Top Ten Tuesday: A Life in Books

Posted June 28, 2016 by meezcarrie in C.S. Lewis, Carolyn Keene, Christian, Dee Henderson, J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen, Janette Oke, Mary Davis, Nancy Drew, Randy Alcorn, Terri Blackstock, Top Ten Tuesday / 63 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday Favorite

Today is a freebie week for Top Ten Tuesday and I was inspired by this post from I Wish I Lived in a Library. It’s interesting to look back over the different reading phases you go through in your life, and I found myself taking several fond trips back down memory lane while putting this post together.Β  I also found myself wishing that I’d kept more of these books during my six-year-long reading hiatus because now I want to go back and read them all again. Some of them will be hard to find. Argh. Let this be a lesson, fellow bookworms. Even if you’re in excruciating pain and don’t see any relief in sight and you think, “Reading is pretty much over for me as a hobby” … DON’T LOSE HOPE – and for goodness sake KEEP THE BOOKS.

a life in books

The books I’ve selected aren’t necessarily my all-time favorite books (I covered those in a different top ten Tuesday post earlier this year) and they aren’t even a fraction of the books I’ve read but they are a good representation of the style and genre I was reading at each age that I’m spotlighting. Speaking of which, I’ve divided this into 10 age brackets … but there are definitely more than 10 books here.Β  Do you know how DIFFICULT it is to narrow things down to ONE BOOK that represents your reading preferences for that age range? These are the kinds of mental and emotional sacrifices I happily make for you, my loyal readers, on a daily basis πŸ˜‰

Oh – and I kept it to really only fiction because the post was getting long enough anyway lol. Because I’m old.


I am blessed to have parents and grandparents who read to me from infancy onward – A LOT. Family friends too. My first word was even “book” – no joke.

They read me the Little Golden Books and nursery rhymes and – of course – Pat the Bunny.

pat the bunny

Such an enduring classic – and I love that this is one of my nephew’s favorite books right now too!


By this age range, I was reading on my own and that included the newspaper, the cereal box, the 2nd chapter of Philippians to my dad while he was shaving. While I never formally learned to read, I’d had it modeled so well for me – and so often – that I took to it naturally and quickly. Parents, grandparents, cool aunts (and uncles) – READ TO YOUR KIDS! It makes a difference!

little golden book cinderella

One of my early favorites right at the cusp of learning to read on my own was the Little Golden Book version of Cinderella.Β  I knew if (when) my parents ‘kipped a page and I’m sure none were more relieved than they when I could read this one on my own πŸ˜‰Β  Fairy tales are still a huge part of my book list and Cinderella stories remain among my favorites. Prince Charming was absolutely my first book boyfriend. He set a high standard.

maxi and mini muffinI also loved the Muffin Family books by V. Gilbert Beers – a series that featured simplified Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments. Each Bible story was followed by a related application-type story revolving around siblings Maxi and Mini Muffin and their various adventures. I still remember sitting on my parents’ laps to read these books together and can even picture the illustrations.


lilac inn nancy drewMy love of mysteries began here with none other than Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden and The Boxcar Children and The Bobbsey Twins. Even my grandpa’s old Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason novels, which I do still have, thankyouverymuch. I devoured any and all of these books that I could get my hands on. I became Nancy and Trixie and “Carrie Mason” when I went outside to play… you know, until I got hopelessly lost on my bike. But y’all – it’s HARD to spy on your neighbors and remember which street you turned down at the same time!

little house in the big woodsIt was also around this time that my parents read the Little House books with me each night. I’m pretty sure I wanted to be both Nancy Drew and Laura Ingalls Wilder – if I could have pulled it off simultaneously, that would have been even better. This series is a lifelong sentimental favorite for me, and I still have my original yellow box set! While this isn’t historical fiction, per se, it sparked a love of history in story form that I’ve never gotten over.

