Whether we’re in our childhood homes for the summer or walking past the summer camps on Memorial Glade on the way to class every day, summertime is making us nostalgic. We’re missing the long hot days we spent showing off on the monkey bars and hoping our sandcastle moats would stand up to the next wave. We also miss the books we used to read.
This week’s book club theme is “Throwback,” the books from our childhood that stand the test of time and remain a great read, even now that we’re adults.
1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
“It was a dark and stormy night,” and Meg Murray begins her journey through time and space to save her father with the help of the mysterious Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. A Wrinkle In Time is and was erudite, magical and also a little creepy. There was nothing more terrifying than Camazotz, where everybody was controlled by the Black Thing, but even that celestial centaur planet was a little unsettling. But it was also wonderful, engrossing and challenging, and Meg Murray was a loving, stubborn, math-savvy badass. Also, the fourth book in which Meg’s twin brothers hang out with Noah (of Noah’s Ark fame) is awesome.
2. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
Weetzie Bat is best described as Rookie Mag-esque, only Francesca Lia Block was doing dreamy punk girls long before anybody from Rookie Mag was ever born (they did grow up reading it, though, and made a loving playlist about it). Weetzie Bat follows a teenage girl named Weetzie, her best friend Dirk, Dirk’s boyfriend Duck, and Weetzie’s boyfriend My Secret Agent Lover Man in a fairytale 1980s Los Angeles called Shangri-L.A. The candy-colored romance of Francesca Lia Block’s L.A. makes everybody want to visit and makes L.A. natives wonder what they’ve been missing.
3. From the Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This is the book that made us all want to run away and live at the museum. Twelve-year-old Claudia Kincaid decides to run away from home, but because she’s not just anybody, she decides to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art with her little brother Jamie, sleeping in a 16th-century bed, bathing in fountains and trying to unravel the mystery of a beautiful, possibly-by-Michelangelo sculpture new to the museum. Also, we’re still in awe of Claudia’s planning skills and wish we were that put together.
4. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
A quirky collection of 16 somewhat unlikable people are mysteriously hand-picked to hear the will of the late millionaire Samuel W. Westing. The will announces that one of the 16 people is the murderer, and that whoever solves the murder will inherit Westing’s $200 million fortune, as well as his company. And so the 16 heirs divide into pairs to try to make sense of the cryptic puzzle left behind. It’s got all the dark fun of Agatha Christie with far less murder. Also, fun fact: Ellen Raskin designed the original jacket cover of A Wrinkle In Time.
5. Holes by Louis Sachar
First off, we’re thankful for the iconic “Dig It” from the Holes movie. We’re still singing it. Secondly, we don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Holes is a perfect book. It’s got palindromes, rattlesnake venom nail polish, a happy ending involving peaches and foot odor, Kissin’ Kate Barlow, the phrase “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather” and a complex puzzle that comes together perfectly and satisfyingly in a finale that makes use of every single seemingly inconsequential detail in the whole book.