I’ve invited some fellow writers, readers, feminists, and friends to answer four questions here in the coming weeks:
- What’s a noteworthy book from (any stage of) your childhood, something you really loved back then?
- What does that tell us about you at that age?
- What’s an awesome children’s book that you’d like to share with others now?
- What does that tell us about how you’ve changed or stayed the same?
If you’re not writing a guest post, I’d love for you to answer any or all of these questions in the comments! Here are mine:
a beloved book from childhood
It’s hard to pick just one! But I wrote the mean question, so I’ll answer it. I loved Little Women (and its sequels). I have this crystal-clear memory of holding the big chunk of a book at school, having had to stop at a really good part and wanting at a visceral, whole-body level to dive back in.
what that says about that child
I was such a book nerd: I just loved that it was big. (I still love really long novels! And series! Books you never want to end should keep going for a good long while, you know?) I was also a wannabe writer: I hated Meg and was so much more upset about Jo’s book getting destroyed than about Beth dying.
In addition to my readerly/writerly ways, I was way into romance and traditional girls’ book narratives. The sentimentality and mushy bits totally got me. Swoon.
a children’s book worth sharing enthusiastically now
Anything by Diana Wynne Jones, a fantasy author I’ve only recently discovered. She’s totally awesome, and I would have loved her series as a child. I love the Harry Potter books, too, but Jones’s are so much better–everything I find appealing about Harry Potter, but with tighter structure, style, and plotting and less messiah stuff. Funny, smart, and pretty gender-balanced to boot (though boys do tend to take center stage). One fun place to start would be Howl’s Moving Castle and the other books set in that world; another would be Charmed Life and the rest of the Chrestomanci novels.
what that says about this reader’s evolution
I still love series fiction, and I was a big fantasy fan then as now. I am still a book nerd, a passionate reader and writer. It’s just that I now get interrupted at the good parts by my children rather than by my teachers …
On the other hand, I’m far more aware of gender dynamics and stereotypes (as well as racism and other problems along those lines) now. And I’m far more easily annoyed by sentimentality, sappiness, and melodrama these days. I wonder how I’ll feel about Little Women when/if I reread it with Noah or Simon?