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Why I’ve Never Read Harry Potter and the Deathly Stone of Secrets

For some reason, many of my friends seem to believe that I’ve read all the Harry Potter books. For the most part I play along, not wanting to get into any confrontational situations. I don’t want to step on my friends dainty toes and I don’t want them stomping all over mine.

Kids these days…. Credit: baloo-baloosnon-politicalcartoonblog.blogspot.com

In truth, I once tried to read the first book, but didn’t get to far. I must have been around ten years old. I’d seen the first (and possibly the second?) movie, but for some reason I had assumed that the book would be way too smart, and boyish and difficult for me to handle. Then one day, my  younger brother’s (probably unread) copy was lying around, so I picked up and started reading. I was actually pretty impressed. It wasn’t above my reading level. And I actually liked it.

But then an unforeseen predicament arose. I got bored. Reading it felt too easy. I’m not really sure what this means, or what it meant to ten-year-old me, but I distinctly remember feeling unchallenged and putting it down and never picking it up again. I don’t even know where this copy is to date. My family does not (and has never) owned any of the other Harry Potter books. My siblings and I are perhaps the only products of our generation, living in North America, who have not read this cultural phenomenon of a series.

I am very entertained by the fact that, because I’m ‘a reader’ and a future English major, my peers assume I commiserate in their love and admiration for Harry Potter. I think that our interpretation of these facts about me are a little off base. The way see it, the facts that I’m ‘a reader’ and a future English major are why I have still snobbishly avoided reading this series. I also I have better books to spend quality time with.

Along the same lines is this little scenario: Knowing that I read, a girl in my gap year program asked me if I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey. She was literally aghast when I told her I hadn’t and made a general inquisition to those in the lunchroom, beginning with the question, “Okay, who here’s a reader”.

Really, this was the cutest thing I’ve ever witnessed. I’m sorry — very, very sorry — but the term ‘books’ is not synonymous with the term ‘literature’. The fact that someone reads a lot means nothing in my highly pretentious mind. And to me, Harry Potter is not literature. (Although, I will be the first to admit that Anne of Green Gables, i.e. my most favouritest book in the world, is not really literature either. But that’s entirely different. Obviously.)

Anyways, going back to “HP”, I find it very entertaining to think about how far back my snobbery goes. Even as a little kid I was pretentious with regards to reading material. Sorry, the little hipster in me seemed to say, this is just too mainstream. This was before I was conditioned to be pretentious and judgmental in order to feel good about myself and my life-choices. This was before I even started reading real literature — what already was I reading back then? Junie B. Jones? Little House on the Prairie? And yet, I closed Harry Potter and the Something or Other a few pages in, already thinking that it was just not good enough for me.

Of course, it’s not like I’ve ever read the books, so I can’t truly comment on this without coming off and kind of ignorant — and seeming ignorant is something I try to avoid when possible. Which is why I’m choosing this forum to make my somewhat pointless point. Real life conversations about such things freak me out. I don’t know how to think on the spot and then make my mouth say the things it should. I’m terribly afraid to offend people and spit all over their personal preferences and tastes when we’re face to face. And they tend to respond to my points, because apparently that’s how conversations work.

Also, I try not to ruin my friends’ illusions about my commiseration in their fandom. And I’m pretty good at playing along. I think my brother and I had a marathon of all the movies a few years ago (although I really can’t recall how the series ends, maybe I didn’t make it to the end) so I do know enough to keep up. One of my good friends even sends me Mean Girls/Harry Potter mash-ups on a regular basis, knowing how much I love the former and probably assuming I feel the same about the latter.

So, to be very open with you, this post is in response to situations I keep finding myself in. My friends (and teachers and teachers’ children) here keep finding out that I’ve never read these darned books and they are always being so shocked about it. So this is my crummy rebuttal that the people to whom this response is directed probably won’t even get. But those of you on my side will get it. And I much prefer preaching to the choir over preaching to the ignorant masses anyways.

