sessifet: (Smiling)
When I was a small child of indeterminate gender, lo these many years ago*, I really only sat still when watching television or reading a book. This being the days before cable and VCR (well, we had one but we only had a limited selection of films) and because our parents did not want us to spend a whole day playing on the computer, I regularly drove them completely insane on rainy Sundays. This particular Sunday was bad. It was grey and cold and probably in early October. I couldn't find anything to read that held my attention for more than five minutes. No-one wanted to play games, because it was 11:00 on a Sunday and they were all happily reading a book, the bastards. So I twitched around for a bit until plaintively crying 'I don't have anything to read!'.

My sister said, in all her kindness: 'You're not touching any of my books. You eat them,' and retreated upstairs.** She was hitting puberty at this point, though, so she can be forgiven for not caring all that much about her bookless baby sister.

My parents quickly figured out that, no, I did not want to read another comic or any of my old books. I wanted something new and was getting increasingly sulky about the fact that there were all these books in the house but I didn't know what I wanted and oh gods, I want something to reeeeeeead. My last foray into the grown-up books had not really paid off, because they were all big books and I got overwhelmed and wandered off. I believe there were several suggestions (I know Lord of the Rings was one of them, again. I had tried that one off and on the past year but got bored and overwhelmed), but I don't remember which ones they were. I may have started reading some books and gone 'eeeh' and tried another one. No matter how it went down, mum eventually suggested The Mists of Avalon. I'll have to ask her why specifically that one, but I believe it had something to do with my love of legends and fairytales. I devoured books and stories about Arthur and Robin Hood and such (to my dad's eternal disappointment, I never got along with Ivanhoe, though) and could be found rereading them on a regular basis.

So I retreated to the rocking chair with this big hardcover book (translated into Dutch) and started to read. And I read.

And read.

And read.

And read.

I remember eventually looking up and seeing that the sky outside was getting darker and it really was time to turn on the lights.

I remember sitting up and going all woozy and light-headed and going 'gnnn'.

I don't remember going to the bathroom or even getting hungry (I assumed food and tea had magically appeared at some point).

I'd read and enjoyed books before. I regularly read a grade or two above my age (while still enjoying stuff that was written for my own grade as well. I was not picky), but this was the first time I picked up an adult book and I got it. Or rather, it got me. It grabbed me and did not let me go. I knew that feeling, but it was always short and over too quickly. With children's books, I resurfaced because I ran out of book. With The Mists of Avalon, I resurfaced because I ran out of bladder capacity and brain. It turned out I read for about 6 hours straight and I hadn't moved in all that time. This explained feeling woozy, incredibly hungry and like my bladder was about to explode.

I find it very difficult to explain what it was that grabbed me, or why it was this book. To be honest, I can't really remember much at all. It was over 20 years ago, after all. What I do know and remember is that day my life changed. There were books out there that I could keep reading until I was done, not the book! There were stories like this out there! There were writers like this out there! All I had to do was find them! Oh, frabjous day! A few months later, my mother had to go to the library to give me permission to take out adult books (within reason) because I'd run out of things to read and the library was getting uppity about me sneaking into the grown-up section to read fantasy books until the library closed. And, even more importantly, ever since that Sunday, my parents' bookcases were mine to use. There really was only one rule: If you pick up a book, don't feel forced to finish it. If you can't finish it, it's not the book for you right now.

There were no rules about topics or levels of violence, sex or anything like that. This directly read to me reading and enjoying books that I would fling across the room these days (Heinlein, I'm looking at you) or books that I can't now read because they're too graphic (several Vietnam war books come to mind). I also learnt to trust my parents recommendations. If I asked them about a book and they told me I probably wouldn't enjoy it, they usually were right. And when they told me that it was worth slogging through this really boring bit, because it got a lot better in the next chapter/part/book, they were usually right as well (why hello there, Lord of the Rings).***. The rule also directly led me to picking The Clan of the Cavebear at 12/13, shouting 'mum, do you think I'll enjoy this?' and her responding with 'remember the rule!'. I believe I came out of reading that series a more well-rounded person, if rather worried about this whole sex thing and my distinctly non-silky pubic hair.

