The spring semester is over at Washington State University, and I’m thinking about summer. My summer free time as a child and teen was full of books, and the recent movie release of an old favorite, Judy Blume’s “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret,” has led me to the self-indulgent desire to wax nostalgic over the books that I read, reread, and loved during the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. There were a lot of them.

I was a frequenter of libraries — my school library, the Wilmot branch of the Pima County (Ariz.) Public Library system and the library of more vintage books at the local air force base (yes, I participated in summer reading programs). My parents let all their kids read freely, and I recall the only time my dad ever got mad at me about a book was when I checked out copies of “The Horse Without a Head” (post-War French kids get involved with a train robbery — it’s funny and full of suspense) from two different libraries at the same time. I read all Judy Blume’s books, and those of Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery, of course (the “Anne” books and “The Blue Castle” are my favorites, but like Alcott, Montgomery wrote some short story potboilers as well). I loved fantasy from a young age and wolfed down Lloyd Alexander’s “Prydain” and other books (my computer talk name was Eilonwy when I was in college) as well as C.S. Lewis’ “Narnia” books and Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” and was wowed by the intricacies of Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” books. I adored E. Nesbitt’s fantasy stories of British kids (especially “The Magic Castle” — it had everything) and years later would purchase a set of her books that has stayed with me for more than 35 years. Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s historical “Mara, Daughter of the Nile” (servant girl becomes involved in Egyptian court intrigue) and the Portland-based and delightful “Greensleeves” (teen girl stays in Portland for a summer, changing her name and look and everything, but finds out she can’t change herself) were two of my most favorite books. Like many girls I discovered gothics in high school and read Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart voraciously, but I also loved Patricia Beatty’s books, from the Washington territory-set “Nickel Plated Beauty” (kids buy a stove for their mom) to the Elizabethan England-set “Holdfast” and “The Queen’s Wizard.” Anything by Patricia McKillip or Robin McKinley went right into my check-out pile. I also discovered my mom’s cache of Georgette Heyer regency romances and mysteries and became a habitue of secondhand bookstores to feed my regency romance (I called them “fluffies”) habit.

I liked books about girls, but also raided my brother’s library books and discovered books like “Falcons of France,” about American flyers in the Lafayette Escadrille in World War I, and the “Three Investigators” series (similar to the “Hardy Boys” and “Nancy Drew,” but better). Dan liked science fiction and I turned up my nose at it until one day I had nothing to read and read a Robert Heinlein juvenile from his stack and became hooked on the genre, working my way through the works of Andre Norton and more. In college I discovered Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Vorkosigan” books, and also found an appreciation for space opera.

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