This is a weekly tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and this week’s challenge is a Back to School freebie!
I decided to highlight ten books that I loved in my middle and high school years. Some of the books that I loved then are still favorites of mine, like the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, so I’m not going to include those, otherwise it would fill all ten spots, and then where would we be?!
1. the beasties – william sleator
I read this so many times as a kid, and I don’t remember ever tiring of this twisted, weird little story (do you see that cover? Creepy!). The book follows a pair of siblings who move to a new home and decide to go on an adventure in the woods, when they find a series of tunnels leading underground that drops them in the nest of a bizarre race of humanoid creatures who have been harvesting human body parts to keep their own bodies going. Does it sound fucked up enough yet? It gets better, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Let me just say that this book kept me up late more than one night! I haven’t read it in years, but I think I’ll find a copy of it soon and do a reread review for you guys.
2. cleopatra vii: daughter of the nile – kristiana gregory
I loved historical fiction as a kid, and I remember being fond of the The Royal Diaries series in general, but this was by far my favorite from the series. Cleopatra was such an enjoyable narrator, and I loved getting to know her life and the lives of the people she met. I was addicted to ancient Egyptian history as a kid, so that didn’t hurt matters any! As an adult, I’m sure my opinion of this book is heavily tinted by nostalgia, because I don’t think it was accurate at all, but that doesn’t stop me from remembering it fondly.
3. sharing sam – katherine applegate
I discovered this book as a preteen or very young teen, and loved it. I think it was the first contemporary that ever gave me The Feels™, so that made it very special for me, naturally! It’s a story of two girls who are best friends, and while one girl is falling in love with the hot new guy at school, the other girl is revealing she’s been secretly fighting a terminal brain tumor. The narrator then has to find a way to juggle her own happiness with making her best friend’s last weeks count, and it’s just a really sad plot altogether. Unfortunately, if you’ve read my reread review, you already know this book didn’t hold up at all when I picked it up again this summer – but I’ll never deny that it brought me so much happiness for so many of my middle and high school years.
4. just ella – margaret peterson haddix
I’ve always been a sucker for fairytale retellings, and Just Ella was one of my favorites. I remember checking this book out from the library over and over to reread it, because I loved it so much. It put a really interesting twist on the tale, and it just felt really dark and twisty to my little fourteen-year-old self.
5. death and the arrow – chris priestley
I still remember picking this up in a bookstore, when I was 11-12 years old, and convincing my mom to buy it for me. I can say, with 100% certainty, that I only wanted it because I thought the cover was badass. I can also say, with 100% certainty, that if I were browsing a bookstore as an adult and saw this cover, I would still pick it up, because, come on, do tarot cards ever get old?! I digress. This story takes place in 18th century London (one of my favorite settings of all time), and tells of a teen boy who’s gotten wrapped up in investigating a series of bizarre murders. It’s a tiny book – definitely geared more towards the middle grade crowd than YA – but it was such a dark and interesting read to me as a kid. I actually still have my original copy of this book, and I might even pick it up for a reread soon!
6. bunnicula – james & deborah howe
If you’ve never heard of the Bunnicula series, boy, did you miss out as a kid. I think this series was originally written in the 80s, but I somehow ended up with a slew of the books as a kid and absolutely adored this zany little story of a cat and dog who have to learn how to live with their new sibling: a vampire bunny who sucks the “blood” out of veggies. It’s such a fun concept and so freaking cute, even as an adult, that I held on to the books that survived my childhood and can’t wait to share them with my son someday.
Story time! The last time I was, er… “severely intoxicated” (heh) was right before we found out we were expecting our son. I got incredibly ill, and to make myself feel better, demanded that my fiance read me a Bunnicula story. Bless his soul, he obliged.
7. hangman’s curse – frank peretti
Not a ton of my blogging friends know this, but I was raised in an extremely religious household, and as a preteen, the YA that I was most encouraged to read was Christian fiction. On the other hand, I was a horror fiend, so my mom and I came to a pretty happy compromise when I read Frank Peretti’s novels, as he wrote “Christian horror” (which is a bit of a funny-sounding subgenre, if you think about it). The Veritas Project was a series about siblings whose parents gallivanted them around the country to investigate spooky-sounded mysteries: in this case, a curse that was causing hallucinations and death among high schoolers. I don’t think I’d have much interest in rereading it as a non-religious adult, but I keep it (and its sequel) around for nostalgic purposes.
8. twilight – stephenie meyer
We’ve talked about this in posts before: I met the Twilight series within a few weeks of the first book’s release (#hipster), and fell so hopelessly in love with the series that I proceeded to reread it a million times, pre-order each of the following titles, and devour all of them, up until I got halfway through Breaking Dawn and realized I didn’t love the books anymore. Damn, that was a sad day for me. Regardless of my current thoughts on it, this series was my life for a while, and I’m honestly strongly considering picking the books back up some time in the near future for reread reviews.
9. inkheart – cornelia funke
I don’t remember how old I was when I first picked up Inkheart, but I know it was somewhere between the ages of 11 and 14, and I know I loved it. I think I read it in one sitting, and I was totally enraptured by the story. For reasons unbeknownst to me, though, I never did finish the series… hm. If you’re unfamiliar with the series (where have you been?!), it’s a MG book about a young girl whose father can read stories aloud and cause them to become real.
10. eragon – christopher paolini
I couldn’t possibly finish this list without mentioning Eragon, which was my real introduction into the high fantasy book world, and was also the book responsible for me falling head-over-heels in love with dragons and anything related to them. I stayed up all night to read this one, and then reread it just a day or two later – I probably read it five or six times just in the first year that it was released. Sadly, the sequel, Eldest, made me angry for some unmemorable reason as a kid, and I DNFed it and never did finish the series. I’m long overdue for a reread of this one, as well as completing the series.
What were a few of your favorites in middle and high school? Were any of the titles on my list nostalgic for you, too? Share your thoughts (and links, if you have ’em)!