Secret path books are on our minds of late. We enjoyed them as kids looking for literary adventure, when not re-reading one of Brian Jacques’ books (like Mariel of Redwall).
So, we’re doing a homage! As we can’t remember specifically the ones we did read. But have fond memories of the early 1990s and choosing our adventure!
What are Choose Your Own Adventure Books?
They’re novels written from a second-person perspective, allowing the reader to “become” the protagonist, make decisions, and choose the path of the story.
Edward Packard created the idea and wrote over 50 books using the concept. He had all the usual issues getting his work published.
Various manuscripts in different guises were rejected around 1970 and onward. He even gave up for several years.
But in 1975, he convinced small publisher Raymond Almiran Montgomery Jr. (1936-2014) to print the first work. And it was a minor hit.
Montgomery Jr. then was able to convince a bigger publisher to take on the works. He and Packard then took over writing duties.
Montgomery Jr. wrote the Sugarcane Islands series from 1976 onward. As with Packard, he also ended up writing over 50 books for the series.
It was all a big hit, which led to the gamebook genre geeks now know and love.
Looking at the official site, Montgomery Jr’s The Abominable Snowman remains the bestseller. It has 28 possible endings. By Jove!
How Secret Path Books Work
Right, the series was aimed at young kids through to teenagers. Usually young lads. But dames were welcome to read, too. The process is then like this:
- As the reader, your become the protagonist for a respective adventure. Usually you’re a detective, mountaineer, spy, or race driver.
- After reader for a few pages/a chapter, you’re presented with several options—separate paths to take in the narrative journey.
- When you decide which route to take, you skip ahead to the indicated page and continue the story.
So, each read offers different outcomes. Depending on what you choose. You can see why kids would like this stuff, eh?
The original series ran from the 1970s through to 1998. But the genre is still in action and has a cult follow. It’s associated enormously with geekdom, of course.
Choose Your Own Memories
Now, being really pedantic sods, there’s a bit of tautology in the genre. It’s Choose Your Adventure Books. Yes? See how clever (i.e. annoying) we are!
Anyway, we remember having several of these as kids. But we can’t remember the names of which ones, unfortunately. We just remember enjoying the concept.
As a kid, making that decision in the story was pretty awe-inspiring. It’s your decision, so it carries significant weight with it.
So, highly recommended if you have kids—or know someone with kids and want to hand out a unique reading gift to them.
As these things can make for some engaging old memories, you know?