- fantastic mr. fox/anything by roald dahl - i know you know by now that i really loved this book, but i don't think you really understand how much i loved this book. i was (am?) a real sucker for talking animals, especially ones as clever as the characters in this story. in fact, mr. fox and his underground society of wild animals was the direct inspiration for the secret club i had with all my stuffed animals, which would convene in my bedroom every night after the muppet show and for which i would take meticulous minutes on my typewriter with the sticky "e".
- sweet valley high - one of the hardest to understand paradoxes of my childhood was how i wanted to be both elizabeth and jessica from the sweet valley high series (along with oscar the grouch - he was happy when he was grumpy, and grumpy when he was happy! trying to grasp this totally blew my little five year old brain). this problem has perpetually plagued me throughout my life: i'm a cat person and a dog person, i like elvis and the beatles, i thought archie should be with betty and veronica. i like to think this indicates a complexity of character. or, you know, maybe just indecisiveness.
- nancy drew - a few months ago in an interview in the new quarterly, i talked about how i used to write alternate (happier) endings to books on the few blank pages in the back, because i thought that was what they were there for. i made no better use of those back pages than in all my old copies of nancy drew (purchased, i think, at the same yard sale in st. margaret's bay where we got our atari). i could not understand why, if ned was supposed to be her boyfriend, why they never, ever even kissed. so yeah, if anyone ever finds those old nancy drews, they will also find some extrememly poorly-executed love scenes on those back pages. you're welcome.
- the other elizabeth - so along with talking animals and love scenes, as a kid i also had a thing for time travel. after reading this book (which i'm pretty much convinced no one else in the world has ever, ever read), where this girl named elizabeth goes back in time and lives a whole life and comes back to the present and almost no time has passed at all, i came up with this theory that every time i was walking under a streetlight and it flickered, that this meant i had actually gone back in time, lived a whole life, and then was transported back to the present, where it was only 20 seconds later and my memory had been totally erased. i don't believe that anymore, of course. that would just be crazy.
- rilla of ingleside (which you can read online in its entirety... wtf?!) - i read all of the anne of green gables books, of course. i was a good little maritime girl. but this one - which is told from the point of view of anne and gilbert's youngest kid, rilla - was hands down my favourite. this was mostly because i was in love with walter, rilla's sensitive, beautiful older brother who goes off to war and DIES. walter's death affected me so deeply that when we were rehearsing "in flanders fields" in choir for a rememberance day assembly, i ran out of the room crying and was actually physically unable to sing. what can i tell you... i was in grade three and totally unable to control my emotions. i'm not like that anymore, of course. that would just be crazy.
the japanese love anne of green gables!
- flowers in the attic - in about grade four or five, while all of the boys in my class were going through their wwf phase, all of us girls were going through our vc andrews phase. i guess maybe there's some similarities there, although i don't really want to look too deeply into why, at the age of eight or so, we all suddenly became obsessed with the grotesque and violent and sexual. all i know is this is around the time i started writing stories about evil parents who chained up their kids in basements or tried to poison them that were so ridiculously unrealistic yet still somehow prompted my school guidance counsellor to talk to me about whether or not i was "having trouble at home".
- the mists of avalon - okay, i wasn't exactly a kid when i read this, more like in high school, but i remember it fondly as the last book i was truly obsessed with - the kind of obsessed where i would run home from school to read it, the kind of obsessed where i daydreamed in class about medieval england instead of about boys. after i finished it, i went out and found every book i could find about king arthur, and was so thoroughly depressed to discover that the characters i loved in the mists of avalon just weren't there. morgan le fay was always a super bitch, and guinevere was just a beautiful chick who laughed at all of lancelot's jokes. boring.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
in honour of the best movie i've seen all year, fantastic mr. fox (yes, i saw it. no, it did not disappoint. royal tenenbaums with foxes!), which is based on my favourite book from childhood, i thought i'd make a list of other books i loved as a kid. and these just weren't books i liked a lot... every book on this list i read at least 20 times, and more often than not would wish intensely on every star and birthday candle blowout that i would wake up the next morning as one of the characters. as you will see, even as a kid my tastes were super highbrow.