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Books, Books, and More Books (But Not eBooks)

I like books. Obviously. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t talk (write) about them so much. But I’m also really picky about my books. I REFUSE to read eBooks. I hate them. They’re awful. End of discussion. The other day took this online survey about teenagers’ reading habits. It wanted to know if I read eBooks. Then it wanted to know why not. I was allowed to click as many options as I wanted. In addition to “I don’t think I would like it” and “I prefer physical books”, I selected “other” and wrote “I don’t read eBooks because doing so is heresy”. This is something I stand by. I love technology (when I know how to use it) and I, like most teenagers, spend way too much time on my iPhone and Laptop. But when it  comes to reading, I like books. Real, live, honest to goodness books.

Cartoon Credit: cartoonstock.com

If I’m not reading a book in actual book format, it just doesn’t feel like reading. I love the feeling of accomplishment every time I turn a physical page. I love being able to see how close or far I am from the end. I love being able to highlight a good line and write all over the margins. I like the way books feel. I like the way books smell. I like the way books look.

But that brings me to another point. Not only am I picky in that I won’t read a book that isn’t in book format, but I kind of judge books by their covers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’d rather read Pride and Prejudice with an ugly cover than Wuthering Heights with a beautiful cover, any hour of the day. Heck, I’d even read P&P on my iPhone, if Wuthering Heights was my only other option. But I’d really rather a physical book, with a pretty cover. 

And obviously what I’m reading matters. A lot. Because I’m also very picky (and probably a little snobby) about what I read. Which leads me to a confession. I, lover of books, a self-professed book nerd (or so my tagline says), do not own very many books. Oh, sure, I have plenty of books. Probably more than some people. And my relatively small collection is probably made up of “more quality than quantity”. But, still. At least a have a good excuse for it. Or at least a couple of not so great excuses.

Excuse Number One: The Literarily Deprived Childhood

Cartoon Credit: The New Yorker

Whenever I complain about anything, especially about to my perfect, easy childhood, my mother always apologizes with oodles of sarcasm. “I’m an awful mother,” she’ll say. “You are/were such a deprived child.” I really did read a lot when I was a kid. I loved going to the library. In fact, one of my favourite early childhood memories involves reading picture books at the library with my daddy, surrounded by piles and piles of books. It was awesome. And my parents totally encouraged me in reading. They loved reading. Reading was a very noble and smart activity. But while I read a lot, it was quantity over quality. I read loads of very forgettable books. And I read them somewhat quickly. So my Mom didn’t want to “waste money” on “mere books” that I breezed through and would likely never read again. And, I mean, she was probably right. Most of those books probably weren’t really worth buying. (Because my mother, awfully negligent as she was, never introduced me to incredibly, awesome classics or anything such. I didn’t even read Anne of Green Gables until I was 16. It had to be recommended by a teacher — although, at least it was a teacher who’s attained like-a-mother status. That recommendation is probably why.) So then I got into this habit of not buying books. Books were to be taken out of the library — why on earth would anyone do otherwise?

But then I read Pride and Prejudice (recommended by the same teacher — obviously). And that changed everything. Other than a handful of totally random books, it was the first book I ever actually owned.  I didn’t even buy it at first and when I did, I wasn’t even the one who purchased it. I took it out of the library, as I always did. What else would I have done? But, as I talk about in this post, I didn’t really understand it. I complained about this to my father, and he did something absurd. He went to the bookstore. And he bought me– Oh God. I can’t even say this. It feels so dirty. He bought me… SparkNotes. SparkNotes, for those of you who are lucky (or smart) enough to have never heard of such an atrocity, are study guides that summarize and analyze books so that (idiotic) students don’t have to bother reading the books they’re supposed to read for school. All I said to my dad was that I wished I could be learning the book in school, so I could understand it. I’ve never condescended to use a study guide for a book we’re learning in school (even before I decided that I was “passionate” about English) and I wasn’t about to start then — especially with a book that I was reading for pleasure. Then my dad did something smart. He bought me The Annotated P&P which I’ve mentioned a few times before. I really owe a lot of my understanding of Jane’s works to that book. But I was a little bit concerned. It wasn’t like I adored the book, based on the few chapters I’d already read — far from it. How did I know I’d even like it by the end? It’s not as though I’d ever reread it or anything. It would just sit around taking up space for all eternity. Or so I thought… (By now I’ve read it at least five times. In the past two years.)

