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Archive for the ‘List of Summer Reading’ Category

Summer Reading to 8/03/12

In List of Summer Reading, Reading on August 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm

A List of Reading I’ve Accomplished Thus Far–

note: all but 9 are old reads…I really can’t explain why I love re-reading novels so much, but I suspect any fellow reader can understand. I recently bought 3 more books at Barnes and Noble while attending a book-signing, but I will post them as I continue to read. Well versed readers should recognize most of the titles.

1. The Secret of the Old Clock– Carolyn Keene

2. The Hidden Staircase– Carolyn Keene

3. The Bungalow Mystery– Carolyn Keene

4. The Mystery of Lilac Inn– Carolyn Keene

5. The Secret of Shadow Ranch- Carolyn Keene

6: The Secret of Red Gate Farm– Carolyn Keene

7: The Clue in the Diary– Carolyn Keene

8: Nancy’s Mysterious Letter– Carolyn Keene

9: The Sign of the Twisted Candles– Carolyn Keene

10: Password to Larkspur Lane– Carolyn Keene

11: The Clue of the Broken Locket– Carolyn Keene

12: The Message in the Hollow Oak– Carolyn Keene

13: The Mystery of the Ivory Charm– Carolyn Keene

14: The Whispering Statue– Carolyn Keene

15: The Haunted Bridge– Carolyn Keene

16. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time– Mark Haddon

17: The Clue of the Tapping Heels– Carolyn Keene

18. The Perks of Being Wallflower– Stephen Chbosky

19: Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk– Carolyn Keene

20. Tuesdays with Morrie– Mitch Albom

21: Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion– Carolyn Keene

22: The Quest of the Missing Map– Carolyn Keene

23: The Clue in the Jewel Box– Carolyn Keene

24: The Secret in the Old Attic– Carolyn Keene

25: The Clue in the Crumbling Wall– Carolyn Keene

26: Mystery of the Tolling Bell– Carolyn Keene

27. The Proposal– Mary Balogh

28. A Night Like This– Julia Quinn

29. What Happens in London– Julia Quinn

30. Just Like Heaven– Julia Quinn

31. The Duke and I– Julia Quinn

32. The Viscount Who Loved Me– Julia Quinn

33. An Offer From a Gentleman– Julia Quinn

34. Romancing Mister Bridgerton– Julia Quinn

35. To Sir Phillip, With Love– Julia Quinn

36. When He Was Wicked– Julia Quinn

37. Derby Day– D.J. Taylor

38. It’s In His Kiss– Julia Quinn

39. On the Way to the Wedding– Julia Quinn

40. The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever– Julia Quinn

41. The Lost Duke of Wyndham– Julia Quinn

42. The Winter Sea– Susanna Kearsley

43. An Echo in the Bone- Diana Gabaldon

44. The Postmistress– Sarah Blake

To read (so far) by end of summer: Incindiary– Chris Cleave, 1776- David McCullough

Reading is like my addiction. Once I start I cannot stop. I may take long breaks (it’s impossible to read for fun in college….) but I’ll always find a new read! As the end of summer draws closer it’s harder for me to read more. I think it’s because I’m too nervous and preoccupied thinking about Scotland. But I wanted to post this just to collect and organize all of the reading I’ve done this summer and to give you all a taste of what I’ve been reading. I really hope I’ll get to the last two, but if I’m not in the mood to read a depressing novel (Incindiary) or a lengthy documentary (1776) I won’t read it (yet). Feel free to comment or even recommend some others to sneak in before September!

How many novels have y’all read in one time period? I think this may be the most for me. How does it feel to read so much in such a short period of time? For me, it’s rather soothing and calming. It makes me think, too, about things other than me and my immediate surroundings.

