Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Journey through Boys' Series

I have never cared for boys' series books.  That is... I didn't think that I cared for them.  The only boys' series I had read were the Hardy Boys, Perry Pierce, and Ken Holt.  While I overall enjoyed the Hardy Boys books, I did not like certain aspects of them, such as some of the boisterous behavior of the boys.  I enjoyed Perry Pierce more than the Hardy Boys, but I also didn't care for similar situations.  When I read Ken Holt back in 2010, I struggled with the great detail and some of the qualities shared with the former two series.  Based on those experiences, I concluded that I didn't like boys' series books very much.

In the last year I have read the Three Investigators, Brains Benton, the Power Boys, Rick Brant, Roger Baxter, Troy Nesbit, and Biff Brewster.  I greatly enjoyed most all of the books in most of the series.  I read the Ken Holt books again, and I liked them better than I did in 2010.  Since I responded quite well to most of the books in these boys' series, I can now conclude that I do in fact like boys' series books.  This is quite a revelation for me, since I thought that I didn't like boys' books.

Since I have been hungrily reading as many boys' books as I can as fast as I can, I have paid particular attention to the recommendations of boys' series enthusiasts so that I can acquire more books to read.  Several collectors recommend the Tom Quest books.  In fact, the comments to a post I made on Facebook caused me to build a set of the Tom Quest books with the idea of reading them right after Biff Brewster.  I was able to get all eight books at reasonable prices.

Since I built the set in one hour by perusing several online sites, some of the books have flaws.  I had to take the best of what was available that evening, since I wanted to build the set fast in order to have it on hand by the time I finished Biff Brewster.  Even with flaws, the set is a good solid set that I will enjoy reading.

Meanwhile, several collectors have recommended the Mill Creek Irregulars, which is also known as the Steve and Sim series.  The series consists of ten books written by August Derleth.  I decided that I wanted to try these books.  I wanted copies with jackets in at least very good condition, but these books are much more expensive and hard to find than the Tom Quest books.  I would have to invest quite a bit in order to build a set, and I didn't want to do this without a better idea of whether I would enjoy the books.  This meant that I needed to secure the first title to see how I responded to the beginning of the series.

I purchased the first two books with dust jackets off of AbeBooks.  While I was waiting for these books, I was busy reading the Biff Brewster series and was greatly enjoying them.  When the two books arrived, I read the beginning of the first book, The Moon Tenders.  The text flows so well, and the book pulled me in immediately.  Reading those opening pages was like eating a delectable dessert.  It was that good!  I quit reading after a bit and decided that I would purchase more of the set.  I kept getting pulled back to The Moon Tenders, and I found myself obsessed with it.  I forced myself to quit on the third chapter, since I didn't have the set.  I told myself that I would not allow myself to read another word until I had all ten books in my possession.  That settled that.

I then found myself thinking of The Moon Tenders while continuing with Biff Brewster.  It was an internal struggle to keep myself going with Biff Brewster.  I try to avoid reading anything else while reading a series, because I can so easily throw myself off.  Reading most of the first three chapters of The Moon Tenders was enough to nearly pull me away from Biff Brewster. 

I decided that I had to get the entire set of the Mill Creek Irregulars.  I ordered six of the eight titles that I still needed.  Volumes 3 and 4 were problematic.  The Pinkertons Ride Again and The Ghost of Black Hawk Island were in low supply online, especially The Ghost of Black Hawk Island.  Several days passed before I finally settled on which copies I would purchase for those two titles. 

I then eagerly awaited my purchases.  I was nervous about The Ghost of Black Hawk Island since so few copies were available and I had to pay more than I would have preferred.  Finally, I had all ten books in my possession.  16 days passed between submitting my order for the first two books and receiving the final book that I needed.  It didn't take me long to complete the set!

Except for a few minor wear issues, the books and jackets are in excellent condition.  None of the books are library discards, with the exception of the one that is surplus from the Library of Congress Copyright Office.  As far as I'm concerned, that one does not count as a library discard, since it did not come from a public library and was never circulated.  One book was signed by August Derleth.  I am very pleased with the books.

I have started reading the Tom Quest series, and so far, I am greatly enjoying the first book.  I started the first Tom Quest book two days before my final book arrived to complete the Mill Creek Irregulars set.  I will finish Tom Quest before I begin the Mill Creek Irregulars, but it is next on my list. 

After that, I'm not sure what will be next.  It depends upon whether I build another set of a boys' series to read.  If I don't have another set compiled, then I will read the Hardy Boys books again.  I have not read the Hardy Boys books in 20 years.  I'd like to see what I think of the Hardy Boys now that I have read a good many boys' series books. 


Phyl said...

Have you heard of the Sandy Steele series by Roger Barlow? I have 4 out of 6 of them. It's been a while since I read them but I remember liking them. They were written in the mid 60s.

I'm glad you've discovered you like boy series books! I'm currently reading the Rick Brant books. I have 7 of them and the ones I don't have I'm reading online.

Jennifer White said...

Several people have recommended Sandy Steele. I will likely try them as well sometime this summer. I'm also considering building a set of the Bret King books.

Phyl said...

My brother found a Bret King book at an antique store. I had never heard of it before. I haven't had a chance to read it yet.