Welcome back! I’m glad you are joining me again. In case it wasn’t clear enough after my first blog, I am a certifiable book nerd. I love reading, writing and talking about books. Nothing gives me more pleasure. The idea of looking back at my life through the lens of books that I’ve read seems both exciting and daunting. I have read so many books, and I know I will remember only a small percentage of them. I wish I’d kept a list. If I were a teacher, this would be my suggestion to my students: Buy a nice journal and write down each book you read. And start now.
Today, I want to go back to those 67 books that I read during my sixth-grade year. My guess is that a fair number of them were mysteries. I loved mysteries. The path from the front door of my childhood public library to the mystery section is forever etched in my memory. I’m sure I read most, if not all, of the books there! This childhood passion most likely stemmed from my need to make sense of the chaos that was my life; if I could just find the missing clue, I’d be able to right the sinking ship. Or at least I could understand why things had gone so wrong and find a life boat.
But it was also fun. From a young age, probably due to both the situation in which I found myself and my innate biology, I loved to problem-solve. I wanted to understand and figure things out, to see how things fit together, and to take the clues and solve the puzzle. So, any book that kept me guessing and challenged me to beat the author to the punch was high on my list.
I read from all the classic mystery series such as Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. But Trixie Belden was my favorite. She was bold, impulsive and daring—all the things that I wasn’t. I was much more like her friend Honey, a good girl who was sensitive, anxious and hesitant. Or as Trixie would say, a “fraidy-cat!” But Honey grew and changed with Trixie’s influence. It gave me hope that I could change, too. I could learn to be less afraid, stronger, bolder.
Thinking back, I realize Trixie was the first in a long string of literary examples of strong, independent protagonists that helped me break out of my fearful shell and become more confident in myself and my abilities. This is one example of Laurence Cosse’s certainty (see Blog #1: Calling all bibliophiles) that novels are important; they teach us and prepare us for life.
I’m still drawn to strong female protagonists today. In the realm of mystery series, Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc is one of my current favorites. While being very different characters, Aimee and Trixie share some similar traits, both being strong, daring and at times fearless to the point of self-destruction. They are both determined and don’t let anything or anyone stand in their way.
I love remembering Trixie’s bold character and appreciate that she made a difference to my young self. So, what about you? Do you have a childhood protagonist that inspired you?