Excuse Number Two: I Screen Books Before Buying Them

So Pride and Prejudice turned out to be a good buy. And, like I said, aside from books for English class, it was one of the first books I actually owned. (Also aside from picture books when I was little, I guess.) After that, I loved owning books. I also fell in love with rereading books. But, the problem remains that I’m very picky. And very skeptical of what I will or won’t like. So, a lot of the time, I still get a new book from the library, and then only after I’ve finished reading it will I actually purchase it, to showcase on my bookshelf (which is pretty much a shrine to awesome books). Because I don’t like having books I haven’t read sitting around. It makes me nervous.  And buying a book I’ve yet to read and don’t yet know I’ll like makes me nervous too. Because books take up valuable space and it’s not as though you can just  get rid of a book you don’t like. If you bought it, it’s yours forever.

Also, books are seductive. If I don’t exercise some form of self-control, I could seriously find five books to buy every time I step into a book store. And then I’d just have a panic attack from all the unread books. I wouldn’t know where to start, so I’d start them all. All at the same time. And then my brain would explode and I’d never make any progress through any of them. And then I’d probably deal with this situation by buying even more books.

So I try to test drive books from the library and I try to only buy a books when I’ve declared it to be my new favouritest book in the whole wide world.

Excuse Number 3: Back to Judging Books by Their Covers

I don’t like having ugly books on my shelf. And even more than that, I do like having pretty books on my shelves. Returning to my first encounter with (and purchasing of) Jane Austen, I made a mistake when I bought all of Jane’s works. I was still a very amateur book buyer. I had no clue what I was doing. I had my Annotated P&P, which had a lovely cover, but the next two books I read came from the library. I already knew that Jane was the most brilliant writer of all time, so I decided I needed to buy all six of her books. This wasn’t my mistake. My mistake was going to the bookstore with Daddy, deciding I needed to buy all her books at once, and letting him help me pick. I had NO clue what I was doing. The editions we got were hideous. Some of them were paperback Modern Library editions and the rest were paperback Penguin Classics. And not nice Penguin Classics, we’re talking about the ugliest, cheapest Penguin Classics you’ve ever seen. 

My bookshelf.

And then, later in life (about a year later) I discovered pretty books. Then I discovered hardcover books. Then I discovered Clothbound Penguin Classics. Books that I would be proud to house on my sacred bookshelf. Since then my collection has been growing considerably. And then when I was in England I went kind of crazy and bought a whole ton of books — most of which I had never read before. Of course, they were mostly poetry collections, which is my exception to the screening rule. Here’s a snapshot of my bookshelf on the left. I use the word snapshot because it is a picture of a fleeting moment in time — my bookshelf is constantly being added to and reorganized. I’m very proud of it. I recently reorganized it, which was the inspiration for this post. The top shelf is mostly poetry and/or new stuff from England. The second from the top is my shrine to Jane Austen — it’s overflowing, which is pretty strange as the woman only wrote six novels… It may have something to do with my three copies of Pride and Prejudice… The third from the top is mostly classics. The bottom shelf is mostly stuff I’ve read for school.

So, what’s on your bookshelf? A lot of so-so books? A few really great books? A lot of really great books? And where do you stand on eBooks? Am I the only one who refuses to move into the 21st century?

Running from Animals in Terror

Today you have the pleasure of reading my ramble about how I believe I developed my fear, and general disapproval, of animals. If you are pro-animals and/or keep pets. And you love those pets. More than the people in your life. I suggest you stop reading. Because if you keep reading, you may come to hate me. And I don’t handle being hated very well.

Now that a few of you have left me (I didn’t really want those readers anyways) I’ll share my theories about animals and my hatred of such creatures.

The Fear of Dogs

When I was little, our neighbours had mean dogs. I think they were Rottweilers or German Shepherds or some other breed that is legitimately scary and from which it is appropriate to run in terror. Especially because these were not particularly well-trained dogs. I have two memories of these dogs, both involve grownups running from them in terror (which was the appropriate reaction to these evil creatures). The first involves the fact that these dogs would often take pleasure in jumping over the hedge that separated our backyard from our neighbour’s. Once, when our babysitter was over, we wanted to go play in the backyard. Unfortunately, our neighbour’s scary dog was hanging out in our backyard. The babysitter frantically ushered us back inside. Panic and pandemonium ensued.

