My Autobiography: Famous Five & Secret Seven – My favorite storybooks during school days

Books (nature)

Picture: Biopics. Published under this creative commons license.

My first brush with a novel/story-book was when I was in my sixth standard. My dad was going to the library and he suddenly asked me if I wanted any book. At that time, we had a short passage from ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ as one of our English chapters and we were stunned by the description of a person (in the book) escaping from an island-prison. So, I asked him to get that book.

After I got it, I read that book within a week and forgot about it. After about five weeks, the librarian came to our house complaining that the book was not returned for a long time and hence my dad returned it after paying a fine. Predictably, he was upset and told me that he would never get me another book! With so much fun-to-do activities outside the house and indoor games inside the house, little did I care.

Two years later, our English teacher told us that the syllabus was going to be changed from 9th standard onwards and the only way we could score more marks was by reading storybooks and novels. Mugging up from text books will no longer work! Being the studious person that I was (back then), I now had a challenge – From where do I get a storybook?

We had a library period (once in a week). All that me and my friends would do was chat, play and read Tinkle/Chandamama. Our library teacher found this attitude of ours quite disgusting and she (rightly?) said that we would get nowhere in life! A few students were taking some books home but we didn’t bother with all that.

But now, this was our only chance. So, we (me and two more guys) went and asked our librarian if we could take books home. No wonder she was surprised,

“You three? You want to read a book? Tell me the name of the book you want?”

We had no clue. “A novel or storybook”

“Which author?”

Again no clue. “!!!!!!!!!”

“I always knew you three were fit for nothing. I am telling you right now, if you lose the book or if you tear it you’ll have to replace it with a new book. Understood???”

We shook our heads in affirmation.

“Go to the last shelf and take one book in the Famous Five or Secret Seven series”

Two names were now etched in our memory – Famous Five and Secret Seven (written by Enid Blyton). Shortly, the books will get etched in our hearts as well!

The stories were simple – They were about some kids going on an adventure (to the woods or somewhere else) and getting involved in a mystery. Of course, the mysteries were always solved by them, without any harm to themselves!

But when you read it at that age, the adventure would just encapsulate you and take you on a thrilling virtual journey. The characters would seem so real and the description will give you a realistic feel of the environment.

Even though we had no idea about the British countryside or other aspects of the British life, we would still be transported to the situations mentioned in the book and our hearts would race whenever there was a suspenseful situation. It was as if we were solving the mysteries ourselves! We were virtually transported into the world created by the author. And what an experience that was!

I remember being so thrilled that I would lie down in my bed, cover myself with a thick bed-sheet and then start reading the novel immediately after coming back from school. During the time I was reading, I would forget about everything else and not even go to play cricket! I am sure my friends thought I became crazy.

I found the Famous Five series to be better than the Secret Seven series. I think I read most of the Secret seven/Famous Five books in our library and soon the collection was exhausted!

And I went back to normalcy – playing cricket 🙂

Destination Infinity

PS: What were your favorite books during school-days?

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42 thoughts on “My Autobiography: Famous Five & Secret Seven – My favorite storybooks during school days

    1. Me too did not read many books during school days, but as I mentioned in the post, circumstances made me read these two series. But I did read quite a number of books immediately after school, before joining college. I’ll write a separate post on it later on.

      Destination Infinity

  1. Hmmmm…nice one. You remember in which standard you read that book! I don’t remember anything like that. Yes, I remember reading Famous five. But I liked the Treasure Island series more, if I remember correctly, from the school library! I was a bookworm in those days, but most of them were in Tamil. I joined a library after my school days and then started reading James Hadley Chase, Perry Mason etc.!

    Thanks for taking me back to my school days. Write more!

    1. Had I known about the authors you mentioned, maybe I would have read more storybooks too… The main issue was, most of my friends were not reading any books. I am more surprised about why none of my friends were reading any Tamil books! My second language was Tamil and I have not read a single Tamil novel till now (except a few stories that was a part of non-detailed subject portion)!

      Destination Infinity

  2. Wonderful how reading takes place at your heart! I see myself in your memories at school days and library period… I never read books other than related to the subjects then. But I still wonder how I got interested in reading around 2004!

    1. In my case, reading stopped (temporarily) around 2004. That’s the time I started working and it was very difficult to find time to read anything!

      Destination Infinity

  3. as far as reading books is concerned, during my school days i used to read comics and was very fond of collecting them….. i remember, i used to keep them inside the school books and read them so that elders may not see n think that i am studying school books….. how wonderful were those days….

    thanks for sharing this nostalgic post 🙂

    1. I too liked tinkle and chandamama but I was not particular about them. I’ll read them during library classes due to lack of any other interesting activity to do… I used to day-dream in the pretext of studying… that cost me a lot of marks 🙂

      Destination Infinity

    1. For a short period of time, I was totally engrossed in the magic created by Enid Blyton. But once the collection was over, I switched over to other activities. Wonder why I did not try to get more books written by this author? Cricket was too tempting back then, I guess!

