We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments. Author Anne Borne provided this portrait of herself and the collection from the ever-wonderful New York City. Anne contributed the story “It’s Not the Books, It’s the Library” (featured below) to the 212-page anthology.
It’s Not the Books, It’s the Library
by Anne Born
It’s easy to identify the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls mysteries as my favorite children’s adventure stories. When I read those little books, I wanted to be the one with the answer, the one to solve the crime, the one to show the grownups that this teen could do it. These girls were resourceful and clever. What’s interesting to me now is that, for the life of me, I cannot recall a single episode, and I couldn’t name more than one title. I do not remember just exactly what these plucky heroines accomplished. What I do remember is my cousin Diane.
Diane was much older than me. She was a child of the 1940s whose father served in WWII. She spent countless hours with my grandparents and her aunt and uncle, laying a foundation of trust and love for all of the cousins to follow. We all knew that we were important, and we knew that our family had something special—and a good bit of that came from the first cousin on the scene: Diane.
I came to know Nancy Drew because Diane collected the books. As far as I can remember, it was a complete set. I could borrow them, read them one at a time or a couple at a go, and return them to her collection. But it was never about the plot of the books, it was that Diane could read and when she did, she did it up in style. I could take books out of the town public library certainly, and I did that nearly every week I was in school. But Diane had a library and that was exciting to me.
Because my family did not have a budget line for book buying or the means to get to bookstores very often, and because I spent so much time at the library, I have only a dozen or so books from my childhood. I do not have all the great pirate books that I loved. I don’t have the stories of Pompeii that I remember so clearly. And I don’t have the Nancy Drew books. I vowed that when I had my own children, I would buy them books instead of just taking them to the library. I wanted them to know what Diane must have known, that there is tremendous comfort in being in a library, but there is something so much more powerful in owning a library.
Diane left us a few years ago. She had a heart ailment that would take her from us way too soon. In writing this, I am sad she doesn’t know the lifelong impact her choice in teen fiction had on me. I want her to know that her collecting Nancy Drew and Dana Girl mysteries, and sharing them the way she did, instilled in me a love of libraries as well as a love of a great mystery story. My library has books about everything!
I’m reading my own copy of The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey now with my book club and even though it does not feature a boyfriend with a slick convertible or helpful aunts and uncles, it does remind me of the debt I owe to my cousin Diane. It’s great to have a library card, but it’s even better to have a library.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Born is the author of A Marshmallow on the Bus (2014), Prayer Beads on the Train (2015), and Waiting on a Platform (2016). She is the editor of the award-winning anthology of stories from The Late Orphan Project — These Winter Months. (2016). Anne is a regular contributor on The Broad Side, and her essay on Hillary Clinton’s religious faith was included in Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox (2015), edited by Joanne Bamberger. Her work has been published in the Newtown Literary Journal and in “Me, as a Child,” “All About My Name,” and “My Prized Possession,” Poetry & Prose Series published by Silver Birch Press. Anne’s essay on her cousin’s collection of Nancy Drew novels was published in the Silver Birch Press Nancy Drew Anthology (2016). Her poetry has been featured in New York at Boundless Tales, Word Up Community Bookstore, and the Queens Council on the Arts. She has been a featured performer in several venues with Inspired Word NYC, at the New York Transit Museum, on Queens Public TV in “The World of Arts,” and with the International Women’s Salon on Salon Radio. Anne divides her time between New York and Michigan, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Follow Anne Born and The Late Orphan Project at The Backpack Press, and on Twitter, Redbubble, Wattpad, andInstagram @nilesite. Listen to her in the Bronx podcasts on Our Salon Radio.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is me at the subway station in my neighborhood, the beautiful South Bronx. Snapped by a girl walking by who saw me balancing my cell phone and the book. She says, “Wow! I love Nancy Drew!” So I gave her the book.