I was sitting on our deck one morning looking across the tree-lined road to where a leafy, arched opening revealed a shimmering glimpse of the Penobscot Bay.   It came to me in a moment of utter contentment that the things I love most now are the ones that gave me the greatest happiness during my growing-up years in England.  These are first and foremost family and friends, a beloved dog, a couple of independent-minded cats, a nearness to the sea, and always books, books, books.

 

From my father I gained a love of Dickens, Austen, and the Brontës; from my mother a pleasure in poetry; and from my third-form teacher, who read to us every afternoon in a classroom with a fireplace, a rapturous delight in children’s authors of the day.  In particular Enid Blyton.  Her two series recounting the adventures of The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, whose fun-packed missions it was to solve crimes by cat burglars on stilts or shadowy figures lurking in crypts, were the wellspring of my abiding passion for the mystery.

 

Throughout my childhood, the highlight of Saturday afternoons was going with my father to the library in our small town and returning with as many books as I was allowed – I think it was three, all with titles such as The Mystery of Smuggler’s Cove or The Meddlesome Ghost.  The girls’ boarding school books I enjoyed most included such characters as the evil sixth-form prefect intent on finding and stealing the hidden treasure that would save the school from closing, or the Secret Service father of one of the pupils who required her help in unmasking the games mistress as a spy for some tiny monarchy intent on destroying the British government.  I continued reading such books with relish well into my teens.  And then, when I was about fourteen, my passion for the genre expanded to include works of romantic suspense works by such authors as Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stuart, and Victoria Holt, often serialized in the magazines Woman and Woman’s Own, which my mother took every week.  My sister Jean and I would race each other home in the hope of grabbing them first.  If interrupted when reading, we would hide them away to make sure they weren’t nabbed before we could finish that week’s installment. My favorite spot was behind the toilet tank.  But then Jean thought of that too.  

 

And so it went ... A boy I met at the swimming pool introduced me to Agatha Christie by lending me Murder at the Vicarage ....  So many wonderful, well plotted mysteries by writers then and now.  They are for me one of life’s constants, connecting me to the blissful magic of the past while promising future venturings into worlds of valor against villainy.

 

Which books remind you of your childhood?

 

 

Editor's Note: Dorothy Cannell is the author of the Ellie Haskell books. The latest installment, She Shoots to Conquer, was published this year.

Comments
by LindaEducation on ‎12-21-2009 11:39 PM

Books that remind me of my childhood are mostly mysteries as well.  I remember reading Trixie Belden mysteries and also old Nancy Drew mysteries that were handed down from my two older sisters.  Then I started having a passion for Alfred Hitchcock paperbacks when I was about 13, and requested them for every gift occasion, besides buying them on my own.

by wilderbeest on ‎01-02-2010 04:24 PM

Hardy Boys novels

Transformers choose your own fate books

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Beowulf

Agatha Christie novels

Stephen King novels

He-Man and She-Ra comics

DC and Marvel Comics superheroes

Encyclopedia Britannica

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎01-04-2010 12:09 PM

Mysteries, mostly, for me:

 

Nancy Drew

Trixie Belden

Judy Bolton

The Hardy Boys

Cherry Ames

The Secret of the Old Post Box by Dorothy Sterling

The Secret of the Casa Grande by Helen Rudolph

 

But others, too:

 

The Island of the Blue Dolphins

Caddie Woodlawn

The Pink Motel

Ben and Me

All of A.A. Milne's books

Paul Berna's A Hundred Million Francs (also published as The Horse Without a Head)

Lois Duncan's Season of the Two-Heart

 

Lots of biographies -- Clara Barton, J. Edgar Hoover, Marie Curie, etc.

Lots of short story collections and poetry collections, too.

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