Diary of a Wimpy Kid will always be my favorite series — the first 10 books at least

March 14, 2023 — by Saachi Jain
Graphic by Leyna Chan
The series, which now has 17 books, has seen the turn of at least four or five winter seasons, and Greg Heffley is still in middle school. Regardless, I will forever love it as a form of childhood nostalgia.

Sitting in the series section of my expansive bookshelf is a row of colorful books with “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” written in lanky font on the spine. The series by Jeff Kinney published its first book in 2007 and sold millions of copies worldwide. With one installment published per year, it became a tradition for me to put the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book on my Christmas wish list. 

The series started out marvelously — lanky, socially awkward pre-teen Greg Heffley was in sixth grade alongside his immature and naive partner-in-crime, Rowley Jefferson. We explored the “Cheese Touch” throughout the first novel — a slice of cheese rotting on the school’s basketball court which all the students are afraid to touch — and got to see Greg struggle through friendships, relationships and middle school in the next seven books. However, with the addition of book nine titled “Long Haul,” the series began its unfortunate downfall, following Greg with his family on a road trip. 

Until this point in the series, every novel seemed grounded in fresh ideas, though it began to feel as if Kinney was running dry. Regardless of the weaker plot, the book iss still as funny as the others. This remained true for the 10th book “Old School,” in which Greg goes on an overnight trip with his school. Just like its prequel, “Old School” is just as entertaining and quirky, though the plot runs thin.

In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Kinney described being at a crossroads after publishing the 10th novel and did not know whether he should start a new project or continue on. Inevitably, he decided that the large audience and joy that his books brought to young children was worth his continuation, and it would simply require him to expand his creative realm. 

However, the next seven books went on to lose their original charm, and it seemed like Kinney was making a story out of nothing. Take book 11, for example, entitled “Double Down.” It is about Greg fantasizing his life as a reality show, and that’s it. Though I stopped reading the books after book 13, I continue to reread the first 10 and immerse myself in the carefree and childish world of Greg and his friends. 

He begins by overcoming the cheese touch when Rowley eats it. Greg resolves conflicts with his brother Rodrick in “Rodrick Rules” while pushing his younger brother Manny’s buttons in “The Last Straw.” He becomes a dog owner and lifeguard in “Dog Days,” trying to impress pretty girls all summer long. 

In “The Ugly Truth,” he goes through puberty and comes to accept his reality. Trying to get on the nice list, he enjoys a winter season with his family in “Cabin Fever,” including a snowstorm and long-standing family traditions. “The Third Wheel” and “Hard Luck” watch Greg go through a period of questions about his choices and how he turns to fate to make decisions for him. Finally, we see Greg wrestle with the dynamics of traveling in “The Long Haul” and “Old School” the penultimate and final installments of what I believe to be the old era of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 

Regardless of how long the series runs on, I will forever love the first 10 novels.   They allowed me and countless others to have a relatable literary friend who would always mess something up and allow us to laugh out loud.

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