A series of books popular during the 1980s. These books were written in second person narrative (e.g. "You walk down the hall. You see two doors.") and at the end of each page, or brief section of several pages, the reader was asked to make a decision (e.g. "Which door do you choose, the left or the right?"). Each choice the reader made led to a different plot branch, eventually leading to a different ending. These books often proudly proclaimed "20 different endings!" (or however many endings they had) on the back-cover blurb.

Also used generically to describe copycat series based on a similar structure but set in different genres or settings, such as Dungeons & Dragons, Transformers, and, of course, Zork (whose text-adventure genre probably did much to inspire this type of book in the first place).

Usually the viewpoint character of these books was male, as the books were often targeted at young boys. However, TSR also put out a line of romance novels with girls in mind. To this chronicler's knowledge, the gender of the viewpoint character never stopped interested boys from reading the girl books, or vice versa.

Choose-your-own-adventure books could be considered an early form of hypertext, and hypertext has been used for similar stories since then (apparently including various efforts on the Everything server itself).

Can also encourage parallel thinking (and cheating) by bookmarking recent pages where you've made crucial decisions.

You could always tell if I was into a CYOA book because I'd be walking around with up to four fingers in it.

Choose your own adventure books were pretty easy, most of the time. Many of the decisions we something along the lines of

You come upon a strange glowing door with ancient runes painted on in blood. Do you:
  1. Open the door (go to page 2)
  2. Go back home, open up those Sour Cream and Onion chips you bought, and watch some TV. (go to page 4,375)

The dumb endings were always at the back. Y'know, I learned a lot about life from those books. I also learned that you should generally run away from everything, always.

I used to collect lots of these books and like whimsy says, I also buried my fingers in between pages to see how many paths I could have taken and how I could have avoided getting eaten by a tiger/shark/hippo. Actually, the parts I enjoyed most were making those boneheaded decisions and getting killed. With hindsight, it would seem that these books were rather violent for what's supposed to be a children's series...I mean, how much can a young mind take being eaten by wild animals all the time?

I was more into these books becuase it was easy and there wasn't any need to read a ton of rule books like Dungeons & Dragons.

Anyway, there was also a series of Choose Your Own Adventure games for the old Apple II+ computers which didn't last too long against better known games like Zork and Wizardry.

Choose Your Own Adventure was a series of 184 wildly popular books that presented readers with a branching storyline. At the end of every page or so, the reader was presented with a choice. Depending on the choices you made, you were told to go to other pages where the story continued (or your character died, whatever). Books were published from 1979-1998, and all of the books are now out of print (but they shouldn't be hard to obtain online). The books ranged from science fiction to car racing to mystery - the scope of the series was truly astonishing.

The books were translated into many other languages as well: Catalan, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portugese, Spanish, Turkish, and Urdu. As owlman mentioned above, there was indeed an Apple II series based on the books. In addition, there was also a Choose Your Own Star Wars Adventure series (its publishing stopped months after the rest of the series).

Choose Your Own Advenutre Book List (English only)

