Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Desirability of Nancy Drew #1-56 vs. #57+

I have finished reading and reviewing Nancy Drew #1-56.  The plan is to keep going, but my immediate problem is that I do not like several of the lowest-numbered volumes very much.  Once I force my way through them, I should do much better.

I want to make several points, but most of them were previously made in "Will the Real Nancy Drew Step forward?"  Here are the key points from that post.
I read Nancy Drew books from around 1979 to 1985.  People in my group tend to like most all of the original 56 Nancy Drew books, since all of them had been published by that time.  Furthermore, we tend to like the revised text books as well as the original text books.

My preferences were also influenced by which books were available to me.  Early in my collecting, I had a strong aversion to the softcover Nancy Drew books.  The reason is simple: most of those books came after I quit reading Nancy Drew books.  It had nothing to do with whether the books are good.

We were strongly influenced by which books were available to us as children.  I do not believe that most people realize that the primary reason they prefer certain books is based solely on what they read as children.

People who are my age consider #1-56 to be the real Nancy Drew.  I at first resisted collecting the softcover books simply because they are softcover and I did not read them when young. Once I took that leap, I found that the softcover books, #57-175, are very worthwhile.  That is, I can only comment for up to around #165, since I have not read the final volumes.  Up to where I left off, the books are enjoyable and worth reading.  People who do not care for them likely did not have the softcover books available as children.
As stated, I do not like several of the lowest-numbered Nancy Drew paperback books.  The books are a bit uneven for a time.  The lower-numbered Nancy Drew paperbacks were published in a time of transition.  Harriet Adams' health had failed, and Nancy Axelrad took over writing the books.  After Nancy Axelrad, the books were written by a number of different people, and during this time, the Stratemeyer Syndicate was sold to Simon and Schuster.  From that point on, Simon and Schuster was completely responsible and made necessary subtle changes to the series, like dumping Burt and Dave.

After this long transition, which occurred from #57 up to around #80, the series settled into consistently good titles.  The books are not the same as #1-56, but they are also not dramatically different from the higher-numbered ones.

Where does the fan draw the line?  What a fan read as a child usually makes the final decision.  Many (and perhaps most) of the post #56 Nancy Drew books are worth reading, but many people are not interested.

Collectors tend to stop at #56 since that was the final book originally published by Grosset and Dunlap.  For a time during recent years, Grosset and Dunlap issued #57 through #64 in hardcover editions, so some collectors expanded up to #64.  Other collectors have purchased the Wanderer hardcover editions with dust jackets, so they collect up to #78.  As far as I know, anyone who ventures beyond #78 goes all the way up to #175, even though the softcover books have had several format changes.

I don't know if I will continue revisiting the books up to #175 since I get easily distracted by other books, but I will go as far as I can.  My upcoming reviews generally will not be written up to the degree of my previous ones.  I only write for this blog when the content comes easily to me.  If I have no particular thoughts about a book, I will not review it except for a brief mention as to how much I enjoyed it.

#57 is the first one that will likely not have much more than a short review.  #58 is a favorite, so I should come up with a pretty good review.  My expectation right now is that for most books, I will write short reviews, and most posts will contain reviews of multiple books.  Now you know what to expect moving forward.


A Candle to Read By said...

Can you tell us the originals you liked the most?

Jennifer White said...

From #35 to #56, I like #48 the best with #42 in second place. I like most all of #1-35 very well. #2, 3, 4 (revised only), 5 (revised only), 6, 9, 10, 17 (revised only), 22, 24, and 30 stand out as ones I like better.

A Candle to Read By said...

Thanks. I will have fun looking at the titles you have listed.