Anyone remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? I do! Well, to be more exact – I did. Then I forgot. And then I was just now reminded again.
These awesome books had come up in a conversation I was having with Shawn sometime in the beginning of the year. I was basically asking him if he had read them, saying how much I loved reading them as a kid and how they were hard to find nowadays; and I didn’t really see them in bookstores anymore. But this was just a little passing topic in daily chit-chat between Shawn & I, so I completely forgot about them and made no attempt to look for them, probably because I figured they just simply did not publish them any longer.
Fast forward to last week when I went to San Francisco to visit Shawn; as part of my birthday gift he presented a box set of the first original 6 Choose Your Own Adventure books! I was totally not expecting them! Especially since I had a.) forgotten about that convo and b.) thought it was out-of-print. (And Shawn is awesome for actually remembering that small detail!! 😉 These were apparently not easy to get. Soon after our convo about the books, Shawn had emailed the publishing company, Chooseco, to see how he could obtain the first set of CYOA books. At first they had been out-of-stock. But after a couple of more email exchanges, they informed Shawn that there was a box set of books 1 though 6 set to be released in June.
A little history on the books: Choose Your Own Adventure books are a series of children’s gamebooks, originally published by Bantam Books, and currently being re-published by Chooseco. The collection consists of 185 books spanning over the course of 19 years (1979 – 1998.) Mostly written by Edward Packard and R.A. Montgomery (there were several other authors over the years as well). The format of the book is that each one is written in a 2nd person point of view, with the reader assuming the role as the main character. So it feels to the reader as if they are actually involved in the storyline and making all the decisions that determine the main character’s actions in response to the plot the the story’s eventual outcome. Each book had probably about 20+ possible endings.
The moment I opened up the box set of books I felt like it was 1989 again! The titles came rushing back and I clearly remembered 3 of those 6 books being my favorites and always having them checked out of the school library. I can now very clearly remember “Journey Under the Sea” being the one I read the most (which is kind of funny now since I am not a particularly active swimmer, nor did I ever end up going diving as an adult. And what makes this even more funny is that Shawn is actually a scuba dive minor.) What was amazing though was the clearly detailed memory the books triggered – rushing to the shelf after library class’s story time was over, to where that book was. The hardness of the cover. The clear plastic protective library wrap around it, wearing out at the corners. The call number sticker on its spine, yellowing from age. The detailed black ink illustrations. Walking happily and proudly to the librarian’s desk with the book in my hand to check it out. The smallness of the book and how it fit perfectly into my backpack’s front zipper pocket (and i mean perfectly! as if it was meant to be in my bag) and into my hands. I actually remember my 9 year old self treasuring this book and always making sure it was snug into that backpack zipper pocket where no one else could get it. That book was mine. I loved it, I wanted to read it. No one would probably appreciate it as much as me. And during recess or lunch or after school, it was in my hands, transporting me into another world, another time. One where the possibilities and endings were endless. There were no mistakes because if you didn’t like it, all you had to do was go back to page 1. Easy.
To see a complete list go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Choose_Your_Own_Adventure_books