Book It!

Those of you who are always trying to get me to throw away my TV might be happy to know that I also read all the freakin’ time. I’m a woman of many talents. And I’ve been reading a lot more lately because, duh, I recently noticed that the college campus where I work has a library, and then I learned that faculty & staff don’t have to pay late fees, which is right up my alley because I am a serial library privilege abuser and tend to avoid libraries for that very reason. In June when I was packing, I found a copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany that was due in September of 2003. Eep. Also, I was never able to make it through that book, which may be why I trauma-blocked its existence. Not finishing a book, even a book I hate, is a personal failure near the level of wetting the bed, and I haven’t wet a bed since I was very, very small.

Along those lines, I want to share that I finally read The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time, in anticipation of the upcoming movie. It’s a good thing I actually went ahead and bought it (the big one with all seven books included), because it took me six arduous weeks to finish the damn thing. If I love a book, I will drop everything to finish it in a day or two. If I like a book, I’ll read some of it daily for a week or two until it’s finished. If I can’t possibly bring myself to give a shit about a book, evidently it takes six weeks to finish.

I feel like a traitor to literature. These are classic stories, stories that lots of children and adults have cherished and read over and over again through the years. And I really tried to enjoy them. I took the book with me everywhere I went, and I tried to read at least a little of it every night, and I tried desperately to absorb myself in the lives of the characters, and I just totally did not care about them at all. The plotlines were tedious. The characters were flat. The Christian allegory was overdone. And also? Sometimes I thought Aslan was kind of creepy. I’m just saying.

Then I thought, well, maybe it’s because they were originally children’s books, and I missed them as a child and am now seeing them through jaded adult eyes and so I’m missing out on the magic or something. But then I remembered that I borrowed many of the books from the library over and over again in many different years of my childhood, only to find that every time I tried to read them, I was as bored with them then as I was this time around. Clearly there’s a reason I didn’t read these as a child.

Besides, there are plenty of series I devoured when I was younger that I’ve gone back to as an adult and loved just as much (and sometimes even more), like Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence, and the Little House on the Prairie series, and the Anne of Green Gables books and others.

But on the other hand, although I loved The Hobbit as a kid and read it several times, I could never get into The Lord of the Rings. When I heard that film adaptations were being made, I asked for the trilogy for Christmas and read it all and found it utterly captivating.

I don’t know. I guess I’m just trying to say that I kind of thought The Chronicles of Narnia were boring, and I’m pissed that I spent six damn weeks reading them, hoping they’d get better, and although I probably did end up liking The Last Battle best of all the books, overall there was never the payoff I was hoping I’d find. And it appears that I’m in the minority with this opinion, but that’s okay.

14 Replies to “Book It!”

  1. My name is Sandy, and I, too, am a serial library privilege abuser. I just got two notices the other day, informinig me in a most authoritative tone that if I did not return Bastard Out of Carolina and Crooked Little Heart IMMEDIATELY, I would be suitably executed.

  2. I do not feel less of you because of your TV! I am just surprised at the importnace of it!

    Dude, when I worked at the library in Northbrook, iu ahd so many things out late. And then qhen I quit I FORGOT TO ERASE THE FINES. Oops.

    As for Narnia, loved them when I was a kid. Now I worry I can’t read them sans the christian shit i know iss in there (erin wrote about narnia lately, btw).

    The Cooper books WERE in fact awesome. Other good books when i was a kid: Madeline L’Engle, all the Oz books, Eadward Eager’s books, the Marguerite Henry Chincoteague books. I read Nancy Drew, too. Apparently, I’m a girl.

    I still can’t read Tolkien, though I kinda liked the Hobbit when I was younger.

    As for reading things NO MATTER WHAT: I feel like somewhere, a reading teacher failed you. One of the things i learned at northwestern was to each students that readers sometimes give up on books! I am always amazed as to how people will keep reading even if they don’t like something. Soemtimes books are just sucky.

    FINALLY, to Sandy: Bastard, along with Algren’s The Man With the Golden Arm, was the best book I read in college.

  3. Remember that Seinfeld episode where it’s revealed that George and Jerry still had their high school library’s copy of Tropic of Cancer checked out? What was a high school library doing with Tropic of Cancer?

    Also: I feel like a traitor to literature, too, since I’ve been “working on” Cavalier and Klay for more than a year. I’ve moved three times since I started it, and keep packing it up, pulling it out, putting it back on my shelf… but I don’t like Cavalier. And I really don’t like Klay either.

    So there.

  4. I’m currently reading Z for Zachariah (sp?) for some shite reading… you know what I’m talking about… we read it in 8th grade and I liked it.


    And the Great Brain!

    And I am very happy to report that i will soon be moving a block from Klickitat Street. No lie! M. Cleary was from Portland!

  6. You are reading neverwhere, which reminds me that my procrastinatory ass has probably prevented me from being able to go see Gaiman read today. Dammit!

  7. Yeah, I love susan cooper. And other stuff. But the narnia book? I keep reading the first few pages of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and being like “well eff that.” so yeah.

  8. The Chronicles of Narnia are a tad shallow and transparently allegorical. My kids enjoyed them (read them this year), and yes, the climaxes seem to vanish in a poof like a split-second O.

    I enjoyed the Hobbit, TLOTR, and even some of Tolkien’s other works. The Simarillion is a 70,000 ft view of Middle Earth over a wide timespan, of which TLOTR takes up about 5 pages. It can be hard to stay with at points, but a fascinating treatment of human nature (and elven, dwarven, etc). There are the Lost Tales and Unfinished, subplots that Tolkien was weaving that never made it into a major work, but ring with the peal of his spellbinding style. There are also lighter books such as the “Farmer of Ham” and “Smith of Wooten” combination that show two completely different approaches to his storytelling, but make for a short, pleasant read.

    However, much of my reading is either based in history or science. For example, this year I read biographies of Teddy Roosevelt, James Monroe, and John Adams, delving into the lines of reasoning and emotive drives that lead them to make key decisions and alliances at crucial times during our history. Now we’ll have to elect a woman so that my Presidential reading list isn’t so lopsided.

    Sorry if I sound like I’m harping on TV; each of us must make choices about that which enriches our lives, and sometimes I need a kick in the butt if I sound haughty about my approach.

    So with that in mind, could you share with us which activities, events, and areas of interest you feel would enrich your life in a particular way?

  9. Really? Even the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? I remember liking that one… but have never touched them since. Wonder if I’d find the same thing. But Anne of GG – now that was awesome – I agree. I reread those constantly.

  10. I recently bought The Chronicles of Narnia (the same one as you, the big all-in-one book), but it’s been sitting on my dining table collecting dust.

    The culprit? I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series. I’m OBSESSED I tell you! But I’m also kinda glad I’m doing it because I’m picking up things that I either completely forgot took place, or things that I missed the first time around. Oh well.

    I’m sure I’ll get around to reading Narnia. Hopefully. :)

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