Choose Your Own Adventure Books

By Thomas Zizzo

The 80s was an era of many changes in music, movies, fashion and technology. One such innovation was a series of books originally conceived by Edward Packard as the Adventures of You series. It was under the name Choose Your Own Adventure, published by Bantam Books, that the concept really took off.

As a kid I can recall rainy days at home and what we used to do for fun. Unlike today, we didn’t have iPads, computers, or more than 200 channels of HD shows on TV to entertain us. Video games were still fairly new and not nearly as cool and sophisticated as they are now. So, after the tree had been climbed and the bike had been ridden to exhaustion, we turned to a series of books where we got to choose which door to open and where to go next.

Choose Your Own Adventure Books

Imagine a book being totally interactive, but without the use of technology. The Choose Your Own Adventure books always started out with a warning: “This book is different from other books.”You are instructed to not read the book straight through; at the end of every page you are presented with a choice—or several. Your choice determined the page you’d then jump to in order to continue the story

A book that gave you choices at the bottom of the page, allowing you to control the story and its outcome was just too cool, and so much better than a regular book. I can vividly recall the first book, The Cave of Time, in which one turn down the wrong tunnel could transport you back to the ice age where you would get trampled by a wooly mammoth.

Of course, the better your choices, the longer you were able to turn pages and avoid certain death. And, you could enjoy the book many different times and in different ways by changing up your choices throughout the story. Many different books were printed over the years, and nearly an entire shelf in our book case contained nothing but these books. Their popularity inspired copy cats, like the Endless Quest Dungeons and Dragons books. Between 1979 and 1998, more than 250 million copies of the books were sold. And, they’ve withstood the test of time; you can still Choose Your Own Adventure – even on your Kindle.

Author: Pia Sooney

Just a little obsessed with all things 80s, Pia still has her Swatch, her cassette tape collection, and her Converse Chucks. When not making friendship pins or listening to Depeche Mode, she runs a web design business.

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  1. Killing Hitler With Praise And Fire is a choose your own adventure type game about killing or eliminating Hitler to make the world a better place. There are a myriad of options available, though the choice is up to you. Some of the options include infantcide, homicide, altering his preferences in partners, biological warfare, art school, raptor nazis and of course the most cruel, getting him hitched him with lots of kids thereby putting to sleep his dreams like he did so many others.

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  2. Wow, how did we 1980s kids pass the time before smartphones? Oh, one big way was by reading real books made of real paper.

    The cover art of the first 60 or so CYOA titles were bonuses. The new artwork wasn’t as good, on average.

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  1. So You Think You Know How Your Story Goes . . . - brooke hargett's blog - […] always fun to go back and read what COULD have happened if they/you made a different choice.…

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