Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cherry Ames is Back

Cherry Ames is back! After originally being published between 1945 and 1968, the series is being reprinted so that another generation of young girls can enjoy the exploits of Ms. Ames, nurse extraordinaire. In the 27 books she stared in Cherry completed three years of nurses training, and then went on to work in every possible nursing related field. This woman was bandaging knees at a kid’s camp in one book and was reattaching limbs in a war zone in the next.

I was a huge fan of the Cherry Ames series as a preteen, and I am still an avid reader. A therapist recently diagnosed me as reading addicted. And I have to say that I totally agree with his observation. I love fiction, and I can actually tract my growing up years by the genre of books I was reading at each phase of my life.

In elementary school I had rather eclectic tastes. The Mrs. Pigglewiggle books were a favorite, anything written by Beverly Cleary, and if it featured a horse I was all over it. A great uncle who raised horses use to give me his back issues of Western Horse Magazine, and I would pour over the articles. I didn’t actually own a horse myself, but I knew everything about training, breeding and that pesky hoof fungus that was going around in Montana.

As a preteen, I moved on to serial fiction. Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, the Bobbsey Twins and of course Cherry Ames. I missed multiple flirting opportunities with boys in my neighborhood because I preferred to curl up on my bed with a good story.

As adolescence hit, I moved into the world of Harlequin Romance were I fell in love with a different guy every other day. This messed up my head in so many ways and it took years to realize that real men weren’t anything like guys that populated those romances. These fantasy men, created in the overly imaginative minds of female writers, were always breath takingly handsome, rich and/or sophisticated, and could actually read the minds of the women they loved, often understanding thier thoughts before the females understood themselves. Real guys require real communication. And sometimes that doesn't even work.

In high school an English teacher introduced me to my next genre love. Gothic fiction. Okay, Gothic is predictable as all get out, I know, but I was fourteen at the time and it was fun to have a little scarey intrigue and suspense thrown in with my previous diet of all romance all the time. I think what I enjoyed most were the creepy old houses and mystery shrouded mansions with secret doorways and hidden rooms. Plus the most attractive guy was usually the murderous maniac and the more stoic and confused guy was always the hero.

Since then, I’ve developed a taste for mystery. I set a goal when I first got married to read every Agatha Christie book she ever wrote. She wrote a ton of books and I’m still working on that goal. But I love the whole English feel of her stories. Every house no matter the size had a name like The Paddocks or Little Styles. Granted, they were strange names, and often not very pretty, but every house had one.

Which brings us to today. I read quite a few contemporary writers now. Amy Tan and Mary Higgins Clark are two of my favorites. I recently discovered Dean Koontz. He has a series about a guy who sees dead people, has a dead girlfriend and a dead dog, so I guess that kind of fits back into my gothic past doesn’t it.

I find myself wonder what type of books I’ll be reading when I’m old and decrepit. I know I will have to wear huge magnifying glasses (my eyesight is already on the fritz) just to read the words. And the books themselves will have to be light so that my little bony arm's with saggy skin hanging down to my waist, will be able to hold them.
Actually, I can see myself and the other old broads in the rest home, sitting side by side in our rocking chairs, ipods attached to our hearing aids, listening to our MP3 books and occasionally laughing out loud at a joke that no one else can hear.
Hmmm that doesn’t sound half bad.

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