When I was a child, I discovered the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ series. The first one I picked up was #54, Magic of the Unicorn, and I couldn’t put it down. The series tells the story with the reader as the main character, and every few pages you get to choose between two or more options – if you choose A, go to this page; if you choose B, go to this page. Some of them lead to some rather unpleasant endings, but it was fascinating nonetheless. After a few rounds of abrupt endings and frantic backtracking, I developed a stack of numbered slips that I used in place of bookmarks, so I could find each crossroad easily.
I also went on a mission to complete my collection – I just had to get them all, starting with the 53 books preceding my much-loved #54, which I proudly announced to my mother that “it’s really good, you should read it”.
There were so many to choose from, with fantastic titles like The Forbidden Castle, Secret of the Ninja, The Case of the Silk King, Forest of Fear, Trumpet of Terror….
The only problem was the books cost RM3.95 each, and I could get through a title in under two hours. So after my mom’s exasperation over repeated requests for funds, I resorted to volunteering for extra chores around the house, to supplement my savings and weekly allowance.
After all the hard work of washing cars and bathrooms, scrubbing grungy walls and the front porch, that collection was very precious to me. After all, I had to earn it, and heaven help anyone who lost one.
To ensure this would never happen, I got a file and listed down each title in my collection. If anyone wanted to borrow a book, I would note their name and the date on which the book left my care. I felt quite certain that, this way, I would never lose a single one.
Naturally, it had to happen. A classmate borrowed a book from the series and repeatedly forgot to return it, before admitting that she’d lost it. She paid me back for it of course (at least, I think she did), and the memory of how upset I was made this blog posting by the Boston Book Bums all the more hilarious for me.
Today, my collection proudly stands at more than 50 titles – although the collection went into the 100s, it was difficult finding some of the older books, and the cost of the books kept rising – from my first book at RM3.95, it soon went on to become RM4.50, then RM4.95 and so on until the price doubled and at that point I sadly admitted to myself that an era had ended.
Yellowed, dog-eared, cellophane-taped and even annotated, I love them still and bring them out for an occasional read after 25 years.
I recently discovered a few copies in Borders, and it gave me such a thrill to see them! Check out the series at the official Choose Your Own Adventure website.