Favorite 65X Series: Plot-Your-Own Stories Edition

Don’t even ask. I know what you’re wondering. “Carol, what the heck is a 65X? And why should I care?” In cataloger-speak, that’s how we code subject headings and genre terms. Generally, 650s are subject headings and 655s are genres. Relax, though. You’re not getting a lesson in cataloging, though I’d be happy to talk your ear off about MARC, RDA, and FRBR.

Wait, come back! I said I wouldn’t be talking about those things, and I intend to prove it. Welcome to a new series I’m trying out here on the blog, where I will explore some of my most favorite headings. Today we’re going to shine a spotlight on the subject heading Plot-your-own stories.

If you grew up in the 80s like I did, you may remember a wonderful series created by the late, great R.A. Montgomery called Choose Your Own Adventure. For me, I remember spending time in the stacks at the Bethalto Public Library exploring life as a ninja, a millionaire, and even an astronaut. I discovered those books when I was twelve and immediately decided that this was the element that my beloved Nancy Drew books were missing: the ability to influence the outcome of the story by making a series of seemingly small decisions.


I still have a few tattered copies of this awesome series, and yes, I do pull them out occasionally to see if I still remember the correct series of decisions that allow me to keep the $1 million I found after playing baseball in my neighborhood instead of being killed for it. Spoiler alert: I do not remember this perfect sequence, but I do have fun figuring it out all over again. In fact, when I was writing this post I pulled out all my old Choose Your Own Adventure books and discovered my husband’s stash of GI Joe-themed Plot-your-own stories books as well. Even when we were kids we apparently thought alike!

Girl Walks Into a BarRecently I ran across A Girl Walks Into a Bar by Helena S. Paige. It looked like a standard contemporary romance novel with a fun cover. Then I sat down to read it and discovered two fun facts about this book:

  • It’s less a romance and more an erotica.
  • It’s a Plot-your-own stories book, aka Choose Your Own Adventure style.

Does anything get better than that? If you’re me, the answer is definitely, “No. No, it does not get better than that!”

The book begins with you walking into a bar and immediately getting a message from your best friend, standing you up on your girls’ night out. Since you’re already dressed up, why not stay at the bar and see what happens? Not only are there dozens of choices throughout the story, there are several choices of guys to initially approach. With each decision your night changes quite drastically. Don’t like the ending? Then start over and choose again. And again. And again! My favorite part of romances are when the heroine and hero meet for the first time. With books like this you can read a variety of “meet cutes” without having to put down the book and pick up another.

Sure, it’s a frivolous read, but I like to read for enjoyment and, to me, there’s nothing more relaxing than making a life-changing decision simply by turning the page.

3 thoughts on “Favorite 65X Series: Plot-Your-Own Stories Edition

  1. Oh man, Yo loves Encyclopedia Brown. I bet she’d love stories she could influence. Any kid-friendlies you know or learn of, please, let me know! I’m gonna have to do some research on the topic.

    You know, I grew up in the eighties, too; but I struggled horribly with dyslexia, so reading was a chore. Believe it or not, I hated reading. It wasn’t until I wanted to write that I even cared that I couldn’t read well. When I finally started taking reading seriously and started spying on the kids in reading lab to find out how they were learning, I was almost done with junior high. (For some reason, I wasn’t allowed in reading lab. Probably my despicable attitude at the time. I was a major problem child, if you can imagine that.)

    I’m so glad Yo didn’t get those genes. The only trouble she gives me when it comes to reading is when ‘lights out’ rolls around and she has to shut off her reading hat, which is a cap with a built-in flash light.

    Great post. Thanks for taking the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was born in the 90’s but I still appreciate this plot-your-own story kind of book. My cousin gave me books like that and I find myself reading over and over again until I figure out how to go out of the house or museum. Then O have a series of books too that explains certain stuffs and I am an alien. So much fun!!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. @ Azy: There are some great options out there for Yo. There are some really great books in the You Choose series that takes readers through major historical events and lets you decide what happens next. Wars, construction of major buildings, disaster like the Titanic, are all presented alongside facts and historical images. Pretty darn cool!

    @ Lainie: I am so happy they were still around for you to explore, too! A few years back around the time R.A. Montgomery passed away publishers reissued many of the original CYA books and the library acquired what it could, making them available to a whole new generation. Then along came those You Choose books mentioned above, and now CYA style books for adults? It’s like I’m dreaming, you know? 🙂


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