Saturday, May 20, 2006

Easy Peasy

From Shon, the kind of terrorist we could all use to be attacked by, comes my easiest response. Didn't even have to think half a split second for this one, and that feels mighty nice for a change.

He asks:
What's your comfort food book? The book you have read so many times you know it by heart but you keep coming back to it?
First off, I love the idea of a "comfort food book." I never would have thought of that phrase, but it's perfect.

So, what I read when the world is too much with me and I just want to escape and just enjoy and not think to much. I've got two definites, and then a runner up:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Never fails. Love everything about it. The flawless writing, the subtle sarcasm, the plot twists, the period feel, the romantic yearning, the desperate misunderstandings, the everything-rights-itself-in-the-end conclusion. And especially the mental and verbal sparring between the two main characters that substitutes as massive sexual tension in today's world.

Not to mention I pretty much am Elizabeth Bennett incarnate. Stubborn, too smart for my own good, guarded, clever, and desperately romantic underneath it all. Tend to not always know what's good for me in terms of men. Tend to assume I'll never find the love I want. Tend to keep hoping I will. That sort of thing.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend. The first two (and best) books in what eventually became a small series following the title character into adulthood. Adrian's (a boy, by the way) diary entries through his thirteenth and fourteenth year. Just absolutely hysterical. They still make me laugh every time I read them, and you can get through one in a single sitting if you have a little time. The books actually cover some really serious topics that were taking place in the '80s when they were written, both in America and in England (where the story takes place). Divorce, parental infidelity, political upheaval, the Falklands, welfare, social security, changing gender roles in the family, punk, teen sexuality...but it's all portrayed through the eyes of this incredibly precocious teenager (who has no idea he's precocious--he thinks he's a genius), so that it makes even the hardest things seem amusing and deal-able. They're just a delight to read, and though they can be considered "young adult books" on one level, they works equally well on an adult level due to the author's incredibly subtle, dry, well-honed wit. You can practically see the author waiting for your double-take so she can take the piss out of you for not being quicker. If you were a teenager in the 80s, or if you know anything about English politics at the time, it's a must-read. But I think anyone would find it funny. Coming of age has commonalities across every era, and these books are my favorite coming-of-age novels. It's nice to have a C.O.A. book where it's not all angst and darkness, even when there are angsty things happening. Sometimes you just want to look back on your angsty teenager self and just laugh at how dopey all your earnestness and presumed "depth" was. This book lets you do it without being too hard on yourself, or without making it seem like too bad a time.

If you want to read a little excerpt of them, you can here and here.

Those are my main two.

And the runner up would be...

The Harry Potter series. I love it to death. Every time a new one is about to be released, I read through the entire series again from start to finish. And sometimes, if the wait is too long, I grab one and read it just to relax. I love her writing, I love the stories, and I love the way they remind me of some of my favorite children's lit writers growing up.

I wonder--was anyone surprised these were my picks?

I bet you guys all thought it would be something darker, right?


Blogger Shon Richards said...

One of reasons I come to your blog is you have a strengh and anger that shines through your writing in a good way. It reminds me of my wife. So when I saw 'Pride and Prejudice', which is my wife's favorite book, I realize that Jane Austen can almost count of a lithmus test now lol.

The Potter books are delightful escape books. I can't argue.

5/20/2006 7:27 PM  
Blogger Evil Minx said...

I don't know if I'm surprised, but i do know that we share very, very similar tastes in literature.

And Adrian Mole from an American? Who knew?!

I am not worthy... ;-)

5/21/2006 7:02 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Shon: Your wife sounds cool. :) I think P&P is an excellent litmus test (of a certain kind of woman at least). Tell your wife if she hasn't seen the BBC made-for-tv version of the book, she's really missing out. (The one with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. Check it out:

Sooo good, and true to the book--NOT like that monstrosity that came out in the theaters a few months ago with Keira Knightly.

Trust me, every woman I know who's seen it gets all swoony about it. Also makes a great surprise present (hint, hint).

Hm, I hadn't realized I came across as angry. Have to think about that one...

5/21/2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Minxilicious: So you've read them? Cool. Most people I know aroud here don't seem to know about them. I'm not even sure how I discovered them intially. I can't remember. My copies are so old that the pages are yellowed...

And you are *entirely* worthy, and you know it, too. :)

5/21/2006 9:51 AM  

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