Damn You, Potter! Part I

Once in awhile I publicly proclaim that I'm going to start something that I end up at least partially/temporarily regretting later (running Half Marathons, climbing Half Dome, being the yearbook adviser, cleaning behind the stove, etc...). Recently, one of these pseudo-mistakes has been reading all the Harry Potter books, back-to-back (except the first one). I guess I just got swept up in the whole Harry-mania that is currently taking over the world. I have no idea why- I easily ignored the hype during the other six movies! Okay, maybe I do know why. I read this article about Daniel Radcliffe being all sad to "leave Hogwarts" and I decided I wanted to see the movie. I won't watch a movie before reading the book, so I was stuck (I've seen none of the movies).

I've read the first, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, twice. The first time was before it was popular- a friend and I chose a book for each other to read in high school, and he chose that one for me (yes, we were very cool, us IB kids). I thought it was good, and read the second and third
ones right after they came out, but that was it. I decided to read the first one to my students a few years ago, which they loved. So, last week I started off with the second, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, since it had been so long since the first read, quickly followed that up with the third, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and am now plugging away through the fourth, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I'm not a HP fanatic by any means. The kids (and Hagrid) have definitely grown on me, and I am curious to see what they're like as they grow older (cough, bottom right, cough). I think, above all, I just love the imaginative elements of the story and the fact that they have gotten so many kids to willingly read hundreds of pages. Yes, J.K. Rowling may have borrowed a few things here and there (the chess scene in the firs
t book, for example), but as a whole, the series is quite unique. And, honestly, what author hasn't been influenced by someone else? The HP books are well-written, have good messages, and are just plain fun (you know, in that way that corrupts children and teaches them that magic, witches, and wizards are evil AND awesome- oh God, don't get me started... see my post on book banning).

Reading all of them back-to-back is coming at a cost, though. Last night I actually had a HP dream- Dumbledore was performing a rock opera, singing about Lord Voldemort (I'm dead serious). I am also missing the books I read, especially since I had just started Salman Rushdie's Midnight Children when I put it on hold for these. I'm going to a Rushdie reading in early December and am hoping I can get it done by then. I just have to finish these damn Potter books first...

Keep Out or Else!

Over the weekend, my husband and I landed on the topic of published posthumous diaries, and it really made me think (that either makes us sound really smart... or really boring). As a 20 year journal-keeping veteran, the idea of the whole world gaining access to my most personal thoughts does not sound appealing in the slightest. While I highly doubt there would be much of a market for my musings, there is definitely one for celebrities, politicians, and other famous figures. Take Kurt Cobain's, for example- who knows how much money Courtney Love made from selling his diary!

By nature, humans are curious, and for some this crosses the line into just plain nosiness. Most of us have been tempted at one point or another to snoop into the belongings of someone else, whether it be a journal, an email account, or a cell phone. When it's someone close, our conscience usually takes hold, reminding us of the consequences attached to invading someone else's privacy. But what happens when it's an actual published work? And the person is dead? Does that justify reading what they hadn't intended for others?

I admit to moments of nosiness (or, shall we say "extreme curiosity"), but I don't think I could ever get myself to read what someone else has written, for entertainment purposes, without their consent. As I said, I'd be mortified if anyone ever read mine, and I have a problem with someone making money off another person's thoughts. I do believe that there are exceptions, though, mostly those falling into the academic realm. Often people mix business and pleasure in their journals- a scholarly investigation of a great scientist's diaries might divulge more than just his affair with the secretary, but also the beginning formulas for a new medication.

Lesson of the day: if you keep a journal, burn them before you die.


Cordie is thinking:
a. "I wish she'd hurry reading so we could discuss this book."
b. "She needs to get off her ass and take me for a walk."
c. "Does she not realize the big box with the all noise and the light will say the words for her?"
d. "I like bacon."

Redo, Please!

So, back in college I decided to exert my independence and get myself a tramp stamp. Yup, a smallish purple butterfly on the small of my back- easily concealed but sending a message that I wasn't as nice as I looked. Or, something like that... I don't regret it at all, but I do wish I could trade the butterfly in for a smaller version of this awesome tat (no, I don't know this lady, I just saw it online):

Too Much of a Good Thing...

When Mae West proclaimed that, "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful" I'm not really sure if she had books in mind, but that's the mantra I'm officially adopting. Every so often I count how many unread books I have, just for curiosity's sake. Usually the number is in the high twenties, inflicting guilt, as if these inanimate objects are capable of feeling neglected.

Today I counted and the number has climbed to forty-six. Oops.