Ahem. Tangent.

So it's been 22 years or so since The Mists of Avalon. For something this life-changing, you'd think I'd have read it again and again, right? Wrong. I never touched it again after I finished it. 'Aha,' I hear you say, 'then surely you read a lot more by Marion Zimmer Bradley, she being an author of awesome?' Nope. I only read two. Black Trillium, which was a collaboration with Julian May and Andre Norton and Lady of the Trillium. That's it. Why?

Fear. Fear of destroying that perfect moment. Fear of tainting my childhood memory with an adult's perspective. Fear that, after all this, it turns out the book that changed my life is mediocre and derivative.

But you know what? I don't want that. I don't want to never touch this book again because it might not be as good as I remember (and believe me, after 20+ years, my memory of this book is hazy. I remember the sex bits, though! This will tell you all you need to know about both me and any other 10 year old child). I reread Glory Road, for pity's sake! I loved that as a child. I thought it was the awesomest thing of awesome that ever awesomed. As an adult, I find it eyerollingly bad and I firmly believe Heinlein had some fucking issues (pun definitely intended), but it was a still a fun read! So what if this wonderful, marvellous and magical book is not the glorious and transcendant work of goodness and light**** that I remember? Even as a child, I was clever enough to recognise fun reads and I don't think I have changed that much in at least that respect.

So...because of my deep and abiding love for this book and my refusal to be afraid of a book, I have just bought my very own copy of The Mists of Avalon. And because I am 32 and my joints don't work so good anymore, I have bought it on my Kindle.

I may be some time.

*I was about 10 and all knees and elbows which were mostly scraped, scabbed and filthy. I bit my nails and grubbed around in the dirt a lot. I climbed trees. I had a short mop of almost white hair. People really had to look twice to figure out if I was a girl or a boy.
**I had a weird habit/tic for the longest time. When reading a book, I would tear off the corner of the page I was reading and eat it. Gods only know why. I wouldn't do it with magazines or old books (possibly they tasted bad) or even all newer books. Just...some books were irresistible. Even now I sometimes catch myself doing it, so I'll switch to tearing up and eating a blank piece of printing paper. Or my nails, but those start bleeding after a while.
***One of these recommendations ended up with me reading three volumes of satirical erotica. That was an interesting experience at 17 and had a really positive influence on my views of sex, sexuality and politics. Thanks, dad!
****Not that we're biased here...
sessifet: (Smiling)
When I was a small child of indeterminate gender, lo these many years ago*, I really only sat still when watching television or reading a book. This being the days before cable and VCR (well, we had one but we only had a limited selection of films) and because our parents did not want us to spend a whole day playing on the computer, I regularly drove them completely insane on rainy Sundays. This particular Sunday was bad. It was grey and cold and probably in early October. I couldn't find anything to read that held my attention for more than five minutes. No-one wanted to play games, because it was 11:00 on a Sunday and they were all happily reading a book, the bastards. So I twitched around for a bit until plaintively crying 'I don't have anything to read!'.

My sister said, in all her kindness: 'You're not touching any of my books. You eat them,' and retreated upstairs.** She was hitting puberty at this point, though, so she can be forgiven for not caring all that much about her bookless baby sister.

My parents quickly figured out that, no, I did not want to read another comic or any of my old books. I wanted something new and was getting increasingly sulky about the fact that there were all these books in the house but I didn't know what I wanted and oh gods, I want something to reeeeeeead. My last foray into the grown-up books had not really paid off, because they were all big books and I got overwhelmed and wandered off. I believe there were several suggestions (I know Lord of the Rings was one of them, again. I had tried that one off and on the past year but got bored and overwhelmed), but I don't remember which ones they were. I may have started reading some books and gone 'eeeh' and tried another one. No matter how it went down, mum eventually suggested The Mists of Avalon. I'll have to ask her why specifically that one, but I believe it had something to do with my love of legends and fairytales. I devoured books and stories about Arthur and Robin Hood and such (to my dad's eternal disappointment, I never got along with Ivanhoe, though) and could be found rereading them on a regular basis.

