AROUND THE TABLE: We love to get together as a team and discuss all manner of book related subjects. On the 2nd Sunday of the month we take a transcript of one of these discussions or copy and paste a Facebook thread (which has been corrected for spelling and typos) and post it on our site. We welcome your contributions and comments related to the featured discussion. Caroline: As you know I absolutely love YA books. Like many people it was the Harry Potter series and The Twilight Saga which turned me on to reading middle grade and young adult books as a not so young adult. What I’d like to know is, what books did you read as a teen? Do you think your reading preferences have changed as an adult? Are there any books that you read as a teen that you would recommend to today’s teen audience? Karen: I’m desperately trying to think of what I used to read as a teen and am genuinely coming up stumped! I remember choosing to read Animal Farm by George Orwell as enjoyed studying 1984 and Lord of the Flies but, at that age I was far too obsessed with going out, my part time job and of course studying to really pursue books that I would enjoy. I was quite content to read my mum’s discarded Mills and Boon and my brothers Alien vs. Predator books when I had nothing better to do….both genres memorable in their own right but hardly challenging!
I guess it is a shame as I did enjoy books at a young age. I guess my hormones just took over and I think it’s fair to say that young adult 15-20yrs ago isn’t a patch on today’s very lust worthy leading characters! Caroline: Teen hormones aren’t all bad, I first read Austin’s Pride and Prejudice after Colin Firth’s legendary damp shirt scene! and it is still my favourite book today. As a result I went on to read other books in the Penguin Classics Collection:Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Little Women, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, Dracula…. Lesley: I was an avid reader as a teen. I used to go to the library regularly and spend hours there. While some of the names of the books I read escape me all these years later, I know that I used to borrow the Mary Poppins series by P.L Travers – 4 stripy hard backed books, as I remember, regularly. I tended to have favourite books that I read over and over again. A series I enjoyed was the American Sweet Dreams series. Stories of young teen romances often set in either high school or summer camps or on holidays abroad. They were largely innocent, fun reads and were very popular back in the early 80’s during my own young teen years! Karen: In my Tweens, I do remember with affection the Point Horror books. RL Stine being a favoured author. In our class these books were very much our obsession and you would be so smug if you managed to read a title before anyone else got their hands on it! Caroline: The Point Horror series were a prominent feature in my early teens. I particularly remember The Forbidden Games Trilogy by L.J Smith; In fact I became a little obsessed with the main male character, a hot bad boy. I don’t recall discussing the characters the way teens might today, there was certainly no team Julian! Surely everyone read Forever by Judy Blume- that book was an eye opener for my teen self! It’s certainly the first book I read containing sex scenes and did lead to further education in the form of Mills and Boon *secret shame* Lesley: Oh yes -Forever! *chuckles*. Covertly read by many of us during our teen years – and one of those first ‘eye opening’ books that was discussed in hushed tones over school lunch! It was a natural step to progress to Lace after that… ahem… Jane: Lol Lesley! Yes, I too remember Forever being discussed with hushed giggles! In my early teens I was particularly into the Sweet Dreams series which were all predictably trashy teen romance – girl desperately wants first boyfriend and to be kissed etc etc! I also remember reading the Anne of Green Gables series which I adored and started my transition into more adult reading. By my later teens I had moved swiftly on to one of the ‘big’ books doing the rounds at my school- If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon and hence my literature quickly advanced! One series I absolutely loved though was the The Flowers in the Attic series by Virginia Andrews, which had me enthralled for some time and which I re-read many years later. Helen: I was an avid reader too! I also remember Forever and Lace they must have been doing the rounds for a while! I read other Judy Blume books too, the Little Women series, all the ‘Anne’ books, and lots of Chalet school. These were followed by Sweet Dreams romance books, Sweet Valley (these series started whilst I was a teenager!) and then other classics. I also read things like The Flowers in the Attic series, Catherine Cookson (no Mills and Boon for me, sorry girls!). They were my progression into more adult literature. But I reread my favourite classic books more than these (Anne of Green Gables for instance). Lesley: I’ve heard so much about the Flowers in the Attic series… but I’ve never read them! Did I miss out? Wondering if I should check them out now 🙂 Jane: Definitely Les – and yes you did miss out! An absolutely brilliant series which for its time, was probably quite taboo. Helen: Flowers in the Attic was a great read Lesley. Don’t expect great literature, but a good, well paced and sometimes shocking read! In answer to some of your questions Caz, it definitely shaped my reading today! I still love classics and hate badly written books (I won’t name and shame them here!). I read chick lit and light hearted stuff too, a bit like the romances were for me as a teenager. I still like a bit of crime drama, but generally not too much blood and guts! I did allot of re-reading and still do, I can’t get rid of a good book and still have loads of my old books that I couldn’t bare to part with and still read. Jane: I’m not so sure my reading preferences have changed all that much as I’ve got older – I still prefer a good romance, although I have probably moved onto more contemporary styles, but I’m still a sucker for a good old Danielle Steele, of which I read many as a late teen and is still my ‘guilty pleasure’ today! Lesley: I’m not sure my reading preferences have changed hugely either. I also still enjoy a good romance, and I like contemporary stories with a dash of humour too.I do remember chuckling over The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾, and the sequel, The Growing pains of Adrian Mole. They were books I read over and over and I think that today’s teens would enjoy them too. Although perhaps they would be a little innocent today… or, having a 13 year old myself perhaps it would give him an insight into the ‘teen life’ his own parent might have known! Ha! Jane: Brilliant! I had forgotten all about Adrian and Pandora!!! They were fantastic books of the time and definitely ones that I think every teenager could associate with in one way or another! Helen:To today’s teens I would say give some of the older books a chance, if you put the effort in to read them and take your imagination back to another time and place they will reward you! And allow you to discover that a lot of the characters in those books aren’t really so different to us today. Jane: Writing styles may have changed and technology moved on, but deep down all the same old issues and angst’s are still there for today’s teens and I reckon some of our old favourites would appeal today.