Thursday, August 03, 2006

How Did It Start?

For the past few days, I've been trying to figure out where my love of mysteries first began. Yeah, I know. Too much time on my hands. Except that's not entirely true. I don't have nearly enough time for everything I need to do, I'm just really good at procrastinating.

But I digress. . .

I can't remember how old I was when I read my first Nancy Drew mystery, but I know I was younger than 11. Much younger. I was still living in Montana then, and my mother signed my sister and me up for some Nancy Drew book club, which meant that two Nancy Drew mysteries were delivered to our front door every month (or something like that.) I remember sharing the books with my sister, but I don't remember how we decided who read what, and when. I'm guessing when I say that she read the books first and then passed them on to me, but it seems like a logical guess since she was three years older and, naturally, bossy.

At some point, my mother decided to sell off my Nancy Drew books (without even mentioning her evil plan to me) so she could buy the Hardy Boys series for my brother (who doesn't read and so never did appreciate the depth of my personal sacrifice.) I wish I could report that I'm so emotionally healthy that the loss of my beloved Nancy Drew books was merely a blip on the radar screen of my childhood, but I can't. I'm still miffed, but I feel a little better because my mother (perhaps recognizing the need to make serious amends) gave me the entire set of story books that she used to read to me from when I was very young.

My favorite story of all time, TOM TIT TOT, is in those books, and I clearly remember the delicious shivers that raced up my spine when I listened to that story. I wasn't much older when my grandmother gave me a Readers Digest condensed version of Victoria Holt's MISTRESS OF MELLYN to read during a family camping trip. I might have been 12 or 13, but I might have been 10 or 11.

What I do remember is sitting in the shade for days, enjoying those familiar delicious shivers as I read. After working through every Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney gothic I could get my hands on, I discovered Agatha Christie, and spent the next few years reading British mysteries, almost exclusively. In my head, a mystery wasn't a mystery unless it was a cozy set in a small English village.

 I can't remember when I finally began accepting Settings Other Than British and Mysteries Other Than Cozy into the fold, but at some point variety became the key to my reading experience. I read everything and everyone, but rarely do I read two books by the same author, or two books from the same genre or subgenre in a row. But that's just how things stand now. My reading habits will probably change again one of these days. Seems that the only thing that doesn't change is the fact that things are always changing Brows

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