AND I absolutely cannot forget to mention The Chronicles of Narnia here. My third grade teacher read them to us each day after recess. I think we made it through book 3 – the original/correct order – in school and then my parents and I read them together after that. Again, I still have my original set and they remain books that I re-read to this day.

chronicles of narnia box set


Ohhh middle school.Β  I wouldn’t re-live you for all the money in the world. But I do still love the books I read when I was trying to survive you.

love comes softly seriesMy introduction into Christian fiction started with Janette Oke and her Love Comes Softly series (and then her Canadian West and Women of the West series too). This is a series I most regret loaning out and never getting back. One of my bookish bucket list goals is to once again own it because it really is the foundation for nearly everything I read today. Even though it’s a historical fiction romance series, most of the contemporary books I read can find their roots in my love for Clark & Marty Davis and their family because it led me to “Christian fiction” as a genre. And, as I stated a couple of weeks ago, I do so love this genre.

tomorrow's promiseJudy Baer’s Cedar River Daydreams series was another favorite during middle school, even though it was written about a set of friends in high school. I got caught up in Lexi and her crush on Todd (and vice versa) and all the teenage angst that their social group had to face. Interestingly enough, one of the books – Tomorrow’s Promise – prepared me well in advance, even as a pre-teen, for the season of Alzheimer’s we would walk through with my grandmother over 20 years later. The wisdom that God hasn’t abandoned us – or our loved one with Alzheimer’s – that He can speak to them on a level that we don’t comprehend or even see – stayed with me over all those years and really helped solidify my trust in God when I faced those same questions with my beloved grandmother.


pride and prejudiceHigh school wasn’t much better than middle school, to be honest. But at least I had my books πŸ™‚

I first read Pride and Prejudice in high school, and I can honestly say it was one of the few books I was assigned in that AP English class that I actually enjoyed reading πŸ™‚Β  It’s also one of the only Jane Austen books that I love from cover to cover, with the exception of Persuasion. There are parts of each of her other books that I love … and parts that I sigh heavily and plod through because … hello… it’s Jane Austen.

redeeming loveFrancine Rivers showed up on my radar around this time as well. Redeeming Love, The Last Sin Eater, The Scarlet Thread.Β Β  All three of these books gave me a deeper love for God because they depicted so vividly the exquisite and persistent tenderness of His love for me. I read and re-read them each many times – all so different from each other and all so different from anything I’d previously read. They are also all books that have stayed with me even though it’s been years and years since I’ve read any of them.

I can’t forget the Glenbrooke series by Robin Jones Gunn either! These were some of the first contemporary romances I read, and I fell head over heels for them! I’ve been slowly collecting these books again when I find a good sale, but I’m unapologetically going for the versions with the newer covers πŸ˜‰

secrets robin jones gunnΒ  whispers robin jones gunnΒ  echoes robin jones gunn Β sunsets robin jones gunn


Now, I did love college … but books stayed a much-needed escape from studying and lesson plans and bulletin boards and papers. (Can you tell I was an education major? lol) I also had a mini fiction library in my dorm room and my friends frequently came in and out to borrow the latest Palisades Pure Romance or Terri Blackstock book.

The Palisades Pure Romance books were a line of Christian fiction contemporary romances that became must-reads for me with the Glenbrooke series that I mentioned above. I LOVED these books and they introduced me to several new-to-me authors, most of which I haven’t seen a book from since the line was discontinued. Which makes me sad. A couple of stand-out favorites for me (besides the Robin Jones Gunn series) were Forget Me Not by Shari MacDonald (set in England – be still my heart) and Newlywed Games by Mary Davis (one of my favorite “fake marriage” stories), both of which I still own. They are well-read copies but I’m glad I hung on to them.

forget me notΒ  newlywed games

The Heirs of Cahira O’Connor series by Angela Elwell Hunt was another series I inhaled during this time – one of my first experiences with dual timeline fiction. An absolutely captivating story arc that ties all 4 books together – women bound together by their ancestry, their striking hair, and their courageous push against the restrictions of society. Spanning 13th century Ireland to 15th century Prague to a 17th century Dutch colony to 19th century Civil War-ridden America … and the modern descendant who thinks she’s only meant to record their stories.

the silver sword


suncoast chroniclesI got married when I was 21 and for a while I pretty much abandoned romances (after all, I was still basking in the newlywed glow of my own) and focused primarily on mysteries.

o'malley family booksTerri Blackstock’s Suncoast Chronicles series and Newpointe 911 as well as Dee Henderson’s O’Malley Family series were not only my favorites during this time but they really became the standard for Christian fiction mystery/suspense.Β  The kind with FBI agents and police and crimes… I’m not talking about speculative fiction here. The mystery/suspense genre in Christian fiction is blessed with many wonderful authors now but, at the time, these two authors really were the genre.


