In my continuing exploration of My Life in Books, we’ve reached question two, probably the hardest of the five, only because I seem to have such a poor memory for this type of thing.
What was one of the first “grown-up” books that you really enjoyed?
I can’t really say what I read first. I was such a voracious reader as a teen that everything seems to run together. As I explained back when I had to list my favorite book on a job application, two early contenders were Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I guess that makes sense since the latter in so many ways echoes the former. A trashier favorite in a similar vein was Flowers in the Attic, a series that holds the prize for coolest covers ever—I wish I still had the original trilogy set with the cutouts.
Even though teenage-me loved these mysterious manor houses, I think they were preceded by actual mysteries, those of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. One of the first book purchases I remember was an 8-volume box set of Sherlock Holmes stories. They were already used when I bought them, and I kept them until they fell apart, taking them with me on a trip to Brazil and leaving the pieces behind as I traveled around the country. That set also had great covers.
While I no longer have those, I still have the 81-volume (yes, 81) set of faux-leather Agatha Christies that I accumulated over seven years, dutifully sending in a check once a month to Bantam Books. (I guess even in high school and college I was a completist.) I know I had read at least Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Moving Finger before subscribing, but I’m not sure what else.
There are tons of good ones, but personal favorites include The A.B.C. Murders, And Then There Were None, The Body in the Library, Death on the Nile, The Man in the Brown Suit, The Moving Finger, A Murder is Announced, Murder on the Orient Express, N or M?, and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?
Tune in tomorrow where I will shock you by restricting myself to only one book and it’s not a mystery. Or maybe it is, but on a deeper level. Bring your Kleenex.