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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

AB4T First Encounters: Reader’s Digest

In our continuing series on first encounters with adult literature, here’s a guest post from reviewer Diane Colson:

My mother’s collection of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books was my first library. By third or fourth grade (circa 1965,) I had pretty much read all of the chapter books in our tiny juvenile section at the public library. For some reason, the RDC books had always captured my imagination. They were somber-looking, but colorful. My mother kept them neatly arranged. The first one I chose was entitled, Carol – which was the name of my baby sister born that year. Carol  was about a girl who died of leukemia, written by her father. I could not stop thinking about that book. The fact that a young girl could die. The grief, and religious struggle, of her father. Images like Carol setting her wig on her globe. (I had a globe!) Now I see that Carol was an excerpt from Peter DeVries’s The Blood of the Lamb. It’s fairly sophisticated writing; I wouldn’t recommend it to an eight year-old nowadays. But thank goodness my mother didn’t care. Thank goodness there were no Accelerated Reading Scores or Lexile requirements. I read those RDCBs until I left home, and never had to account for them in any way. 

About Mark Flowers

Mark Flowers is the Young Adult Librarian at the John F. Kennedy Library in Vallejo, CA. He reviews for a variety of library journals and blogs and recently contributed a chapter to The Complete Summer Reading Program Manual: From Planning to Evaluation (YALSA, 2012). Contact him via Twitter @droogmark


  1. Priscille Dando says

    Diane, I remember the same–scanning the spines of what seemed to be like a hundred books and randomly choosing one to hide in the house with. I remember Victoria Holt, Mary Higgins Clark, and Ken Follett. I also could tell these were “adult” and made sure that my mom never saw me with one. I felt such a thrill reading “adult” books!

  2. Jacqueline Pinn says


    This post brought back so many memories. My grandmother loved these books and every time I stayed overnight with her I’d read the newest one from cover to cover, sometimes skipping the books I didn’t like. They were my first introduction to “adult” fiction and non fiction. Thanks for the post!