Spotlight: The First Book We Fell In Love With


Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the River Forest Public Library staff have put together a nostalgic list of the books that we first fell in love with. These are the books that hooked us into reading!

Review the list for any that you yourself remember reading and enjoying. Pick up one of these classics again for some light reading.

We encourage you to share these titles with your friends and loved ones – especially those people who have yet to discover their own love of reading!

Watership Down by Richard Adams

  • Who Loves It? Fran

watership downSet in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society. – publisher summary

Here’s what Fran had to say about the book: “I think I was a pre-teen when I read this and was living in England at the time. I remember it brought me to tears. A beautiful book for young readers that has a lot of surprising lessons, considering it’s about rabbits. I think an adult would enjoy it too”

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Who Loves It? Dana

littlehouseinthebigwoodsA year in the life of two young girls growing up on the Wisconsin frontier, as they help their mother with the daily chores, enjoy their father’s stories and singing, and share special occasions when they get together with relatives or neighbors. – swan summary

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

  • Who Loves It? Kim and Sara

littlehouseontheprairieA family travels from the big woods of Wisconsin to a new home on the prairie, where they build a house, meet neighboring Indians, build a well, and fight a prairie fire. – swan summary

Kim says, “The Little House on the Prairie Books were the first books I consciously chose to own and cherish.  From 1971, when the yellow paperbacks first were published, I was hooked on reading!”

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  • Who Loves It? Mary Ann

Wuthering HeightsPublished a year before her death at the age of thirty, Emily Bronte’s only novel is set in the wild, bleak Yorkshire Moors. Depicting the relationship of Cathy and Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights creates a world of its own, conceived with an instinct for poetry and for the dark depths of human psychology. -publisher summary

What Mary Ann has to say about it: “All through high school, on the last day of school, I went to the library to check it out.  It was the ritual that signaled summer. —The ghost at the window, the brutality,  “I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” …opening the grave to lie with Catherine’s corpse!…“I am Heathcliff.” ”

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

  • Who Loves It? Blaise and Sara

anne of green gablesAnne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her. – swan summary

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  • Who Loves It? Genna

little women“The quintessential American family story, Little Women captured readers’ hearts right from the start. A bestseller from the time it was originally published in 1868, it is the story of the four March sisters: Meg, Beth, Jo, and Amy.” – publisher summary

Here’s what Genna says about the book: “Since I don’t have any sisters of my own, the March sisters and their relationships and antics really resonated with me and fulfilled that missing part of my childhood.”

The Things They Carried  by Tim O’Brien

  • Who Loves It? Victoria

thethingstheycarriedA classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and the character Tim O’Brien, who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. – publisher summary


Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

  • Who Loves It? Victoria

fruits basket“Tohru Honda is an orphaned teenager who comes to live with the Sohma family in exchange for housekeeping duties, but she soon comes to know the family secret.”- novelist description

This is printed manga style, and it is read from right to left. There are 23 volumes of the book. “The 136 chapters of Fruits Basket were originally serialized in Japan . . . from July 1998 to November 2006. These were collected in 23 tankōbon volumes. . .” – Wikipedia

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

  • Who Loves It? Ellen

allofakindfamilyIt’s the turn of the century in New York’s Lower East Side and a sense of adventure and excitement abounds for five young sisters — Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie. Follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor, or explore the basement warehouse of Papa’s peddler’s shop on rainy days. The five girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises. But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all! – summary from Novelist

Ellen says: “I found New York and the Jewish culture references fascinating and I was one of 5 sisters as well.”

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

  • Who Loves It? Sue

winnethepoohThe adventures of Christopher Robin and his friends, in which Pooh Bear uses a balloon to get honey, Piglet meets a Heffalump, and Eeyore has a birthday.

Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

  • Who Loves It? Katie

kristysgreatideaThis is the first book in the series that was published between 1986- 2000. The first 35 were written by Ann M. Martin but the others were ghost-written.

The first book follows the adventures of Kristy and the other members of the Baby-sitters Club as they deal with crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who do not always tell the truth. – swan summary 

The novel was also adapted into a graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier.

American Girl series

  • Who Loves It? Katie

meetsamanthameetfelicityThese series of books were published to tell the stories of the popular dolls of the same name. American Girl books told the stories from the perspective of the girls, and each girl lived in a different time period in history. The dolls were first released in 1986.

Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W. Eckhert

  • Who Loves It? Ted

hawkshillA shy, lonely six-year-old wanders into the Canadian prairie and spends a summer under the protection of a badger. – swan summary.

1972 Nominated Newbery Medal

When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne and Now We Are Six 

  • Who Loves It? Dorothy

nowwearesixwhenwewereveryyoungA collection of poems reflecting the experiences of a little English boy growing up in the early part of the twentieth century. The books are companions. – swan summary

Dorothy says: “these are the first books I remember reading!”

Alanna by Tamora Pierce

  • Who Loves It? Katie

alanna“Eleven-year-old Alanna, who aspires to be a knight even though she is a girl, disguises herself as a boy to become a royal page, learning many hard lessons along her path to high adventure.” – swan summary

Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly

  • Who Loves It? Margaret

seventeenthsummerSeventeen-year-old Angie, living with her family in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, finds herself in love for the first time the summer after high school graduation. – swan summary

Margaret says: “this one really grabbed my attention as a younger reader!”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  • Who Loves It? Margaret

prideandprejudice“Spirited Elizabeth Bennet is one of a family of five daughters, and with no male heir, the Bennet estate must someday pass to their priggish cousin William Collins. Therefore, the girls must marry well–and thus is launched the story of Elizabeth and the arrogant bachelor Mr. Darcy, in a novel renowned as the epitome of romance and wit.” – publisher summary

Margaret says: “This is the book that made me into a reader.”

American Short Stories

  • Who Loves it? Kim

classicshortstoriesKim says: “The first book that made me really fall in love with the study of literature was a collection called American Short Stories that I purchased second hand  in 1977.  I started with “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and kept going until the then-present day work of John Updike. I still reread these books often.”

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

  • Who Loves it? Dorothy

harrietthespyEleven-year-old Harriet keeps notes on her classmates and neighbors in a secret notebook, but when some of the students read the notebook, they seek revenge. – swan summary

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  • Who Loves It? Anna

alittleprincessSara Crewe, a pupil at Miss Minchin’s London School, is left in poverty when her father dies, but is later rescued by a mysterious benefactor. – swan summary

Mandie and the Secret Tunnel by Lois Gladys Leppard

  • Who Loves It? Anna

mandieandthesecrettunnelIn 1900, Mandie is searching her dead uncle’s mansion for a missing will when she finds a secret tunnel and strangers who claim to be her relatives. – swan summary

Anna says: “I used to read this series all the time! This is the first book in the series.”

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene

  • Who Loves It? Sophia

nancydrewhiddenstaircaseTeenage detective Nancy Drew uses her courage and powers of deduction to solve the mysterious happenings in an old stone mansion.

Sophia says: “The entire series of Nancy Drew books was republished in the 60’s. I read this when I was in second grade and was hooked. I could not wait for my mom to bring home all of Nancy’s adventures,  and there were lots of them. My love of reading grew as I learned to read better and more confidently, all the while living vicariously through Nancy’s adventures of courage and smarts!”