Once upon a time, I met a boy. He seemed perfect. He was funny and smart and cute and considerate. I made myself believe that I was in love with him. And I kept going back to him. And he was always there. There to see me through.
Too perfect to be true? Oh, here’s the catch. He was fictional.
Ever since I can remember, I have belonged to that group of people who read books obsessively. I read them, and reread them, and reread them some more. Then, I analyse them, overthink them, come up with alternate endings and pretend to live in that universe.
This is a list of books I first read before I turned 13 that I am never tired of rereading. They’re the cures for every bad day and every dull moment and each has stories piled up in them- their story and my story and memories bursting through yellowing pages and cellotaped covers. And the best bit is, when I grew up and made friends and started discussing books with them, I realized that so many other people read and reread these books too. So the list might be a little personal, and are all English books, but we hope you like them too, and that you feel the same way about them as I do.
Here it is, 10 children’s books you can never get tired of:
I don’t know how old I was when I read this for the first time but this fairy tale has remained a favourite ever since. I keep reading it- it was the first time I had encountered the word ‘curious’ and I feel that half the reason I like the story so much is because it literally taught me how to spell the word that defines me most, i.e., curious. It also has a badass protagonist who messes with the minds of the nobility and is capable of getting his own way more often than not. (Except that one time….)
2. Beatrix Potter:
Peter Rabbit was the best story ever. All of Beatrix Potter’s stories are extremely delightful but Peter Rabbit completely takes the cake. It had the most adorable character ever, it has beautiful illustrations and a very vivid picture of the English countryside.
3. Malory Towers/St. Clare’s/Naughtiest Girl:
Well, any of them at any point of time is always amazing fun- midnight treats and French teachers and all. So I’m not going to pick any one; the entire genre of school stories has material enough for every dreary night. Because you can never get tired of Bobby’s pranks, and Claudine’s escapades and Gwendoline Mary Lacey’s whining. And Julian and Patrick from the Naughtiest Girl. (Officially the hottest guys Enid Blyton wrote about.)
Roald Dahl’s stories are all memorable and full of witticisms that are so easy to miss as a child. You can choose to put Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on this list, or Boy or whichever one, but I think I read Matilda the most number of times- mostly because of all the books she read (*nerd alert*). But also because it was hilarious and who doesn’t like a story of a genius who defeated the evil giant?
5. The Secret Garden:
Because a suffering-from-colonial-hangover kind of child just has to love a story where the protagonist leaves the cholera and snakes of India to return to a Edenic garden somewhere in England. Because Colin, Mary and Dickon were the coolest characters imaginable. Because I will never not feel a thrill when Mary roams around the halls at night trying to find the source of the crying. Because there is nothing like this happy ending.
6. Alice in Wonderland:
You have got to be a little crazy if you tire of the Mad Hatter. Or the Cheshire Cat. Or the Queen of Hearts. Or anything else in Wonderland. The rabbit-hole was such a wonderful introduction to a land of dreams and fantasies and the imagination, and one never minds returning to visit.
7. The 3 Investigators:
So this is a personal choice because I love Jupe, but I mean the entire genre of detective fiction, involving teenagers was pretty exciting. Nancy Drew was cool, The Hardy Boys had all these international, world-changing cases but Jupe, Pete and Bob won my heart, what with their secret passages and passwords and Uncle Titus’ junkyard (and the limousine helped). I can still read the mysteries over and over again, in spite of knowing exactly how the case is solved.
8. Anne of Green Gables:
So I’m cheating a bit to put this in. I first read Anne of Green Gables when I was 8 or 9. I had borrowed it from a friend and I think I read it cover to cover at least 10 times in one week before I returned the book. Anne was…. Anne was my heroine. She was confident, and smart and funny and capable and she wasn’t perfect. She dyed her red hair green and broke slates on people’s heads and almost drowned while trying to enact the Lady of Shallot but she also won scholarships for English and made everyone love her and had Gilbert Blythe wrapped around her little finger. I went on to read all the sequels, I bought them and read them many times but I never went back to read the first Anne book. It’s been over 10 years now and while I read fanfiction like a fanatic and think more about Gilbert than I should, I have never reread Anne. I am too scared to. I am scared for the 8 year old in me, and the 8 year old I once was. But the story is too much a part of me now.
9. Enid Blyton Mysteries:
Who can resist Fatty’s arrogance? Or George’s and Timmy’s stubbornness? Or the meetings in the garden shed that the Secret Seven held? And who can resist reaching out for these books, just to pass time and curl up with on cold winter evenings when you’re alone and depressed?
10. Harry Potter:
If you tire of Harry, Ron and Hermione, there’s something wrong with you. If you don’t sometimes get an insane craving to read about the marauders, you are well, sane and I envy you. If Hogwarts isn’t the cure for your depression, I wonder what works. And personally, I can never get enough of Sirius.
Do you agree with the list? Or do you have more to add to this? The ones that closely lost out, as far as I can tell… were Little Women, What Katy Did, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh. Because these books were constant companions, because they showed you the path to Neverland (much before Johnny Depp came along) and because they are cheaper and more healthy than antidepressants.
Now, if you shall excuse me, I must go reread some books.
By Shreemayee Das