I kept reading mysteries here, including Mary Higgins Clark and Maureen Jennings. But my voracious reading superpower met its Kryptonite in the form of a wisdom tooth extraction gone painfully awry. The resulting Safely Hometreatment, further surgeries, depression, and high levels of pain made it nearly impossible for me to continue reading as I had been. Non-fiction became more my thing because I could take it in small doses without feeling like I absolutely needed to know what happened in the story & being frustrated that I couldn’t keep reading to find out.

But I also started teaching English as a Second/Other Language during this age range and in the process I discovered Safely Home by Randy Alcorn – a book that impacted me more than any other fiction book. More than almost any nonfiction book besides the Bible, too.Β  I have bought this book so frequently with the sole purpose of giving it away that I actually do not currently own a copy for myself lol.


harry-potter-418108_1280The fall-out from the wisdom tooth nerve damage continued into my thirties. Y’all. I didn’t even have a LIBRARY CARD during this time. Isn’t that just all kinds of pathetic?!?

I did, however, manage to inhale all of the Harry Potter books. Finally. Years from now, if I’m still blogging, or if someone asks me to name a favorite series of books, these will still be at the top of my list. Always.

36 up

Thanks to a miracle from God and my awesome dentist, I finally – FINALLY – experienced pain-free days after 6 years of that nightmare. And then the days turned to weeks and then months and I picked up a book and read the whole thing IN ONE SITTING and knew my superpower had come back to me. <blissful sigh of contentment>

Below is a photo of my very first library haul in SIX YEARS!! I remember feeling like I was meeting old friends again – even though all of these books and authors were new to me (Christian fiction had changed A LOT during my time away, thankfully for the better).

library haul

In fact, I still get a bit emotional looking at that picture. Because now? On the upper side of 30? I get to read ALL THE BOOKS again! And so… I do πŸ™‚


What about you? What books define certain age ranges for YOU? Let me know in the comments and be sure to link up your Top Ten Tuesday post if you participated this week!



63 responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: A Life in Books

  1. Melissa

    I’ve never heard of the Muffin Family books but they sound perfect for the preschool class I teach at church. EBay here I come!

  2. carylkane

    Thanks for sharing your fun reading list. Sadly, I don’t remember what books I read growing up….

  3. This is such a fun idea for a post! I love how we can look back on our life in terms of what books we enjoyed at that time. And I definitely would still love re-reading my childhood favorites! Unfortunately I kept a lot of them for safe-keeping in our garage due to lack of shelf space and a mouse got in there and actually ate a lot of them πŸ™ lesson to myself: never put books in a garage ever again!

  4. Wow. This is such an awesome post idea. It has me thinking… I know when I was little I would ‘read’ all of the golden books (I don’t know if you know what I am talking about, but it was a brand that did children’s books). At age 6, I would read the Franklin books (it was a tv show about a frog) because I got a bunch from my teacher. From 7-9 I would read A-Z Mystery books, Nancy Drew, etc. 10-11 I read everything Margaret Peterson Haddix. 12-13 I read The Hunger Games and John Green. 14-15 Harry Potter, Rick Riordan. 16 I read EVERYTHING I don’t think I could pick just one book.

    Also, that is awful with the wisdom teeth issue. I got mine out a few months ago and it certainly wasn’t fun, but I can’t even imagine what you had to go through. I’m glad you are better now, though.

    • Carrie

      absolutely, I know the Little Golden Books! Of course! The Franklin books are fantastic as well πŸ™‚

  5. Interesting topic! I loved books like Cinderella when I was little and even had others like The Elves and the Shoemaker and Rapunzel πŸ™‚

  6. I am so glad that you were able to get treatment for your pain. I have only ever experienced chronic pain for the relatively short period of two weeks, and I wasn’t certain how I would make it through.

