THE BOOKS OF MY CHILDHOOD

 I have a real treat for you all today, my good friend Jake aka J Carson Black is here to chat and she is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate to a lucky commenter! 

When I was a kid, my parents and I had a tradition.  One Friday night a month, we would go out to dinner at the Sizzlers, and I’d walk down along the strip mall to the Baskin Robbins for a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone.  And then my parents would take me to the House of Paperbacks.

Books were cheap back then.  My mother is a smart lady; she appealed to my materialistic nature, the desire to grab up as many books as I could. This is how she fostered my love of reading.

In Tucson, where I live, there’s a big used-book superstore called Bookman’s.  My husband and I like to go there on Saturdays and prowl around.  First, I go and see if they have any of my old paperback books.  (It’s humbling to see how many friends have sold books I’d signed to them years ago.  One of them was the best man at my wedding, and I’d blathered all over the page: “So-and-so, you are one of best friends I’ve ever had in my life!”) I love you, man.

After that, I look and see what the best writers in my genre have out new, because I like to keep up with them. I buy their latest hardcovers to study.

Then I go to the Childrens’ Section.  

Over the years, I’d lost tons of books from my childhood.  They’re not famous books, but I read them at a time when they meant something to me.  A lot of them where Scholastic Books.  I remember coming across a favorite I’d read as a kid and had somehow lost: HOBBY HORSE HILL, by Lavinia Davis.  Oh, how I loved that book!  My husband was out of town, and I found myself reading it again—I was up until three in the morning.  It was as good as I remembered it.

So now I look for the older books, for books that strike a chord. They don’t even have to be favorites like HOBBY HORSE HILL.  If they have the same cover, I buy them.  I have 4 versions of MY FRIEND FLICKA. There were two books that came out with the same cover of a boy and a horse against the Wyoming hills.  One had pink up top and bottom, and one had dark green. All these years later, I found the dark green one.

The one book I really wanted had the original cover of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, by Ray Bradbury.  The cover brought me to that book, and distills its essence. It shows a dark sidewalk with leaves blowing up in a dust devil or scary words.  I wanted the cover as well as the book, even though I had the book with a newer cover.  But when I looked for it online, the darn thing cost $800.00.  Fuggedaboudit.

Then one day, I dropped by Bookmans. I always went to the Fantasy section to look for the book, even though I knew Bookmans would be too smart to let an $800.00 book go out the door for a couple of bucks.

But there it was, face out.  My cover!  Turns out, there was a book club version reprinted in the early nineties. The book was in perfect condition, and now I had the cover.  I think I paid eight dollars for it.

So I have a library of old faded books that came from my childhood and that I bring out and look at and hold—they are my talismans. 

Sometimes, these old books play into the novels I’m writing.  When I got the idea for THE DEVIL’S HOUR, the third thriller in my Laura Cardinal series, I kept thinking of the girls’ summer camp in DONNA PARKER: MYSTERY AT ARAWAK.  And so I put a girl’s summer camp up on Mt. Lemmon above Tucson, and as homage to the book, I came up with the name Camp Aratauk.  The camp only plays a bit part in THE DEVIL’S HOUR, although it is important to the story.

The books I read as a child formed me.  They went through a part of my life with me, whether it was a couple of days, or a week, or a month.  They will always be there, and I am glad to find them again and add them to the special shelf in my library.

Are there any books from your childhood that strike a chord with you?  

Before you go, checkout Jake’s site http://www.whokilledbriennecross.com and check out The Shop, a Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s thriller! THE SHOP will be rereleased, on February 6, 2012.  Check it out!

About Karin Tabke aka Karin Harlow

Award winning author Karin Tabke isn’t just another author with steamy stories to tell, but a cop’s wife who has “seen it all and heard it all.” Karin also writes paranormal romance as Karin Harlow with her L.O.S.T. series hailed as paranormal romantic suspense at its “chilling and sizzling” best.
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30 Responses to THE BOOKS OF MY CHILDHOOD

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Nancy Drew, of course. I have a secret room in one of my books, and I mentioned Nancy Drew. lol I’ve never tried to read one of her books again. I should.

    I was a bit older, in my early teens when I read The Diary of Anne Frank, but I still feel chills when I think of it. I tried to read it again a few years ago, but couldn’t. It was too intense, knowing what would happen to her.

  2. Anne of Green Gables was really my first jump into romance. I loved those books. and I loved the magic of The Chronicles of Narnia.

  3. CrystalGB says:

    Hi Jake. For me, it was Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden that I loved as a child.

  4. Misty Evans says:

    Nancy Drew for me, too, Edie! I’d love to collect all those old Nancy Drew books and read them again. Laura Ingalls comes to mind. My mom and I read those books together when I was young. I’m also was a huge Peanuts fan. At the library, I would always grab one or two of those books and now my kids own a giant Peanuts treasury.

    Great topic, Jake. Thanks for stopping by and guest blogging here on MM today. I love used bookstores and wish we had one in my area. Good luck with your writing and book hunting!

