YA Books Before they Were Cool: My Books Growing Up #YA #Books #Bookworm

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Books have come a looooong way since I was a teen. In fact, “teen” books or books aimed at younger people had no such label as YA or NA. They were at best, organized by age groups in libraries and bookstores. And school libraries? I don’t think most librarians had a clue what was on the shelves. Not unless it fell under the umbrella of banned books or controversial books in literature. Those paperback racks were a treasure trove of what would constitute as mature YA. Books by authors like, Christopher Pike, who included plenty of teenage sex and gore in his books.

Nope, YA is a modern idea that has paved the way for so many wonderful books and authors. Books with writing and storylines so good, adults enjoy them too. Maybe even more than the target demographic.

Ah, “back in my day” they were just books. Some were excellent and stood the test of time, and some are so bad that I want to smack my younger self for reading such crap. What can a say, I was a precocious reader and couldn’t always “borror” better reading material from my mother’s shelves.

Anyway, here is a cut-out from my childhood bookshelves.

Ages 8-10 

The Babysitter’s Club (1986 – 2000)

And its spin-off series

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Nancy Drew Mysteries (1930 – 2004)

Of course many classics like these:

And who can forget this classic! I’m pretty sure most of us got a copy from a well-meaning aunt. (This was the exact cover of the one I got)

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Ages 10-12

Sweet Valley High (1983 – 2003)

Man was I excited when this series got new covers! And remember the show?!

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R.L Stine (No I never read the Goosebump books. I was too cool for them)

12 & Up

Christopher Pike (The hight of sophistication. Ha!)

God! I’ve tried rereading some of these books by Pike, even the adult titles he wrote, and they are just terrible lol! But I loved them!

Of course, by the time I reached highschool I was reading everything.

I have always had a love for horror. Discovering Stephen King was huge for me. I think the first one I ever read was Pet Sematary. Scared the shit out of me but I LOVED it!

Anyway, writing this has made me feel about a hundred years old but it’s been really fun sharing what I read before YA was even cool!

Tell me about your childhood favourites!

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42 thoughts on “YA Books Before they Were Cool: My Books Growing Up #YA #Books #Bookworm

  1. evalangston

    I definitely read The Babysitters Club. Sweet Valley High, too, but Sweet Valley Twins was more my jam. I was afraid of the R.L. Stine books, but I did read and reread both of the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. And I LOVED ghost books by Mary Dawning Hahn, like Wait Till Helen Comes and The Doll in the Garden. In retrospect, all of these books were really more like Middle Grade than YA. I read them in elementary and middle school. By the time I was a teenager, I guess I read mostly adult books and books for school. 🙂

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  2. I’m a little older than you all, so my books were different. I remember Madeleine LEngle, Judy Blume, and E L Konigsburg. There was some teen romance series I was into as well, but I don’t remember anything else about it! Must have been really good, right? 😏

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    1. Lol. Well anything Judy Blume was classic. I do recall reading The Bobsey Twins and Beverly Clearly when I was really young. I really loved the classics too. I remember they had these children’s versions of all the greats. Moby Dick for example. I can’t remember who published them. Maybe Penguin?

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      1. Nice! 🙂 I was still really into books and comics as a kid, so I read a lot of comics/manga, and I enjoyed reading RL Stine, the Hank the Cowdog books, Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, Shel Silverstein, I know there were a lot more, but I’m drawing a blank this morning. lol

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  3. My favorites series of book growing up were the Sunfire historical fiction/romance books. Each book had one 16 year old young woman in American history having to decide between two men. I adored those books and read them over & over again.

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      1. The titles were the girl’s names- Rebecca, Jessica, Corey, Emily, etc. The cover always had the girl in the middle with her suitors on either side of her. I re-read two of the books a few years ago, and while cheesy, they held up better than I expected.

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      2. Isn’t amazing what we considered good writing when were young? Lol. It’s not even the cheese factor, just the dialogue, grammar etc… I really appreciate that writers don’t underestimate ya readers today. Pretty sure adults wouldn’t love the genre as much 🙃

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  4. Omg, I absolutely read The Babysitters club and goosebumps! I had like 40+ of the animorphs books (I still have them, i aged out of them before the series finished. so dont have the complete set.) I read any Roald Dahl books i could get my hands on. I love The Twits and Jame’s Marvelous Medicine ;).
    I loved Paul Jennings. Wired and quirky short stories, such fun. Some kinda creepy.
    Then started reading mums historical romances at 14, lol

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    1. Lol, yes my mother’s shelf was way more interesting than mine. I suppose reading Flowers in the Attic in grade 1 or 2 wasn’t a very good idea. I think I was already too old for the Goosebumps books by the time I discovered RL Stine. Actually, I think I started reading them when I ran out of Christopher Pike books lol. I got hooked on horror pretty young 😁

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  5. You know, I really wish I still had all these books. I Know my sister inherited them when I got too old but I don’t know what happened to them after that. There were some books I would have loved to share with my daughter.

    I had all these beautiful “Rupert” books from my grandparents, imported from Egland that I’m sad are lost. My UK friends may remember those. 🙄

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  6. Oh my! Thank you soooo much for this trip down memory lane. Gosh…Christopher Pike…I loved him. And of course, Nancy Drew…but then I moved on to Hardy Boys (they were just so much cooler than Nancy)…especially their “Case Files” series. In fact, all the books you’ve got there made me smile…had totally forgotten about most of them. There were also a few Catherine Cookson books that were aimed at teens…I clearly remember because a friend’s mother gave me an “adult” Catherine Cookson book and I was disgusted.
    I had to chuckle because just the other day when you had your other post about YA books I was thinking that there was no “YA” back in my (our) day…in fact, YA seems to be a thing I’ve only become aware of in the last few years….or maybe I just didn’t take notice. Probably with the arrival of Goodreads and the internet in general has this description come up on my radar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Hardy Boys were cooler! I would say when Harry Potter came out the term YA really became popular and has exploded since then. They were always there they just didn’t have that genre classification. When I was googling the Sweet Valley High books, they were classified as “soap opera romance” for teens lol.

      There are so many others from our day that I can’t remember. I hope this post continues to jog our memory ☺

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  7. Wow, I can’t say I’ve read Christopher Pike, but I have all the others and my daughter still reads some of those today! You can find them all over at rummage sales. Goosebumps too. Great post! ❤ Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I was all about Goosebumps (Fear Street by later elementary school), Shivers(?), Roald Dahl’s books, and Animorphs, until Harry Potter came out when I was in 3rd grade. I remember loving Sideways Stories From Wayside School, and the Scary Stories books, too. I also loved Nancy Drew, The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, and a few others I’m forgetting. And I remember around 3rd/4th grade discovering the Buffy novelizations and reading a bunch of those.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh that’s right! I loved Wayside Stories. I was much older when Harry Potter came out and had already watched the Buffy (To this day, one of my favourite shows ever!) series by the time the books came out so I didn’t feel like reading them.

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