The best book you ever received for Christmas

by | Dec 25, 2019 | Liv Constantine, On writing | 6 comments

By: Liv Constantine

‘Tis the day for gift-giving and all of us (well, perhaps most of us) hope that we’ve chosen the perfect gift for the special people in our lives. We spent time in December browsing catalogs, searching online, and shopping at our favorite stores to find just the right present.

You can probably think back over all of your Christmases and remember the presents that were most special to you. If you had to choose one that tops the list, you might be hard-pressed. But since everyone reading this is a reader or a writer or both, we bet it would be easy to pick out the best book you ever got for Christmas.

For both of us, Nancy Drew wins hands down. The titles thrilled us, and the scarier the cover the better. There was nothing like unwrapping a new mystery and knowing how exciting it was going to be to read. It was almost impossible not to open it to the first page right then and there and start reading!
The first book in the series was “The Secret of the Old Clock” and the cover is etched in our brains. This girl detective, at the age of 16, drove her roadster down winding roads, followed her hunches, always recognized suspicious characters and could pick a lock with the best of them. Next year Nancy turns 90, and she has never been out of print. In fact, over 80 million Nancy Drew books have been sold, and she has been translated into 45 languages!
Edward Stratemeyer created “The Hardy Boys”, and in 1929 imagined a girl detective who would capture the hearts of little girls. Hence the creation of Nancy Drew, who came to life in 1930 when he asked Mildred Wirt Benson, a newspaperwoman, to write the first three books. Stratemeyer heavily outlined his vision for those books and so were born “The Secret of the Old Clock”, “The Hidden Staircase” and “The Bungalow.”  She continued to write the series under the name Carolyn Keene until the 1950s when Stratemeyer’s daughter took over.
Nancy Drew was such an enduring presence in both of our lives that we still talk about her. As the older sister, Valerie’s books became Lynne’s. Lynne was so passionate about them that she made sure to make a legal claim of ownership.

Lynne passed them on to her young daughter (who is now in college), and in a year or two, the treasure trove will be passed along to Valerie’s now four-year-old granddaughter! A recent review by Maureen Corrigan in the Washington Post of “The Guardians” by John Grisham said this: “The climax of “The Guardians” slyly nods to many a classic Nancy Drew adventure: Post and Franke steel themselves to break into a boarded-up haunted house, climb up into its dank attic and unearth (as Nancy would say) a “clew” that just may decide Miller’s fate…”

Nancy endures!
Were you a Nancy Drew fan? What was a favorite book that you received for Christmas?

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  1. Lisa Black

    I should know this but I don’t! Argh! I’m sure I got Nancy Drews for Christmas and birthdays but it was so long ago and my brain has turned to mush! My family was huge readers, but oddly we didn’t do a lot of book gift giving.

  2. Rogue Women Writers

    I'm with Lisa about not recalling the Nancy Drew books from "way back when" — however, I do recall devouring (eons ago) the incredible story of Scarlett O'Hara — and after all these years, I remember a phrase she uttered in that novel – something to the effect, "I don't want to think about that today; I'll think about that tomorrow." (How often we do that – right?) Thanks for a great blog – and warm and wonderful holiday wishes to all!

  3. Robin Burcell

    I LOVED the Nancy Drew series. There was one of those little lights that had a bendable arm on my nightstand, and I'd lower it as far as it would go, aiming it onto on the bed, then pull the covers all the way up, so my grandmother wouldn't know I was reading far past my bedtime. They were so suspenseful! Thanks for the great memories!

  4. Gayle Lynds

    I was a big Bobbsey Twins fan, until finally finally … someone told me about Nancy Drew. She rocked! Thank you, Nancy, for giving us girls a Great Detective!

  5. V. A-J

    Nancy was great but my strongest memory is getting my own Trixie Beldon book.

  6. Chris Goff

    I loved Nancy Drew. I think my favorite book was The Mystery of Larkspur Lane. Like Gayle, I read the Bobbsey Twins first. But, I think my "first book," the one I picked to buy, was a Honey Bunch book.