Welcome to another edition of Top 5 Fridays! Today, I'm going to list off my personal all-time favorite adventure books, and by adventure books, I mean those type of books that dominated the school book fairs in the 1980's that allowed you to attempt to successfully navigate to the end of the story through a series of tough choices, challenging puzzles, or to-the-death battles against nefarious foes.
Most people generally refer to these books as "Choose You Own Adventure" books, but that's actually a brand name of these types of books, and not my favorite one, either.
Now, I'm not listing my exact favorite single books, but rather my favorite book series. Trying to decide which actual single books were my favorites could make my brain explode. Now...
To read this week's Top 5 Friday's list, turn to page 127.
Just kidding, the list is below...
The main reason the ZORK series of adventure books makes the list is because these were my firsts. I picked up the first two ZORK books in 5th grade at our school book fair just because the covers looked cool and the illustrations inside looked like something I wanted to copy. Little did I know that when I would start to read the first one, a life-long love affair would blossom. I must have read that first one 5 or 6 times before I got to the end. It was amazing. I picked up the second book and through luck and careful thinking, I finished it on the first go. But then I just went back to page one and read through it again to see how many different ways I could die.
2. Fighting Fantasy
Around Christmastime in 7th grade, I would stumble onto a few of the Fighting Fantasy books in a mall bookstore during a family outing. I remember that I was with my older brother and he got stuck watching me while my parents did some last minute Christmas shopping. When I spotted the books and snatched them up immediately and told him I was going to buy them. He told me that mom and dad are gonna make me wait to get them for Christmas, but I countered with the fact that I had birthday cash in my pocket. He couldn't argue with that. I bought all four books that I found right then and there.
The Fighting Fantasy books are miles ahead in creepiness, violence and clever twists. I remember staying up late that Christmas Eve, not waiting for Santa (come on, I was in 7th grade), but because I was eyeballs deep into Deathtrap Dungeon.
3. Lone Wolf
The Lone Wolf series makes the list because they were the last adventure books that I read in 9th grade (and even then, in private, lest they be seen as too uncool). The were also my favorites in terms of their more complex fighting system (you actually needed dice!) and the fact that you took what you found in the first book into the second book and so one, growing as a character.
I would pick these books up again in my early 20s out of nostalgia and end up going through the first 10 books in a fury of swashbuckling adventure. My girlfriend at the time thought I was nuts. So I dumped her.
And that made me a true... Lone Wolf.
4. The Conan Endless Quest Series
The Endless Quest books from TSR are probably the second most well-known adventure books next to Fighting Fantasy. They put out a gazillion of these books, but I never really liked them much because they were often way too short. I could kill one in about two hours, and then I was out $2.25 with nothing to do.
But the three Conan books put out in this series was a different matter. Yes, they too were short and quickly read, but they were all about Conan, which, to the 7th grade version of me was about the coolest thing in the universe. I read and re-read these books over and over again, often while sitting in front of my stereo playing the soundtrack to Conan the Barbarian on cassette.
Those are some of my fondest memories as an adventure book lover.
5. Middle Earth Quest
This series is one that was a relatively recent discovery for me. I stumbled onto these a few years ago, when my desire to try and re-collect adventure books kicked back in. I ended up taking one of these books with me on a relaxing week long vacation to Arizona a while back and ended up loving it. The fighting system was complex (yet fun), it came with a tiny detailed map that you had to use to navigate through the Tolkein countyside, and you could even suffer poisonings, wounds and other such maladies that would tick points from your character sheet over time if not dealt with.
These are truly gems of the adventure book world and I only wish I had discovered them in middle school, where they probably would have ended up as my absolute favorites.
Honorable Mention: The Way of the Tiger
I also discovered these rather recently while searching online for adventure books on day. I had never seen any of these before and immediately went on a search for them. I could practically hear my 7th grade self screaming, Why didn't I find these back then?! They would have been so right up my alley!
Finding them proved harder than I thought, until one day on a trip to a Goodwill, I just happen to find two of them in their sci-fi books section.
I immediately read them and reveled in their ninja-ness. They're tons of fun and my inner 7th grader is right, they were totally up his alley.
Thanks for reading gang! Keep your eyes peeled for another edition of Top 5 Fridays coming soon!