Choose Your Own Adventure books are one of my strongest book memories from primary school (along with Coles Funny Picture Books, Scholastic Book Clubs, and the unfortunately titled Digit Dick books that my Year 2 teacher used to read us). Discovering an as-yet unread novel with the red Choose Your Own Adventure bubble at the top of the white cover was always cause for celebration and delight.
It was exciting to watch my own children discover Choose Your Own Adventure stories for themselves. We have borrowed them regularly from our local library and I’ve picked up a few here and there at second hand stores.
The books have also been republished over the past 10 years, generally with revised text, by Scholastic with new covers (black and darker colours now with more prominent titles, but the red bubble remains). I haven’t read any of the newer versions in detail, so I’m not sure how extensive the revisions are. No doubt it has been important to add mobile phones and computers smaller than a cupboard to keep the attention of modern children.
My youngest, Mr8, has just discovered CYOA books and is quite impressed with them. He has started with a 1983 edition of The Race Forever by R A Montgomery and I can only imagine what kind of automotive technical wizardry the book deals with as the adventure follows the First African Dual Road Race Rally. I’ve noticed him back-tracking to find a more satisfactory storyline, although I’ve yet to see him bookmarking pages with his fingers as I used to do, trying to keep track of the story until I didn’t have enough fingers free to actually hold the book.
In the early days of this blog, I attempted to set up a 1001 Book Challenge, inviting others to join me as I tried to read through as many of the books on the list as possible. There was a spreadsheet with embedded formulae that made it possible to keep track of what percentage I had read and various other book-geekish pieces of information.
Of course, the whole thing was simply way to complicated and time consuming and, as such, I rarely returned to update any information. It’s a pattern of behavior that I fall victim to frequently.
I recently noticed that Karen Andrews at Miscellaneous Mum was tracking her progress with a 1001 Books Challenge. She simply has a list of books from the original 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die as well as additions from the one or two updates of that book with the list (accurate up to 2012) and she crosses books off the list as she reads them.
I started Drive Me To Distraction expecting a standard romance with an edge of suspense. Instead, it was the suspense aspect of the story that really drew me in and kept me turning pages.
The menacing character of Lord Hamish MacCameron was a more dominant presence in the book than love interest Rob Dryden. I found Alex’s attempts to free herself from MacCameron’s blackmail attempts and behind-the-scenes manipulations far more enthralling than the developing attraction between Alex and Rob. The suspense aspect of the story is the real draw card. Even after MacCameron’s suspicious death, I was left wondering if Alex was going to be able to recover from the many complications that her involvement with MacCameron had caused for her both professionally and romantically.
I read this book several months ago when it was first released. Since then I have referred to it several times in conversations with friends and even in a post I wrote for Happy Child about stay-at-home mothers and depression.
Even though the characters weren’t particularly similar to my own friends or myself, there were so many moments in this book where I felt like they were articulating my own frustrations, challenges or subconscious motivations.
As a group, the women who meet together for their weekend retreat in The Reunion represent so many aspects of life familiar to women in their 30s and onwards. Between then they have had serious relationships, relationship breakdowns, had children or have passed the point where children are a possibility. They are dealing with illness within their family, either with children or aging parents, and they are facing a changes in their role as a mother, wife/partner and/or friend as their children grow older and they move on from the constant demands of parenting babies and toddlers.
I really appreciated that despite their age and experience, the characters were still discovering things about themselves. They still faced uncertainty and needed to be reminded to look beyond their superficial assumptions – they needed to be taken out of their own small world and reminded of the bigger picture. It was reassuring to read about characters who, like me, didn’t have it all worked out yet.
In recent years, I have become increasingly aware of the value in connecting myself – in the long and short term – with people who have an expertise in particular areas. While I am undeniably awesome at a number of things, there are other areas where I can most definitely benefit from the input of someone who actually knows what they are talking about.
There are decisions to be made and priorities to be set in my life and, to be honest, I feel woefully unequipped to deal with the many issues facing me at the moment. I find myself constantly vacillating between options or simply putting the issues to one side while I bury my nose in a book (all hail Susan, Queen of Procrastination). When I was offered the opportunity to review Play a Bigger Game, it seemed like the perfect way to shake myself out of the holding pattern I’m currently maintaining. A step–by–step guide to getting back on track written by an experienced (and successful) motivational speaker seemed like an opportunity too good to miss.
I came across a tweet this evening from Bree at One Girl Too Many Books (@1Girl2ManyBooks) mentioning The Classics Club (@OurClassicsClub), a community of lovers of classic books.
The Classics Club encourages readers to commit to reading 50+ classics over a maximum of 5 years. You blog a list of the books that you plan to read and then commit to post reviews of those books.
I read a wide variety of genres, but most of them are new or recent releases. I like the idea of setting a goal of reading more classics, so I’ve decided to put together a Classics Club Book List. I’ll give myself the full five years and I’ll start with 50 titles, although I may add one or two occasionally. If you’d like to join the challenge, details are at The Classics Club website including a Big Book List with lots of suggestions for titles you might like to include.
It’s an issue I’ve struggled with myself and one that seems to arise in most conversations I have with parents of young children who love to read. How do you find challenging books that interest younger readers without exposing them to themes and content that is inappropriate?
While advanced younger readers might have the attention and vocabulary skills to read books well beyond the abilities of their peers, that doesn’t mean that they are equipped to process emotions, content and themes suited to older children and adults. Just because your child has the language skills to read Stephen King’s IT, doesn’t mean you should hand it over to them when they want something to read at bedtime. I read that book as an adult and I’m still a little bit freaked out by stormwater drains and clowns. I guess I can’t place the blame for clowns creeping me out entirely at Stephen King’s feet, but he certainly didn’t help.
I thought I would put together a list of books that my own children, three avid readers with very eclectic tastes, have enjoyed. I’d love for you to add any recommendations of your own in the comments and I will try to periodically update this list with your contributions and with any additional titles that come to my attention.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m more than a little addicted to both books and lists, so a book list is something that I have no hope at all of resisting. Add to that the genre of YA fiction and it was really a bit of a no-brainer that I would be all over [...]
A book is touted as being the most amazing thing to hit the bookstores since… well, since the last really amazing book. Bookstore shelves groan under the weight of multiple copies and less desirable tomes are banished to dimly lit corners and hard to reach upper shelves where the dust bunnies and spiders lurk. Not [...]
On Friday I took my daughter to Sydney for the day to visit a friend’s art exhibition. We travelled by train, which meant that I had around 5 hours of travel time to fill.
Obviously, I needed to pack in a book. It had to be interesting enough to distract me from [...]
Susan Whelan - freelance writer, wife, mother, Novocastrian, compulsive reader, user of big words and inadequate housewife. Contact me at SusanWhelanWriting(at)gmail(dot)com.
By the way, I'm copyrighted. All of me (especially the good bits).
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