001. The Cave of Time
002. Journey Under the Sea
003. By Balloon to the Sahara
004. Space and Beyond
005. The Mystery of Chimney Rock
006. Your Code Name is Jonah
007. The Third Planet from Altair
008. Deadwood City
009. Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey?
010. The Lost Jewels of Nabooti
011. Mystery of the Maya
012. Inside UFO 54-40
013. The Abominable Snowman
014. The Forbidden Castle
015. House of Danger
016. Survival at Sea
017. The Race Forever
018. Underground Kingdom
019. Secret of the Pyramids
020. Escape
021. Hyperspace
022. Space Patrol
023. The Lost Tribe
024. Lost on the Amazon
025. Prisoner of the Ant People
026. The Phantom Submarine
027. The Horror of High Ridge
028. Mountain Survival
029. Trouble on Planet Earth
030. The Curse of Batterslea Hall
031. Vampire Express
032. Treasure Diver
033. The Dragons' Den
034. The Mystery of Highland Crest
035. Journey to Stonehenge
036. The Secret Treasure of Tibet
037. War with the Evil Puppet Master
038. Sabotage
039. Supercomputer
040. The Throne of Zeus
041. Search for the Mountain Gorillas
042. The Mystery of Echo Lodge
043. Grand Canyon Odyssey
044. The Mystery of Ura Senke
045. You are a Shark
046. The Deadly Shadow
047. Outlaws of Sherwood Forest
048. Spy for George Washington
049. Danger at Anchor Mine
050. Return to the Cave of Time
051. The Magic of the Unicorn
052. Ghost Hunter
053. The Case of the Silk King
054. Forest of Fear
055. The Trumpet of Terror
056. The Enchanted Kingdom
057. The Antimatter Formula
058. Statue of Liberty Adventure
059. Terror Island
060. Vanished!
061. Beyond Escape!
062. Sugarcane Island
063. Mystery of the Secret Room
064. Volcano!
065. The Mardi Gras Mystery
066. Secret of the Ninja
067. Seaside Mystery
068. Secret of the Sun God
069. Rock and Roll Mystery
070. Invaders of the Planet Earth
071. Space Vampire
072. The Brilliant Dr. Wogan
073. Beyond the Great Wall
074. Longhorn Territory
075. Planet of the Dragons
076. The Mona Lisa is Missing!
077. The First Olympic
078. Return to Atlantis
079. Mystery of the Sacred Stone
080. The Perfect Planet
081. Terror in Australia
082. Hurricane!
083. Track of the Bear
084. You are a Monster
085. Inca Gold
086. Knights of the Round Table
087. Exiled to Earth
088. Master of Kung Fu
089. South Pole Sabotage
090. Mutiny in Space
091. You are a Superstar
092. Return of the Ninja
093. Captive!
094. Blood on the Handle
095. You are a Genius
096. Stock Car Champion
097. Through the Black Hole
098. You are a Millionaire
099. Revenge of the Russian Ghost
100. The Worst Day of your Life
101. Alien, Go Home!
102. Master of Tae Kwon Do
103. Grave Robbers
104. The Cobra Connection
105. The Treasure of the Onyx Dragon
106. Hijacked!
107. Fight for Freedom
108. Master of Karate
109. Chinese Dragons
110. Invaders from Within
111. Smoke Jumper
112. Skateboard Champion
113. The Lost Ninja
114. Daredevil Park
115. The Island of Time
116. Kidnapped!
117. The Search for Aladdin's Lamp
118. Vampire Invaders
119. The Terrorist Trap
120. Ghost Train
121. Behind the Wheel
122. Magic Master
123. Silver Wings
124. Superbike
125. Outlaw Gulch
126. Master of Martial Arts
127. Showdown
128. Viking Raiders
129. Earthquake!
130. You are Microscopic
131. Surf Monkeys
132. The Luckiest Day of Your Life
133. The Forgotten Planet
134. Secret of the Dolphins
135. Playoff Champion
136. Roller Star
137. Scene of the Crime
138. Dinosaur Island
139. Motocross Mania
140. Horror House
141. The Secret of Mystery Hill
142. The Reality Machine
143. Project UFO
144. Comet Crash
145. Everest Adventure!
146. Soccer Star
147. The Antimatter Universe
148. Master of Judo
149. Search the Amazon!
150. Who Are You?
151. Gunfire at Gettysburg
152. War With the Mutant Spider Ants
153. Last Run
154. Cyberspace Warrior
155. Ninja Cyborg
156. You Are an Alien
157. U.N. Adventure
158. Sky-Jam!
159. Tattoo of Death
160. The Computer Takeover
161. Possessed!
162. Typhoon!
163. Shadow of the Swastika
164. Fright Night
165. Snowboard Racer
166. Master of Aikido
167. Moon Quest
168. Hostage!
169. Terror on the Titanic
170. Greed, Guns, and Gold
171. Death in the Dorm
172. Mountain Biker
173. The Gold Medal Secret
174. The Power Dome
175. The Underground Railroad
176. Master of Kendo
177. Killer Virus
178. River of No Return
179. Ninja Avenger
180. Stampede!
181. Fire On Ice
182. Fugitive
183. Cyberhacker
184. Mayday

