23 And Me: The Books That Made Me, or Another Reading Challenge I Cannot Resist

What is a millennial without nostalgia?


Nothing at all.

Which is why I’m doing this challenge and also rereading Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series.

I saw this on Mackenzie @ Colour Me Read’s post, and I could not resist. This challenge originated with Brooke from @brooks.infinite.books and it’s about rereading the books that were super formative for you. The information post from Brooke is below, along with the specific prompts.

Since I’m what the kids call an “elder millennial,” I switched out the published in the 10s prompt to published in the 80s, and while I so dearly thought about rereading Sweet Valley High I skipped it for something else that I actually own.

I’ve been a reader ever since I learned how to read and realized the worlds that opened before me. If you ask my family, they’ll tell you that I’ve been reading ever since my mom opened a book in front of me, but that is a lie. Dear family, if you’ve snuck onto my blog: I memorized Go Dogs Go as a child. I couldn’t read that shit until I was in school, and I struggled with learning to read in kindergarten and first grade. By second grade, it clicked, and I was head over heels in horsey books.

No. Not Saddleclub. I read the Thoroughbred series.

Oh yeah, I was a big time horse girl, before the term horse girl even existed. No regrets.

Which is why you’re going to see a lot of horsey books in this list. Also, I was lucky enough to have a truly gifted elementary school librarian, who not only made the school library a place of refuge, but fostered my love of reading. She was my book pusher, and what can I say, I’ve been addicted ever since?

To the prompts…aka what weird horse-shit am I going to pull out this time?

The Prompts

Childhood favorite. Buffalo Gal by Bill Wallace.

When I was in 2nd-4th grade, I got into a huge pen pal kick. There was this country-type magazine that circulated for adults (I can’t remember the name of it), and in the back there was like a classified section? Anywho, kids would write in looking for pen pals, and I would write back. Some of them I wrote to until at least middle school. Looking back, it was sketchy as shit, but back then it was pretty awesome because we would get very involved in what kinds of things we’d stuff in those envelopes (glitter bombs hit different when you’re 10).

Anywho, I also wrote a bunch of my favorite authors, and most of them wrote back. My absolute favorites were Bill Wallace (who told me that he was probably not going to write a sequel to Buffalo Gal, which broke my heart because I’ve read that book over 100 times and if any book needs a sequel) and Joanna Campbell. I did cry when I wrote to Walter Farley and his estate wrote back, which was when I realized Walter Farley died before I had even found The Black Stallion books. But his estate wrote back! I cannot begin to describe the impact it had that these authors took the time to write a personalized letter to a kid. The 90s, friends. What a time.

I promise the rest of these will be shorter.

Middle Grade. Dragon’s Milk by Susan Fletcher.

I can’t remember much about this one except that it sparked my love of dragons. I expect this to be a solid 3 star read now, but we’ll see. Anywho, this was the gateway book to my obsession with Pern.

Published in the 90s. If Wishes Were Horses by Virginia Vail.

I mean, how the hell can I choose just one? I still have quite a few of my favorite books from the 90s, and most of them are worn down. I have never to this day found anyone else who has heard of this book—please prove me wrong. This book, and also my intro to horror (aside from Scary Stories): the fantastic (and fantastically dated) Blood Moon: The Curse by Connie Laux.

Honorable mentions for this prompt are Alien Secrets by Annette Curtis Klaus, Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein (what a trippy book), Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith (although I didn’t read it until I was in high school), Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, and probably about twenty others I’m forgetting.

Chosen One Trope. The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle.

I mean, can you even call yourself a fantasy horse girl if you don’t love this one? Also, one of the few movies that is just as good if not better than the book.

Main Character on the Cover. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Love it. 10/10, no imperfections. This is the five-star read to destroy all other five star reads. The movie is not great, but it works if you consider it entirely separate from the book. Otherwise, the movie is a complete disappointment.

A Classic. Matilda by Roald Dahl.

Yes, he was a racist, antisemite, but also I still love this book despite its many flaws.

Animal Companion. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry.

I remember loving this book so much as a kid, although I did prefer the Thoroughbred series as my top horse books. Those and The Black Stallion books.

Became My Whole Personality. The Thoroughbred Series: Champion’s Spirit by Joanna Campbell.

I used to own every single one of them up to I think #25 (when I kinda aged out of them, but really the main character at #24 was annoying and the tone completely changed because a new writer took over), but then I lent a couple of them out and never got them back, which is why you never lend your books out unless you plan on making them a gift. But I did cull down to my top three favorites, and while I loved the first few books in the series, I adored Cindy’s books, specifically the ones where she’s coming into her own with Wonder’s Champion. I haven’t read this book since I was about 12, so let’s see how this holds up.

Published in the 00s. Battle Dress by Amy Efaw.

Aka, the rest I tried to join the Naval Academy (that was a mistake) and why I did join the Marine Corps (the results are 50/50 on that one).

Young Adult. The Road Home by Ellen Emerson White.

This was in the “big kids section” of the school library (my elementary school was so small that it was K-8 and only had 90-something kids in all those grades), which was located right underneath the librarian’s desk so we couldn’t sneak them out under her nose and read things we weren’t meant to. But I was her favorite, so I got to read this one in fifth grade. It changed my life, although I haven’t reread it since 2012 so I wonder how my opinion will change. I will definitely see things differently than I did as a child, and I think the depictions of trauma, combat and PTSD will hit harder.

Published in the 80s. Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon.

I don’t want to reread the entire trilogy because books 2 and 3 get weird and religiousy, but I want to return to this book, which I think I last read in college? Definitely in high school. Either way, it’s been over 14 years since I have read this and it used to be one of my most favorite books of all time.

Ensemble Cast. Mossflower by Brian Jacques.

I was just talking about this series with a coworker! Mossflower is the best installment of the series, IMO.

So many horse books!

Will you join this challenge?

4 thoughts on “23 And Me: The Books That Made Me, or Another Reading Challenge I Cannot Resist

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