Retro-Reading…don’t you love that term? We have Liz Flaherty to thank for it—she used it yesterday in her reply to my comment on her Word Wranglers blog, where she wrote about joining Curtiss Ann Matlock’s 50 Books In a Year reading challenge. I joined too, along with many other avid readers and I’m excited about participating.
Although the term retro-reading is Liz’s, I’m going to define it in my own way—for me, retro-reading is going back to the books I enjoyed as a kid—from ages eight or so through my teens. I've always been an avid reader—seriously voracious—but that was about the time I discovered how much fun it was to get lost in a book. I read everything I could get my hands on. We took a weekly trip to the library, where I was confined to the children’s section by a curmudgeonly librarian who didn’t believe that I could read beyond picture books and basic readers. My mom checked books out of the young adult section for me and that’s when I fell in love with romance and mystery and suspense. I also read the books my sisters brought home from the junior high and high school libraries.
The authors I loved to read are too numerous to list here, but a few of my favorites were Rosamund Du Jardin, Mary Stoltz, Eunice Young Smith, Lenora Mattingly Weber, Laura Lee Hope, and as I matured, Daphne Du Maurier, Gene Stratton-Porter, Harper Lee, Barbara Michaels, and Agnes Sligh Turnbull. Do you remember Beany Malone and Tobey Heydon? Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Scarlett O'Hara, and Scout? I lived in novels—they were my escape.
Right before Christmas, Husband and I cleaned out our bookcases and donated nearly 200 books to the Salvation Army—most all of them fiction. It wasn’t as hard to get rid of the books as I thought it would be because most of them were contemporary novels, easily accessible on Amazon if I want to download them to my Kindle. Our bookcases now hold only our very favorite books and what fun it was to rediscover the books that I loved as a young girl! I can’t wait to reread Maida’s Little Shop and Girl of the Limberlost. I found all the Jennifer books and the entire set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House stories. My tattered copy of Gone with the Wind showed up as did several Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. A cornucopia of joyful memories!
Several years ago, I happened upon the Image Cascade website where you can buy all the books you remember from when you were a young teen. I gleefully showed it to Husband and told him how much I loved those old stories and that dear man remembered the website. My next birthday, he presented me with the entire set of Rosamund Du Jardin’s books! I was delighted. When I saw them again after the great bookcase cleanout, I decided to reread them all, starting with the Pam and Penny Howard books.
I'm three books into the series and man, it’s been lovely to read those innocent, sweet stories again. I’ve decided that’s how I’ll earn my 50 books this year—retro-reading all the books I loved as a kid. I’m looking forward to revisiting my old friends in those books and spending some time in the past. So tell me what books you would love to retro-read?