Nothing Like a Good Book

30 September 2009

Today I went to Books-A-Million for the first time in a while. In all seriousness, bookstores could be my heaven. I read Nancy Drew and Clifford a lot when I was younger and then when the first two Harry Potter books came out I became addicted to reading. Harry Potter certainly became my initiation of sorts into the bookworm world and probably sparked my love of fantasy novels.

Since the summer after fourth grade I have mainly be interested in fantasy and have only "branched out" because school had required me to. Recently I have been trying to go beyond that sole genre and its probably overdue but something about journeys, magic, doing what is right... well, those are the ingredients for a captivating read in my mind.

Every once in a while I go through a library or bookstore to try and find some mainstream reads. Thats the reason I first read Angels and Demons (a brilliant book and rightly appreciated) and DaVinci Code. My home library chooses a book for the community to read each year and they have it on display and I've read those before (such as David Baldacci's Wish You Well) and while they're ok books they don't bring me to the point of exultation. I can put them down and pick them up later.

Truly, I love books where I have to fight an internal battle just about going to get dinner - should I go eat or skip a meal and find out what happens next?? Reading takes you to a parallel existence where so many more things are possible. Karen Armstrong in A Short History of Myth sums up quite well why I love novels. The last three or so pages of her book could just be one long perfect quote in my mind but I'll try to keep it shorter:

"A novel projects them [the readers] into another world, parallel to but apart from their ordinary lives. They know perfectly well that this fictional realm is not 'real' and yet while they are reading it becomes compelling. A powerful novel becomes part of the backdrop of our lives, long after we have laid the book aside. It is an exercise of make-believe that, like yoga or a religious festival, breaks down barriers of space and time and extends our sympathies, so that we are able to empathize with other lives and sorrows.... If we allow it to do so, it can change us forever." (pg 147/8)

There have been several novels which have changed my life. Most I agree with anyways but sometimes things just stick with you.... for instance the quote from Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring:
"Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again."
"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

Thats a problem I definitely have - figuring out why life isn't fair. Sometimes that quote just pops into my head irrelevantly.

I think Harry Potter will have a profound affect on me as an adult with my own kids. As Harry aged, so did I - almost every single time a book came out I was the same age as he was and I vividly remember thinking that I was that capable. I could think that deeply, make those "right" decisions.... I hope one day I can treat my own children as intelligent beings who are CAPABLE. Far too often adults underestimate children and particularly teenagers and I hope that I will be able to read that series again and be able to acknowledge their abilities.

The list is too long to go in depth on particular novels, but sometimes I will get attached to a character and they will reach death during the novel or series and it will cause emotional pain. Sometimes the feeling of love is described so beautifully that I can feel it too. Certain authors have such a power and influence with their words that it is impossible not to feel connected with something beyond yourself (as Armstrong implies in the above quote).

Today I decided to buy The Time Traveler's Wife. Recently a movie was made based off of this book and repeatedly movies have shown that they are not as capable as books. I want to go in with a knowledge of the book before I let the movie make my images for me. I've talked to several girlfriends about this book and three of them said it has been their favorite read. Thats encouraging, I certainly can't say that most girls like the same books I do but when its this popular I like to think it could make it onto the radar with Dan Brown and the like.

The novel is supposed to be a romance and it is relatively lengthy which is also supportive of the hidden treasures in the binding. From my experience, I have a better chance of relating to the characters if the book is longer - you can learn so much more about who they are and how the plot lines affect them. When I finish and put it up on my bookshelf I'll give a brief review of it.

Image taken from here.

Just for my own sake I thought I would make a note of my other purchases. I invested in another Vegetarian Cookbook (by teens for teens) and while I'm not technically a teen I have found that many vegetarian cookbooks go with some...well, strange ingredients. I'm sure they're commonly used by experienced vegetarians but as someone who is looking into that lifestyle and who has a longterm boyfriend with those ideals I think I need to find some more practical quick meals for us at college. I'll keep you updated with how those recipes turn out!

Lastly, I bought two small, bound purple journals. One for me and one for my friend Heather back home. I don't keep up with her as well as I would wish and I plan to send her a package in the near future (or drop it off one weekend when I'm in my hometown for a weekend). I'm hoping that she'll be able to make a few notes about her life so it will be easy for us to catch up when we're together again for our coffee and tea - its agreed, a starbucks trip is due.

Have you ever met up with someone to catch up on life and are left feeling like you haven't done anything. Truly we always have been doing things but they all blur together. It'd be nice to truly learn about what her life is like, learn about the character of her boyfriend, and see how Eli is growing.

Well, I ended up on a bit of a reading rant there didn't I? I guess if you can read through that then you understand my love of reading anyways. Hopefully everyone can find themselves a good novel for fall reading.

Whats your favorite novel?

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