Shelf Evaluation: Mystery Series Comfort Reading

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Mystery Month 2017Lynn: What does a youth book blogger read when she needs a break from beginner readers and teen angst? For me, it is often mysteries and, as you can tell by the battered copies in my Shelf Evaluation photo, old mysteries! Yes, I admit it, this picture reveals some of my most closely held secret vices. Not only am I hopelessly addicted to re-reading old series, I also arrange my shelves by genre and then alphabetize by author. What can I say? Once a librarian, always a librarian.

I’ve always been a re-reader, and I still regularly work my way through a series when I can, starting at the beginning and gradually (and compulsively) reading through to the end. When I am most in need of a comfort book, there is nothing like heading back to my shelves for the next dependable old friend. Catherine Aird still makes me laugh, Ellis Peters shows me the good in people, and George Simenon walks me through Paris, looking for the brasserie with the day’s best menu.

I am currently slowly reading my way once again through Rex Stout’s wonderful Nero Wolf series. Narrated by Wolf’s brash right-hand assistant, Archie Goodwin, the mysteries follow the cases and career of the eccentric genius and devoted gourmand Nero Wolf. Bestirred to work only when Archie’s relentless nagging goads him into action, Wolf solves his cases without moving from his beloved leather chair, depending on Archie to be his eyes, ears, and legs. Stout published the first book, Fer-de-Lance, in 1934, and produced almost one a year through 1966. Reading through the series is a little like taking a survey class in American history and culture as the events of the years play out in the stories. Wolf, weighing at a “quarter of a ton,” is the original foodie, employs a great chef, grows orchids, distrusts women and solves cases through the power of intellect and reason. Who could resist?

Next up? The Black Mountain (1954) in which Wolf unprecedentedly travels back to his birthplace of Montenegro to solve a case.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Shelf Evaluation: Mystery Series Comfort Reading"

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  1. bsbgc@aol.com' Binnie Syril Braunstein says:

    Lynn- I’m so glad to learn that you’re reading your way through Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe canon. You might also want to check out John McAleer’s fabulous bio, Rex Stout, a biography. Stout was a genius, and McAleer brings him to life. Enjoy!

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