Over the last week, I’ve been writing material for a series of guest blogs that will upload to various sites throughout the month of September, coinciding with the release of The Art of Getting Stared At. (I’m grateful to the bloggers for hosting me and when I get blog dates, I’ll share them.) A number of questions focused on the book itself but others were more general. Several people wanted to know my favorite book as a child.
That was a tough question to answer. I read early and voraciously, and my tastes changed as rapidly as I grew. I didn’t have just one favorite book. I had a series of favorites. But as I gave the question some thought, it occurred to me that my natural inclinations were obvious early on.
For the most part, even as a kid I gravitated to two types of books: contemporary stories that dealt with serious issues or over-the-top glamor romps. A close third was mysteries. I was a loyal Nancy Drew fan.
By the time I was 11, I’d fallen in love with a series of Sue Barton nurse books. She had red hair (how glamorous) and helped save lives (how meaningful). Though it was toned down somewhat, there was gritty realism in those books. There was also realism in With Love From Karen about a young girl with cerebral palsy, and in a novel called Mrs. Mike about a 16-year-old Boston girl who moves to the Canadian wilderness, falls in love with a Mountie and copes with extreme hardship. At the same time, I escaped with a series of books about Donna Parker who visited relatives in Hollywood, traveled overseas, and talked a lot about clothes.
The serious/light split continued into my teens as I went through an Ann Rand phase, took up with depressing Russian novelists (Anna Karenina was a favorite) and scared myself silly with Sybil. At the same time, I devoured the rags to riches story of A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, Once is Not Enough by Jacqueline Susann and any Sidney Sheldon book I could find.
Maybe that’s why when people ask me to name a favorite book or favorite author I’m as likely to say Jodi Picoult as I am Jennifer Crusie. Or maybe Jojo Moyes or Kristan Higgins. It depends on the day. It depends on my mood. It just . . . well . . . depends.
And don’t ask me to name my favorite food either. That’s another impossibility.