  5. Lee Lopez says:

    I read My friend Flicka, and Johnny Tremain. My mother was big on the classics, so we had Huck Finn and Tom Swayer around, along with White Fang and so many others. When she passed a few years ago, I found the box in the attic with all those tattered books, with chocolate milk stains between the pages, and what I think is jelly. The ones that were crumbling I kept for my grandchildren, in the hopes someday they’ll want to read them.

  6. jeanette8042 says:

    Great post and books that I loved as a child were all the fairytale books I had and Disney stories like Cinderella.

  7. Robert A. says:

    Hi, I really like reading books back when I was a child. My favorite of all was “The Secret Garden” and “Nancy Drew’s Series” What was your favorite book when you turned into a teenager?

    Thanks for this book review!

    -Robert
    Robert A.`s last blog was …homes for sale in puchong

  8. Jill James says:

    I loved the Little House on the Prairie books. I had never imagined that someone could just write about their childhood and make a book. How cool was that?! I loved that life wasn’t perfect, it was sometimes downright scary. But that family was always there for each other. In my real life, that was so great to read.
    Jill James`s last blog was …Blog The Writer – Elysa Hendricks

  9. I didn’t see the comments until now! Don’t know how that happened. So The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables and Nancy Drew seem to be winning the day. I read a few Hardy Boys mysteries, but I’ve never read Nancy Drew. Looks like I should rethink this gap in my education. Lee – I’m a big My Friend Flicka fan. In fact I have five versions of the book in hardcover and paperback. I love The Little House on the Prairie books as well. When I was little, we had Childcraft books and a set of red books that were even earlier than those. And I’ll never forget some of the illustrations. Those wonderful pen and ink illustrations from the turn of the century–I remember one for Cinderella. – Jake
    J. Carson Black`s last blog was …Readers, Writers, and Marketeers: I need your help

  10. Liz Kreger says:

    OMG this blog really struck a cord with me. Growing up with eight other siblings, buying books wasn’t in the budget as far as my parents were concerned. As I result I haunted the library and the personal libraries of my friend’s families. I hit so much gold. I read everything I could get my hands on with horses … Farley’s Black Stallion series, My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, Son of Flicka … you name it. I read all the Bambi books. Believe it or not, there are something like a dozen or so of them.

    I devoured so many Harlequins that the librarian accused me of just returning them without reading them. Said in humor, of course. We were buds.

    I felt like a sponge that absorbed everything and anything.

  11. My most cherished book from my childhood is my beat up, broken down hardcover version of Black Beauty. The cover is taped. The pages are orange and brittle, the story inside stills fills my heart with joy. le sigh. Time to pull it out again, and very carefully, read it again.

    Hey, Jake, I hope you’re having fun with us today!
    Karin* Tabke aka Harlow!`s last blog was …National Bestseller

  12. Na S. says:

    I remember a childhood filled with books. We had weekly family trips to the libraries and I always came home with a bundle. Some of these books we already owned and of this many were read over and over ;-) I would say the Nancy Drew and The Little Hourse on the Prairie books had an important place in my childhood.

  13. Alina D says:

    Some of my favorite childhood books are Island of The Blue Dolphins, Where the Red Fern Grows, Summer of the Monkeys, White Fang, Call of the Wild, Stuart Little and Little Women.

    Have a wonderful day!

  14. I think we have a consensus for Nancy Drew … Also Little Women, The Secret Garden and the one I read to my kids Charlotte’s Web. I could fall in love with Anne of Green Gables at any age. Can we add A Wrinkle in Time and Tom Sawyer and for the boys, The Call of the Wild, All Things Great and Small and ditto on Narnia. Great post, wonderful memories from my childhood to my children’s to my grandchildren’s … these are truly the gifts that keep on giving.
    florence fois`s last blog was …Guest Post at Gem State Writers …

  15. There do seem to be many common threads. I also loved a series of books I got from the school library about a family of rabbits who were friends with mice and other animals. I remember learning to draw from the illustrations in those books. I learned that animal coats had lighter, shinier spots where the light hit. My best friend and I would draw for hours from those books–we’d write stories and illustrate them.
    J. Carson Black`s last blog was …Readers, Writers, and Marketeers: I need your help

  16. Linda Henderson says:

    I loved the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Earlier than that I read the Bobbsy Twins. For some reason I always leaned towards the mysteries. Of course as I got a little older I read Emilie Loring and Grace Livingston Hill. I do remember going through a Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney stage. I read everything I could find at the library of theirs. A few years ago I tracked down a copy of Victoria Holt’s Bride of Pendorric, it was always my favorite or hers.

