All Grown Up: A Top Ten List

Often what we read and fall in love with as children sticks with us long into adulthood – this is true of me, at the very least. While beloved classics of my childhood may not hold up under my more discerning adult scrutiny (ahem, Nancy Drew), that does not mean that I don’t get all warm and fuzzy when I think about Nancy’s adventures. The Hidden Staircase and The Secret at Shadow Ranch (revised text) remain my favorite..

In no particular order:

10. Lyddie by Katherine Patterson and North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is only as an adult that I realized my early literary education was extremely geographically biased (it was all very New England). As I got older, I discovered books set outside of New England. Both of these feature the dangers of millwork albeit in vastly different setting.

09. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. It’s more than just the suspected witchcraft, both feature a family member that is not entirely welcome or understood within their family or community.

08. Interstellar Pig by William Sleator and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Aliens. Planetary destruction. Brains.

07. Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume and Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Figuring out all of the shit that comes with being a teenage girl (that boys will never understand).

06. My Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Colville and War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Aggressive aliens. I seriously loved My Teacher is an Alien when I was younger.

05. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. The Phantom Tollbooth might be entirely to blame for my love of puns, but The Eyre Affair didn’t help.

04. The Positronic Man by Isaac Asmiov and Robert Silverberg and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I read The Positronic Man in the early ’90s (‘93 or ‘94?) and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? last month. It took me a full month to figure out what book the latter reminded me of reading.

03. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Knowing things you shouldn’t…

02. (Any) Goosebumps by R.L. Stine and IT by Stephen King. If you grow up loving the former, you probably find your way to the latter.

01. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I never realized the full extent of the similarities until Rick pointed them out to me: both are orphaned, both are small and pale, both live with aunts who hold a grudge, both are tormented by the large, glutinous boy of the house, one lives under the stairs while the other lives in a small closet, both are told how ungrateful they are, and both find mentors in kind adults (Templeton and Dumbledore).

I’ll be honest, this list has been enlightening. I read far more science fiction as a child than I realized. This probably explains my deeply rooted fear of aliens.

What childhood favorites would you pair with adult favorites?

32 thoughts on “All Grown Up: A Top Ten List

  1. What an AWESOME list! I love the idea of this!
    I loved Harriet the Spy as a kid–I even had my own spy route for awhile!–and I re-read it every couple of years. Dragon Tattoo has been on my TBR list for quite awhile–you may have just inspired me to actually read it!


  2. What a brilliant topic! I like it. As usual I don’t know most of your books – you have waaaaay too cultured book taste compared to me! (But that’s not a bad thing)
    Anyway I COMPLETELY agree with #7 – I just couldn’t figure out what Tell the Wolves I’m Home reminded me of, and now I know. Love both of those. Margaret changed the trend of my teenage years irrevocably. As for Wolves, so far it’s my favorite read of the year.


    1. Haha! I think they’re mostly just too American – because My Teacher is an Alien and Harriet the Spy? Totally no cultured. 🙂

      And you know and love my favorite book on the list (Tell the Wolves), so that’s what counts. Judy Blume (and Nancy Drew) had a huge influence on my childhood.


  3. This is a lovely post! You had me with Lyddie right off the bat. I actually didn’t read that one until I was an adult in grad school (library school). I loved it, and I’m intrigued that you paired it with North and South. I’ts on my to-read stack for later this year.


    1. I read ALL the New England centered books (growing up in New England) – Johnny Tremain, Lyddie (we then went on a mill field trip), The Witch of Blackbird Pond, etc. It took me a little while to realize that the world didn’t revolve around Boston and its history.


  4. Interesting topic. Lots of fun! I was a big Nancy Drew fan as a kid, too. When I started figuring out the answer to the mystery in the first 2-3 chapters, I knew it was time to graduate to adult mystery. That’s when I found Mary Higgins-Clark. 😀
    My TTT Post


    1. I haven’t read Nancy Drew in years, but I still get all nostalgic when I think about it. I’ve never read any of the modern interpretations or seen the movies, I figure its best left in its original(ish) form.


  5. Very interesting list and pairings — love the idea! I actually read North and South a few years ago as part of a group read and really loved it. Until then, I was completely unfamiliar with the story . . . a tragedy!


  6. I actually never read most of the children’s books listed.

    And yeah, I always get a little squirmy when I refer to what I read as “adult” fiction, when what I really mean is “non-YA/MG/children’s” fiction. Out in the real world I never seem to need to make the distinction, but in the blog world it seems to be assumed you read primarily YA unless you specify otherwise. But yeah… “adult” just doesn’t sound right.

    (Also reminds me of a business I pass by occasionally… Adult Day Services. It’s essentially a day care for adults who can’t care for themselves, but you can easily assume it means something else.)


    1. I read a lot of sci-fi and a lot of it was not very good. I only have vague recollections of most of it. Several of these were also school reads for me (Witch, Lyddie, Margaret, Interstellar Pig). I didn’t read as often as a child for fun, but I always did my homework.

      And yeah, I always feel the need to specify that I read in the adult age range. I worry that I sound pompous sometimes, but it’s not that I think it’s better, it’s just that I’ll have no idea what you’re talking about if you mention Divergent/Beautiful Creatures/anything by Stephanie Perkins…

      It does sound funny “I just read this “adult” book”…



    There is a sequel, but I haven’t read it and am a little afraid to, tbh.

    You have quite a few of my adult favourite authors on your list, too. ^.^


    1. I knew there was, but it’s not one that I’m likely to read. I liked the first one the way it is, sort of like I’ll never read the modern retellings of Nancy Drew.

      Well, then you have very good taste in literature…


    1. Haha. I love a lot of the originals. I was scrolling through the list and I was impressed by how many I had read and remembered. They must have made quite the impression.


    1. They’re different, but they were similar enough in my mind to work. I’m glad you approve, Tell the Wolves is probably my favorite book on the list and the pairing I struggled with most.


  8. Ooooh pairing Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret and Tell the Wolves I’m Home… Just yes. And how have I not read The Eyre Affair yet?! Pairing it with The Phantom Tollbooth just… I need to stop putting it off.


    1. Yay! That’s my favorite pair on the list. Judy Blume totally shaped my childhood (and Nancy Drew shaped my idea of what girls should be able to do – kick ass obviously).

      The Eyre Affair isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot of fun and worth a try. The names alone are worth it.


    1. Me too! I was quite certain I was going to name my daughter Mercy for a while. I’ve since changed my mind thankfully (not that I have a daughter, but Thomas Hardy took over the naming inspiration).


  9. I’ve heard that Tell the Wolves I’m Home will supposedly make me cry. Is that the case? I somehow missed The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was younger but I’m a huge fan of Practical Magic so I’m going to have to check that one out. Okay so I LOVED goosebumps when I was a kid… loved loved loved… but I don’t think I could ever do IT. Me and Clowns? Not on friendly terms. *shudders*

    I love your new header!


    1. Thanks!

      My hate of clowns is entirely IT’s fault, so steer clear if you already have issues. The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a cute, quick read, and very New England in nature (why I read it).

      Tell the Wolves…it might make you a little misty-eyed, but I don’t think it will cause a full-on cry. Yes it’s sad, a character dies (not a spoiler, the book is based on that premise), but it’s not super heartbreaking. So, so good though, one of my modern literary fiction favorites.


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