Five books that shaped my childhood

I think the books that we read in our childhood affect us more than at any other point in our lives. So here are five book series that enthralled me, made me laugh, and filled my innocent, un-moulded brain with new and interesting possibilities.

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis

Magic rings with the power to teleport you into new worlds; a voyage to the edge of the world; minotaurs and epic battles and evil witch-queens…how could a kid not love Narnia? My childhood friend Becky lent The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to me when we were in primary school and multiple re-readings of all seven books soon ensued. My favourites are the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Eustace turning into the dragon, the one-legged hopping men, the strange feast) and the Silver Chairthe twist blew my eight-year-old mind! These books always bring back fond memories. Also, if you know a kid who hates reading, try Narnia. It worked on my brother many years ago.




2. Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Pascal

This is embarrassing, but oh so true. Did any of you ever succumb to this series? Our little local library was well stocked with Sweet Valley, and I must have spent hours trawling through the romantic/cheerleading/travelling/friendship dramas of blonde twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. This is probably how I learnt about boyfriends =(

PS. I have since thrown out my Sweet Valley books ;P



3. Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce

This series is da bomb, if you’re a little girl with big dreams of adventure, hot princes, and beating snobby guys at their own game. Tamora Pierce taught me that young-adult fantasy exists and can feature a young female heroine, fast-paced storyline and a gratuitous plot (safe sex, safe drinking, safe sword-fights). Alanna is good at pretty much everything. Princes and thief-kings alike fall in love with her. This series inspired me to write my first and possibly only full length novel, Amaya: Crusader of the Slaves, which features a Mary-Sue character with no flaws and a killer knack for fighting, diplomacy, generally getting everyone to love her, saving the kingdom, and becoming Queen of Shal-Amor. It’s going to be the next Harry Potter. I can feel it.




4. The Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

If you must know, I still adore Obernewtyn. Isobelle Carmody began writing this series when she was still in high school, back in the 1980s, and it’s just flourished under her talented craftsmanship. When I first immersed myself in the post-holocaust world of Elspeth Gordie and the Misfits, I only knew that this story was UNPUTDOWNABLE! Now, re-reading the series, I can admire Carmody’s powerful, fluent language. She chooses words succinctly, wasting none, and packs so much into each book (although they do become successively more brick-like). There’s no purple prose, and for this I respect her immensely. Adjectives are overrated.



5. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

Another master storyteller. Wit, adventure, an alternate London governed by a Parliament of greedy magicians. It’s the lesser-known, better Harry Potter. Bartimaeus the 5000-year-old, silver-tongued djinni taught me that fantasy can be modern and humorous. After reading this series I tried my hand at my own fantasy book featuring a witty demon. It achieved moderate success amongst my friends and now sits in the bottom of my drawer.


As you can see, four-fifths of my childhood was shaped by fantasy. I also read a whole bunch of other local library offerings (yes, I was that kid—the one who staggers out of the library with a stack of fifteen books, and you come to recognise her only by her sweat-spotted forehead and the top rim of her glasses) including Babysitters Club, Animorphs and Tomorrow When the War Began. Funnily, as I was a pretty sheltered (read: Asian) kid, I think I learnt a lot about life from books. It might explain why my worldview is a bit wacky…and why I always see monsters in the clouds.

What are the five books that shaped your childhood? I’m curious to know =)



  1. I like this post ! We had a lot of books in common^^. I babysat recently and brought two of my favourites with me: ‘The Faraway Tree’ by Enid Blyton and ‘The Little Prince (Le petit prince)’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Unfortunately the 7 year old kid wasn’t that interested cause’ there wasn’t enough pictures for the amount of text in the book X-D His loss !


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