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Julia Quinn: Wit, Dishabille, and Mad Barons

In Julia Quinn, List of Summer Reading on June 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm

typical morning dress and walking costume (1815)

As I sit here typing this post, I’m currently sipping English Afternoon Tea in my I ❤ Mr Darcy mug (I promise you, I’m not that cheesy in real life. According to me). There’s really nothing quite like a cup of black, English tea. Nothing. …Well, maybe it’d be a bit better if my future British aristocratic titled husband were sitting next to me, dressed in 19th century gentleman’s garb… But anyway. Back to Julia Quinn.

I believe my favorite novel of hers is What Happens in London. This is for several reasons: Firstly, Olivia Bevelstoke is an incredibly likeable protagonist, and it may have something to do with her sense of humor (for me, at least). Secondly, Sir Harry Valentine is such a romantic name. Harry. Valentine. See what I mean? I’ve always loved the name Harry, regardless of the fact that a devilishly handsome red head who happens to be royal and unmarried also possesses the same name. Harry (The character, not the real person) also works for the War Office, which has always intrigued me. Have you ever read any of Lauren Willig’s books? The Pink Carnation series features tons of guys working for the espionage section of the War Office, and even though Sir Harry translates documents, I still find it fascinating.

(Sidenote: The British War Office was in operation from the 17th century to the mid 20th century. It administered the British Army, and therefore was a very important part of British foreign and domestic policy. The Department’s building–where Sir Harry would have gone when he was summoned– was located at Horse Guards in Whitehall from the early 18th century to the mid 19th century. It became less important after the First World War and especially after Winston Churchill became PM, where he bypassed the War Office completely. Bummer. I’m looking at pictures of the War Office building– and I really do hope it’s the right building I’m looking at– and it’s certainly an impressive structure. It seems very Palladian in style, which I’m a big fan of. I should also point out that I’m an Art History minor, so I’d like to think I got the architectural style correct, but if you are reading this and are more authoritative on the matter, please correct me if I’m misinformed.)

Another reason why I’m so enthralled with What Happens in London is because it has more substance than Quinn’s other novels. I don’t presume to say that her other novels are simply full of fluff (because they really aren’t), but the whole espionage aspect of it, the adorable and sometimes frightening misunderstandings, coupled with a sort of kidnapping, makes it much more intriguing. That, and it’s also her funniest novel (to me, at least). I found myself laughing alone in a room, and more than once I was questioned as to what was so funny.

I loved that Quinn also had the plot of another book within hers– Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron (do you get my title now?), and how it propelled the main plot along. The best part of being an author, I believe, is having the freedom to transfer one aspect of a novel into several different novels. Miss Butterworth, for example, appears in one or two of  Quinn’s other novels. I really want to question Quinn on how she came up with that book. I mean, really. It’s a stroke of genius. For those who are familiar with what I’m talking about, don’t you wish it could be a real book? Or if Quinn could actually write and publish it? It would sell so well!! For goodness sakes, it pokes fun at lurid Gothic novels just about as well as Jane Austen does in Northanger Abbey and even Sense and Sensibility, to a degree (I’m referring to Marianne’s tendency to be more than what is considered decorous in her expressing of emotions). I do not wish to give too much away from it, because it’s truly a work of art, but let’s just say that being pecked to death has never been so enjoyable to read about until now (and I’m not giving away who does the pecking or to whom it is directed–read it for yourselves!). This book also gives hope to having a novel be a direct implement in having two people fall in love with each other. And really, what reader wouldn’t want that?

I gave the title to my post because those three aspects characterize her novels. Wit, because Quinn’s dialogue is quite witty. You can’t read one of her novels without laughing. The dialogue between the characters is so bitingly witty sometimes that I tuck them in my head, in case the need should ever arise for me to use something as good as what Quinn writes in her novels. Secondly, all of her heroines find themselves in some case of dishabille, so I felt that was appropriate. And I put Mad Barons becuase it’s in the title of the aforementioned book. Also, I know Quinn meant “mad” as in “insane,” but I also use it here because all of the men (and they usually possess a title) become angry at some time, the heroines calls them “quite insane,” and they do actions that other people would quality as the 19th century definition of “mad,” although we know it’s because of love.

