When I was a kid, Nancy Drew was my role model. I spent a few years immersed in River Heights and her mysteries, as familiar with Nancy, Bess, and George as I was with my own best friends. My mom even signed me up to receive three new Nancy Drew books every month, and then spent the whole day they arrived telling me to go do something else because I flew through them. For somewhere around three years, my life revolved around Nancy and her mysteries.
Nancy was older than me, so I kind of looked up to her. She knew just about everything and could do almost anything, so I wanted to be just like her. I started to age out of her when I hit thirteen or fourteen, but still wandered back frequently to re-read one of the books while I ate my lunch. Then I went to college and moved on with living my life and suddenly Nancy wasn’t my steadfast companion; I kind of replaced her with another sleuth. But I still have almost every book I bought (one terrified me, so I got rid of that one as quickly as I could). I couldn’t bring myself to give them up as I moved out of my parents’ house, and now they sit on a bookshelf where I can see them every day as I wait for my daughter to be old enough to read them.
Well, I couldn’t wait that long. My daughter has just learned to read, so she won’t be reading them any time soon, but I’ve started reading them to her. A couple of weeks ago I gave her the option of fantasy, mystery, and fiction, hoping she would pick fantasy so I could read Ella Enchanted to her at bed time since she loves fairy tales and princesses, but she picked mystery. Of course, the only child-friendly mystery books I have are Nancy Drew books.
I started with The Treasure in the Royal Tower, which details Nancy and her friends taking a trip to a castle ski lodge with a secret. I was a little startled by how brittle the book had become. Some of the early pages felt like they were just a breeze away from falling out. The rest of the pages crinkled a little as I turned them, and I just willed my daughter to not stir every time I had to turn a page. I was a little terrified the whole time that it would just fall apart.
It was fascinating reading Nancy to my daughter, though. I spent a few years re-reading that one as it was one of my many favorites, so reading it just brought back so many memories. Since I read them all while eating lunch or dinner at some point, I shared my meals with the books. I no longer know what foods stained them, but they’re still there, kind of like a badge of honor or a reminder of my childhood and how I used to read. I was surprised by the sudden hit of warm memories that assaulted me every time I saw a stain. I was right back at a table in my parents’ house with a plate in front of me and the book being held open around the plate. There are also the occasional pen and pencil markings, none of which I have any clue what they meant, but they’re interesting to find.
Beyond that, I found myself evaluating the writing and the story. I was surprised to find some of it felt choppy and clunky, and Nancy and her friends definitely showed the period of time they were written. The current one I’m reading, The Chocolate-Covered Contest, has a character with a typically Asian last name, but there’s no evidence she’s Asian. I know there wasn’t much diversity in these books, but, after getting so used to diverse characters in today’s books, it’s kind of startling, kind of like looking into a mirror to the past, which was only about a quarter of a century ago. Wow, maybe I really am that old. I’m also surprised by how young Nancy actually seems now. Though I am now a lot of years past eighteen, so I guess I should have expected that.
But reading these books has made the past feel a lot closer than the more than two decades it’s been since I first read them. I feel nostalgic, and often find myself anticipating scenes I know will be coming up. I’ve read so many Nancy Drew books, and it has been so long since my last re-reads, but I still know what nearly every single one of them is about and the different scenes I loved in each. I find myself anticipating them, just as I did when I was a teen reading them over lunch. I may know exactly what’s going to happen, but I still relish them with childish glee. Reading them feels a little bit like going back home as a child.
8 thoughts on “Feeling Nostalgic While Reading Nancy Drew”
Aww. I didn’t have access to a whole lot of Nancy Drew over here but I have a vague memory of a friend bringing it to school and sharing the book with us. And then I watched one of the film version too!
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I forgot about the films! Some of them were actually not bad. I have a feeling Nancy Drew is probably more of an American thing, because I don’t recall any non-Americans mentioning Nancy, but I often get mixed up on where different bloggers are located. I’m curious: what were some of your favorite childhood books?
I love reading to my children, so I relate. We don’t read “classics” unfortunately, but it’s better than nothing… maybe one of these days I’ll manage to convince them to read Jules Verne. Or something equally memorable (A.Conan Doyle?)
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We don’t read any classics, either. It’s more fun for the kids to pick the books, but I always hope that one day one of them will pick one of the classics on my shelves and enjoy it. Verne and Doyle are great choices. A bit of adventure, a bit of mystery. There’s always adventure and mystery when it comes to kids.
How fun that you can now read these with your daughter! I love that you’re passing on your love of reading to your kids =)
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Me, too! I’m glad I kept these books, but wish I’d had the foresight to keep others she might have liked.