quantities of candy from strangers is all kinds of fabulous), I have to share with you a few of the books that really got me to like reading. Like, way back in the day.
I never really liked reading until I discovered scary, suspenseful books. My mom and aunts bought me things like Little House on the Prairie and stuff, and it just wasn’t my thing. No offense to Laura Ingalls Wilder or anything, but I am a city girl through and through and couldn’t care less what was happening outside of civilization.
Anyway, the very first book I remember reading on my own and really liking was The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright. It was the first book that had my attention and left me wanting to know what would happen next. I guess my love of mysteries should have been a forgone conclusion based on my early childhood love of Scooby Doo, but this was the first one I ever read. Of course, it scared the crap out of me too… and, as I look at the cover, it looks crazy cheesy now, but man I loved it. The protagonist in this has to stay with her aunt, and the dolls in the dollhouse reenact an unsolved murder that took place years previously. Super creepy. Super good.
Of course, my love of a good mystery didn’t end with the thrilling conclusion to The Dollhouse Murders. It was only the beginning. From there I moved on to books by Christopher Pike, Lois Duncan, and R.L. Stine. Christopher Pike was my favorite, hands down, and the one I remember liking a whole lot was Remember Me. Of course this cover is way dated and looks exactly like it did when I read it in the 90’s, but I’ve noticed some of Pike’s books with updated covers showing up in stores recently, which is great because I hope they turn another generation of students into avid readers. Reading these horror/suspense/mystery books from these authors turned me into the kind of reader that could finish a book or two in a weekend. For me, that was a real accomplishment.
I guess you could draw a few different conclusions from these early influences on my reader psyche:
- No wonder I’m a messed up human being. These books look scary!
- You could say these books influenced me to be an English teacher. Part of my passion as a teacher is to help students find books they LIKE to read, and these are the books that made me like reading.
- Maybe this is why I’m looking into writing a YA mystery series? :)