    Enjoy ALL the books.

  7. What a fun post! Pat the Bunny brings back so many memories of reading it to my daughter when she was very little. She loves that one!

    • Carrie

      It’s such a great book for development but kids just love it for how fun it is too πŸ™‚

  8. Such a fun topic choice! I love thinking about books that shaped my reading over the years. Harry Potter was definitely a childhood favorite–as well as Roald Dahl books. Preteen favorites were The Little House books, Babysitters Club, and Nancy Drew. High school and college were a lot of classic literature for school–British and American mostly. Then finally I have been able to choose what I read so I have dabbled in all sorts of genres. I actually talk about some of my favs in my TTT this week:

    • Carrie

      Harry Potter was a CHILDHOOD favorite?!? Oh gosh, I’m so much older than you than I thought LOL LOL. They came out when I was in my early 20s – already teaching elementary school. Argh. haha. Roald Dahl – yes! Looking forward to reading your post πŸ™‚

  9. Amanda J.

    Carrie, such fun!! From early childhood, I remember “Are You My Mother?” and “Millions of Cats.” From later childhood/preteen I remember “Where the Red Fern Grows.” During my later teen years, I read all things Lori Wick. “Redeeming Love,” “Though None Go With Me” and “The Scarlett Thread” were most impactful during my early twenties. Now in my thirties, I read like crazy. I’m no Carrie or Rel (two of my favorite bloggers…whoop whoop!) but I average 50 books a year.

    P.S. I wrote this long response to your guest blog regarding the middle of the story, but it is floating in cyberspace never to be found, so I’ll say: Thank you! It was beautiful.

    • Carrie

      Where the Red Fern Grows killed me. Killed. Me. lol. And don’t you hate cyberspace floaters?!? Thank you πŸ™‚

      • Amanda J.

        Me too! I think that’s why it’s still so vivid in my mind…and probably why I search for books with a HEA, even though a few tear jerkers have snuck in over the years.

        • Carrie

          A few tear jerkers – as long as they are redemptive and healing in some way – are good. On occasion. But I’m definitely a HEA kind of book nerd πŸ™‚

  10. What a fun topic for this week!
    I grew up on Narnia, Nancy Drew, and Little House on the Prairie as well. And, Janette Oke was my introduction to Christian novels also!
    I love seeing how similar our book lists have been over the years. I haven’t thought of some of those books in ages.:)

  11. Lovely and fun post! I lament the fact I didn’t have a good guide as to what to read. And I didn’t frequent a library for pleasure reading until I was 30. Even so, I have happy book memories that include Nancy Drew and the Little House series, too. I also read and re-read The Diary of Anne Frank, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (aided by the movie starring Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, and C. Thomas Howell), and Gone With the Wind. I also enjoyed many Lois Duncan books around that age.

    • Carrie

      the Diary of Anne Frank & The Hiding Place were two of my faves as well … I don’t remember reading any Lois Duncan books but I’m sure I must have.

  12. Oh my gosh, this is a beautifully composed post. I love this idea so much and if my memory was better, I could probably remember some awesome books to include that I read as a kid. I love that your first word was “book”, ’tis destiny.

  13. This is an awesome post idea! I sometimes find it hard to remember the books I used to love, but I have kept some of the ones that have made the biggest impact on me from my elementary/ middle school years. I bet it was fun to revisit your reading journey!
    Thanks for stopping by The Local Muse

    • Carrie

      thanks, Mallory! I DID have a lot of fun putting this post together – great memories πŸ™‚

