Taking Out the Trash: Getting Older and My Journey with Nancy Drew

It’s time for another edition of Taking Out the Trash.  Taking Out the Trash is a way for me to share my musings about various subjects that may or may not be related to the focus of the blog, and let the reader get to know me better.  This week I admit that I’m getting older, and more about my lifelong journey with Nancy Drew.

As I mentioned in this week’s WWW Wednesday post, my daughter came down with Covid, but luckily it was a mild case. No one else has been affected, including my over-65, high risk because of health issues husband. So yay! Part of this year’s Christmas celebration will be going for our own Covid tests and awaiting the results so I can go back to work.

Since I’ve been around the house and not working a 40+ hour workweek like I was originally supposed to, I’ve had time to do some reading, or rather, listening of audiobooks. I’m reading a little, but it’s a struggle. In the past two months, my eyesight has gotten really bad. Pre-quarantine I had my eyes checked and we came to the inevitable conclusion that most 40-something people encounter: I need bifocals. I fought the good fight, gave up cross-stitching several years ago because it was too difficult to do, and now I can officially describe myself as “older.” I order all my glasses from Zenni Optical, because they have frames as low as $6.95. At one time, all six of us in the house had glasses, and it was getting really expensive to keep the kids in glasses. Standard lenses are free, and bifocal lenses run $27.95. I usually spend just as much for 5-6 pairs of glasses as I would pay for one at the eye care doctor’s office. (Zenni is not an affiliate partner of mine, but I thought I’d mention them because after all, I am The Bargain Sleuth.)

So I’ve listened to about 8 audiobooks and now I have to write the reviews for them. I’m also trudging through the Nancy Drew Mysteries and Nancy Drew Diaries. I’m not saying I’m not enjoying them, but with the originals, there are two versions of each story up to number #34, so really I’m reading two books a week, plus all the other reading I want to do, so sometimes I just want to quit, but I’m bound and determined to read all 175 of the original mysteries. The Diaries give me a break from having to read two books in one week, and it’s interesting to see how the 21st century Nancy Drew is portrayed. As mentioned above, reading is difficult right now because I need my bifocals. I have to say I’m enjoying reading the Original Text (OT), as I collected them years ago but had never read them, and comparing them with the Revised Text (RT), which are the ones I grew up with.

In fact, my love of Nancy Drew can be attributed to my oldest sister, Renee’, who is developmentally disabled. She’s’ 12 years older than me (I also have a sister 6 years older than me named Jeanine) and when I was little, she’d read The Secret of Mirror Bay (Amazon) (AbeBooks) or The Double Jinx Mystery (Amazon) (AbeBooks) to me at bedtime because those were the books she had (we didn’t have a lot of money when I was little–my dad was a teacher full-time and worked part-time 3-4 days a week at a local department store to support our family of nine). And can I just say that sharing a room with 2 other people was hard, very hard. My four brothers only had two to a room. I was actually shuttled about the first few years in my crib, from one set of brothers’ room to the other, until I was finally put in the girls’ room.

Renee’s reading ability has never gone past the 6th or 7th grade level, so Nancy Drew books were the right age level for her. I’m sure she read me other books as well, but I remember those two stories quite well and are two of my favorites. It was also the same time we could watch Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys on TV in the late 1970’s. Renee’ still lives at home with Mom, is looking forward to retirement in two years, and we still talk about Nancy Drew when we visit.

I started collecting Nancy Drew books in earnest in middle school, when my parents would take me to flea markets and antique stores. My dad had gone from teacher to principal to administrator, and several of the kids had moved out, so there was expendable income for books. I had collected quite a few and discovered on my own that there were OT and RTs. My boyfriend (now my husband) and I also frequented used book stores, too, when I was starting college.

It wasn’t until the early days of the internet when I was working at a local TV station that I began in earnest to try and collect the whole series. But there are so many different types to collect, I had to narrow it down. I decided that I liked the ever-changing look of Nancy, so I decided to collect all the different covers of each volume. Little did I know that for some volumes, there were as many as four different covers. I had discovered the Applewood facsimiles at a book store in Minneapolis on a trip to visit my oldest brother, and was happy to have OTs for a fraction of the price of the originals. I “met” Lea Shangraw Fox online, I can’t remember how, maybe through an online discussion board, and she was able to provide me with a list of all the covers for paperbacks and was able to buy some copies from her.

I bought the Applewood books and Digests as they were released and scrounged eBay and thrift shops and used bookstores for the older books. I also collected a whole set of Hardy Boys RTs along the way, hoping some day I might have a son who was interested in mysteries (I did have a son, who was not interested, but I did not get rid of the books). I also had a smattering of Trixie Belden from childhood and was collecting those, and also added to my lavender Bobbsey Twins collection.

By the time I had my first child, in 2003, Nancy Drew Mysteries were being retired to make way for Girl Detective and I only had a few paperback Digests to collect. I had my second child one year later, so motherhood took a back seat to collecting. Then I went back to school, so there was no money or time for collecting. Then, before I even finished school, I had a child in 2008, graduated, and had another child in 2009, so collecting was not a priority. I began blogging in 2010 in the highly competitive “Extreme Couponing” days and it took a lot of time out of the day and left little time for scrounging thrift and used book stores. With the exception of the hardcover Nancy Drews, the rest of my series books were in boxes in our bomb shelter.

In the meantime, I collected the books my kids had fallen in love with: the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy (AbeBooks) (Amazon) and the 39 Clues series (AbeBooks) (Amazon). The older two liked mysteries, just not my mysteries. I also collected all the American Girls books for my daughter, who went through that phase. My favorite American Girl was Kit, who lived during the depression, and was always frugal with her money because she had to be, and was always finding ways to earn money for her family. Bargain Sleuth approved!

It’s only been the past few years that I have completed my Nancy Drew Mysteries series set, my Trixie Belden books, my Bobbsey Twins lavender set, my Hardy Boys OTs. I have many of the Nancy Drew Files, On Campus and Girl Detective books but they aren’t a priority and I’m not actively looking for more. Over quarantine in March, April and May I collected many non-book items like the puzzles, the audio CDs (Secret of Shadow Ranch still eludes me), and the lunch box with thermos. Over quarantine I also went through our many bookshelves and boxed up 11 boxes of other books, then moved all the bookcases downstairs, bought a couple more, and put out all my series’ books that had been sitting in boxes for years. That’s what prompted me to start reading the books again.

As an active user of Goodreads for years, and smashing my yearly goals for book reading, I had decided in 2020 if I was going to read all these book, I was going to write a review of every book I read, too. The re-reading of Nancy Drew Mysteries and reviewing them led to the creation of Bargain Sleuth Book Reviews. I know not everyone is as enamored with Nancy Drew and other series’ books as me, so that’s why I only do those reviews on Fridays. I like to read lots of other genres, too, and like to share my reviews with others and get their feedback.

That’s it for this edition of Taking Out the Trash. Next week we’ll have a New Year’s edition!

For those that celebrate Christmas, I hope your day is a good one. For those of other faiths or no faith at all, Happy Holidays to you!

Jennifer “The Bargain Sleuth”

For my Nancy Drew book reviews, click here.

For more information about my favorite sleuth, check out Jenn Fisher’s Unofficial Nancy Drew website, which has a wealth of information.

For more information on girls’ series books, Jennifer White has a fabulous website that you can visit by clicking here.

For more of my book reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com

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