Ruth Fielding at Briarwood Hall by Alice B. Emerson (1913) This book is subtitled: or, Solving the Campus Mystery, and it's the second in the Ruth Fielding series (I did not read the first) published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, who published like billions of childrens series titles—and this author is a pseudonym—the actual writer was probably a staff writer who was paid peanuts. It's very well-written, though, and compelling—I loved this book. It's about Ruth and her friend going off to boarding school, where there is a mystery, some adventure, and lots and lots of personal politics and social tension. The weird thing is that I started reading this at almost exactly the same time as reading (for the first time) the first Harry Potter book, and both stories follow remarkably the same path, concerns, and plot points. I mean, minus the wizardry, and details, of course... but really, it made me think that probably Harry Potter (at least the first half of the first book) comes from a very regular tradition of young reader boarding school stories. It was totally by accident that I started reading those at the same time, but that's cool—it's nice when it feels like there's a plan out there. I'm not going to start studying the boarding school form or anything, but I may come upon more, at some point, if I keep reading kids' books. Which I'm planning to do. More Ruth Fielding? If I find more, I may well read them. Ruth is a really good character—very human, with her anxiety, vulnerability, resolve, and courage—all well balanced and clearly expressed. The ending of this book leads to the next story, too, so maybe I'll keep an eye out for that one.
Books I've Finished Reading