If this had not been enough to scar me for life with regards to dogs and teach me that running and screaming is always the appropriate response to encounters with any dog (big or small, mean or nice) there was another incident involving my dad. Please note that this incident has probably been dramatized, melodramatized and sensationalized in my memory, but regardless, this flawed memory has come to shape my life and who I am as an evil dog-hater. The story (as I remember it) is that my dad was taking in the empty garbage cans from the curb, and he was attacked by one of these dogs. Thankfully, he ran away before they could do anything to him. I don’t think I actually witnessed this, but I do know that I definitely overheard something along those lines and it taught me that those dogs truly are scary — if even my daddy was afraid of them — and that when you see a dog, you should run away — because that’s what my daddy did. (Note: I just fact checked this story with ‘Daddy’ and he denies that it ever happened. I’m sharing anyways, because I’ve been under the conviction that it did for my entire life and I really do blame this ‘memory’ for my fear of dogs.)

Also, I am not just scared of mean dogs. My juvenile mind generalized this fear and couldn’t distinguish between the mean dogs and the nice dogs. They were all evil and I used to run in terror from my grandmother’s stupid little Bijon Frise (may that stupid little dog rest in peace). I’ve had to reign in my terror over the years, as my mother threatens to disown me when I embarrass her by literally running from dogs screaming. Despite my attempts to repress my fear, I still cannot see the point of keeping a dirty, smelly dog in your house. Dog owners and their strange habits (referring to their pets as their ‘babies’, talking to other dog owners while walking their dogs, buying snow boots for their dogs, etc.) will never make sense to me.

The Distaste for Cats

Hopefully this section will be very short, because even just thinking or writing about cats gives me the heebie-jeebies and makes me cringe, but I don’t think I can write a comprehensive post about my hatred for animals without reference to these icky animals. I believe I inherited this irrational fear from my mother, and then multiplied any distaste she has for the animal by about ten. She, at least, has a legitimate reason for her hatred — she’s insanely allergic to cats. (I wish I had such a good excuse and I often tell people I’m allergic so that they keep their vile creatures away from me.) Again, due to my juvenile logic, I assumed that if my mother was allergic to cats, and she didn’t like them near her, they must be a very unique brand of evil, to be avoided at all costs. As with dogs, when I see cats, running and screaming tend to ensue. However, unlike dogs, who like to chase you when you run screaming, this is a very good technique for repelling cats as my shrieks of terror tend to terrify them and they go away.

Before I move on to animals that nauseate me less, I want to make a literary connection, as this was supposed to be a bookish blog. While Anne Shirley and Emily Starr (the heroines of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery) are very much like myself (and I often wonder how LMM wrote a book about me about a hundred years before I was born) there are a few differences between me and these girls. The key difference is that they both tend to adore cats. I was so conflicted when reading these books, because I had my high and mighty values of feline-hatred to maintain, but LMM is just such a great writer that at one point I even remember sympathizing with Emily’s missing of her cats. This sympathy, however didn’t last long. LMM proceeded to write for two consecutive pages about the ‘loveliness’ of the freaking cats, and those were the only pages in an LMM book that I felt compelled to skip. I didn’t, because I didn’t know how long it would last and I was afraid of missing any of the good stuff, but just know that I felt physically ill as I skimmed through those pages.

Back to the Horses

After my literal experience involving getting back on a horse I don’t recall going horseback riding again for quite a while. Of course, I also don’t remember the original experience (I just know that story that my mom told — it happened when I was really young) so it doesn’t necessarily follow that I didn’t get on another horse between then and the next story. The next story happened at an apple picking farm, when I believe I was in my early to mid teens. We went apple picking one fall day with family friends of ours and besides the horse story I’m about to tell, the only other thing I remember about this day is a black cat among the apple trees that sent me running and screaming. After the running and screaming, there was a merry-go-round, which had real horses (or probably ponies) tethered to a contraption to make them walk in a circle. I was too afraid to try this ride, but our family friend’s child did and proved that staying firmly on the ground had been the right decision. Basically, the horse she was on got spooked and jumped up on its hind legs (much like what had happened to me when I was little). This just reconfirmed what I already knew (about the unpredictability and terrifyingess of animals) and I vowed never to get on a horse again.

