So I’ve been thinking about this blog. Blogs. Are they even still a thing? Whether they are or not is irrelevant to me, I couldn’t care less what other people are doing or not doing with their blogs (blogs god that fucking word). But I’ve been thinking about this blog, my blog, and I think I want a change. I don’t want to abandon it, because it’s my one consistent form of writing these days, but I gotta say, I am getting bored of just using it for book reviews. I still think it’s fun and worthwhile to publicly review the books I loved, liked, and loathed, but I also want to try something different.
So, inspired by a recent-ish post from BookRiot.com, I am going to try something new. Introducing Thursday Thoughts, a weekly (I hope) post about something book-related, that isn’t a book review. Meandering, bull-shitty, navel-gazing drivel, maybe, but definitely not a book review.
First topic: What was your favorite book as a child?
Wow, so that’s not actually an easy one to answer. I had so many favourites over the course of my childhood. The first book I remember reading and loving and thinking about loving to read was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are – a classic, proving that even as a tiny human, I had good taste.
Other books followed, each one my all-time favourite in turn – Little Women, The Hobbit, Gone With The Wind. (Yeah, I was a weird kid.) Then, too, I had favourite series, and favourite books in those series – the Bailey School Kids, The Baby-sitters Club, Redwall, the Dragonriders of Pern. I was a voracious reader, an obsessive reader, a re-reader. I still am, I think, but somehow, it’s not the same. But nothing compares to those days before cell phones and on-demand streaming, when there was nothing good on TV and I had no social life to distract me, when the world in my books was far safer and saner than anything in my real life. I would spend hours and hours reading, bingeing books like an addict. My evil step-father would yell at me for reading too long and for reading at the table, and the mean old lady librarians would try to stop me from signing out too many books, but nothing stopped me. I tracked which books I had read by whether or not the covers had tiny chunks bitten out of them, evidence they had been found by my pet cockatiels Cutie and his brother Daisy, both of whom loved to munch on paperback covers.
My most vivid childhood reading memory is the time my mom bought me a pretty fresh copy of Little Women from the second-hand bookstore we used to hit up weekly, like it was church (and I guess it was, in a way). I read that book over and over and over, getting to the final chapter when Jo and the girls say goodbye to girlhood, and then flipping right back to the first page and Christmas at the March house. And then, one night, I fell asleep in the middle of reading – not a rare occurrence, but notable on this occasion because I had rolled right over the book in the middle of the night, destroying the binding of the book. I was so upset when I woke up in the morning and discovered my favourite book of the moment murdered by my own mass. And this was back in the day, when books were a luxury and not easy to replace. I cried, of course, and tried to tape the poor ruined thing back together, but in the end just put the whole bundle of loose pages in an elastic, and when I went to re-read it again, I would read each individual page, one at a time, like a medieval monk turning over his leaves of vellum. And it was wonderful and strange and monumental, because somehow that made the next reading of the book distinctly physical. The act of reading the recto and the verso of each page, and then laying it down carefully on the read pile and moving on to the next page on top of the unread pile, was the sort of meditative experience I’d never encountered before in my young life, and eventually, that mattered more than the story. I outgrew Little Women, but never my deep connection to and appreciation for books as artifacts, as physical vessels for the stories I loved, and still love, so deeply.
My bullshit is not as artless as it once was, and my writing not so elegant, but good gravy, this was nice. Thanks for reading, if you did, and if you didn’t, I guess you won’t mind if I say screw you.
– xo, R