Tales from our youth

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Secret Under the Sea by Gordon R Dickson (the first novel I ever read, rather than had read to me)
Back to the Future by George Gipe (the novelization of the movie and the first novel I ever read in one sitting)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (the novel that taught me what satire is)
Age 5/6

Bewildered Gilbert - he's a wuss, won't stand up to Ivan, the local bully bulldog. His beloved cats lose respect. But then he finds the power of his own bark- (aided by a little bit of convex mirror therapy)

Age 9

Carve Her Name With Pride- true story of SOE agent Violette Szabo

Age 12

The Once and Future King

But many more others.


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Nancy Drew (her dad was a lawyer and that inspired me to become one). I don't know where they went (we moved a lot so they were probably cleaned out in a move), but at one stage I'd collected (and read) well over 100 of them.
Anne of Green Gables
Pride and Prejudice
A different lie to the land of my youth - no books. We had oral stories, akin to folk horror, the things that go bump in the night, the stories of what happens to children who don't follow the law of the lands or the elders.
My favourite is the story of the two children who get lost at sea in a canoe they made with a hole at one end, so one had to row with the weak and breaking stick while the other risked losing each limb to the monsters of the deep. End result - they reach the shore shorter, paler, and inducted into the equivalent of the storytellers guild. Still remember the way it was told, how cold I felt, how relieved I was at the end when the lesson was able to help others.
When we moved to a town and went to a school with a library [all of about 100 books], I'd read every book in the first year there, but none were as compelling as the oral stories with the darkness, the voice of the teller/actor, and the squeals of siblings.
Stories were a lived thing in my childhood.
Like Cage. No books.

Having had the privilege of growing up near a lake and in the kind of wonderful countryside which was safe to roam, I was feral by choice. The rare times I was indoors, I soaked up films (I did read on rare occasions: cartoons. Asterix. Tintin.).

I wasn't into reading back then. I'm still not. I'm into creating. As a kid I was too busy acting out my own stories outdoors. With friends. Or dolls. Dolls were easier. They followed my plot lines. Friends kept throwing in these pesky obstacles. Now I'm creating on my lap top which is frustrating in a way. I'd rather give stories physicality. Hey ho. And those childhood friends aren't here. I have to imagine those friends trying to throw my protagonist a curve.
The Faber Book of Children's Verse. - I've always loved poetry.

A big red book full of fairy tales. It was my bedtime story book. My parents were too busy or disinterested to read me a bedtime story, but I learnt to read very young (I started at 3 1/2 and could read well by 5), so when I wasn't at my Nanna's, I read myself a bedtime fairy tale each night. The pages eventually fell out.

"Tom's Midnight Garden" by Philippa Pearce. When I was a young child, I wasn't thinking about how it romanticised Victorian times (a present day criticism of the novel), and I knew about Victorian slums etc from Charles Dickens. For me, the Midnight Garden was a glorious escape. We had a loudly ticking grandfather clock in our hall, and I yearned for it to strike 13 so I could find a midnight garden too.

I don't know if these helped me become the person I am today. Maybe they did because I'm a total dreamer, and I still believe in that fairy tale goodness that you'll find on the other side of bad times.
If we're allowed to name a series, I would say the Dr Doolittle books. I loved the idea of a pottering, slightly stern old man who studies animal languages and becomes an animal doctor. The way that he and Tommy, his apprentice, are scoffed at by their fellow townsfolk, yet revered by animals all around the world was wonderful to me as a child. In fact, about 10 years back, I went on A ebooks and collected the complete set of 1940s/50s hardback editions and re-read them. I can see why the books aren't more popular, and didn't become staple reading for Millennials, because the casual racism that was commonplace at the time of writing doesn't sit well any more. Prince Bumpo is an out and out black stereotype, both in the way he acted and was drawn.

It's interesting how the final story, written just after WW2 and finished off by a relative after Lofting died, has a much darker, more introspective tone than the others. The casual racism has gone. The doctor is no longer described as eating sausages and bacon, in front of his pig pal. I can't help wondering how amazing the stories would have been, had Lofting started writing them 30 years later.
I was an outdoor child, too, but it rains a lot in Scotland. (A LOT.)

I liked series. Jane Shaw's books, Anthony Buckeridge's Jennings and Darbishire boys' public school books, the Pullein-Thompson sisters' pony books... I read every one. I asked for Jane Shaws for birthdays and Christmases.

Adventure books. I read my parents' school prizes when they were much too old for me. I read and re-read Treasure Island. Also RM Ballantyne's Coral Island, at a time when the big words (philoSOP-her, I remember asking my mother) were troublesome, and Swiss Family Robinson, though I thought their father was a know-all. I persevered with The Black Arrow though RLS's Wars of the Roses dialogue was a struggle, with words not in the dictionary (murrain)...

Moving on to Jean Plaidy, Mary Stewart, Daphne du Maurier. Again when I was too young for them. I re-read 'Rebecca' long after and was amazed by what was in it, that had totally gone over my young teens head.

Sorry, I've cheated a bit here, with categories rather than single books.
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