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  • Writer's picturePJ Gardner Switzer

The Books That Made Me: PJ Gardner Switzer

Books are the foundation of my life. I fell in love with them early and they’ve remained a steady passion since. One of my clearest memories from childhood is laying on the bed next to my abuela while she read Cashelmara by Susan Howatch and I read Little Bear and Frog and Toad. I was so proud that I could read by myself. It was empowering and magical at the same time.

With that in mind I’m introducing a blog series where authors, agents, and editors share the books that are their foundation. It’s called:


I’ll go first.

The books that made me love reading

I mentioned a few of them earlier—the Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik with illustrations by Maurice Sendak and the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. I absolutely delighted in the characters and the stories.

Then came Nate the Great, which inspired a lifelong love for mysteries.

Anything by Judy Blume, but especially Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I must have read that book a dozen times. I was sort of obsessed with getting my period and that was the only book that talked about it.

And, of course, all the books of poetry by Shel Silverstein. My favorite poem being “listen to the mustn’ts,” although “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, Too” is up there as well. Oh, how does one pick from so many masterpieces?

The books that made me want to write

Each of these books held me captive with the beauty of the writing and the magic of the story. They so completely enthralled me that I’ve never been able to reread any of them for fear of losing that alchemy.

The books that made me laugh out loud

The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. No kidding this series is one of the funniest I’ve ever read. There is at least one laugh out loud moment in every book, usually more than just laughing, though.

True story, I was once on an airplane reading Finger Lickin’ Fifteen when I came across a scene so hilarious that I was literally doubled over, gasping for breath. My husband threatened to take away the book because he was certain the flight crew was going to think I was having some kind of fit and lock me up in a straightjacket.

The books that made me excited to read them right now

Again, how do I choose? Well for sure, I’m excited about the YA novel, The Gilded Ones, by Namina Forna. Personally, I think it’s a must read for everyone, but especially for people interested in fighting the patriarchy. Namina does an amazing job creating a fantasy world that feels real and characters that are instantly relatable.

I’m also super excited to get my hands on Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson. I loved An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns so this book is an auto-TBR.

Switching to Middle Grade I’m just diving into Tips for Magicians by Celesta Rimington. I read an early draft of it, and I can’t wait to see how she developed the story and characters.

That wraps up my first round at THE BOOKS THAT MADE ME. I look forward to hearing about the the books that made you in the comments!


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