Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Books I Used to Like that Now Make Me Cringe

Now before I get started, let me say I have no wish to offend you, your taste in books, or the authors that wrote these books.  At one time, I thought the books and authors listed below were the bee's knees.  However, I have reread them in more recent years and had a change in heart.

If you still like them, kudos to you!  There's no judgment here. I'm glad you like them, really I am!  Someone took the time to write a book and that is no easy feat. They're just not for me anymore.

A partial list of the Books I Used to Like that Now Make Me Cringe:
The Babysitters Club series- Ann M. Martin  I read my first BSC book in 3rd grade. I could not wait to start babysitting! Mary Ann, Kristy, Claudia, Stacy, they all became my guides. Chances are, you had a favorite BSCer. I always felt Stacy was the coolest, what with her NYC background and hip 80s fashion. But oh, the writing. And the scads of backstory each and every book! To this day, I can remember that Claudia was the artsy one who hid junk food in her room and thought she might be adopted because she wasn't like her brainy parents and sister, who may have been named Janine. (Is that right? Why do I remember her sister's name???)  I ended up skipping the 3 to 4 pages about each girl as the series progressed. Great books for that time of my life but I'd rather eat chalkdust than read one again.

Jeannette Oke- I believe I was in 3rd grade when a teacher recommended I give the Love Comes Softly series a try. I can remember her standing in our school library, feeling proud I was an advanced enough reader to give "more grown-up" books a try. She just loved Oke's books. In fact, I remember working at The Christian Bookstore many years later and selling her the latest ones.  By that time, I was less than impressed with the plots.  I had romanticized the characters in Loved Comes Softly and her other series. I tried to reread the few that I owned several years ago and just couldn't do it.  While written for adults, they read at a much younger reading level. But hey, they entertained me for quite awhile and I'm sure that teacher is still buying the newest title year after year.

Mary Higgins Clark Initially I was astounded by her mysteries. The twists! The turns! Who the killer turned out to be! And then I realized just how formulaic they were. I'll always have a fond place in my heart for Loves Music, Loves to Dance and Where Are The Children? but I'd prefer not to have solved the case by page 5.

Redeeming Love- Francine Rivers  OK, OK, I can hear the indignant protests from a mile away!  The first two times I read this, I bawled like the rest of you. Then I tried to read it a few years ago and I just. could. not.  It was painful, I tell you. Painful.  I didn't want to not like this book that has touched so many people's lives. But there it was. I'm choosing not to reread her Mark of the Lion series or The Atonement Child because I'd like them to remain pristine in my mind.

Sweet Valley High series- Francine Pascal Tell me truly. Did you want to be Elizabeth or Jessica? I loved the twins' adventures and romances.  Sweet Valley seemed like such a great place, whether we were reading about high school or graduating to college SVU.  And I loved the two stand alone books that looked at the Wakefield lineage! However, well-written these are not, perhaps because this is a ghostwritten series.  I'm glad that Young Adult lit's standards have risen since the Sweet Valley days because there's no way they can stand the test of time. The latest incarnation Sweet Valley Confidential has been raked over the coals by critics and fans alike. I'm going to let Jessica and Elizabeth stay in the past where they belong. I wonder if the Canby Hall series would be any better?

Winter Dreams, Christmas Love- Mary Francis Shura Oh, the love story between high school freshman Ellen and her upperclassman crush Michael. My heart swoons at the very thought! In fact, during high school my best friends and I convinced our guy friends to help us recreate our favorite WDCL scenes, in which I played Ellen and my friend Ryan played Michael. Little did I know that the guys were taking bets on whether Ryan would really kiss me during our Big Scene. (He didn't. Once I learned about the bet, I wasn't sure whether to be angry, embarrassed, or disappointed. Those were the days!)  This was YA lit at its finest circa mid90s. It may be telling that this book has been out of print for quite some time.  But I'm keeping my copy for nostalgic reasons and perhaps because I'm still a sucker for a good love story, even if it's poorly written and poorly plotted.

Stay tuned for more reasons why Leigh Likes Books:

Agree? Disagree? Do you have any books you used to like that now make you cringe?Are there any future Book Nerds Unite categories you'd like to suggest?

Thank you everyone, for indulging me in this series. It has been so fun to talk books and add to my To Read list, as well as remember the favorites I'd forgotten all about.


  1. Agree.

    I'd add Danielle Steele, whom I read in Junior High...

  2. I loved SVH and Babysitter's Club. I don't think I could read them now. The grown up SVH that I read a few months ago was HORRID!

  3. Hehehe I'm loving these book posts!
    I agree about Janette Oke books, I just re-read the Love Comes Softly series last year and WOW, those accents, boy oh boy! BUT, I still want to keep them for my kids, let them enjoy then dislike them like me. :)

  4. Agree with you on all of these that I have read, even RL. Content is good, but I never liked the style, at all.

  5. Ahh the Babysitter's Club. My boyfriend thinks it's weird that I can remember all of the babysitter's first AND LAST names, sibling's name, and personality quirks. HA!

    Looking back though, Ann M. Martin had those girls doing things a little old for their age. For example, a bunch of thirteen year olds taking a group of children to spend the day in New York City? I don't buy it. First of all, what parent would send their four year old off to NYC for the day with a bunch of 8th graders? ALso, I am 22 years old and I can't even handle spending the day in Philadelphia by myself, let alone while supervising a group of children! Too funny!

  6. Okay, THANK YOU for saying that about "Redeeming Love." I didn't really love it and I feel like people want to hurt me for it. ;)

  7. i can't believe you reread a baby sitter club book after the fifth grade!

    you forgot claudia's almond-shaped eyes! and it totally was janine;)

  8. Mary Higgins Clark definitely makes me cringe. Also cringe-worthy are Danielle Steele and RL Stine books that I read in middle school! Ack!!

    And for the record, though probably not surprisingly, I was Team Elizabeth in Sweet Valley High.

  9. @Leanne, I'm not sure that I've ever read Danielle Steel! From what I've heard, I don't need to start:)

    @Shell, yes, you were one of the people that told how awful the grown-up Sweet Valley was. I might get it from the library just to experience the horror for myself.

    @Jill, I remember talking about our Janette Oke disappointment at one of our Honey times! Yes, passing them down for future cringing is a lovely idea.

    @Kim, I'm surprised that I'm getting so much RL support! There were lots of fans when I posted my Fave Christian Fiction.

    @Laura, you make an excellent point about BSC. At the time, their adventures seemed completely normal but I do doubt, as you say, that parents would be OK with their young ones hanging out in NYC with pre-teens.

    @Rachel, yes, people are rabid in their appreciation of RL. I mean, I did like it at one time but I never felt the sun rose and set on it either.

    @Suzannah, well, I don't know that I reread any BSC but I was always annoyed by the excessive backstory.

    @Mary, I was too scared to read RL Stine. I was probably Team Elizabeth but wished I could be more like that wild and sassy Jessica:)


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