1. Little Golden Books (Ages 1-10)
For as long as I can remember, I had a shelf full of Little Golden Books to dive into. Before I could read myself, my family read them to me, and once I learned I spent many an hour with a Golden Book in my hand. Later, as I outgrew them, I had the excuse of a little brother to share them with - though admittedly I would still pick up my old favourites when I was alone. Even as a kid I was super nostalgic, never quite ready to let go of past joys.
2. The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin (Ages 8-12)
I first picked up a BSC book in Year 3, but I wasn't immediately hooked (probably because it was a Mallory story), reading the books at various times, in no particular order, as I got them from the library or as gifts over the next couple of years. Then when I was around nine or 10, my mum signed me up for The Babysitters Club Club. I got my very own BSC necklace, and was sent three books a month, in chronological order, starting with Kristy's Great Idea. By the time I got over it a couple of years later, I'd racked up 112 books (not counting doubles or super specials) and countless hours of reading, rereading, watching the show and movie, and trying to start up a BSC of my own (it didn't work out - astonishingly, parents in my neighbourhood weren't quite so eager as those in Stonybrook to leave their kids with 11-year-olds as sitters).
3. Paul Jennings' short story collections (Ages 8-12)
I still have a few of these books lying around at my parents' place, and from the sad state of them - dog-eared pages and missing or torn covers - you might think I neglected them, but in fact it's a sign of how very well-loved they were. I obsessively reread them, spending time assessing each story and ranking them in order from most liked to least, from saddest to happiest and so on (the first stirrings of the book blogger in me?). I was such a nerd, I know, but at the time it didn't seem so bad, coz Jennings' books were so awesome that they were actually considered cool to read. I remember having in-depth discussions (well, as in-depth as nine-year-olds get) with my friends about each story, and competing over who had read the most. Throw in Round the Twist, the show based on the collections, and I spent much of my formative years under the influence of Jennings' twisted mind.
4. Goosebumps by R. L. Stine (Ages 9-12)
Although I wasn't quite as obsessed with Goosebumps as I was with the BSC, I still amassed a considerable collection - in addition to devoting many library visits to the series. I was hooked on the mysteries, thrills and big twist endings, and loved the ghostly ones the most. When the show hit our screens I became addicted to that, too, roping in my poor baby brother to watch it with me. I wonder if this has anything to do with all the nightmares...
5. Series by V. C. Andrews (Ages 11-14)
My auntie introduced me to the joys of V. C. Andrews, first lending me her collection and then starting me off with my own when she gave me the full Flowers in the Attic set for my 11th birthday. Looking back, I'm amazed she encouraged me to read them - they're so trashy, twisted and just a bit naughty - but at the time, of course, I ate them all up. Though I guess I turned out all right, and I'm not gonna lie, I still love them today - for the same trashy, twisted reasons I loved them back then.