Sometime this summer, I will reach the 20th anniversary of when I began collecting series books. First, some background to the tale is necessary.
During the summer that I turned seven years old, my mother pulled six Nancy Drew books out of the living room closet. She told me that the books were the first six Nancy Drew books and that she had purchased them for me when I was a baby, which was in 1972.
She told me which one was the first book, and I began reading it. I recall that I spent a good amount of time that day reading The Secret of the Old Clock. I do not recall any other details, but I must have liked the book.
My mother began buying Nancy Drew books for me. The books that she bought were a mixture of black and white multi endpapers, double oval endpapers, and quite a few of the Twin Thriller lavender double editions that she found in a local closeout store.
I later progressed from Nancy Drew to Trixie Belden. During the sixth grade, I checked out the first sixteen Trixie Belden books from my elementary school library, one at a time. I remember how thrilling it was reading about Trixie, Honey, and Jim getting caught in that horrible flood during The Happy Valley Mystery. I remember how much I loved reading those Trixie Belden books, which were the thin hardcover editions from the 1970s. How I wish I had those exact copies from the elementary school in my possession.
At some point after I read Trixie Belden, my mother brought some books home for me that she found at a garage sale. There were perhaps around six or so Trixie Belden books, covering all formats from the first format up to the books from the 1970s. She also had found an interesting old copy of The Clue of the Velvet Mask which was a picture cover edition with blue multi endpapers and the original text. I was utterly fascinated with that book. It had an old-fashioned illustration on the front cover, and I carefully compared the text to my copy and noticed the interesting differences.
I gradually lost interest in Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. I began reading miscellaneous teen novels including Sweet Valley High very shortly after its launch when only around a dozen SVH titles had been released. After that I read Christopher Pike and later went through a phase in which I read most of Charles Dickens' works along with works by several classic English authors.
My Nancy Drew books never left my bedroom even after I lost interest in them. I did, unfortunately, use a bunch of them to prop up a broken leg on my bed, so the covers of some books have deep gouges in them.
I have now set the background. Sometime during the summer of 1991, I was watching the Oprah Winfrey show. During that time, I did not often watch Oprah, but on that one fateful day I was watching her show. That particular episode was one of her shows featuring items that people had found in their attics. Audience members had brought a variety of antiques and collectibles and were finding out what the items were worth, kind of like what happens on Antiques Roadshow.
As I watched that show, I thought of those books that my mother had bought at the garage sale when I was a child. I thought of those neat older Trixie Belden books and that odd copy of Velvet Mask with the original text. I went to my room and found the books. I then thought about how I could try to find more of them.
All it took was one hour of watching Oprah and remembering those old books from that garage sale. That summer, I began visiting garage sales every weekend. I went to used book stores. I traveled to local antique shops. And here I am 20 years later. What is your story?