I do have to ask though—if you do read Julia Quinn’s novels, do you ever feel a bit embarrassed reading them in public? Personally, I used to giggle at the stupid covers of romance novels—you know, the ones featuring a demi-god with his cravat askew and his shirt bursting open, his dark, luscious locks flowing in the wind as if there’s no tomorrow. And then, as if that gets any better, the girl beside him looks like a common trollop (using antiquated terms, sorry not sorry).  She’s generally barefoot, her hair is down (come on, no self-respecting girl in the 19th century or earlier would ever be caught with her hair completely down unless she was inside and in her bedroom—or his, I suppose if we’re to be fair). Anyway, so her hair’s down and weirdly blowing in the opposite direction as the Fabio look-a-like, and her dress is in a state of dishabille. I don’t look at books like these and think, oooh, that’s going to be a good one. No, I look at it and I think, oh, COME on! Doesn’t the author have any self respect for the work of art she has produced? And it’s painful to admit, but I would never have read Juila Quinn’s novels if I hadn’t raided my mother’s bookshelves and trusted in her judgment that she wouldn’t read a book like this if it wasn’t any good. I’m only happy to say that Julia Quinn’s novels aren’t stupid, and I do not think the covers reflect the books in any possible way. I give exception to her books where the front cover consists of the title and then a shoe, or a necklace, or a book with a hand, such as The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. But, alas, you open to the second page which features a step-back (a second cover), and AHH! There’s another trollop getting seduced, once again, by Fabio’s brother! I know publishing companies think that having a half dressed man on the cover will entice women to buy the book, but it does the exact opposite with me! What about you, readers? Are you more inclined to pick up a book with that type of cover or no? Would you be caught reading it at a Starbucks, or do you only pick it up when at home? Do answer, please. I’m quite curious.

And I just want to reiterate again that I greatly respect Julia Quinn, and I don’t mean to insult her by insulting her covers. She most likely had little to do with choosing the cover (most authors don’t…some do get the luxury of giving some feedback, but it’s not always heeded). I believe Julia Quinn possesses great talent. Her novels are always unique, her characters are fully developed and not one dimensional, and she does a great job of unfolding and resolving plots. I’ve read several other authors who write similar books that also take place in the ton during the early 1800s, and I find Quinn’s more enjoyable than theirs. Do let me know, readers, if you’ve found an author similar to Quinn whom you like just as or more than her.

Word of the Day: Cravat– a cloth, often made of or trimmed with lace, worn about the neck by men especially in the 17th century. A scarf of silk or fine wool, worn round the neck, especially by men (Source: Dictionary.com)

 
 Ah, dangit! I was so engrossed in writing this blog that I only finished half of my tea! This never happens! Oh well. That must be a good thing, right?

Julia Quinn: Wit, Dishabille, and Mad Barons. Intro

In Julia Quinn, List of Summer Reading on June 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I’m going to approach each post based on the order I read my summer reading list. After reading 23 Nancy Drew books in under two weeks, I took a small break in which I read three books I’d been meaning to read forever- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I’m not dedicating a post (or three) to them because they’re not my favorite books. I only read them in one chunk because my family visited our beach house for the first time as a family (with dog in tow…), and I would have 5 days completely dedicated to avoiding their pestering and to relax before getting calls about summer job offers (that were refused. Sigh.). Let’s just say the first book had an interesting perspective (a boy with autism), the second one I enjoyed a lot more and could relate a teeny tiny bit, and the last one was a lecture to the reader on how to live his or her life.

After I returned from the beach, I was active for a few days, but then I felt the slight tug pulling me to my bookshelf. Nothing there was adequate to re-read in the mood I was in (do you ever get that way, where you can ONLY read a very certain type of book when you’re in the EXACT mood? That’s how my entire life has been!) Anyway, I walk into the master bedroom to bother my mother (she does love it, especially when she’s working) and there. I saw it. A Night Like This by Julia Quinn.

