Between the Pages

I’ve always been a reader. From the time I was an infant, my parents read me books, and for years, my mom and I had a nightly ritual of her reading to me. (And once I learned to read to myself, my insatiable curiosity for wanting to know “what happened next” would have me pulling the book out and reading ahead, and then putting it back for the next night. Not sure if you knew i did that, Mom. ;) And I never got in trouble for doing things like sneaking out to party or staying out too late. No, I got in trouble for sneaking into my closet and staying up late on a school night to read.)

And of course, most of my favorite books involved revolved around horses.

I grew up on Marguerite Henry’s “Misty” books…as well as all of the others she wrote. (Blame King of the Wind for why I love Arabians.) And yes, I also got to go to every little horse girl’s dream vacation destination: Chincoteague.

Despite being a voracious reader, I have a confession to make: I don’t love what is considered “classic” literature. (I fussed and grumbled all throughout high school about having to read things like Dickens, much to my classics-loving best friend’s horror.) My “intellectual guilty pleasure”? Teen/Young Adult fiction. (Not Twilight. It still has to be well-written for me to like it.)

I read just about every YA horse-themed series I could get my hands on, from elementary school all the way through high school, and the only reason I’m not still immersed in them is that I needed more shelf space, so they all sit in boxes in a storage unit, waiting for the day I have an entire room I can convert into a library.

I also re-read, so am loathe to ever get rid of a book unless I really didn’t like it.

At this point, I don’t even remember how many different books/series I read through. Trying to work as best I can off of memory (and Amazon searches) without having to go down to aforementioned storage unit and unearth all those boxes…

My main requisites in what I wanted to read were books that were horse-centric, and the challenges/obstacles/drama presented needed to revovle around the horses…not just “standard issue teenage girl drama that happens to take place in a barn.” (Had enough of that IRL, thank you. I was a pre-teen/teenage girl riding in a competitive show barn. Drama happened.)

I went through the entire Black Stallion series during my lunch hour time my sophomore year of high school (best friend and I didn’t share a lunch hour that year, so I hid out in the library and read).

The Saddle Club series was high up on my list of favorites, and I don’t even know how many of those books I have. (Safe to say, a good part of the series.) This is one series I would like to go back and re-read from an adult perspective…and likely get a good chuckle. Although it’s interesting to see what book memories stay with you — as the series went on, the author started having the girls branch out and dabble in other horse sports, one of which was endurance riding, and a whole book was devoted to their attempt at a 50-miler. I really should pull that particular book out and see how unrealistic it really was. (Although I would have read that book at a time when endurance riding wasn’t even on my radar as a potential sport, so maybe blame it for subconsciously influencing me?)

Author Lauraine Snelling wrote two series that I read: High Hurdles and The Golden Filly. More unusually, they were actually young adult Christian fiction…that revolved around horses. As someone with a Christian upbringing, even at that age, what I appreciated about her books was she was able to share the message without it being too preachy or sanctimonious. Golden Filly was my favorite of the two series, as I had a fascination with the Thoroughbred racing world, largely due to…

My hands-down favorite YA fiction series was the Thoroughbred series. They were one of the first YA fiction series I started reading, and they grabbed me right from the beginning. (Probably largely due to the fact the main character and I shared the same name, albeit a different spelling.) I was about the same age when I started reading these books as the main character (Ashleigh) at the start of the series, and it took no imagination at all for me to become her when I was reading.

This was the last series I eventually stopped buying new books from…I think somewhere around book 60 or so? The series went for 72 books, plus a handful of special editions and a couple of spin-off series. While they’re out of print now, there’s a part of me that wants to grab those last dozen or so books and give them a read-through, just so I can say I read/own the complete series.  However…that will necessitate going down to storage and actually pulling those book boxes, since I don’t remember exactly where I left off, and while some of the book descriptions sound familiar, it’s been long enough that I just can’t be sure if I actually read them or am imagining it.

(Actually, I might go retrieve those books after all…writing this has made me nostalgic, especially for the first dozen+ books of the series, which were written by the original author before she handed over the reins to other authors after book 15. The original ones are still the best.)

These days, I still have my nose buried in a book, and I still stay up too late, trying to finish one last chapter…

11 thoughts on “Between the Pages

  1. I loved the Thoroughbred series, especially the early ones. I don’t find a lot of good adult horse books, so I mostly read fantasy, romance, and YA. I read a lot: usually 2-5 books a week.

    • I have basically given up on finding good, realistic, adult horse books…probably why I’ve kept my YA ones around. I’ve currently got a mix of mysteries, spy intrigue, and fantasy floating around on my shelves.

  2. Sara Gruen’s horse books are great and realistic! Laura Crum’s mystery series about a vet is good also. I confess I read the end to see if the horse dies or not. I really hate the troupe of teaching about death by killing off the horse…

    • I desperately wanted to love Sara Gruen’s horse books, and the horse parts were okay, but the main character would not stop whining!!! At my barn, that much self-pity earns people a fast forced drop into a water tank. Gahh.

  3. I loved the Thoroughbred series as well and didn’t know that she changed authors. I liked the early books way better and gave up once things went down hill a bit.

    I adore reading, but have found little time or energy to devote to it. I really enjoy the classics and have steadily worked through a list of the 100 top books in the last century (some were awesome others were horrific). I find myself listening to podcasts more these days as I can multi task while doing that and am too tired by the end of the day to actually find energy to read something.

    • I think book 14 or 15 was the last one by the original author, and I don’t know know how many different ones ended up contributing to the rest of the books…but I totally agree, the earlier ones are the absolute best.

      I really need to look into more podcasts…I had tried audiobooks, but my imagination actually gets in the way (I “hear” characters voices in my head as I’m reading, and have my own idea of how they should sound, so audiobooks really messes with that).

  4. I just re-listened to Maggie Stiefvater’s book Scorpio Races. Excellent horse stuff, plus magic and a teeny bit of romance. Loved the book, REALLY loved the audiobook.!

  5. There’s a mustang-based YA series by Terri Farley (actually not related to Walter), very akin to the Black Stallion series. I borrowed them all one summer from my local library. They’re fast, easy, mostly fun reads:
    http://www.terrifarley.com/books.shtml

    Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James was a favorite when I was younger. My mom just pulled a box from her storage and sent me home with it a few months ago. I really should dig that up and read it again.

    An adult one I just picked up at the library is The Eighty-Dollar Champion, hopefully I’ll enjoy that one.

  6. SMOKY THE COWHORSE… OMG I just saw that comment above and a flash of memories I didn’t know I had whizzed through my head!

    So…it goes without saying…I was an avid reader of books such as all of these, as well. Had to have horses and no drama with people. I ate. Them. Up. I’ve repurposed a lot of mine to other kids now as I just didn’t see myself going back to read many of them. Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry still have shelf-space though – especially as some of those were my dad’s childhood copies from when he and his siblings went through their horse-phase (which was a true and fast-ending phase!)

    <3 books. <3 horses. <3 YA fiction.

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