But then I did. And it’s a great story about how I ended up having a great time horseback riding along the beach, but that doesn’t really fit in thematically with the rest of this post about how evil and scary animals are, so I’m not going to talk about that experience. Mostly because such experiences (with positive, cliched, happy endings) are rarely as entertaining as experiences that go horribly, hilariously wrong (which is also why there won’t be a post about prom, because everything went boringly well). I will end off with telling the begining of the positive horseback riding story though, because the beginning is pretty humourous. I finally got up on the horse, after much coaching, coaxing and crying and I was very proud of my accomplishment, so I stopped crying and even began to smile. Then I had a minor panic attack and started screaming and crying all over again because “OH MY GOD!! THIS HORSE IS MOVING!! IT JUST TOOK A STEP!!! PLEASE, PLEASE LET ME GET OFF!!”

So, how do you feel about animals? Do you sympathize and like me a little more now? Or do you think I’m an awful person for not loving animals? If you fit into the latter group, you should have stopped reading when I suggested you leave in the first paragraph. So it’s really your fault.

The Blue Castle

In between all the sleeping in, paddle-boating and swimming with my friend up at the cottage last week, I found some time for reading material beyond our million or so back issues of Seventeen, People and Vogue. I brought up The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery, who’s also the author of the Anne of Green Gables series, (which is the best series in the entire world, just by the way) and it was the most perfect book for reading by the beach and pool.

Firstly, it’s by LMM, so obviously it was predetermined to be awesome: nice, cozy writing style; fulfilled expectation of a happily-ever-after ending; lovable heroine and quaint, early twentieth century, rural Canadian setting. Okay, fine, depending on the kind of person you are, that might not appeal to you and even if you’d like this book, that description probably makes it sound very lame. But it was awesome and those are the qualities that I loved about it, so if you have a problem with that, it’s your problem, not mine.

Photo credit: Goodreads.com

The difference between this book and the other books I’ve read by LMM, is that (as you probably know) her other books are geared towards a younger, more child based audience (which of course doesn’t get in the way of my enjoyment in the least) whereas this is one of LMM’s only books for grownups. This means that there is drinking and drunks and even *gasp* an illegitimate baby. While nothing in the book is quite so shocking or even unusual to a twenty-first century reader, it felt just a little bit scandalous to read about such things in an L. M. Montgomery novel. I say this because, (for the uninitiated or the grownups who haven’t hung out with Anne Shirley lately), in one of the later Anne books (I believe it’s Anne’s House of Dreams, but don’t quote me on that one) she has a baby and the narrator describes the baby as being brought by a stork. Yes, you did read that correctly, a stork. This grownup book also tiptoes around such subjects, but much less so, and you have to bear in mind that these books were written in a different time and the woman writing them was married to a minister, so I’m sure she felt restricted in what she could write.

That being said, part of LMM’s charm is the classic, from-a-completely-different-world-but-the-people-are-still-the-same-as-they-are-now feel. And after studying and annotating serious (although still enjoyable) books for my Literature exam for days on end, this was just the right break I needing before coming home and doing the same with different books for my English exam.

And now that my English exam is over (as of yesterday at noon!!) I get to move on to new books over the summer. I already have a somewhat substantial to-read list, including Romeo and Juliet (although I may just watch the movie, if that isn’t absolute heresy), anything by Alice Munro, something by Willa Cather (who was recently recommended by the best English teacher in the world), perhaps The Great Gatsby, more by LMM and more of Louisa May Alcott’s easily-read, happily-ending classics and so on.

Any audience suggestions? I want a nice mix between cozy, happy endings to be read by the pool or beach and brilliant literature that you cannot be a complete human being without having read.

I’mmm Baa-ack!

Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, but I’m back and hope to stick around. It’s been a crazy past two weeks, with grade 12, and hence high school as a whole, coming to an end. First there were all sorts of assignments that needed doing and an exam before classes had even ended — because, evidently, my Literature exam wasn’t important enough to bother squeezing into the exam schedule.

My last day of high school was two weeks ago, and after that all my peers went on the grad trip to washington, while a friend and I hung back and decided to spend a few days up at the cottage instead. Because we’re individuals, who don’t feel the need to conform. And we wanted to have fun in our own way not in everyone else’s. Our trip was a lot more fun, if you were wondering. Our peers spent 24 hours on a bus, just getting to and from Washington, so that they could spend barely 72 hours there. I can’t (read: don’t want to) calculate how many hours we were up the cottage (because that would require math, and, having washed my hands of grade 12 Data Management, I don’t plan on doing math ever again, if I can help it), but we were away two days longer then our friends were in Washington, and that’s not even taking into account the time they did and we didn’t spend on a bus.

Of course, that’s just talking about quantity, which wouldn’t be worth anything without quality. They spent their three days ‘exploring the city’ and going to baseball games and amusement parks and museums.

“But what’s wrong with that?” you may ask.

“Nothing,” I may answer. “If you like that sort of thing.”

But my personal preferences, when it comes to going on trips and having fun, involve sitting by the pool or beach, out in the sun, with books and magazines and a friend or two for company. Which is exactly what I got.

The view from our beach chairs — I’ll take that over the White House any day — is anyone with me on that?

We had way more fun than our peers seemed to have and in our age of Facebook, we got constant updates on all the ‘fun’ they were having. And by fun, I mean about a million or so pictures of the same people, in the same places, making faces at the camera. My friend wisely commented that when you’re taking so many pictures, and they aren’t for sake of a photo-op, (which the vast majority of these pictures aren’t) it’s because you’re bored and trying to find something to fill the time.

My friend and I took only took a handful of pictures and there were only two times when they cameras on our phones came out over the five days we were there. One day, we went into ‘town’, because it was too chilly to relax by the pool, and we were fully aware that those pictures were taken out of (slight) boredom and besides, the taking of them was what made our little ‘expedition’ so much fun. Because it turned out that we went to the wrong ‘town’. They have all these cute, quaint little stores where we should have gone, but instead we wound up in the ‘town’ that consisted of a single main street, and half of the stores along this three block street were convenience stores. A girl can only drink so many slushies, after all. So we found ourselves hanging out at the playground of the elementary school. In a totally juvenile, lets-go-hang-out-on-the-swings kind of way, not in a lets-go-be-delinquent-and-make-graffiti-all-over-the-jungle-gym kind of way. I feel that this clarification is important, based on all the graffiti that was already covering this jungle-gym. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea about me.

There was another photo my friend took of me lounging by the pool. I took it so that when I got back and saw people from school and they showed me pictures of all the ‘fun’ they had on this school mandated (read: lame) trip, I could show them my picture and tell them it was me, sitting by the pool, not giving a damn.

As for reading material, I read through L. M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle. It was great, but I’m saving it for another post. So stay tuned if you want to hear about that. Of course, I’d love it if you stayed tuned even if you don’t want to hear about it, but then, if you don’t care for LMM and Anne Shirley, I’m really not too sure why you’re reading my blog in the first place — we’re obviously not  kindred spirits.

 

Fictitious Crushes

Come on, I know you all have at least one. I admit, within the safe, anonymity of the internet (yes, irony intended… the internet’s a scary place) to having several. First there was Mr. Darcy. Of course. Really, I think having (at the very least) a slight crush on Mr. Darcy has become a cliché by this point in time. Same goes for P&P being your favourite Austen, and Elizabeth Bennet your favourite heroine. It gets old. It’s been done to death and it’s not very original. (Which is not to say, that these three points aren’t true of me, it’s just I feel silly admitting a sentiment shared by so many.)

You know what’s unique? Those people who ardently admire and love Edmund Bertram and Fanny Price. Unfortunately (or not) I’m just not one of them. Personally, I’m a huge admirer of Henry Tilney and Mr. Knightley. That’s unique enough for me. Really, I don’t understand why more people aren’t in love with them. They don’t neglect the girls they love for someone else. They aren’t arrogant and snobby. They’re nice, good guys. I mean, Mr Knightly rode through the rain for Emma! How many guys would ride, 16 miles from London, through the rain for you? And Mr. Tilney understands a good muslin. I’m with Mrs. Allen on this one, if he understands a good muslin, he’s definitely a keeper.