How many of you are Julia Quinn readers? Have you heard of her but never read her? You should! My mother’s read her books since the first one was published in the late 90s. My mother and I share a very similar type of genre we like to read, and so I was intrigued by these Julia Quinn books I saw my her read…especially because they were …off limits!! Julia Quinn has several sex scenes in her novels, and they’re nowhere near erotica level, but still, my ever-controlling mother didn’t want her middle school daughter being “influenced,” or whatever parents think of books like that. Well. That wasn’t going to stop me. I wanted to read a GOOD romance story! Middle school geared novels didn’t have “love.”  They had “crushes.” I didn’t want crushes! I was so very, very tired of immature romance (I like to consider myself older beyond my years). Freshman year, therefore, I picked up my first Julia Quinn novel, stolen from my mother’s bookshelf (she’s so busy with her job that I knew she would never notice it…I carefully arranged the books so no one could even tell a book had been slipped from the shelf). I actually can’t remember which one it was. I dutifully checked each book to see if they were a part of a series and what year they were published, so I assume it was one of Quinn’s first novels.

Please let me know if I’m not alone in this– taking a book from your parents’ shelves, reading a book secretly under the covers, slipping a different cover onto your hardback book, all the while looking a picture of innocence (and please, please don’t let me know if it was a porno novel or whatnot….I’m so not interested). Isn’t this subterfuge part of a voracious reader’s repertoire? I would feel very alone in this world if it were not.

In conclusion for this post, I’ve been an avid Julia Quinn fan since 9th grade, and I’m now a bit older, still reading my mother’s newest copy even before she gets a chance to read it (and oh my gosh, it is SO difficult trying to read a paperback without creasing the spine or bending the front and back covers. SO difficult!). The funny part is that my mother’s suggested three times in the past two years that I should try reading Julia Quinn (to which I answer, “oh, Julia Quinn? I’ve heard of her…I think). So now my mother is “letting” me read Quinn, but there’s still something so appealing in continue to read them secretly. Maybe I’ll admit it to my mother some day. Maybe I won’t. Who knows?

The next post will also be on Julia Quinn and her books, discussing topics like how seriously people take Avon Romances and similar genres, and why or why not. I’m interested in discussing this because I’m genuinely curious in seeing how other people view books with covers of a half naked man too handsome to be a mere mortal accompanied by a mesmerized female whose 19th century garb has been ripped from her shoulders (don’t you HATE when that happens?) I know I’ve done 3 (4 if you count the picture) posts on Nancy Drew, and I want to do only one on each book review so my blog doesn’t get too tedious, but I feel like because I’ve read every one of Quinn’s novels, one post doesn’t do her justice (and I really like talking about her!). I’ll try to stick with this post and the next, but I can’t promise I won’t spill over into three…

Word of the day: Gambit– n. any maneuver in which one seeks to gain an advantage. Intended to secure an advantage or promote a point of view.

Nancy Drew: the Icon for all Aspiring Young Detectives. Pt 3

In List of Summer Reading, Nancy Drew on June 12, 2012 at 5:23 pm

This post is more for people who are familiar with Nancy Drew– and I’m (hopefully) assuming most people are (although in my Perfect World everyone knows Nancy Drew and she is, in fact, a real person. And Ned turns out to just be her friend so he can go and be my boyfriend…do try to contain your jealousy).

Why has Nancy Drew persisted to this day? (I’m talking about her books, not the computer games, movies, or anything else…although that collection is impressive.)

