Thanks to everyone who is following my reading journey. If you missed my previous musings, links are at the end of this post.
Once I exhausted all of the mystery series and started finding the children’s books a little, well, childish, I decided it was time to make a run to the right of the desk where the adult books were shelved. So one day, I skulked past the gimlet eye of Miss Clark and entered a whole new world of books. At first glance, many appeared to be a bit beyond my ken, but it didn’t take long to discover a treasure trove of books with “teen” spine stickers mixed in with the fiction. After loading my arms for the long trek home, I soon found myself immersed in the exciting new world of teen troubles.
Young Adult Books, 1950s/1960s Style
As a dweeby sixth-grader with frumpy dresses and a home perm who so badly wanted to be popular, books by Anne Emery and Rosamond du Jardin were a balm to my tween angst. All dealt with teen trials and tribulations, both frivolous and thoughtful, but mostly I identified with the stories where the main character was trying to be part of the cool kids’ group. Oh, and boy trouble…
Anne Emery’s Dinny Gordon series featured a teen whose career goal was to be an archaeologist, which sparked my interest in also exploring ruins and going to Egypt (spoiler alert: it didn’t happen). The series went through Dinny’s freshman to senior years, and I devoured them all. Another favorite by this author was The Popular Crowd, which I read multiple times.
Rosamond du Jardin wrote in a similar vein, and I plowed through all of her books such as Class Ring, Boy Trouble, One of the Crowd, which were all part of Tobey and Midge Heydon series. Here is a lovely description of parents in a simpler era:
“The Heydon family resides in the town of Edgewood where Mr. Heydon sells plumbing supplies and Mrs. Heydon is a homemaker who enjoys baking chocolate cakes and lemon cream pie.”
I also read books by Janet Lambert and Betty Cavanna and continuing my interest in the medical profession, novels like Candy Stripers. Occasionally I wandered into the nonfiction aisle and picked up books on Oregon history (Sacajawea was a favorite) and astronomy.
Mad about Magazines
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my magazine addiction started in grade school with the distribution of the Weekly Reader, and it wasn’t long before I got hooked on the hard stuff. In 1964 the Beatles took over the imagination of tween/teen girls (and yes, I was one although I became more of Herman’s Hermits fan), and I started noticing magazines such as ‘Teen, Tiger Beat, 16, and more. With such lurid headlines as “Beatles Weird Wishes” and “Herman’s Wild Life!” it was easy to part with my allowance so I could follow the latest about my idols.
16 magazine was my favorite, and I remember a contest where one “lucky” reader could win Herman’s (Peter Noone) snaggle canine tooth he’d had removed. (I hope no one thinks of less me of when I admit I actually entered that creepy contest.) I didn’t read Tiger Beat very often (think it was hard to find), but I enjoyed Ann Moses’ recent memoir, Meow!: My Groovy Life with Tiger Beat’s Teen Idols, with lots of juicy behind-the-scenes revelations and interactions with the stars of the day.
‘Teen magazine was another fave that I read religiously. I don’t remember many of the articles, but I did lust after the fashions (especially the go-go boots) and perused the Pen Pal page to see who might have the same interests I did–you know, books, boys, and surfing–OK, so maybe I didn’t surf, but it was cool to think I could.
I also discovered MAD magazine, and even though I’m sure much of the content went right over my head, I thought it was hilarious, especially the movie and TV show satires. I still remember my brother and me listening to the 33 1/3 RPM record insert of “It’s a Gas” and giggling uncontrollably. If you never had the pleasure of hearing this classic, listen to it here.
Next up: I discover smut and the start of my love for psychological suspense.