And, going back to Pride and Prejudice for a moment, I think we need to discuss a certain Mr. Darcy some more. No, not in a drooling, must-re-watch-five-hour-movie-AGAIN type manner, this is a far more serious discussion. I have something else to admit. A far less common confession. I’m really not all that in love with Mr. Darcy. I know, it’s a shocking, obscene thing to say. I’m sorry, but it’s true. But the thing is, what I love about Darcy is how perfect he is for Elizabeth, not how awesome he is as a person. Well, okay, I take that back, he’s an awesome person, and his capacity to change is immensely admirable, as is “his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year” (chapter 3). But I just don’t think he and I would get along very well. Like, for example, if this wasn’t real life and I were to meet Mr. and Mrs. (i.e. Elizabeth) Darcy, sure they would be “civil” enough to my face (Lizzy did train him well), but as soon as they got home to Pemberley, they’d entertain themselves for hours laughing at my hyperbole and excitability and over all ridiculousness. I think I’d get along far better with Mr. Bingley, although, he’s so sweet and naïve that he may just get on my nerves.

Of course, there’s also Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables books. He’s just so… ahhh. Like Tilney and Knightley, he’s such a great guy. And, I mean, he basically worships the ground Anne walks on and keeps up this immense love for all eight books, never waning for a moment. And finally seeing the adorable movie just escalated this “admiration”. Have you seen that movie? Have you heard the way he says “sorry” to Anne after he calls her carrots (which was totally just because he likes her and wants her attention)? It is just too, too cute. (Although, do we Canadians really say sorry like that? Is that how we talk? I’ve never noticed…)

I wish I could have found a clip from the movie, either “carrots” or “sorry” — too cute… It’s the 1985 movie, for anyone who’s interested
Photo credit: the-inn-at-lambton.cultureforum.net

Furthermore, he’s such a good sensible foil to temper Anne’s romanticism and airiness, which makes him the perfect match for me too! (Because obviously Anne and I are pretty much the same person. I wonder how L.M.M. wrote a book about me almost a hundred years before I was even born? Of course, I find that I can relate to her most in the first book, when she’s somewhere around 12 or 13. After that, she gets way more mature than I am…I say this as an eighteen year old…) Regardless, Gilbert is welcome to call me “carrots” any day of the week (you know, regardless of the fact that I’m a brunette, not a red-head).

There are, there have been and there will be many more, that’s just scratching the tip of the iceberg (is that a mixed metaphor? A mixed cliché?), but those are the most prevalent ones that come to mind.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, who else has fictional crushes they want to admit to? (Warning: If you say Mr. Darcy, I can and will judge you for being unoriginal and cliched. If you don’t say Mr. Darcy, I can and will judge you for being an unfeeling, incomplete human being.) To all the lady lovers out their, who are your favourite fictional females?

My Life in Books

Today’s post comes to you from Florida, where my family and I have come for some much needed relaxation before exam craziness begins. Every year around this time, we get time off from school and for the past several years we’ve been spending this time off in the sunshine state. We’ve been coming here since I was in grade 8 and now that I’ll be graduating from high school in a few months, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately.

Real Books > E Books

Today I’ve been thinking about how much I’ve changed since we started coming to Florida on this annual basis. I don’t have to say that I’ve changed a ton since I was 14, but I think what’s interesting is how I chart and measure that change. I think change is a really interesting topic, because, unlike in novels where you often see the characters changing blatantly before your eyes, in real life it’s so gradual and seemingly natural that you can only really see it retrospectively.Then, when you do introspect you’re often taken aback. “Was I really like that before?” or “How did I possibly manage to get where I am now?” are often the questions on my mind.

