The year was 1997. A lot of other important stuff happened that year, sure, but for me 1997 was basically THIS:
"Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!"
(Ten points to Gryffindor if you name the speaker in the comments)
Here's my own throwback picture, courtesy of the Hastings Middle School spelling bee. (Now that I think of it, this picture was actually early 1998, but let's just roll with it.)
"All true grammar ninjas start out as spelling ninjas." ~Jet Li
Here's what I was reading in 1997!
This is a great adventure mystery -- imaginative, dark, and extremely well-written. Set in the year 2194 in Zimbabwe (exotic in both time and place to my suburban Ohio self), The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm is the story of the three children of a powerful Zimbabwean general who run away out of boredom, but are immediately kidnapped. They begin a journey from the bottom of the city all the way to the top (literally: the climax of the story occurs in a swaying, mile-high skyscraper), and they are pursued by three detectives with semi-superpowers: the Ear (with extraordinary hearing), the Eye (with extraordinary sight), and the Arm (with empathic/psychic powers). I must have re-read it eight times, because there were so many layers to connect, so many sub-stories among the numerous characters, and so much rich detail of different cultures and places. I recommend it for any middle grade reader, and since it's set in 2194, it won't be out of date for another 180 years!
For some reason, it never bothered me that there was a corpse on the cover of this book. Go figure. But this is a murder mystery made accessible to younger readers without losing any of the puzzling intrigue and esoteric clues of a classic whodunit. Paper products magnate Samuel Westing is found dead, and his last will and testament, read to his "heirs" -- a seemingly random group of people invited to live in an exclusive apartment building -- insists that he was murdered by one of them. I remember taking notes on this book, trying to piece together all the clues and solve the mystery, so maybe that's why I remember it so well. Or maybe it's just a REEEEALLLY good book.
Sure, I read more "scholarly" things in 1997, but I couldn't leave out this classic series. Part of me wished I lived in Stoneybrook, Connecticut, just so I could be a member of the BSC. Not only did this series inspire me as a budding babysitter, but also it showed me the value of writing from multiple points of view. I hadn't previously thought about how stories could be told by multiple characters, and the multi-narrator structure of these books gave me new insight as both a reader and a writer.
Plus, Mary-Anne-plus-Logan was the first fictional romance for which I was an official 'shipper (should we call them Loganne?). Twilight's Bella and Edward, be darned...
LOGAN & MARY ANNE FOREVER!
Now tell me, what were YOU reading in 1997? And who were your first fictional romance characters?