The Book Collection I Left Behind

Sunday, September 03, 2017

We went on our annual family vacation to Hilton Head Island, S.C. at the end of July, and I like to do a day trip to nearby Savannah, Ga. whenever we are there. While we were in the visitors’ center a brochure for a used bookstore caught my eye, so we checked it out. As you can imagine, I was entranced the second I walked in, especially when I walked into the back of the shop. One entire wall contained used copies of the Trixie Belden mystery series. My jaw dropped and then my heart sank.

I had a history with the series that came rushing back to me in that instant. When I was 12, I was sent to stay with my grandmother in Louisiana for a few weeks. I was lonely and missed my friends and I’m sure my grandmother sensed it. One night she handed me a large bag full of paperback books (to this day I’m not sure where they came from. Her attic, I guess.) with the words “Trixie Belden” across the covers. Because I loved to read and had already exhausted my reading material, I gratefully dove into the first one, a mystery. I lost myself in the world of Trixie, who lived with her family on the fictional Crabapple Farm, located near the Hudson River Family. She formed a sort of club christened "The Bob-Whites" with her best friend Honey Wheeler, and their brothers and cousins. They basically gallivanted all over upstate New York solving a new mystery in each book. Trixie was everything I wasn’t—bold, adventurous, headstrong, and curious. I read the books over and over, and when my visit with my grandmother ended, she happily packed the books with my things.

When I walked into the used bookstore in Georgia, and saw all the Trixie Belden editions lined up lovingly on the shelves, a wave of sadness hit me. During one of my many moves as a teenager, I lost track of my collection of Trixie Belden books. And my collection of Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike books. The owner walked over to me and said, “Are you a Trixie girl?” and then showed me a framed first edition cover she had hanging on her wall. I told her how I was sad because I used to have at least 30 of the books (there were two different authors and many different book cover reproductions over the years--I had versions published in the late 1970s) and they are actually now worth quite a bit of money. She suggested I check into some of the fan groups on Facebook to learn more about the editions and see if I can track down any of my old copies. I probably wrote my name in them and didn’t even think about it at the time.

After visiting that bookstore, I had so many questions about this book collection that remains tied to my past. Why did my grandmother have all of them? Did they originally belong to one of my aunt or cousins and she was holding on to them for safekeeping? Did I ever thank her for giving me such a gift? She passed away several years ago so it’s too late for that now. I wonder if my grandmother knew I would grow up to be a writer and wanted to encourage me. I also wonder how many authors have similar collections of books that they hold near and dear to their hearts. Maybe one day I’ll see if I can track down some of my old copies, if they are out there somewhere.

Do you have any collections of books or a series of books by one author? Why are they special to you? What was your favorite series that you read growing up?

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who still loves re-reading the books she loved as a teenager. She may have to revisit Trixie Belden soon. 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--I collect Sandra Dallas' books, along with Jodi Picoult's. Joe Hill's books--he doesn't have enough out to have a "collection," and yet I have all of his books. Mary Karr's.

Oops. I'd better stop talking before either my husband hears how many "collections" I have or I'm accused of being a book hoarder.

I wasn't a Trixie girl. I was a Nancy girl. Nancy Drew. Over the years--I don't know how--they disappeared, and the new ones don't look anything like the old, hardcover ones. Like you, I devoured them and reread those mysteries when I was 11 and 12.

I hope you track down either your original books or replacement ones. It would be nice for you to have a section on your bookshelf to honor an author who--perhaps--got you started as a writer.

Margo Dill said...

I am a Trixie Belden fan too!! :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Nancy Drew
Trixie Belden
Meg Mysteries
Marguerite Henry
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Angela Mackintosh said...

What a wonderful memory, Renee. :)

Little House on the Prairie
Nancy Drew
Choose Your Own Adventure
Black Stallion
Marguerite Henry
Flowers in the Attic saga
Judy Blume
EB White many

Thinking about a book series or authors from childhood can spark such detailed memories of where you were when you reading them, friends you had who were reading them too (or lack of friends), and what kind of magic and wonder they inspired in your world at the time. Thinking about it now, it would make for a fantastic essay... you have a great start, Renee! You could write, "My Summer with Trixie Belden" and explore all the things you don't know but want to about your grandmother, and the things you do know, while talking about the series and how some elements in the books relate to your relationship. It would be something I would love to read! This post is so beautifully written, I feel it begs for expansion. :)

Mary Horner said...

I was never a Nancy Drew girl, but I loved Encyclopedia Brown. And now my library is eclectic!

Renee Roberson said...

Sioux--I have a lot of Jodi's books, too. And Elin Hilderbrand. I am excited about the thought of tracking down some of those Trixie books--even if I never find my originals!

Margo--I loved those books! I think Honey Wheeler was my favorite character. She seemed to really have the life.

Sue--Now that I think about it, I had a bunch of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books at one point, too. Those also must have been lost along the way :(

Angela--Thanks for the advice! It does seem like a good starting point for an essay.

Mary--I also was a big Encyclopedia Brown fan!

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