Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Sunday Salon: On Reading Childhood Favourites


What Caught My Fancy This Week (and kinda last week)

So I didn’t do a Salon post last week. I was in a funk and then I had a bit of an accident and got myself into more of a funk. I’ve had to snap myself out of the funk and am still recovering from the funk. I do want to warn my readers that the funks are likely to come frequently for the next couple of months as the deadline for my thesis draws nearer (final submission day is May 19th). I have taken steps to minimize the risk of funkdom setting in by booking myself on a mini vacation at the end of April (something to look forward too) and once I have read the final book for lit theory (only one left to read) my reading for pleasure should go up. Right now I have been feeling a bit guilty reading for pleasure when I know I have books to read for school, which has lead to little reading at all (my brain works in mysterious ways).

Okay now that that disclaimer is out of the way, on to my topic of the week: Reading Childhood Favourites! I am currently reading the last of my books for the Childhood Favourites Challenge hosted by Debbie of Debbie’s World of Books. During the week I got into a discussion with Eva and Nymeth on twitter (where all good ideas are born) about re-reading childhood favourites and their fear of reading them now as adults because they were worried that they would be changed for them. It is an interesting concept to me because I hadn’t actually thought of it that way.

My family tend to hyperfocus on things (my mum can probably quote Glee episodes at you verbatim and I KNOW I can do it with West Wing lines)  and this goes for books as well. This means that I have read many of my favourite books to shreds. Literally. I’ve had to buy new copies because the old ones had pages missing. Which books I tend to hyperfocus on goes in waves. But because of this I have read childhood favourites many times in many different seasons of life. And yes they do change. They change a lot. And I see new things. And sometimes I see things that annoy me now that I probably didn’t even notice as a kid. And that is both positive and negative. Take the books we were discussing on Twitter: The Little House on the Prairie series. I LOVED these books both as a child and as a teenager (my copy of These Happy Golden Years is not my original, it is copy I got from a friend when she heard mine had missing pages from being read to many times in junior high). I grew up with Laura. I recently re-read Little House on The Prairie, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years (reviews pending on the last two) and a few things struck me that I am not sure I noticed as a kid. The first one is Ma’s hatred of Indians. I think we MIGHT have discussed it as a child but I honestly can’t remember. At first it really bothered me. I felt that the view that was being presented was not one that I would want children today to have. Then I realised that Pa’s view slightly tempered Ma’s view. Pa has a much more “modern” view. Plus I think that their different view’s can lead to discussions. Then we have the fact that the Indian’s are portrayed in a rather stereotypical way but to me this is a sign of the times when the books were written, again something that can be discussed. The second thing that I noticed and that made me think was the inclusion of religion in the school day. In once scene in (I think it was The Long Winter) the school day is started with reading Psalm 23. Now today that wouldn’t happen in a public school, here or in the states. It made me think about the differences then and now.

I guess what I am trying to say is that although I noticed different things now from when I read them as a kid, the books aren’t ruined for me, they are simply different. Reading them now serves a different purpose. Take one of my current reads, Anne of Avonlea, I had planned on reading this book for the Childhood Favourites Challenge, but the reason I chose to read it now was because I needed a dose of escapism. Anne of Avonlea was a book that I read, repeatedly, around the same time as I was reading These Happy Golden Years. Anne was as much my friend as Laura was. I admired both women (or should it be girls?) for their independence and spunk. I also admired Anne for her imagination. And it was that imagination I wanted. Anne sees things in the world that I occasionally catch a glimpse of, she has a quality I admire. I read these books knowing full well that I will find things that I didn’t find as a young girl. I read them knowing that they will now be different and maybe I will see my childhood differently. But I also read them knowing that they have the power to pull me back to a less complicated time, both in their setting but also in their ability to pull me back to MY childhood, with its good parts and its bad parts, a childhood that made me who I am, warts and all. And that for me can never be a bad thing.


Two weeks worth of reviews this week. Still not that many, see aforementioned funk.


Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. Really really did not like this book. Really. It made me feel a bit sick and is a major reason why I needed to read something fluffy to read.


Rapture in Death

Rapture in Death by J.D. Robb. Robb’s In Death series is a series of books I tend to hyperfocus on :). I have read this book several times and it never fails to make happy, in a weird way, I mean it is a murder mystery :D


The French Lieutenant's Woman

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles. A post modern novel that I really didn’t like. I don’t like it when the author tries to have a conversation with me in the middle of the story. Stick to the story OR have a conversation. Not both for me please.


The Long Winter

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Read on a whim on a cold and miserable day. It completely served its purpose as it cheered me up.



Currently Reading

Anne of Avonlea

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. Anne never fails to cheer me up. Really she makes me happy happy happy, which is why I seriously considered signing up for the Anne of Green Gables Reread Challenge, but, alas I have to recognize my own limitations. I might read more Anne this year but I also want to expand my horizons a bit more.


Feminist Philosophy and Science Fiction: Utopia and Dystopia edited by Judith A. Little. I am reading this for my thesis and normally I wouldn’t put that in my currently reading file (I reserve this for books I intend to review and text books don’t normally get reviewed by me) but this book will not only be reviewed but highly recommended to anyone that is interested in Feminist philosophy and science fiction. It is an anthology of sorts with writings regarding feminist utopias and dystopias and it also has a introductions to feminist philosophy and dystopian and utopian ideas. I’ve only read the introduction and leafed through the rest of the book but that was enough for me to go online to buy my own copy. I need to make notes in the margin, it is that good. I will be counting it towards my Women Unbound Challenge, non-fiction (even if it has fictional elements).

Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North.clip_image001This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Amanda said...

I"m a little leery about rereading childhood favorites. Some turn out okay. For instance, I loved The Egypt Game when I reread it, though I did notice some things I hadn't noticed before. I also realized just how influential that book was on how I write even today. But some dont' turn out well, like rereading A Wrinkle in Time recently. The difference for me seems to be how many times I read a book as a kid. If I read it many times over, the sentimental aspect of it overcomes. If I read it a few times and loved it but didn't pound it into my brain, I tend to be disappointed.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

So sorry to hear about your accident. I hope everything is all right, or soon will be. Hang in there with the funk ... those are never easy.

Take care, my friend.

readerbuzz said...

I've never had a childhood favorite disappoint...Half Magic...Sid Fleischman books...Wrinkle in Time...all better the second time around.

Eva said...

Boo to funks!

I'm not afraid to reread ALL of my childhood favourites; L.M. Montgomery, L.M. Boston, a lot of classics, The Giver, etc. ...I reread them all regularly. I do have reservations about the Little House books, just because I think if I read it now, I'd be so upset knowing what horrible things happened to Native Americans, I couldn't enjoy them.

Gary Baumgarten said...

Masha Hamilton will be my guest on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network at 5 PM New York time Tuesday March 9.

To talk to her then please go to There is no charge.



Aarti said...

I was really worried about reading one of my absolute favorite childhood books, The Phantom Tollbooth. But I reread it and I loved it. I think I agree with you- it isn't the same experience, but books you loved in the past and had such an affinity to... I don't think they get ruined for you :-)

Kristen M. said...

Strangely, I also posted about some childhood reads today! I have fond memories of some books that now I go back and read and cringe at the racism and such. I guess it will always happen because as children we just don't know enough about the world to know things are wrong. It does make me more aware though about what books are on my son's shelves and that will form his world view.