“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book…”
― Abraham Lincoln
My earliest literary memories were the nursery rhyme books Mom would read to us. The words tickled my ears in such a pleasant way. I don’t remember much else from my pre-school years, but I remember the book an aunt brought me when I was four. Little Bobo and his Blue Jacket is the story of a little elephant whose new jacket no longer fit because his mother washed it in Shrinko. I was thrilled to have a book that was just mine.
I remember that same happiness and excitement again in 3rd grade when books from the Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club arrived at Meissner Elementary and my teacher distributed them to those who had ordered them. I still have several of those books. Parcifal Rides the Time Wave was the first time-travel story I ever read. Another favorite was My Father’s Dragon, a mystical, mysterious, adventure story.
Later, Mom bought me Nancy Drew books for birthdays and Christmas. I was hooked on Nancy Drew until my freshmen English teacher told me it was time to move on and suggested Agatha Christie as a more appropriate choice in mysteries.
And then there is that pleasant memory of Mr. Brinkley’s box of books. Alec Brinkley was a friendly neighbor in Woodburn who always had a smile and a good word whenever you met him. One day he dropped off a large box of books for our family that he no longer wanted. I thought it was Christmas. Or maybe I should say Thanksgiving. After all, I ate them up like a tasty meal.
In it, there were books by familiar authors like Agatha Christie. But Mr. Brinkley’s box of books also opened my eyes to other literary avenues to explore. Victoria Holt’s Mistress of Mellyn and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca sent me on the trail of gothic romantic mysteries for many years.
A stack of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines and books gave me a love for detective stories. I’ve read a million books since then, but I still remember the first Ellery Queen story (although regrettably not the title). A woman is found stabbed to death in a locked room. At the end, we discover that she actually had killed herself in a ritual harikari ceremony with a jeweled dagger. The sleuth reveals that a raven had purloined the sparkly dagger, taking it away through the open window to its nest.
They say you are what you eat. But surely we are also what we read. With this kind of a literary background, it’s no wonder my own books have elements of mystery and mayhem.It would be so nice of you to share!