I may be showing my age here, but did you read those Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) young adult books from the 1980s? In case you’ve never run across these, they aren’t books that one reads from cover to cover. They contain numbered paragraphs and direct the reader to jump to other numbered paragraphs based on certain decisions the reader makes for the protagonist to follow. So, for example, there would be a paragraph of description that would set up a situation, then say “If you jump off the cliff into the lagoon to flee the rampaging polar bear, go to Paragraph 32. If you climb a tree and try to make friends with the local lemur population, go to Paragraph 68.” The reader would then make a decision and follow the outcome of each decision. Very fun, interactive, creative, and hypertextual.

The CYOA series spawned numerous spin-offs and imitators, some even better than the originals, but they’ll always have a special place in my memories of beloved childhood books. In fact, the books have been reprinted (can’t say I like the current trade dress quite as much as the original look, but that may just be nostalgia talking) and in fact new titles in the series are being published as well. The series has an official website with lots of great information about the books.

That site alone is worth a shout-out, but I really mention it because I just stumbled across a fascinating and highly detailed analysis of the original CYOA books that examine the various decision paths and possible endings the reader can experience. I love this piece because it’s on a topic I find inherently interesting, plus it’s fun because it’s just plain obsessive. Here’s another page that maps out one of the novels in flowchart form.