The Nostalgia Factor: How Well Do You Remember Old Favorites?

July 08, 2015

All covers from Goodreads. Clockwise: 1, 2, 3
Diving into Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret for this summer's #BlumeAlong really brought me back to my childhood reading days. I've been devouring books since I was a wee thing, and it was a lot of fun to go back to an old favorite—one I undoubtedly read and re-read until the spine cracked and pages crinkled—and see what I did and didn't remember about it. For one thing, I didn't remember the book being quite so much about religion, despite the whole "God being in the title" thing. It tickled me because, in retrospect, Margaret and I had a lot in common: Jewish father, Catholic mother, parents who were areligious and grandparents trying to convert us one way or the other.

The readalong got me thinking about what other books I loved as a kid and the memories I have of them (and the things I forgot).

The Pendragon Cycle by D.J. McHale

While everyone else was reading Artemis Fowl, I was flying through the Pendragon cycle. I think of this series as little Shaina's introduction to, and reason for loving, science fiction. Bobby Pendragon was a normal kid living in suburban New York before his Uncle Press showed up to tell him he's a Traveler (a cross between a time-traveler and parallel-universe-jumper) and that he's the only one who can save all that's known from the evil Saint Dane.

Of my three selections, I have the most vivid memories of this one: Bobby jetskiing through Cloral, eating French fries in early twentieth-century New York, and exploring Lifelight in Veelox. My memories of the later books are much hazier, and I know for a fact that I never read the final book in the series. After all that investment!

The Gossip Girl Series by Cecily von Ziegesar

Oh, the Gossip Girl series. I know that we shouldn't be ashamed of what we read, and I'm not exactly... but, well, almost. For those who never read the books or watched the TV series, Gossip Girl follows the antics of the (way, way) upper-class students of Constance Billard School for Girls in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, all of it recorded by an anonymous blogger known only as Gossip Girl.

These people were unlike anyone I knew in real life, and I couldn't help but be suckered in by their expensive and ridiculous drama. I'm wondering if Crazy Rich Asians might be a good pick if I ever feel the itch for this type of book again.

Anything by Sarah Dessen

I know for a fact that I inhaled a bunch of Sarah Dessen novels as a young teenager. I picked This Lullaby for my graphic because it's the cover that I remember best, but I honestly don't remember anything about the plot of these novels, beyond there being a lot of female friendship and unusual but irresistible male love interests. I think someone reviewing another of her novels on Goodreads said it best: "Sarah Dessen (Queen of teenage girly books that all have the same plot but are somehow still good)."

What are some books that you loved as a kid and can (or can't) remember well?

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  1. I think about this a lot now that I'm revisiting childhood favorites with my own kid. I find that I really don't remember many plot details, but more how the book or a character made me feel overall. The upside to this is, I keep feeling like these stories are new to me!

  2. I recently bought the 50th anniversary edition of Harriet the Spy (it's BEAUTIFUL) and boy, that was one I read over and over and over. Along with Bridge to Terebithia and all those other really sad books that won awards.

  3. A Murder for Her Majesty is one of my favorite books of all time, and I've read it over and over and over. Also Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of NIMH, Tuck Everlasting, The Egypt Game, Bridge to Terebithia, Charlott'e Web, I could go on and on and on...

  4. Nice post! :) It'll show how old I am, but my favorites were Trixie Belden, even though when I read them, some were even really old then. I don't remember every detail of every story but I know the MCs and the gist of a bunch of stories and I know my favorites quite well. I also collect them, though I haven't actually reread more than one or two in years. Beyond Trixie and Nancy Drew I don't remember any other childhood books but I think it was because I wasn't allowed to read much else. I was sheltered and not able to read, listen to or watch what other kids were.

  5. I just reread the Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper - my set was falling apart when I finally let go of them and I loved it still! I was surprised by how many whole scenes I knew were coming and how many things I had forgotten anyway. The Midnight Garden is going to do a Trixie Belden readalong soon and I cannot wait. I devoured those and Nancy Drew but I am sure that I read them too quickly then to retain a whole lot.

  6. I often think I remember childhood books really well, and then when I revisit them, they're full of surprises. I keep thinking I'll start a, like, Children's Books Reread sort of series on my blog where I revisit books from my childhood and see how they compare to my memory.

  7. Oh my gosh - do not be embarrassed about GG!! I never read the books, but watched the TV show the entire way through. And I was WELL out of college.
    But, I like your general question...I tend to remember that I loved certain books from my childhood, but not remember many details. If I re-read them now, many of the plot details would probably seem new to me since it's been so long. But, I also have a terrible book memory, so...

  8. I can barely remember some books from my childhood. I do know there was a fair bit of Enid Blyton, and I read some Babysitter's Club and Animorphs; maybe four books from each of those series but I couldn't tell you a thing that happened in them.
    I remember reading 'The Magic Pudding' and 'Snugglepot and Cuddlepie' a lot - both Aussie children's fiction so you might not know them, but are just magical and have great illustrations with them.

    I wish I could say Harry Potter was read during my childhood, but I didn't actually start reading those until about my mid-late teens.

  9. Charlie (The Worm Hole)July 15, 2015 at 5:44 AM

    Great post, Shaina. I can't remember Northern Lights too well, even though I re-read it a few years ago. I do remember how much I loved it, however. I remember staying up a few hours past bedtime for an abridged version of Around the World in 80 Days, and reading a couple of Babysitter's Club books a few times each.