      Destination Infinity

    1. I did read comics and I liked Tinkle among them all. But I was not very particular about reading them. If I got a chance, I used to read. We had a lot of games to play, actually! 🙂

      Destination Infinity

    1. I read the Wikipedia article about Enid Blyton and it concurs with what you have mentioned above. In fact, one of her daughters even says that she ignores all the unpleasant things in life to the point of denying its very existence. Perhaps it’s this trait that made her a successful children’s author in the first place? How much would a child care about her personal life, while reading one of her books?

      There are pros and cons to everything in life. Even things that we consider ‘good’ and ‘happy’ have another side. That’s why I cannot enjoy such books now.

      Destination Infinity

    1. I too remember going through these western comics, but I was not very impressed with them. Maybe I was not able to understand them fully!

      Destination Infinity

  4. Beautiful post and memories. It reminded me of myself during school. I loved reading and was often caught keeping novels and other comics between the large english adn science readers with the most studious expression on my face.
    I loved Famous Five and pretty much all by enid Blyton. I actually started reading Oliver Twist, David Copperfield with Tinkle as my first books because I got them as prizes and Pa would get classics from his office library. Then I loved to Enid Blyton (have you read the Malory Towers and st. clares – all girls schools though!) , Ruskin Bond and so on…… Ah, the joy!

    1. No, I read only the Famous Five and Secret Seven series. That’s what was available in our school. I do remember reading Oliver Twist, because it was our non-detailed book for English! Otherwise, I have just read the small portions of classics, if they were a part of our syllabus.

      Back then, to accept that books actually had authors was a challenge to us. We were finding it so difficult to remember their names!

      Destination Infinity

  5. I could even taste the sandwitches and lemonade and sausages and ginger cake all the things in the larder! and loved to go to the island and caves. it was a big influence and I truly love enid blyton for making such a world for kids. Well something we agree on

    1. No. I couldn’t taste the sandwiches and lemonades in my mind as I was unaware of these foods back then. Well, we still don’t agree on certain things 🙂

      Destination Infinity

          1. Yes I do. Especially because disagreements have become a rarity these days on blogs. But, they are the only way to learn. I hate, ‘excellent post’, ‘well written’, ‘awesome blog’ type comments.

            Destination Infinity

    1. I think the magic of reading such books lies in the age at which we read it. At that age, the journey laid down by the book is nothing less than captivating!

      Destination Infinity

  6. this post made me nostalgic ..

    i was more into comics where i and my brothers used to read chacha chaudhri and sabu, nagraj, super commando dhruv, pinki comics .. it was an addiction ..

    i read ‘famous five’ a lot later .. when my grandpa gave it as a gift on my 17th birthday ..!

    1. I was not aware of so many comics titles! I was only aware of Tinkle 🙂

      17 is also fine to read this book, but 12-13 would have been amazingly perfect 🙂

      Destination Infinity

  7. That took me down the memory lane! While I started with kid’s mags and comic books like Nandan, Champak, Amar Chitra Katha, Chacha Chowdhary etc but soon graduated to Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Famous 5… and since then there is no looking back… I read whatever I can lay my hands on!

    1. I read Hardy boys but I didn’t like it much… Nancy Drew was ok… Famous Five was the best. But then, I should agree that I read the first two books a few years later.

      Destination Infinity

  8. Great going guys. Keep reading and have Milk Shakti biscuits.
    In comics I read Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Indrajal and others. In novels, I read Enid Blyton, William, Biggles, Alfred Hitchcock, Hardy Boys.

      1. Milk Shakti though are only two words, convey a lot of meaning.
        It says that biscuits are deliberately kept low priced so that poor can eat. Also speaks about the third front in politics which will come up.

  9. I was and still am a book worm. Our school had an amazing library, filled with picture books, books by Russian authors in English (Guess India and Russia were firm pals back then), encyclopedias, books on nature, wildlife, insects, plants… the works. I also managed to devour books rapidly and my class teacher helped me get two books per week instead of one. Enid Blyton’s I don’t think formed part of our school library, but apart from the Secret Seven and Famous Five, I also remember the Malory Towers and St Clares (the two boarding schools) series. My favourite book as a kid for some strange reason was Robinson Crusoe. I also loved the fantasy world of Through the Looking Glass. Louisa M. Alcott was anotehr favourite author. Aaah, books, what would we do without them.

    1. You were one real bookworm, it looks like 🙂 I read that book – Robinson Crusoe, but at that age I was not much impressed with it. Even Oliver Twist appealed to me, but this one didn’t. I really missed reading fantasy back then.

      Destination Infinity

    1. I read Hardy boys, but it didn’t appeal as much as The Famous Five, to me! I am not a big reader of detective stories. Maybe if I had read them back then, it might have liked it more!

      Destination Infinity

  10. Yes even I loved Famous Five more than Secret Seven… any day.

    I also loved the awesome description of meals, food, picnics, snacks etc. It still makes my mouth water to remember it! 😀

    1. I wonder why I don’t remember any story from either series! Strange – I remember so much from the Michael Creighton books I read after 4-5 years.

      Destination Infinity

  11. During my school days I never had any idea about novels 🙂 Till I reached my college final year I always wondered how they can write a novel for 400 or 500 pages without a single picture in it. It should be tedious experience, I thought.

    After I started reading its changed. 2 or 3 years back I bought a Famous five novel and tried reading it. But I couldn’t it 🙁 its just a 150 pages book but couldn’t complete it. Stopped it close to 100 pages 🙁

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