1) She has been an icon since the 1930s, when young girls were looking for a strong female character to help them through the Great Depression

2) Our mothers most likely read them (mine did!) so…

3) They were more than happily inclined to give us their much-loved copies to their precious daughters so that we could somehow share the same memories our mothers possessed growing up while reading Nancy Drew

4) They’re mystery books! And who doesn’t like a mystery novel? (I especially like how they’re not terrifying…I don’t do well reading scary novels at night, alone…meep)

5) They’re filled with historical charm…personally, my favorite aspect is how frequently Keene uses the word “gay” in its original intention…”Ned gaily skipped to meet Nancy,” “Nancy, Bess, and George, were feeling quite gay that day, ”  “Nancy was in a gay mood as Ned accompanied her to the dance.” I made those up…I didn’t feel like rifling through 56 books to find the exact mentions. The real sentences, though, serve as  lovely reminders of how times have changed! When I was little I would giggle in a silly manner as I read the word in that antiquated term, but I believe it lends quite a bit of historical character to her novels, which make them all the more enjoyable (I’m a history major, if you haven’t caught on yet). My second favorite antiquated phrase—“Good night!” emphatically produced by Ned whenever he hears something startling. Could you imagine yourself saying “Good night!” in a shocked manner to a friend today? Me neither…if I want to retain my friends!

6) She has turned out remarkably well for having no mother since the age of three, and a father who constantly travels and is rarely home. Today some people I believe would take her story and make her fragile or easily broken. However, Carolyn Keene and Nancy Drew’s creators instead made Nancy a very, very strong person who seems to be unaffected by her loss. Fortunately, I do have both of my parents, although they travel as much (my mom) and more-so (my dad) than Carson Drew. But I can imagine that if a young girl with the loss of one parent in the 30s and now picks up a Nancy Drew book for the fist time, she will appreciate Nancy’s resilience and maybe have someone to aspire

Since the Nancy Drew books definitely cater to a younger audience, it makes sense that the novels would be very similar in structure. I recently double checked about a dozen or so, and each novel starts off with dialogue, uttered first by Nancy or her acquaintances. Also, you can’t get past the first page without hearing Nancy’s full name, her age, and a mention of her “titian blond hair.” You can’t get through the first chapter without hearing a mention of Carson Drew, her famous lawyer/father in River Heights, or Hannah Gruen, who has been the Drew’s housekeeper since Nancy’s mother died when Nancy was three (has anybody made any guesses as to how her mother died? I’ve always wondered…) Amazingly, I never realized till I re-read them, but Bess and George actually do not appear in the first several novels! I thought they were always a staple in Nancy’s life, but you don’t meet them till the 5th book, The Secret of Shadow Ranch!  Personally, I love how much dedication Bess and George show to Nancy. They’re willing to do nearly anything for her and constantly let her have the limelight!

Of course, one cannot get through a Nancy Drew novel without smiling when Ned comes on the scene. In fact, Ned doesn’t come around until the 7th, in The Clue in the Diary, where Nancy first believes he was trying to steal her car, instead of move it away from the fire. Another note to mention is the important role Nancy’s blue convertible plays in nearly every  books. My mom and I used to have a running joke about how many times Nancy had her car stolen (although I’m on book 23, and so far it hasn’t really). Good old Ned Nickerson, football player at Emerson College (hot stuff), always is willing to help her out, even when it meant they have to cancel their dates (which they frequently do). He always calls at just the right time, always shows up just before Nancy’s kidnappers get ready to move or kill her (she’s also always kidnapped), and he always brings backup. You go Ned!

I love the level of independence Nancy has in the books. Her father essentially lets her do anything! She wants to go to the bad side of town to talk to a witness? Sure thing! She wishes to hop on a plane and fly to New York to check out a clue? Let me get my checkbook! He also willingly sends her off alone to help him complete mysteries involving his cases, which I find amusing. Sure, let me send my daughter out to the middle of nowhere in some dark bayou, or an Indian reservation! She’ll do fine! It’s clear he loves her, but geez, Carson Drew easily places his daughter in danger 9 times out of 10.

Which Nancy Drew book is your favorite? When I was young mine was the 4th book, The Mystery at Lilac Inn. Now, I’m not so sure. Now, I love all of them.

