I have a confession to make, one which shall forever mar my manly-man image. When I was a young boy, I loved to read Nancy Drew books. I probably read at least a dozen or so of 'em in the early-mid 60s. Yes, I used to read stuff besides comics. Anyway, I don't quite know why they appealed to me so- I liked mysteries, but not more so than any other genre. Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned were likable characters (although I though it odd back then that a girl would be named George), the stories were challenging enough for me at ages 4-6, but not excessively so, and so on. I think a lot of their appeal to me had to do with the fact that these books were a numbered series, each with its own special cover, similar to comic books but different. I have vivid memories of standing in front of the bookcases at the J.J. Newberry store in nearby Glasgow or the Ben Franklin Five and Dime in Horse Cave, and looking at the neatly arranged books, with their fascinating titles, colorful yellow spines, and each one bearing a distinctive cover painting which grabbed my imagination, because as you all know I'm all about the visuals. Although I read other mystery books like the Bobbsey Twins (yes, it's true), Nancy was perhaps my first real crush.
Above is the cover of the first one I remember reading, The Mystery of the Fire Dragon, which may not be terribly PC by today's standards but in those less enlightened times was a fine tale of Miss Drew investigating sordid goings-on in Chinatown. Click on the pic to see it close up.
This was all prompted when I ran across a nicely thorough Nancy Drew site recently, with a cover gallery sporting reproductions of all three eras of cover paintings: the original 30's versions; the 60's, the ones that captivated me so; and the lackluster 70s era.
Also, here's another Nancy-centric site, and here's the allmovie.com listing for the first of three Nancy Drew films that were made in the late 30's, starring perky Bonita Granville as the sleuth. These air from time to time on TCM.