Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books from my Childhood and Teens I'd love to revisit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic that the participants come up with a top ten list for.

This week is about some of our childhood/teen favorites we'd love to pick back up at some point

Quite a few of the books on this list will be German, though I think some of them have been translated into English. It's pretty much unavoidable since I'm Swiss and didn't start reading books in English until I was about 16.

Michael Ende - Die unendliche Geschichte (The Never-ending Story)
I borrowed a very old edition of this one from the library when I was 12 or 13. The pages were all worn, and it still had the original illustrations at the beginning of each chapter (I have since wanted to buy the book for myself, but the illustrations were missing. What's up with that?!) and was written all in green and red ink. I just fell into this story and loved it so much! (I have never seen the movie.)

Wolfgang Hohlbein - Der Greif (The Gryphon) / Schattenjagd (Shadowhunt) / Spiegelzeit (Mirror Time)
Hohlbein was the YA fantasy god of German literature in the 80s and 90s (since he's so prolific, at least some of these must have been translated). I must own like 20 of his books and I've borrowed even more of them from the library (they are all really big and I just stacked them up to my chin, then read them all in a week and borrowed the next stack). All of the ones mentioned above are portal fantasy, with protagonists moving between two worlds. In the Gryphon, the protagonist enters another realm whenever he climbs and runs over rooftops. Which sounds like fun, until he's being hunted and terrifying creatures start intruding into the real world. Shadowhunt's protagonist is in a wheelchair and only experiences full mobility when playing immersive video games... until suddenly, he can't leave the game anymore. In Spiegelzeit, the protagonist can step through mirrors into a world his varieté-magician father created (and then screwed over). It also has one of my favorite endings ever. I really need to re-read some of these!

Philipp Pullmann - His Dark Materials trilogy
I came across these when I was about 14, 15. I think that I'd get more out of them if I re-read them now, especially Amber Spyglass. It's full of Milton quotes, but I only realized that almost ten years later when I read Paradise Lost at university. I loved the world of Lyra's Oxford so much, the idea of daemons, the adventures, the alethiometer, the witches, the northern lights...

Stephen King - Dark Tower series
I had an extreme King phase in my teens, and this trilogy is my favorite of his works, and one of my favorite series ever. It's just so epic and multilayered and tied into literary history / working with intertextuality and metafiction. Roland Deschain and I didn't have an easy start but I really grew to love him and the Ka-tet (sorry if I misspell anything, I read these in German). Also, I've only begun to realize in recent years how unusual the cast of protagonists really is: a gunslinger who's lost some most of the fingers of his right hand, a black woman with multiple personality disorder, an ex-junkie, a little boy who had to grow up way too fast. I think this was one of the first time I'd been confronted with addiction and disability in such a direct way via literature.

Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere
I read this when I was 19, so in my very, very late teens. It was a couple months before I first went to London, and I can honestly say that I could never look at London in a 'normal' way. It was always colored by what Gaiman wrote about it, and it will always be magic to me.

Enid Blyton - The Twins at St. Clare's
I must say I feel cheated. In German, the twins are called Hanni and Nanni, but apparently their real names in the English version are Isabel and Pat?! What's up with that? o.O Anyhow, I think I've read pretty much the whole series, or at least what was available of it in German. I loved reading about boarding school, the teachers, the other students, the midnight parties, and all the shenanigans the twins got up to.

Holly Black - Tithe
I borrowed it from the library (in German) when I was 15 or 16, read it twice, then borrowed it again a couple months later. When I found out that there are sequels which had never been translated, I bought the whole trilogy in English. I still love Holly Black, I still love reading (and writing) about faeries. This book had a big impact on me and the way I look at the world.

Anne Rice - The Vampire Lestat
Back in the days, there weren't that many vampire books (or at least I couldn't find them, since the internet was less awesome and many were never translated). While Interview with the Vampire really bored me most of the time (Louis is so whiny!) I loved Lestat as a narrator. He made me feel like I was right there, whether it was Paris in the 18th century or the 1980s.

I think I'll leave it at this. Everything else I'd add is by German or Swiss authors that I doubt anyone has heard of. I think I kind of missed out on a lot of English / American children's books. I've never read The Wizard of Oz or anything by Roald Dahl (I've seen the Matilda movie a gazillion times though). Maybe I'll have time to remedy that at some point. Please link me up to your own posts, I'd love to see what you guys read as children / teens :)


  1. I love that edition of The Neverending Story with the red and green text. That was the one I got from the library when I first read it, and I can't imagine reading the book with plain old black text. How boring!

    Have you read Momo by the same author? That's quite an interesting book, too... though it's hard to find.

  2. I haven't read most of these. They sound interesting. I've had The Gunslinger on my iPad for over a year. Definitely need to read the series. Heard it was good. Personally, I loved Interview with a Vampire when I was younger, but now that I'm older I agree with you about Louis. Lestat is the better narrator.

  3. His Dark Materials will always be one of my favorites! I'm actually partial to Interview With A Vampire, but I loved Lestat too -- back before vampires were quite as *everywhere* as they are now. I was a big Stephen King fan from my teens onward, but didn't start the Dark Tower series until recently (and still need to finish it!). Great list!

  4. Nice selection here Carmen^^ I only read His Dark Materials as an adult but I'd love to reread them at some point! I still need to read something by King and Rice though...and same goes for The Neverending Story >.< Since I went to a French school, I also feel like I missed out on a lot of classic English books growing up...I hope to change that soon but I can't help but wish I'd read them first in my younger years :)

  5. Just this past weekend I looked at a copy of The Neverending Story in a Barnes & Noble bookstore in America that has the original illustrations at the start of each chapter

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