Word of the Day: Namecheck- a specific mention of someone’s name, for example on a radio programme (Source: Dictionary.com) And  yes, I specifically looked for a word starting with “N” in remembrance of Nancy (who will outlive us all)

Fun Fact: “Nancy” according to UrbanDictionary (yes, I did just reference that…)

“A vibrant girl with a zest for living life to its fullest. Nancy has the smarts and the looks to make every man fall in love with her without any flirtation. Any guy would be lucky to date a Nancy. She is everything. Adventurous, outgoing, energetic, intelligent, funny, artsy, studious, free-spirited, lively, kind-hearted, generous, enthusiastic, friendly, and loving – all the while staying modest and humble. She becomes uncomfortable when receiving compliments and never boasts about her talents.Nancy is just naturally attractive and doesn’t use makeup to make herself look beautiful. Her style is fresh, comfortable, and gorgeous. Not an athlete – but athletic. Not a voluptuous babe – but sexy in her own way. Unafraid to venture out and try anything, she’ll have you doing things you wouldn’t have thought of doing before and you’ll love every second of it. She gives meaning to life and life to the meaningless. You’ll find yourself becoming more and more addicted to her presence. You’ll ache every minute she’s not with you and she’ll pretty much occupy all the space in your head every second of every day. Nancy’s smile is gold and her laughter is magic.”
Do you find that as amusing as I did? As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments or suggestions for topics of my blog! And thank you to all who are reading it. I so heartily appreciate it.


Nancy Drew Galore!

In List of Summer Reading, Nancy Drew on June 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Nancy Drew Galore!

a collection of Nancy Drew book covers I found…Are these the same copies you possess(ed)? They are for me!

Nancy Drew: The Icon for all Aspiring Young Detectives. Pt 2

In List of Summer Reading, Nancy Drew on June 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Now for the second part of my Nancy Drew posts (I really couldn’t dedicate only one blog post to her…I mean, come on. She’s an icon!)

Nancy Drew completes her young detective career between high school and college of her 18th year in the 1930’s (I’ve gathered the timing because 1, Carolyn Keene, aka Mildred A Wirt Benson, wrote them in the 1930’s and 1940’s, Nancy Drew refers to one friend as “had” attended high school with him, her “favorite date” Ned Nickerson is in college, and Nancy is 18, which Keene constantly refers to in every. single. one. of. her. books).

Reading Nancy Drew a second time while I’m much older, it’s amazing the problems that the editors and copy-writers missed before publication. In book 3 (I believe), Bess and George tease Nancy for flirting with a guy while Ned is in Europe. Several books later, Nancy meets Ned for the FIRST time at a house fire (romantic, right?). I find this more amusing than depressing, and I say these mistakes not to make Nancy Drew lovers upset or disillusioned, but because it fascinates me. As the daughter of an author, I’ve had the privilege of learning  a freakish amount of information surrounding the publishing world, which is why I was actually stunned when I learned of all of these mistakes. In the book The Mystery of the Moss Covered Mansion, for example, they visit the Kennedy Space Center, which wasn’t built until……….1962. OMG! She was 18 in the 1930’s, but somehow she’s solving a mystery 20 something years later and she’s STILL 18? Hmmmm…. Another biggie, and the most amusing of them all: Nancy Drew completes all 56 mysteries between high school and college, even though there’s not possibly enough days to complete them, AND there are specific mentions to mysteries taking weeks to complete. She must have had a time traveling watch like Hermione!!

Still, these differences bothered me much less re-reading them, despite me being a perfectionist and a tad bit OCD, coupled with a fear of childhood memories being shattered somehow. The Nancy Drew books are really amazing books, filled with amazing characters and interesting plots, no matter what age you are.

Grosset & Dunlap published the original Nancy Drew mysteries. While the original creators switched publishers in 1979, Simon and Schuster published a 57th Nancy Drew novel, which resulted in a lawsuit that entailed that the first 56 novels would be owned by Grosset & Dunlap, and Simon and Schuster would continue to publish (I think they’re up to 175??). I actually had no idea there were more than 56 until a few weeks ago. How about you, readers? Did you read the first 56 or did you continue reading them? Personally, I read the first 56, and I feel like I would be dishonoring Carolyn Keene and the other ghost writers if I continued with the 57th, etc. (call it my feverish desire to preserve original history). Viva la Nancy Drew!

