February 1, 2013

A Book Lover's Explanation

Today I'm going to do my best to explain what it is about books that I think makes people like me complete literary junkies.

Where to start...

How I fell in love with books

I started reading at a pretty young age, I know I always loved having stories read to me, my mom happens to be a complete lover of books herself. We took many a trip to the library across from my house when I was very little, I went to readings and spent hours in the section just for little kids. I can recall more hours spent with books than a TV when I was four or five.

So as you can see, I was doomed.

I remember my first "chapter book". It was in grade one and our teacher Mrs. Hamelin, directed me over to the big white, spinning, wire-rack shelf where we kept the big kid books. It was there I found "Ramona Quimby, Age 8". Oh Ramona, the times we've shared... But in all honesty, after I read Ramona there was no going back; I was a chapter book addict.

Why I fell in love with books

What is it exactly that had me hooked? It's like this drug for the imagination. Once I was introduced to Ramona, I read through the first real character description I'd ever seen. It was difficult to understand at first, but I remember figuring out how it worked: The book would tell me what everything looked like, and then bit by bit, piece by piece, I could build this imaginary world, with these fictional characters, and then play the story out in my own mind. It's like a screenplay that's been written for you, but then you get to pick the cast and direct the movie so everything is exactly as you imagine it. It's entirely up to your own interpretation. You get to truly exercise your imagination to its limits; construct entire towns, buildings, people.. inside your head.

It took me a couple weeks to finish, and man, did I feel a sense of accomplishment. I won't lie, there may have been a little bit of a superiority complex that went along with that. It's like you've gained access into this new world and no one knows about it but you. It was something that attracted me to other chapter book seekers as that year went on, kids I knew were experiencing the same new thrill I was.
I realized quickly that there was no going back to those picture books with their simple sentences. It was all chapter books from there on out. But it wasn't that simple, I couldn't just pick up any old book, I wanted to revisit the same world I had in my head, Ramona's world.

The dangers of the series

Over the years I did re-enter the world of Ramona Quimby, out of curiosity, even though I'd outgrown her, I wanted to check up on her, see where she was after all this time. There we more book series; Baby-Sitters Little Sister, graduating to The Baby-Sitters Club, The Jewel Kingdom, The Bailey School Kids. The list goes on. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that we indulge in so many worlds as we get older but there's something you have to realize. For the most part as a book lover, once you enter a world or characters, that world never leaves you. Once you enter the mind of a character, you know that person's every thought, you begin to know them in an impossible way. You share a bond, with a completely fictional character and when that series ends you're left feeling a little abandoned. It's like your friend moves away and you are never to speak to each other again. God bless writers like Tamora Pierce who tell stories about different generations of people living in the same worlds over and over again so we can feel satisfied with knowing what happened to our favourite heroines (in this case always female, sorry boys). But that's not always the case...

Learning to deal with death (of a fictional character) *Spoiler Alert*

Sometimes, stories don't have happy endings. Sometimes, unfortunately, for the sake of the story, people have to die. While I can appreciate the need to not always have a Disney movie ending... it always sucks when someone dies. Sirius Black, we hardly knew ye. Katniss, doll, your life is just not fair. And Jodi Picoult you have got to be f*cking kidding me, YOU KILL EVERYONE, AND IT'S ALWAYS A SURPRISE! And don't think I've forgotten about you Sparks, you sonofabitch. There's something so ridiculously painful about investing your time and hope and emotions in a character. Making their life, world, friends, dreams all real. And then having that person die. And fully feeling the effect that it has not only on you, (sometimes feeling as though you've been killed off, sometimes just because of the bond you've formed to this character), but also on the other characters in the story. I'll admit, I've spent hours sobbing over fictional characters, multiple times. Some stories will forever leave an imprint on my mind because of the emotional journey I had to go through with a character only to have tragedy ultimately consume their life. Seriously, as a serious reader, we take this stuff hard.

Like, tub of ice cream lights off crying to sad music hard.

Learning to deal with book movies.

we will never learn to accept book movies.
Rule 1: The book is always better (99.9% of the time)
Rule 2: No. Stop making book movies.
Rule 3: I can't even get into this topic, just, anger.

I think that everyone can enjoy reading if they find a subject they really enjoy. While I enjoy a good mind-bender, honestly I'll always love reading a good teen drama about crushes and high school. There's no wrong way to read, I think it's the key to opening up your mind and learning to understand people by stepping into their world and their shoes. Reading is just a form of magic to me and I don't think I'll ever stop looking for a new great series, or entrancing novel. Yeah, I guess you could say maybe I've made this all seem a bit intense... but I was also essentially paralyzed with depression for three days after finishing The Hunger Games, and let me tell you, that shit was intense. (Thanks Laura)

Now go read a book.
I'm going to go come up with a pen name.

P.S. Fact: If you didn't effing sob when Dobby died, you have no soul.

13 Going On ...13?

First, allow me to preface this post by saying I SWEAR I tried to come up with a better, classier, more adult name for this blog, but after 3 years of failing miserably I'm just going to admit defeat. I'm tired and uninspired. ...And all the good names are taken (especially anything with the word "musings" ugh).

Anywhoo. Moving along.

So tonight I was rifling through the Mt. Everest of paper stacks I keep in my room containing all of the decently preserved schoolwork I've done over the years and I came across a few things that kind of made me stop and think.

1. Old Homework

Now when one comes across one's old projects, assignments, annoying math exercises, etc., it's only natural to kinda check 'em out and give 'em a read. You know, grade yourself 5+ years after the fact. If you're anything like me, this may come with the realization that you were a hell of a lot smarter at 17 than you are almost four years into adulthood.


I have French notes that I can barely even comprehend now. I have 5 verb tenses listed but can barely remember which passé composé verbs use être and which ones use avoir. I'm proud that I even remember which verbs are the helper verbs quite frankly. Let's not even get into trying to understand my calculus notes, you've got to be kidding me. It looks like I've just written and scrambled up the English and Greek alphabets with a couple random squiggles and the word 'sin' everywhere. Why do we always invert things? And then there's the chemistry homework. Dear god, kill it with fire.

But really, all of these things that were second nature to me then are like complete gibberish now. Long division?? No bueno, friends. But when I stop to think about it, I can't think of what I've replaced this knowledge with... it's just disappeared. I feel like I had way more knowledge stored at a younger age than now, despite currently being in post-secondary school. Or maybe it's just that we are simply incapable of seeing our own level of intelligence until we are reflecting on it in later years? I don't know. Sometimes I feel like university isn't giving me as much as I got in high school. I'll have to get back to you on this one...

...in a couple years when I'm crying over my B.A. telling myself it makes me feel "less stupider".

2. Sentimental Stuff

Oh god I'm the freaking worst for getting attached to things. I still have pictures drawn for me by my friend Tanya when we were 13, most of which feature Michael Jackson, the girl from the ring and/or fat stick figures with Revels.

I also, sadly, have a diorama I made in grade two, or maybe three? Any and all school pictures I got from my friends (don't worry, I won't post them). Beanie babies, class notes between friends, everything.

My mom says I'm kind of a hoarder, I disagree, I just value these things probably more than all of the expensive nice looking things.

I'm not entirely sure what my intention was with this post, maybe just sharing my opinion on the value of reflecting every once in a while. You've done a lot of stuff in your lifetime.. good, bad and yes, sometimes ugly... but at the end of the day sometimes it's worth stopping to take a look at some of the parts that make up the rich tapestry that is your own personal history. Seriously though, clean out your closet sometime, you'll understand.