After going through several Bobbsey Twins novels, I decided to check out, quite naturally, The Hardy Boys. My Hardy Boys phase lasted only for about a year, as I found the novels too formulaic for my taste and lacking the fun and zest of The Bobbsey Twins. I wasn't even a fan of that short-lived eponymous TV series. Come to think of it, I can't even recall the names of the two Hardy boys. As for Nancy Drew, I guess it was just out of the question. My classmates and I thought that a boy reading Nancy Drew would turn out to be a sissy or, more appropriately, a nancy.
The next books I would go crazy about were the Choose Your Own Adventure series, which I discovered when I was 11 in a bookstore. I recall that my mother was checking out the romance section, so I was left to wander in the bookstore by myself. I found myself in the children's section and picked up a novel entitled Choose Your Own Adventure: The Cave of Time. Several minutes later, my mother would come looking for me (worried no doubt). She found me sitting on the floor and enthralled with the book. We left the bookstore with my mother's romance novel and my very first Choose Your Own Adventure book.
I think I read and reread that book for the next few days. It was too compelling for my 11-year-old brain. I decided to check if my school library had the titles and found out that it did not. The fiction section of my school library comprised mostly of fairy tales, young adult detective novels, and stories from the bible (I went to a Catholic school). Nevertheless, I still scoured every inch of the library just to check if there were really no Choose Your Own Adventure in it. I didn't even bother to check the card catalog, since the shelves with all those index cards somehow intimidated me.
Much as I pleaded with my parents to buy me another CYOA book, they just wouldn't. They told me I had to save my allowance to buy those. Since I wanted to get my CYOA fix, I starved myself, forgoing my daily snack of Coke and chips just to save money. I remember that one CYOA book was about the same as my allowance for a week. Yet, I did end up saving enough money to buy two more CYOAs; I forget how long it took me though. I also had another set of resources -- my aunts and uncles who would willingly hand me money if I ask for it.
In a way, my book buying frenzy started with the Choose Your Own Adventure series. I loved the idea that I somehow controlled how the book will end. They're my first exposure to non-linear storytelling. These books are the only books that I've reread several times. (I don't reread my books; I think there's just too much out there that I haven't read yet.) When I turned 13, I would have about 20 CYOA books. Sadly, I misplaced these books when we moved in 1987. I would also lose my Star Wars action figures (all 14 of them, including my favorite Bib Fortuna) and my Lego.
Last time I checked, the Choose Your Own Adventure series is now out of print. I really wanted to get my hands on a couple, even though they may be repackaged and updated.