Lately, I’ve been frustrated with adulthood and all the responsibilities that come with it. With taxes due soon and my deplorable business record-keeping for the last year, I have had a couple of breakdowns recently. Not to mention all the other adult things: house hunting in a part of the country where houses are really expensive, broken dryers and laundry that needs washing, job drama (Grant’s job, not mine – one of the benefits of being my own boss), etc etc etc. Bleh. It seems like all the stuff comes at the same time, and in these moments all I really want to do is curl up on the couch with a book and a cup of coffee, and forget about adulthood. Let me be a kid again.
So I bring to you fifteen books/book series that are perfect for forgetting all your gross adult responsibilities for a little while and sailing back into that carefree time of youth. Even though these are “kid” books technically, they each explore universal themes that can be applied no matter what age you are. Adults should make more of a habit of reading about kids – it helps bring that spark back into life. There’s nothing wrong with a little magic.
1. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. I am currently reading this book, so I cannot speak for the book as a whole, but it is really great to disappear into so far. It tells the tale of Ezra, a high school senior who went from being a popular athlete to a nobody after a crippling accident left him unable to play tennis and alienated from his old crowd. It’s a raw look into the intricacies of social groups as linked to human emotion, personal tragedies and how you let them define you, and young love.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. This should be read over and over again. As soon as Lucy, Edmond, Susan, and Peter crawl through the wardrobe I am transported. Narnia is, I think, my favorite fictional world because it combines good, evil, fantastical, and realistic in such an uplifting and frankly beautiful way that it’s unforgettable.
3. 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Did you know 101 Dalmatians is not just a movie? Not many people do, but I am thrilled to say that this book is just as charming as the Disney feature film. Dodie Smith knows her way around the English language and created characters that are incredibly lifelike – even though they are dogs.
4. The Light Princess by George MacDonald. This novella is a light and humorous take on a fairy tale with a poignant ending. The story centers around a princess who has had her gravity stolen from her by a witch, in turn making her a silly heroine with no grounding in reality. The way this character gains her footing in the world is charming and ultimately very meaningful.
5. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. Perhaps you remember my book review of this a while back. Let me reiterate how wonderful of a story this is. The misadventures of Ratty, Mole, Toad, and Badger are entertaining and engaging – perfect for an evening getaway. Not to mention, Graham’s use of language is lovely.
6. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. With the recent hullabaloo about Go Set a Watchmen I’ve been thinking a lot about To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but Scout Finch lives on in my heart – she is such the picture of young innocence, and the relationship she has with her father is so endearing it’s impossible to forget. This books holds what remains to this day my favorite quote: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Need I say more?
7. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. Obviously. The best books written in our generation. Harry Potter, the boy wizard, is magical but surprisingly easy to connect to (even for us muggles). Though it might seem like a bunch of people in a school for witchcraft and wizardry would be hard to relate to, the story is more about human relationship than magic. This series covers it all, from losing ones parents to making the right choices when it comes to friendships. Because it spans the seven years that Harry is in school, you get such a perfect picture of growing up, even if his life is a bit unconventional.
8. The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman. Here’s another story about magic kids, but rather more mature in nature. The story takes place in “college” of sorts, and the characters experience anything that normal college students would experience – all while being put through a rigorous education in sorcery. These books are like a combination of Harry Potter and Narnia, except with older kids. Who couldn’t love that?
9. Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Okay, so I have to admit that I did not like The Hunger Games when I first read it. I thought the writing was a bit bland and contrived, so I decided to put the series down after the first installment. However, after watching the second movie which put me in an absolute frenzy of turmoiled confusion, I just had to read the last two books – which were much better than the first. I was totally taken in by the story – if not the greatest writing on the planet, the story at least is thrilling and transporting.
10. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett. This story is about a churlish child who learns to love life with the help of a friend and a beautiful garden. It is one of those stories that should be read every year, around springtime.
11. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. One autumn night, a dark carnival comes and grips the town in shadow. Two young boys, James Nightshade and William Halloway, experience terror and thrill alike as they fight to save their town from evil. I don’t think Ray Bradbury is capable of writing a bad story, and this is one of my favorites.
12. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. A timid young hobbit ventures out of his comfortable hobbit hole to encounter trolls, a dragon, and a number of other adventures. This is a lighter and easier read than The Lord of the Rings – better for a quick escape into fantasy.
13. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Cliche, I know. Everyone and their dog has read this book, but it is a really easy look into the hard life of a teen struggling with cancer. There’s everything in this book: adventure, hardship, love, loss. All the feels.
14. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene. Pick up a Nancy Drew book and join the amateur detective in her search for truth and justice. These books are what made me love books. They will always be close to my heart.
15. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Another story about special kids in a special school, this story is about younger kids who have incredible talents. At this school they are taught how to solve puzzles and their ultimate test is to go on a secret mission. A fun read.
These are truly some of my favorite books in the world, and I have read a lot of books. The older I get, the more captivated I am, it seems, with the stories of younger people. It’s as if my innermost self longs for those bygone times, where worries were few but adventures high.
What books make you feel like a kid again?