Monday, May 16, 2011

The Goosebumps Phenomenon

Those of you who went through grade school in the early nineties will no doubt remember the Goosebumps series by R.L.Stine. I don't think there was a single person at my school who at some time didn't pick up one of those books. I ran a library for them out of my desk until the teacher shut me down. (That's the "Man" for ya, always pushing around the little guy) I never understood why the teacher was so opposed to the books, at one point going so far as banning them from class and any reading lists. (Which, by the way, only made them more popular in my opinion, and so, I bite my thumb at you sir!)

Anyway, the thing I wanted to talk about today was just how great a series they were for me at the time. I love fantasy/sci-fi/horror and when I was growing up these books were a huge influence on me. Now, I'm not saying that they were great literature, capable of standing the test of time. But seriously, do you remember how popular they were? I did a little research and discovered that they have sold over 350 million copies worldwide in 35 languages. They were addictive. I remember waiting for the next one and buying it the day it came out, then reading it in that same day. I read many of them over and over again.

I really don't know what could compare with them. Harry Potter was another series that had the popularity, but it was only seven books. We really haven't seen anything like it since then. But what made it so popular? Was it the short format? The subject matter? Or was it simply the right series at the right time?

As for me, the teacher did finally force me to choose something else to read, at least for school reports. In at least one regard I am grateful for that. The teacher had other ideas about what I should read, like Tom Sawyer(yawn) or Indian in the Cupboard(which I liked). But, ever the rebel, I had to branch out and choose something else on my own. Much to the dismay of my teacher that something that I chose was the smash hit Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton. And my reading would never be the same again....

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