BYA (Before Young Adult)
Back when I was a teenager, 'YA' hadn't been invented. There were childrens' books, and adult books, and a grey area in between.
In those days, I hadn't begun to keep my handy-dandy reading diary, and now I find it hard to remember exactly what I was reading at high school. I know I was reading a LOT; it was a rare day that I didn't make a visit to the school library, but what was I borrowing?
But every so often, I'll come across a certain book and think, 'Ah! That's what I was reading...'
One such rediscovery was Gerald Durrell's My Family And Other Animals, and its several companion volumes. Durrell's memoir of his idyllic childhood on Corfu, exploring the island's wildlife and enduring the eccentricities of his wayward older siblings (irritable writer Larry, gun-crazy Leslie, and flirtatious Margo, all kept more or less in line by long-suffering Mother and the apoplectic Spiro), is just as entertaining as I remembered it, and the later books, where his family's antics move to centre stage, are even funnier. Along similar lines (and aided by the TV series) I read my way right through James Herriot.
I also devoured quantities of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps there is something about the neat puzzle of the old-fashioned murder mystery that is particularly soothing to the troubled adolescent mind. And I got through tons* of Jean Plaidy's historical novels, from which I acquired all my knowledge of British history. Oh, and Georgette Heyer!
And then there was my Stephen Donaldson / Dune phase. More tonnage. Eventually I gave up from sheer exhaustion. Can't remember a single word of them now.
I think I can discern a theme here. I was obviously reading for quantity. I'm told that nowadays it's impossible to interest young readers in picking up a book unless they can be assured that there are plenty of sequels to follow... so maybe things haven't changed much after all.
Faithful readers of a certain age, what did you read before YA came along?
* Probably literally. They are very fat books.