From PaladinZ's write-up: "Choose Your Own Adventure was a series of 184 wildly popular books that presented readers with a branching storyline. At the end of every page or so, the reader was presented with a choice. Depending on the choices you made, you were told to go to other pages where the story continued (or your character died, whatever). "

Sound familiar?

I recently added some extra RAM to my system to accommodate the massive amounts of browser windows I have open all the time.

Where do these windows come from?

I was always one of those kids who hated dying in Choose Your Own Adventure books. And it wasn't even just dying, I couldn't stand the idea that I might have missed something really cool.

As a result I frequently bookmarked and wrote down pages, doubling back again and again, like some confused shortest path algorithm.

What's the point?

I still can't shake the habit.

When I get to the bottom of a write-up, I often see a soft link I'd like to check out, and, almost immediately, two others that I just have to see too. And thus the madness begins.

"Ooh, vocal percussion, The Bottom Two Layers of Ethernet, AND Dead Baby Jokes?!

I MUST HAVE THEM ALL! (Frantic right clicking and browser popping)

Indeed, I've spent many a night staying up far longer than I had planned due to this addictive habit. I've gotten to the point where I have to make myself close the browser instances before I scroll down enough to see the soft links.

I can't help it! JOHNNY 5 LOVE INPUT!

|The book, I wish, that was| 

You know what I miss...I miss that as adults we do not have any “choose your own adventure books” (at least not to my knowledge). Maybe its because when we're little the idea of getting to "choose our own adventure" is so novel. Whereas adults are no longer bound to the familial chains; every day we (in essence) are choosing our own adventure.

As kids our entire lives are planned out for us. Even the friends we get to pick are limited to our parent's socio-economic equals. The books we read are given to us, the God we pray to is chosen for us, the clothes we wear, the time we wake up and the time we go to bed are all planned out. For most children, a book where you get to "chose your own adventure," is one of the few times you are free to wonder, limited only by the pages in the book and your imagination.

Why don't we get those as adults? A book we can open and see what our future may hold if we made certain choices and went down specific paths. Imagine learning one of life's irreparable lessons only to pull out your book mark, snuggle into bed, and leave your mistakes behind in tiny black print on a little rectangular cream colored page.

We would be free to live vicariously through an imaginary version of ourselves. It would be a version of us that could lack some or all of our impulse control. We would have a means by which to satiate our hedonistic desires without having to worry about mortal (or moral) consequences.

It would need to be realistic though. I mean, it would need to have all the shit that can and does really happen, in print. We would know that certain choices would lead to dead ends...doors closed...and there would be no "happy endings," just real ones. The difference being that in the book, we would really be free to really choose our own adventures.

In this book we could try things that in real life we would not dare--only to discover that this fiction is not too far from reality. Some stories would leave us in places that real life limitations would forbid.

We wouldn't be judged, we wouldn't be criminals, we wouldn't lose friends-or loved ones, we wouldn't end up in prison, or dead, we wouldn't go hungry, we wouldn't wage wars, we wouldn't steal, or cheat...because we'd know. We'd know what the ending would be. We would learn. Though the price would not be precious time wasted or a life lost in vain, it would be sweat on our brow--tiny words that indicated an ending to a long journey, followed by the soft thud of our books closing. Only to rest for another day where we choose a new life entirely.

Of course these books wouldn't be analogous to the experience gained by trying things in real life, but we would at least have a sneak preview. We'd be better informed about those "what if's" that sometimes seem more appealing in theory than in practice.

If you know of any good "choose your own adventure" books, let me know where I can get my hands on one...if not...maybe it's time to write one.

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