I know many of the readers of this blog would point to something such as the Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown series as their early loves, but the first book I remember truly adoring as a child is Boats Finds a House, by Mary Chalmers. It’s a picture book about a cat who’s retired from working as a mouser and ratter on a sailing ship, and is now looking for the perfect house in which to live—one with a fireplace, daisies in the yard, cows in the pasture, and friends nearby. I was absolutely captivated by this story when I was about five or six, which perhaps explains why I’m such a homebody to this day. (I still have the book, and have just now reread the story; it’s as darling as I remember it.)
I later, at about age eight, graduated to the Space Cat series, which was likely the result of a combination of my previous infatuation with Boats the cat, and my newly discovered love of Star Trek. I just took a look online, and they’ve recently republished these charming books. Perhaps I should give them a reread!
Once a pre-teen, I became utterly obsessed with horse books (and everything “horse,” for that matter), and my favorite was probably The Black Stallion by Walter Farley (and all its myriad sequels). I so wanted to live on a desert isle with a beautiful race horse!
But then puberty hit, along with the British Invasion, and I switched my allegiance from animals to reading pop music magazines and anything else I could get my hands on that contained any information about the Beatles. Though there was a period of about a year when the two interests overlapped, and my fantasy future life involved living with Paul McCartney on a horse ranch….
my Beatle dolls, which I got circa 1964
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I finally discovered murder mysteries, when my mom handed me an Agatha Christie she’d just finished: Nemesis (I remember the name, because I had to ask Mom what the word meant). But from then on I was hooked, moving from Christie to Dorothy L. Sayers (at which time my current crush switched from Paul McCartney to Lord Peter Wimsey) and eventually to Sue Grafton, when I realized that there were people closer to my generation who were writing fabulous mysteries, too.
I’ve never looked back.
Readers: What were your first book loves? When did you first start reading mysteries?