Even more often, I can hardly imagine life before the change which has taken place. I can hardly imagine, for example, spending this time-off at home. I can’t even recall what that was like. Another major change in my life, which I could have never imagined at the time, was reading Jane Austen’s works, starting with Pride and Prejudice. In fact, I sometimes think of my life in the context of “Before Jane” and “After Jane”. Okay, I don’t really think about my life that way, at least not in so many words, but that is essentially the big, defining change and revolutionary landmark in my life so far.

In fact, I completely track my progress as a person through the books I read. When I think back through the years since we started coming to Florida, and how much I’ve grown over the course of those years, the one thing I think about is what I was reading each year.

In grades 8 and 9, it was still Before Jane. I have very little recollection of what I read, and I certainly can’t distinguish between the two years. I know I had a pile of books from the YA section of the library selected almost solely on a “judging by the cover” basis. I definitely recall reading some of  the books in the The Clique series by the pool, but I couldn’t even tell you which books in the series they were. There was also one really good book, one of the few from my YA days which I still remember, called Pretty Face. It’s about a girl with weight and self-esteem issues, who overcomes these problems when she goes to Italy in the summer. (Please note that my brief synopsis makes it sound way more lame than it truly is.) However, after a quick google search (which informed me of this book’s title), it occurs to me that I’ve been melding about 5 books of similar theme into this one memory, which I guess goes to show the great quantity of low quality books I breezed through during this phase.

Then grade 10 hit and Jane Austen and I became very close friends. By the time April rolled around, I had just finished reading P&P for the first time. On our flight to Florida, I watched the brilliant, five-hour, twenty-three minute movie (or, you know, the first three hours of it) and it completely sealed the deal. I instantly became an ardent lover of all things Austen (except for, you know, Mansfield Park and Persuasion…) I have such lovely memories of lying on the beach re-reading and re-re-reading the best novel of all time (which is obviously P&P, you’re welcome to disagree on this point, but if you do, you’re also welcome to go find a different blog to read).

Photo credit: http://www.rainbowresource.com
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Then last year in April I was going through my Anne of Green Gables phase. Yes, I’m aware that it was quite late, and in the natural order of things L. M. Montgomery should really come before Jane Austen, but the human experience is quite a complex thing (or so my Writer’s Craft teacher keeps saying). I was reading the last of the 8 books in the series, in which the focus switches from Anne to her youngest daughter Rilla, who is by this time around 15.  It takes place during WWI and the first time I read it I thought it was the most tragic book I’d ever read. When I read the part where Rilla’s brother dies in the trenches, I was sitting at the beach, wearing a big floppy hat and sunglasses, surrounded by happy, laughing children and I had tears positively pouring down my sun-screened cheeks. After I finished reading this book, I was so distraught that I was up half the night crying. I felt as though my own brother had died (which was perhaps a little melodramatic of me) and not even the fact that Rilla’s sweetheart came back safely in the end could comfort me.

This was before I had taken my Studies in Literature class, so I hadn’t learned anything about the literary movements. I was under the deluded impression that this was such a gruesome, realistic account of that era. I now realize how highly romanticized this was and that it’s very much like fluff (oh my God, how dare I? Sorry LMM) next to the postmodern nonsense (oh my God, how dare I? Sorry Pat Barker and Barbara Kingsolver) I read now for my Literature class. The boys in the Anne books were so noble and brave and strong for going to fight in the big, manly war. And Walter got to die fighting for his country, instead of coming back from war knowing about all that “ugliness”, while Rilla’s sweetheart, Kenneth, come home completely unharmed and completely not shell-shocked. As opposed to Regeneration, in which you see how horrible and almost futile fighting in the trenches really was. To be honest, I rather liked my ignorance and innocence (sorry English teachers, who think they’ve helped me grow, but whom I believe have broken me).

Last year also marked the first year I brought a journal with me. I had just began writing, and Miami beach was where I wrote the first poem I’ve had published. That was growth I had never imagined. Publication. When I wrote that poem, the idea that it could possibly be published, and read by anyone outside my family was just unfathomable.

That’s a lot of growth for a single post. Next time I’ll post about this year’s reading material, as I’ve already written an entire essay’s worth of words. I wish I could just hand this in, instead of writing the million and a half essays I have due in just over a month.

Have you read any books that changed everything? How do you track your personal growth?

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