When I went to summer camp in the 1990s, Twilight and The Hunger Games hadn’t hit yet. So what the heck were teen girls passing around the cabin back then? Allow me to share my own collection, dog-eared and well-loved by hormonal, melodramatic teenage me.
Before Team Jacob and Team Edward, I was debating between George and Jonathan in Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series, in which a young female knight chooses between a prince and a master thief (as a kid, I preferred the prince, to the shock of my friends — and as an adult, I admit they were right). Then there were the deliciously trashy stylings of V.C. Andrews, best known for Flowers in the Attic, a thriller about kidnapping, child abuse, and incest. These were the sorts of books that I packed in my trunk and hauled with me to overnight camp — where I’d trade them with other girls for their own romance novels, or find more in the camp lending library.
The library at my camp included some seriously steamy adult fiction, some of which was not even remotely age-appropriate, let alone well-written. Thanks to overnight camp, I read all of My Secret Life, an anonymous memoir about a Victorian man’s sexual escapades in brothels and similar venues. That’s not going to be on this list! Back in those days, I read a lot of other great books with romantic stories that I still recommend to today’s teens. Let’s turn back the clock, shall we?