Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Revisiting the Trixie Belden Series

I wanted to read the Trixie Belden series again, but I was concerned that I might have trouble getting into the stories.  In a way it's strange that I felt that way.  I have always loved Trixie Belden, but I have read so many boys' series books in the last five years that my perspective has changed.

Trixie Belden is skewed younger than most vintage juvenile series books that interest me, so I feared that could make a difference.  I had not read the Trixie Belden books since sometime in the 1990s, so I was concerned that my outlook might have changed too much.  The main reason I worried is that I do have strong sentimental feelings towards Trixie Belden, and I didn't want my memory to be tainted.

I read Trixie Belden when I was in the sixth grade, but this was when I had mostly outgrown the Nancy Drew series.  I discovered the Sweet Valley High series less than one year later, which started my journey reading young adult books.  This means that I read Trixie Belden a bit later than what would be expected and at the very end of my childhood reading experience.

I read the hardcover books from the 1970s, which were what my elementary school library had.  My mental image of Trixie Belden is how she looks on the covers of these books.  Trixie looks way too young to me on all other formats, even though the other formats are more accurate in their depiction of Trixie Belden.  I might not have read Trixie Belden in the sixth grade if the books had been the previous formats.  Trixie rather looks like an older teenager on these books, and I was on the verge of beginning to read books for teenagers.

Ever since I have been online, I have been quite dismayed that these books are called the "uglies" or the "short and uglies."  Some of us Gen Xers tend to favor this format, and it's upsetting to have it disparaged constantly by everyone else.  Recently I finally noted that a few people admit to liking this format.  I think many people who like this format are afraid to speak up.  The last time—and only other time—I have ever stated how I hate the name given to this format, I was taunted by another collector.  That's just great.  It's bad enough that everyone else makes fun of the format we like, but we also get insulted about it.  How about respecting other people's opinions? 

When I decided to try to read the first Trixie Belden book in July, I selected the deluxe edition, since I have always considered the deluxe editions to be very nice books.  I quickly decided that I couldn't read it since Trixie looks too young.  I pulled out the thin hardcover edition—I do refuse to use the popular name for them as can be seen on my website—and continued reading.  The change in format helped considerably, since Trixie looks right to me.

I always use a scan of the actual book I read when I review books, regardless of condition.  I do not use the scans from my website since those are low quality.  Many years ago, the data storage amount allotted for the site was very low, so I had to use low quality scans.  The scans aren't good enough for this blog.

Since I decided to read the thin hardcover books of the 1970s, those books will be featured in the reviews for volumes 1 through 16.  And you know what?  For me, they look perfect.  No, they are perfectly perfect.  Most of you might not like them, but this Gen Xer does.  In fact, as I have read and enjoyed them, I have decided that I love them.

For volumes 17 through 38, I will read the Goldencraft hardcover editions, which means those will be featured in the blog.  Finally, I will have to read the softcover edition of volume 39. 

I have read the entire set before, except probably volumes 36 and 39.  I am certain that volume 36 was added to my set last, but I also believe that I did not own volume 39 during the time that I last read the books.

To be more specific, I have read the first six Trixie Belden books many times.  I have read most titles of #7 through #16 at least several times.  I have read #17 through #19 and #33 at least twice.  I have read #20 through #32, #34, #35, #37, and #38 at least once.  #36 and #39 are the only two books that I have probably never read.

I have now read far enough into the Trixie Belden series to be able to report that I did struggle with some of the earlier books (Note the use of earlier rather than earliest.).  If that surprises you, read the last sentence of the first paragraph of this post again.  I knew that what I have been reading the last few years has changed my perspective on vintage series books significantly.

I enjoy some of the early Trixie Belden books as much as ever, but others don't hold the magic for me that they once did.  Some stories contain too much explanatory information about charities or other topics.  For me, the series really hits its stride beginning with volume 10, and at that point, I began enjoying the books just as much as I did years ago.  I am thankful for that.  Reviews of the books will follow in the coming weeks.

1 comment:

Albert Alioto said...

I have read and enjoyed a number of the Trixie Belden books. Maybe Trixie and her brothers and friends are a little too perfectly unselfish in jumping in to help whatever charitable cause comes their way. But I find Trixie a comfortable character to spend a couple of hundred pages with.

One of the most enjoyable things about series books from an earlier era is to see examples of how things have changed. There is a stark one in TRIXIE BELDEN AND THE MYSTERIOUS CODE (1961). Trixie's mother wants to buy her a party dress and One of Trixie's complaints is that her waist goes "miles around." Her mother suggests that Trixie wear a girdle and eventually gets her into one. Earlier in the book it is stated that Trixie is thirteen. It was a time when apparently it wasn't uncommon for a thirteen-year-old girl to wear a girdle. How many thirteen-year-olds would know what one is today?