The Consistent Charm of Nancy Drew

Without a doubt, the mystery book series of Nancy Drew is prolific – and repetitive, but still prolific. The independent spirit that Nancy Drew has and her general fearless pursuit of justice is something that feels uniquely American. Nancy Drew, without a doubt, is a literary icon – she has remained popular since her original release in 1930 to boot. This holiday season, you may think about gifting a set of 10 Nancy Drew mysteries to a family member… or more. I am currently on #23 and I am not quite sure how I have read 23 of these mysteries… they truly start blending together after #15. In truth, the reason why it’s so comforting to read this many mysteries of a similar predictable format is that the formula of the story is predictable, yet the content of the mystery is different each time, which is the most enticing part of reading more than 10 of these mysteries. So, if you dare, perhaps reading past #10 of the Nancy Drew mystery books is a great way to occupy yourself this upcoming holiday break.

Nancy Drew’s ability to “get to the bottom” of the mystery at hand is adorably predictable, but the nuance which makes these mysteries continue to appeal for generations on end is the truth that mysteries are all around us. We should give ourselves the opportunity to open our eyes in our everyday surroundings which can sometimes become so very routine. We should let ourselves be willing to not be ignorant of our immediate communities, of our neighbors, and that caring for those around us in whatever way we can is one of the “coolest” things we can do.

Nancy’s ability to stay consistent is possibly the most inspiring part of this book series. And beyond her character, it is worth noting that an English major from Iowa, Mildred Wirt Benson is “Carolyn Keene,” and that Mildred’s development of the character is also a great piece of Americana and Midwestern history. The actual setting for Nancy Drew’s town remains a bit of a mystery (a suburb of Ohio; a small town in Vermont… all contenders), but it’s more likely that Nancy is based in either Iowa or Ohio because Mildred lived in Ohio for most of her life. There have been a number of pop culture portrayals of Nancy, and none of them have gotten it quite right, but I think there is still time to develop a film that could give Nancy the true credit she deserves as a character who is an American icon. The archives of the University of Iowa have compiled together an overview of Mildred’s life, and it is fascinating to ponder how much of Nancy’s spirit is infused with Mildred’s own zest for life.

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