I'll sheepishly admit that my first reaction was visceral- my internal organs simultaneously tensed and shuddered, and I swear my heart rate jumped for a second. Some of the forty-six had been sitting for well over a year (or two... I'm so sorry The Crimson Petal and the White), not because they're bad, but because others have simply bumped them (for those who have a Netflix queue I'm sure you understand). My involvement in Amazon's Vine Program has also been a factor, although I have definitely slowed my participation down with them considerably. Not to mention how much money these forty-six books represent, although, in my defense, some have been gifts. And the space! Another reason to feel ashamed. We have three massive bookcases that are basically filled- with my birthday and Christmas coming some intense rearranging must be done pronto. Panic. Stress. Anxiety. Eye-rolling over-dramatization.

But then I realized it doesn't really matter. I'm a self-sufficient woman who is fiscally responsible, so if I want to have forty-six unread books on my shelves than that's my prerogative. In fact, maybe I'll go buy some more right now (okay, so I probably won't, but I could)!

A Confession

I hate Shakespeare. I have a BA in English, am an English teacher, and a have no problem admitting to literary snobbery, and yet I totally despise The Bard. Romeo and Juliet were idealistic and stupid, Lady Macbeth needed some Xanax, and seriously, how many goddamn Henrys do we need to read about? The reason why this comes up now is because I have to teach Julius Caesar starting next week and am struggling to muster up any enthusiasm whatsoever. Yes, I know, there are "so many fun things you can do with plays." And I don't care.

I can't pinpoint one specific reason why Shakespeare irks me so much. I'm not a huge fan of reading plays in general, so I know that's definitely one factor. Drama doesn't allow me to become as invested in the characters or as connected to the plot and setting as I can with prose. I also hate poetry for the same reason, so that applies to his sonnets as well. My literary tastes also veer towards the contemporary, which Shakespeare definitely is not (I don't mind Chaucer, though, who is about 200 years Will's senior).

As a seventh or eighth grader I really wanted to like Shakespeare- I even requested, and received, his complete works for Christmas one year (cough, cough, dork, cough). I muddled through some sonnets and tried to get through Antony and Cleopatra, if I remember right. Then, freshman year in high school we read Romeo and Juliet and I decided the man was an idiot. Were you kidding me? They were that stupid? Really? Being dumb, naive, and suicidal is not romantic. And from that moment on I was over him. I've read many plays since then and still have not become a fan.

Don't misunderstand me- I hate reading Shakespeare, but I appreciate what he has done for literature as a whole, similar to how I feel about what Michael Jackson has done for music, Kobe Bryant for basketball, and Louboutin for heels. There's a difference between disliking an author because he's a talentless hack, and hating an author because the two of you just aren't on the same wavelength. And, I guess that's the message I'll have to hopefully convey to my students these next few weeks, since I know they'll probably hate Julius Caesar more than I do (pessimistic but realistic): you can hate the game, but don't hate the player (or, I guess, for my students, "playa.")

The Best Worst Class Ever

While studying English at UCLA I had the privilege of participating in some amazing classes that exposed me to a plethora of authors, professors, and genres. Detective Fiction was not a member of this elite group. It sounded awesome on the registrar's website- in reality, not so much. The poor professor was battling some sort of illness that induced massive amounts of cough-syrup chugging during lecture, memory loss, and just general boringness (I saw him hooked up to an IV in the hospital, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt). The syllabus was horrendous, among the worst: Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White, Robbe-Grillet's The Erasers, and, the worst of the worst, Michael Connely's Trunk Music (shame on you, professor). Needless to say, between the other three lit classes I was taking, working thirty hours a week, and commuting to Brea, I didn't do much reading.

Meanwhile, I had met this insanely smart, sarcastic, opposite of frat boy guy in my discussion class- we'll call him Future Husband. At first I thought he was sort of a nonchalant bad-ass, not that it mattered, since I was unhappily unavailable. Over time, though, I realized that this guy in the leather jacket with the longish hair did all the reading and was actually pretty cool- AND he was willing to meet to review for the final. Score! It was during our epic study session that I realized TLC replayed Trading Spaces on a 3 hour loop, I got horrible cell phone reception in Riverside, a
nd that this guy might not suck.

Fast forward a month later, I was down a high school boyfriend and up a Fut
ure Husband (no overlap, thankyouverymuch). While slightly scarring me for life (so ashamed to know who Harry Bosch is), Detective Fiction ended up being the best class ever, for obvious reasons. Fast forward even further into the future, and today I can say we've been married for two whole years now and I still have absolutely no clue what the hell The Erasers is about.

It's a Book

Check out It's a Book on the right hand side of the screen- those of us who are anti-ereader will appreciate it. An old friend shared it with me awhile ago but I had forgotten about it until today when I saw the actual print copy on Amazon.