A happy world full of books
The boys abandoned the dinner table quickly last night, so Sean and Lisette and I sat around and talked books. I had talked with the girl recently about why characters in books and movies appeal to us – in part, because they’re designed that way (either deliberately, or unconsciously, by the author), and in part because there’s usually something in everyone that we can relate to. They’re both designed to be easily relatable, and also somewhat universal by default. We had specifically cited Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games series (and movie), and Bella Swan in Twilight (et al). Regardless of what you thought of either story/series/movie, a lot of people really related to the lead character in each…to Katniss, I think, because she’s strong and pummeled, repressed and rising. She’s the girl – the person – we want to be, winning through ferocity and luck and friendships. And Bella, because – as it’s been pointed out elsewhere – she’s something of a non-person; you can fill in all the details yourself, and so become that character yourself, in the movie in your mind.
All this is leading up to a revelation I had. I was saying yesterday that Sean doesn’t read much – the standard “not much time” we run into in adulthood – and when he does, he’s peculiar about what he enjoys and what he doesn’t. He loved Harry Potter, he hated The Hobbit. (Stop throwing things, he has the right.) And I figured it out: he’s a good deal more particular about who he relates to in books or movies. Just last week, the three of us finished the audiobook of Ready Player One (Earnest Cline) together, and we all loved-loved-loved it. In addition to it being a great story, with some really great hooks and features, the main character (Wade Watts) is REALLY relatable for us. He’s the underdog, smart but not genius, our kind of humor, etc etc. And Wade turns out to be gutsy, too. We like that in a protagonist.
I’ve always been a royal, dyed-in-the-wool bookworm. And I’m also not particularly critical of books and movies…I like a lot of em, for a lot of different reasons. Hell, I even liked the Twilight series, as entertainment goes (didn’t care for the movie though). But I like knowing the different facets to like and dislike, both for me and for the family. It makes it easier on me to pick the next audiobook to sucker them into reading.
On another note, I’ve just this week started reading the boys the original Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie) at night, as their going-to-sleep book. We’ve always been good about reading something to the kids at bedtime, but this is one of the first really dedicated efforts I’ve made to read them something…well, something bigger. It’s going really well so far…even with the more flowery language and slower start, Eric seems really interested, and Ben even guessed what was going to happen. Mr. and Mrs. Darling are lamenting “that fateful Friday”, before we learn what happened to the children, and we wondered aloud what could have happened. Ben: “They go to Neverland with Peter!” Me: “Wow! Good guess, buddy!!” Ben: “I saw the preview for the movie!” Hah…well, attaboy anyway.
And Lisette, as it turns out, is a closet reader. It’s mostly for school – like two years ago, she apparently read Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and I never knew. She’s currently working through Jenny “The Bloggess” Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and laughing out loud at it. Thank the stars, she’s reading of her own accord!
As for me, like I said, I’m finally reading Farenheit 451. I’ve tried to read it 6 or so times over the years, and never managed to get out of chapter 1. I don’t know, somehow it never grabbed me. But the Audible.com audiobook, with Ray Bradbury himself reading, is absolutely entrancing. (Once I set it to play at 1 1/2 speed….he’s a slow talker.)
All of this makes me very, very happy.