  14. Andrea Stephens

    Gosh, I wouldn’t know where to start in my lifelong reading list. Would it be odd to say I read Erma Bombeck’s The Grass is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank” when I was 12 and LOVED it? I started reading when I was 3, my beloved Parade of Stories book held many classic children’s stories. By the time I was in first grade I read everything I could get my hands on. All the books in my small school’s library, Reader’s Digest, Guideposts, National Geographic and anything else at my grandparents house. My mom had a friend that took me to the “big” library in town and changed my world forever. To say that I loved that place would be an understatement. I spent most of a summer there one year. I even helped re-shelve books. Janette Oke entered my world one of those summers, then I read everything she ever wrote. That introduced me to several other Christian Fiction books. The Stonewycke Legacy stands out in my memory. I went through a period of not reading so many books as magazines but have since found my way back and try to read daily. I feel odd if I don’t read at least a little something everyday. I didn’t read anything this past Sunday and I’m still not over it. I read 2 short stories and a whole novel today to try and make up for missing a day. πŸ™‚ I’m weird, I know.

    • Carrie

      hahaha! Not weird at all! I completely get it! I started reading about the same age as you – fun!

      • Andrea Stephens

        I am weird. I know it to be true. I lost my mind a long time ago. I’ve accepted it. I read about normal people and wonder what that must be like πŸ˜‰
        I’m glad you get it though.

  15. Aww Carrie this is a wonderful post! Such a lovely thing to share, makes me want to try and plot my life in books πŸ™‚ Books definitely got me through high school too! Point Horrors and Horrorscope books were the books I hid inside text books lol.

    Happy Reading!
    Rachel @ Paein-and-Ms4Tune

  16. Great post idea! This would be so hard to do. I love thinking of books that defined the ages of my life though. In my 30s I’m reading a ton, so it would be the hardest! My early 20s would be Harry Potter. My teens would probably be Jodi Picoult. Middle school would maybe be The Giver. My late elementary time would be babysitters club and Lorlene McDaniels. Before that I’m not sure. So fun to think about.

  17. Oh, I love, love, love this post! I need to do one like this. It’s so lovely to stroll down the corridors of your own personal library. I read many of the same books growing up (although I was also reading Stephen King and Anne Rice along with C.S. Lewis and Jane Austen).

    This reminds me of The Night Bookmobile (a woman on a walk finds a bookmobile that contains only the books she’s read in her lifetime)… only without the sadness. Thank you for sharing!

    • Carrie

      I haven’t heard of The Night Bookmobile! I will have to check that out!! Thank you πŸ™‚

  18. This is such a great idea for a topic! I don’t know if I’d be able to break it down as well as you did by age. Although I know that from 2000-2007, I’d have Harry Potter on my list! πŸ™‚

  19. I love this topic! Such a good way to remember your life and to give the rest of a some insight into how you became a reader!

  20. I Am A Kitten & The Poky Little Puppy (Both Golden Books) + the Babar The Elephant books were books I liked as a toddler. In elementary school I liked the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series, Roald Dahl Books, The Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O’Dell. I can’t remember what I liked in junior high/middle school… In high school, I feel in love with Agatha Christie novels!

  21. OMG! I LOVE this post! This is such a fun topic. I have to admit that most of these books never even entered my radar when I was a kid. I only read books that got read to me until I was 11, then I started reading Stephen King. I’m weird I guess, what can I say?

  22. Cool choice for a freebie TTT. I’ve never seen a lot of these books but they look really interesting! I’ve been wanting to read Redeeming Love since a friend of mine recommended it to me a while back. I also missed out reading Narnia as a kid. I only found out about them when the movies came out! Wow. Great list Carrie!

    • Carrie

      thanks! Redeeming Love & Narnia are both excellent choices for anyone’s TBR list πŸ˜‰

  23. So nostalgic! I’m reminiscing about all the Anne books followed by the Little Women series. Before that the American Girl books and Daddy Long Legs. Babysitter Club and Sweet Valley High in middle school make me cringe now, exactly why my kids don’t have free reign with their reading material. Age appropriate reading without the snark or romantic focus

  24. A million “YES'” to Dee’s ‘O’Malley’ series. Those were the first books by her I ever read and they’re so good. Great memories. πŸ™‚

  25. Carrie, I just came over here from today’s Top Ten Tuesday post, and … are we the same person? Seriously! Your picks from ages 6-30 could have been mine, and I know we read a lot of the same things now πŸ™‚ So fun to be reminded of books I haven’t thought of in years!

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