Open Thread: Favorite Book as a Kid?
Do You Remember the Book that Most Captivated You as an Adolescent?
A viral tweet chain dropped into my feed the other day, asking about the book I most loved when I was twelve. Like most of these chains, it featured an example from the person whose tweet I saw and the one to which he was responding. By clicking into the chain I could see several others.
“Don’t think about it,” said the swipe copy. “Don't try to be cool. Tell me, what was your favorite book when you were 12?”
I started noticing the same chain pop up over the next day with various folks either sharing a favorite book from their preteen years or having a joke with it. It took me a bit to identify mine. Around that year I read a bunch of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan novels. Maybe one of those?
No. I couldn’t even tell you much of what happened in all those never-ending sequels except the barest outline: Tarzan and Jane are at peace in the jungle, Jane gets kidnapped, and Tarzan goes to—yawn—rescue her. Even then I somehow knew these weren’t great books.
So, what was great for twelve-year-old me? One day my dad came home with a book about grizzlies that I flat wore out, Larry Kaniut’s Alaska Bear Tales. I took that book everywhere and read it countless times, flipping through it for my favorite stories—such as when one swing from a bear sent a man’s head flying like a baseball.
I wasn’t the only fan. First published in 1983, the book found its audience early on and continues to fascinate readers. It’s now sold over a quarter million copies, a mind-boggling number in a world where most books maybe sell a few thousand. I first encountered it around 1987; I have no idea what happened to my original copy but have since bought a replacement.
What about you? It’s your turn. Throw your mind back some years and reconnect with twelve-year-old you. What was your favorite book back then? If you can’t recall exactly, take your best shot. What’s one book that captivated you as an adolescent—fiction, biography, history, whatever. Share it in the comments.
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