By Elizabeth Prata
I’ve always been a reader. As a child, I read to escape the world around me. Reading is an effective way to do that, especially if you have a lot of imagination and are willing to go where the book takes you.
Series are comforting to me. These days as an adult I like progressive reality competition programs such as Blown Away or Great British Bake Off. I like them because the program is always the same. I don’t have to invest time and energy into learning a new set of characters of deal with unexpected situations. Yet the meat of the show changes, they bake different things, they make different things out of glass.
As a kid I liked book series’ where the same thing happened. The structure was always the same, same characters, only the plot changed, yet its bones were basically the same from book to book.
I always “had my nose in a book” as my mother used to sniff. I loved Nancy Drew. The ‘cases’ were interesting to me a kid, and I liked the female heroine. I got one after another out of the library.
On Christmas morning sometime around 50 years ago, I eagerly woke up and vaulted out of my bed. I ran to the living room and burst through the door. We had cathedral ceilings, so we could always get a ten foot tall tree in there. It was majestic. But almost as majestic was the pyramid of Nancy Drew books that seemed almost as tall as the tree! All the books were there that had been published so far in the whole series, arranged standing up unwrapped, in a pyramid. What a dazzling sight! I was so happy!
I was comforted by that gift. I knew I’d have many happy hours ahead of living in Nancy’s world. These are the ‘cases’ I remember best. The cover art has been changed through the years, at least 4 times, the original covers in the 1930s, again by Rudy Nappi in the 1960s (these are the ones I remember, from my era) and some by Bill Gillies in the 1950s and recent updates by Sabrina Gabrielli in the 2000s.
This site has the cover art, synopsis of all the books, and more information about the series.
The next best gift I received was from my father around 25 years ago. He usually just sent a check but that year he gave a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble bookstore (or Borders, I forget which). It was for $200! I was so happy! Usually when I went to the bookstore (remember them?) I’d have to winnow from the 4800 books I wanted down to one. I have to count my pennies. A gift certificate meant I could just buy whatever book I wanted. It was totally opposite to the way I usually shop and it was great!
The Bookstore folks would not allow cash back, they’d just reduce the amount on the gift card till it was gone. The store was far from me and out of my way I knew I would not likely get back there any time soon. So I spent it all at one go! I stayed there browsing for hours, considering, deciding, until I had spent every last penny and it was great.
The absolute best gift I ever got though was quite different from books. It was received sometime near my birthday December 2003 and the second week of January 2004. This one is completely unlike the Nancy Drew books or the bookstore gift certificate. Why? Because unlike a book that you’ve read once and then you know it, this gift never wears out. It is endless in its giving. It was the moment that the Lord broke in to my life in my early 40s and caused me to see my sin for what it was-rebellion against a Holy and Righteous God. He gave me a spirit of repentance. I fell down on Him, crying out something similar to Paul’s everlasting cry,
“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24, 25).
He lifted me from my sin, washed me with His blood, turned me round so I could pursue holiness instead of sin.
That is the best Christmas present I ever got.