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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How to Combat Gloom with Literature

I have recently been fighting a vicious battle with the blues. Of course, that means that my "fighting" consists of lying in bed and resisting the urge to listen to Tom Waits or Tori Amos or other similarly melancholy "T" named artists.

I know I have the blues because this weekend I cried through an entire episode of Bones, a normally witty and humorous crime show that was having one of their rare serious episodes.

Thinking about ways to pull myself out of my funk, I started thinking about the comfort of my favorite children's literature. As a kid, my favorite books tended to be those of the fantasy persuasion. I am a rather enormous fan of The Dark is Rising Sequence written by Susan Cooper - a series of five books that I highly recommend to your fantasy loving 'tweens - and I have read my paperback copies worn. Those books, in particular the ones that featured Jane Drew, a heroine I could connect with, are deeply tied to my young adulthood. So I find myself returning to them, again and again.

I don't think it's the book itself that comforts me. I think it's reconnecting to the wonder and escapism of my youth. Because, of course, it was a simpler time. I can still remember lying in the fluffy pillows in the corner of my room beneath the windows, a rare rainy day outside, and reading for hours upon hours.

I'm certain that this has been written about extensively in the context of all things Harry Potter. The why of Harry has always seemed obvious to me. He connected with so many people, because so many people yearned to reconnect with those feelings of their youth: simplicity, imagination, adventure.

So as I lick my wounds, and try to recover from my blues, I'm looking forward to surrounding myself in the comfort of my childhood. It'll be me, my teddy bear, and some good old fashioned adventure tonight.


Anonymous said...

It's a well known fact that teddy bears know karate, so you'll be safe. My favorite book from my "childhood" is still The Changeover. I just love that a girl takes it upon herself to fix things, and does. A close second The Arabian Nights Entertainment. Something about far off places (Australia, the Middle East) always seems comforting to me. I'm in a writing funk, so I'm hugging my panda pretty close. My thoughts are with you.

stu said...

It's always fun to reconnect to what you used to read, though there's the occasional danger of realising that what you used to love wasn't quite as wonderful as you remember.

Stephanie said...

Randika, I loved the Changeover and have been thinking about re-reading it but couldn't remember the title. Thanks for reminding me! I hope you break out of your writing funk soon. Those suck (to put it eloquently).

Stu, yeah that happened to me with A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, I'm sad to say. I picked that one up and was totally bewildered by what seemed to be a very passive main character. Plus, I always complain that I came too late to the Narnia books to appreciate them at all.

stu said...

Trust me, it's worse when you read the Narnia books as a kid, think they're great, and then find out as an adult that they're badly written, twee, propagandist tripe.