Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Cheesemonkey!

Today is Child #1's (a.k.a. Cheesemonkey's) thirteenth birthday.

Yep, I now have a bona fide teenager living beneath my roof. Kinda scary ... though so far, he's looking as though he'll be a pretty low-stress teenager. Low stress for my husband and me, that is. Child #2 could be a little more challenging when he hits his teens (he's the one who, earlier this year, informed me he's going to take a year off - a "gap year" - between high school and whatever he does next. Hello? You're only in 5th grade, honey, a bit early to be planning "my life as a bum"!) And Child #3? Well, she's only seven, but she's one dynamo of a kid and I have no doubt she will do something spectacular with her life. The only problem is, I know it will come at the cost of my own sanity.

But I digress ...

All that Child #1 wanted for his birthday was a Kindle, and that's what he got. Consequently, we've been talking books - what he reads, what he likes. Books such as The Hunger Games and Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series, and anything by Terry Pratchett. He's also a big fan of Scott Westerfeld, and has made his way through Tolkein's The Hobbit and all the The Lord of The Rings books.

Frank Herbert's Dune series and Isaac Asimov's books fill out the substantial fantasy and sci-fi collection on his shelves, as do Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea novels and a bunch of Neil Gaiman's offerings.

He also enjoys Tintin comics, and an Asterix and Obelix or two.

I'm afraid - no, scratch that - GLAD he's not at all into the Twilight books. He did give the first one a try. His conclusion?

"That story is just SO dumb."


I've been trying to remember what I was reading when I was thirteen. It's a bit of a stretch for the old memory, but I'm fairly certain that was the age I became hooked on the Trixie Belden series. Oh my. I remember, so well, saving up my pocket money to buy each new instalment, and that feeling of holding the next book in my hands, knowing that very soon,  I'd once more be sinking into the world of Trixie Belden, girl detective .. sigh.

I was thirteen when I discovered Judy Blume's Forever and Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, and when I first cracked open some of the more "serious" leather-bound books on my parents' shelves -  Mutiny on the Caine, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights. I can vividly remember devouring  Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe one long, wet Sunday, too.

Thirteen was the age I began to dip into fantasy and sci-fi in the form of Anne McCaffrey's Pern series and Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama. And not long after, Anne Rice and her non-sparkling vampires, and Stephen King and his gloriously creepy imagination, well and truly hooked me ...

I guess I started off much as I have remained - an eclectic reader. I'll give most books a go, no matter the genre, because I truly believe great stories are to be found everywhere.

So how about you? What books were you reading when you were a teen? And have your tastes remained the same, or have they changed?


  1. Wow, my reading was quite similar to yours at that age. I can honestly say those were the books I was reading too. Go Trixie Belden!

  2. I was reading Edgar Allan Poe. I started when I was eight & would just randomly pick up one of my collections & re-read it. Still do. xx

  3. Yay, he's read The Lord of the Rings! Does he want to keep going? Would he enjoy The Silmarillion, or The Tale of the Children of Hurin?
    13, oh my. I reread The Lord of the Rings. I also read for the first time: It, The Stand, Gone With the Wind, 1984, Animal Farm, Romeo and Juliet (for school), The Tempest, Dubliners, a bunch of VC Andrews and Sidney Sheldon, etc., etc. I was probably rereading Agatha Christie.
    The only way my tastes have changed is that I can't stomach VC Andrews and Sidney Sheldon anymore...

  4. 13...yeah. I remember that being the beginning of a reading explosion for me. But I don't think my reading journey was quiet so normal.

    I started off with the Little House books (loved) then moved on to raiding my parents' books -as I never thought to go to a library (lol). So I was exposed to such authors as Jean M. Auel, Judith Krantz, Sidney Sheldon (hey Deniz! :)), Ernest Hemingway, Shakespeare, Daniel Steele, Susan Isaacs, Robert Ludlum, Mario Puzzo... At least it was eclectic!

    I think Anne Rice was the first writer I actively bought on my own. And I'll have to credit my older brother for sending me a box full of classic literature at some point. Thanks, Mike. :)

  5. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Cheesemonkey!

  6. Oh yes of course! I read Hemingway then too. And Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. I'd forgotten about the latter. I think she kinda scared me a little. I didn't pick up her vampire books. I *liked* Witching Hour at the time, but I never reread it either.

  7. Tell your Cheesemonkey Happy Birthday for me.

    The books I read at 13...hmmm. My memory isn't providing a clear list, but I was steadily working on the List of 300 Books for College Bound Students at the time, so I imagine it was Shakespeare's works, Herodutus, Thucycides, anything assigned at school, and anything by Andre Norton.

  8. Oh yes, happy birthday Cheesemonkey! Is he going to another review for us?

  9. @ S.P. - what great taste in literature your teen self had. (g) And Trixie Belden ... ah, those books had everything. Mysteries to solve, the gorgeous and rich BFF side-kick, a bit of unrequited teen love, and OMG, copious horse riding! What was there not to love? (g)

  10. @ Samantha - oh yes, love me some Poe, though I only picked up his works in the last few years, alas. And slightly off topic ... don't know if it'd be your cup of tea, but have you read The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard? It's set in West Point Academy in 1830, where a young cadet's body is discovered. There's a question as to whether it's murder or suicide, and the powers that be secretly bring in a retired police detective to investigate ... and the young cadet with a murky past who is very keen to help him is none other than Edgar Allen Poe (who really did attend West Point for several years.)

    It's a great read - Bayard's writing is simply wonderful - and much in the vein of Poe's own work. You might enjoy it. :-)

  11. @ Deniz - I'll have to mention those books to him, Deniz. I'm sure he'd enjoy them. Oh, and VC Andrews! Yes, I was reading her stuff at that age, too; and like you, won't be re-reading them any time soon! lolololol

    As for another Cheesemonkey review? Hmm, we'll see. He's older and wiser and I'm sure he won't do it for free again, so I'll have to ask what his going rate is and get into some haggling. Watch this space ...

  12. @ Kristen - yes, Judith Krantz! How could I forget? And that reminds me - I seem to recall ploughing through a stack of Jackie Collins', too. Shudder. And Auel's Clan of the Cave Bears (borrowed from my high school library, where I sourced most of my books for years) certainly made my teenage eyes pop. (g)

    Let's hear it for eclectic reading! lol

  13. @ Zan Marie - now, why aren't kids these days introduced to more of those works? Yes, we studied Shakespeare and the poems of John Donne, and nineteenth century writers such as the Brontes and Dickens and George Eliot and Thomas Hardy ... but none of the true ancient classics. Would have been awesome to study them ... or maybe not? I guess I'm looking at it through the eyes of an adult; being a kid, it might have been a different matter. (g)

    I had to google Andre Norton. Her books sound awesome, just the sort of thing I would have read. :-)

  14. I had a cat named Malek for an Andre Norton character who was half wolf/half human. Loved the character and the cat. ; )

    I'll admit that the historians were a slog until I hit college and studied the facts surrounding the narratives.

  15. I'll check it out, Rachel. Thanks!! :) xx