Word of the Day: Mignon- small and pretty; delicately pretty (Source: Dictionary.com) As in– “Yes, I’d like a piece of that delicately pretty piece of meat– the small one, please…yum.”

The third part of my Nancy Drew post collection will be about the novels, including their similarities and differences (like plot and plot development, how Ned always arrives at JUST the right time, etc.) I really could talk forever about Nancy Drew, and I know I’m leaving a lot out, but I’ll try to get to all of the important information! Please comment, though, if you have any Nancy Drew questions or want me to discuss a certain aspect in my next post.

Also, a personal triumph: four people have read my previous post! I’ll be honest, I really didn’t (don’t) think people would even look at my blog, since I’m still confused how people can see it anyway, and because it’s a random collection of topics. However, I really appreciate it, readers from the US and Canada!

Nancy Drew: the Icon for all Aspiring Young Detectives. Pt 1

In List of Summer Reading, Nancy Drew on June 10, 2012 at 5:40 pm

If you are reading this and you do not know the name “Nancy Drew,” turn around and leave my page.

Just teasing. If you don’t know her, then you should read this post so you DO know her, because it’s really such a shame you’re not familiar with the famous girl detective.

I’ll start by saying that the reason I’m discussing Nancy Drew is because for some reason even I have yet to discover, I decided to re-read all 56 Nancy Drew novels this summer (and although I don’t feel like publishing my age yet, let’s just say that I’m not an 9 year old. I promise). I am in possession of every one of them, including a few from the collection that belonged to my mother, circa 1970s (it’s a little frightening to see her name scrawled in a little girl’s handwriting fiercely claiming ownership of her copies). For a quick summary of my relationship with the detective, Nancy Drew and her sleuthing skills kept me inspired and in perpetual awe for the majority of my young childhood. Although I cannot remember (sad face) the exact year or age I started reading her, I believe it was probably at a very young age, like 7 or 8. I can’t remember when I finished the 56th novel, either, although I clearly remember the feeling I had when I read the last and final page. Bereft would most accurately describe it. Lost. Forlorn, despairing, as if I had reached the final chapter of my childhood.

I suppose one reason for why I decided to pick up the series again is that I’m between a young person and an adult right now. I am expected to have a job this summer, and I’m living in a foreign country without family or friends for 4 months later this year. Still, I can’t find a summer job, so I rely completely on my parents financially (it’s so depressing), and I’ve felt for over a year like I’m stuck in this limbo, a glass ceiling where I can see all of my friends, my age and younger (aghh), making their own way financially and independently. Maybe I hoped to find encouragement, inspiration, and also solace for my childhood inspiration. Nancy Drew is, essentially, more independent than most 18 year olds are in the 21st century. It’s frightening, really.

I believe that one reason Nancy Drew became so popular is that she represented independence, strength, intelligence, and success to young girls pounding through the Great Depression. Nancy lives in an affluent area of River Heights (not a real town, but most likely shares characteristics with towns Keene knew), her father is a successful criminal lawyer, she has two amazing best friends, a great “boyfriend” (and I say that in quotation marks because Keene is rather mysterious as to whether they’re actually together. Sure, Ned is Nancy’s “favorite date,” and they frequently go out together when in town, but Keene never actually labels Ned as Nancy’s boyfriend- or even if they kiss!).  Nancy Drew has the perfect life, as it appears to me in 2012 and how it must have appeared to young girls in the Great Depression and the early ‘40s.

Fun Fact: Carolyn Keene wrote only 23 novels out of the 56 most popular Nancy Drew mysteries (1-7, 11-25, 30).

Fun Fact: Nancy Drew novel was published just nine years after women gained the right to vote!

Word of the Day:

Sleuth: a detective. Synonyms: investigator, private investigator;private eye, gumshoe, shamus.

Part 2 will be shorter (I promise!)