  17. Jean Johnson says:

    There are three books about which I am sentimental. When I was little, my mom took me to a school bookfair where I bought the book “Up the Road Slowly,” by Irene Hunt. I don’t remember much about the book. I think there was a girl in it who was poor, and she was dying. The other kids at school were not very nice to her, because of the way she dressed. One girl ended up growing close to this girl and felt sorry for her. I, too, felt sorry for this little girl. The book touched me deeply, and so I still hold it dear.
    The second book about which I am sentimental is a fat red book of poems called, “The Children’s Hour.” I still have my copy of it. It’s dear to me, because my grandmother and I shared a love for poetry. Not only did I write poems (which my mother typed up and encased in bookcovers made from wallpaper scraps), but my grandmother and I often pulled out that big, red book and read poems to each other from it. From there, of course, the memories run on to how she and I used to play double-solitaire together and how mortified she was when I once found her with her false teeth out! LOL I think I liked the poem about going up high in a swing the best, because that’s what I loved doing the most – swinging up until my feet nearly touched the sky!
    The third book is only a little picture book, but it meant a lot to me. You see, when I was a child, this same grandmother owned and managed a tourist home called The Virginian on Chamberlayne Avenue in Richmond, VA. It was a wonderful place with “secret” stairs that led from the kitchen up to the second-floor landing. You just had to know where the kitchen closet was to access them. I loved playing like I was a spy, even though my grandmother chased me off of those stairs many times. The house had a swing on the backporch on which my grandmother and I would sit while she told me stories about thieves who stole bread to feed their families and where she recited poems. I still love the one about the crippled little girl with golden curls on the bus …”Dear Lord, forgive me when I whine. I have two legs, the world is mine…” The second floor had a room with a door that led out to a little overlook. The garage behind the house smelled of grease, and the basement in the house frightened me, because my grandmother’s mentally disabled brother lived down there in the dark. Even today, if I smell Ivory soap I can almost feel my grandmother scrubbing me clean (scrubbing me hard – ouch!) in the bathroom, or I almost see the car lights running across the bedroom wall in the dark bedroom where I slept after she’d put me to bed. Although I don’t remember it, my mother told me that there was a fish pond in the livingroom, also. This leads, of course, to me remembering my mother’s stories of how she brought snake eggs home when she was little and kept a baby alligator in the bathtub. Mom loved animals, you see, and she wanted to be a veterinarian someday. The book I remember, though, was a little counting book with kittens on the front – something a visitor decided to give to me one day. I lost that book a long time ago, but I’ve seen it in stores now and then since that time. It’s a Golden Book. Every time I see it, it brings back warm memories of how kind that man was to me. It just goes to show how a random act of kindness can affect a person. I like to think that I’ve done the same for others.

  18. Lee Byrne says:

    The only time I remember “playing sick” was a sunny day in October when I was in the sixth grade. I pretended I had a very sore throat so that I could stay home to finish reading Little Women . That same year I read and relished In the Back of the North Wind, all Nancy Drew mysteries, and any book about horses and dogs I could check out of the library. Nothing excels those magical moments except seeing the delight in my granddaughter’s eyes when she’s read and enjoyed one of my old time favorites.

  19. Beth Watson says:

    Like most I read the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew. I feel like I’m the only one who never read The Secret Garden. Or if did read it I don’t remember. Either way, I am going to get this book and read it!

  20. I played sick myself on more than one occasion. One of the other wonderful parts of my childhood – my parents were not rich, but my dad was a schoolteacher and my mom quote-unquote “didn’t work,” but she was/is a finagler of the highest order. She traded a tent trailer up to a regular trailer, then to a horse for me, and later a swimming pool, all on a schoolteacher’s income – she should have run the Treasury! And so in the summers we’d go on camping trips around the country. And besides the radio (rock & roll) my dearest companions were books and the colored pencils and paper I had to draw on. We’d pick up paperbacks in small towns, off those revolving racks in drugstores. I read ANIMAL FARM in a northwest woods campsite.
    J. Carson Black`s last blog was …Readers, Writers, and Marketeers: I need your help

  21. Cynthia Eden says:

    I loved Something Wicked This Way Comes! Such a chilling favorite. I’m off now to learn more about your book–congrats on the upcoming release!

    • Thanks, Cynthia. That book made me really want to be a writer. I was only a kid, but I wanted to have written it. I wanted so badly to produce something like it, something that good. It was this deep desire to own a book by the act of writing it. I know that sounds strange. But I think most people who have been crazy enough to even attempt to write a book have that desire.
      J. Carson Black`s last blog was …Readers, Writers, and Marketeers: Who Killed Brienne Cross?

  22. Fedora says:

    I’ve loved reading since I was a kid, but we didn’t own many books at all. The public library was my friend (one of my best! ;)) and I adored the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read them aloud to the kids two summers ago, and was heartened to see them enjoy them too!) and Beverly Cleary’s books (which again, my kids also devoured) and the Noel Streatfield stories (which the kids didn’t seem to take to)… So many fantastic books that still appeal today–I love that stories can be so timeless!

  23. Lee Lopez you won the $25.00 Gift Certificate, email me and I’ll give you Jake’s contact info!
    Karin* Tabke aka Harlow!`s last blog was …National Bestseller

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