Allison Winn Scotch is the bestselling author of THE ONE THAT I WANT, TIME OF MY LIFE, and THE DEPARTMENT OF LOST AND FOUND. Her fourth novel, THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, released on April 12th. Prior to delving into fiction, she was a frequent contributor to numerous magazines and websites including Cooking Light, Men’s Health, Fitness, Glamour, and Redbook, and now focuses on celebrity profiles for a variety of magazines. She lives in New York with her family.
I was an avid reader as a child, so this is a toughie for me! My mom was a teacher, so books were abundant in our house, and it’s probably no coincidence that my brother is still the most avid (and fastest) reader I know, and that I became a writer. I’m trying to encourage the same love of books in my own kids, so I’ve had the chance to re-explore a few of my favorites from childhood. Here are a few:
The Encyclopedia Brown series: I LOVED every last one of these books. Mysteries were always a big thing for me (Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, all of the like), and I quickly became obsessed with Encyclopedia Brown. I loved (and still do, when reading with my son) having to really pay attention to the smaller clues to hone in on exactly how he solved the mystery, and then I further loved the immediate gratification that you got when you flipped to the end and found out if you were right. I prided myself on almost always being right (and would claim to have been right, even if I hadn’t been!).
Choose Your Own Adventure books: Again, this might be similar to what I loved about the Encyclopedia Brown series, but I adored that sense that you were in control of the story. I could not read these fast enough, and the good news was, that even when you read them once, you could go back and read them again and have an entirely different experience!
Pippi Longstocking: This one has been SUCH a delight to revisit with my son – he loves her as much as I did. I remember really identifying with this girl who was so full of gumption. She was awkward and didn’t always do the right thing and often times, she was really pretty lost, but oh my gosh, did she have spirit. And I think I really tapped into that: here was someone who was strong, independent, and funny as all get out, and as an eight-year old girl (or however old I was…probably about that), this series really spoke to me.
Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Blubber, and other works by Judy Blume: There was something really comforting about Judy Blume’s characters, and I think – looking back on them now – it was that they were all flawed, all normal, all going through a lot of what we were all going through in adolescence. I remember reading Are You There God, and reading about things like getting a bra or getting your period, and finding something both shocking and comforting in those passages. Blume was – and still is – the master of pinpointing exactly why adolescence can be both wonderful and terrifying, and when I was coming of age, I really appreciated her words.
Anything by Stephen King: Obviously, I read these when I was a bit older, but honestly, I might have read my first King book (Christine) at about 11ish. Which seems really shocking to me now, but I don’t know, I guess I was ready for them because seriously, I read just about every single one of his books as a teenager! So I guess I could handle the gore and the suspense. I do remember reading Cujo and kind of cocking my head at our dogs and being like…”yikes.” But I loved how he crafted his stories and how he had a very specific King-esque voice in all of them. Whenever I’d be in the thick of one, I’d walk around, sort of talking in my head in that voice. I suppose this was an early sign that I was going to be a writer. (Or just nuts.)
One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind, with the help of family and friends, who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music, and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon, in tiny bits and pieces, Nell starts remembering. . . .
It isn’t long before she learns to question the stories presented by her mother, her sister and business partner, and her husband. In the end, she will discover that forgiving betrayals small and large will be the only true path to healing herself-and to finding happiness.
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.