So I retreated to the rocking chair with this big hardcover book (translated into Dutch) and started to read. And I read.

And read.

And read.

And read.

I remember eventually looking up and seeing that the sky outside was getting darker and it really was time to turn on the lights.

I remember sitting up and going all woozy and light-headed and going 'gnnn'.

I don't remember going to the bathroom or even getting hungry (I assumed food and tea had magically appeared at some point).

I'd read and enjoyed books before. I regularly read a grade or two above my age (while still enjoying stuff that was written for my own grade as well. I was not picky), but this was the first time I picked up an adult book and I got it. Or rather, it got me. It grabbed me and did not let me go. I knew that feeling, but it was always short and over too quickly. With children's books, I resurfaced because I ran out of book. With The Mists of Avalon, I resurfaced because I ran out of bladder capacity and brain. It turned out I read for about 6 hours straight and I hadn't moved in all that time. This explained feeling woozy, incredibly hungry and like my bladder was about to explode.

I find it very difficult to explain what it was that grabbed me, or why it was this book. To be honest, I can't really remember much at all. It was over 20 years ago, after all. What I do know and remember is that day my life changed. There were books out there that I could keep reading until I was done, not the book! There were stories like this out there! There were writers like this out there! All I had to do was find them! Oh, frabjous day! A few months later, my mother had to go to the library to give me permission to take out adult books (within reason) because I'd run out of things to read and the library was getting uppity about me sneaking into the grown-up section to read fantasy books until the library closed. And, even more importantly, ever since that Sunday, my parents' bookcases were mine to use. There really was only one rule: If you pick up a book, don't feel forced to finish it. If you can't finish it, it's not the book for you right now.

There were no rules about topics or levels of violence, sex or anything like that. This directly read to me reading and enjoying books that I would fling across the room these days (Heinlein, I'm looking at you) or books that I can't now read because they're too graphic (several Vietnam war books come to mind). I also learnt to trust my parents recommendations. If I asked them about a book and they told me I probably wouldn't enjoy it, they usually were right. And when they told me that it was worth slogging through this really boring bit, because it got a lot better in the next chapter/part/book, they were usually right as well (why hello there, Lord of the Rings).***. The rule also directly led me to picking The Clan of the Cavebear at 12/13, shouting 'mum, do you think I'll enjoy this?' and her responding with 'remember the rule!'. I believe I came out of reading that series a more well-rounded person, if rather worried about this whole sex thing and my distinctly non-silky pubic hair.

Ahem. Tangent.

So it's been 22 years or so since The Mists of Avalon. For something this life-changing, you'd think I'd have read it again and again, right? Wrong. I never touched it again after I finished it. 'Aha,' I hear you say, 'then surely you read a lot more by Marion Zimmer Bradley, she being an author of awesome?' Nope. I only read two. Black Trillium, which was a collaboration with Julian May and Andre Norton and Lady of the Trillium. That's it. Why?

Fear. Fear of destroying that perfect moment. Fear of tainting my childhood memory with an adult's perspective. Fear that, after all this, it turns out the book that changed my life is mediocre and derivative.

But you know what? I don't want that. I don't want to never touch this book again because it might not be as good as I remember (and believe me, after 20+ years, my memory of this book is hazy. I remember the sex bits, though! This will tell you all you need to know about both me and any other 10 year old child). I reread Glory Road, for pity's sake! I loved that as a child. I thought it was the awesomest thing of awesome that ever awesomed. As an adult, I find it eyerollingly bad and I firmly believe Heinlein had some fucking issues (pun definitely intended), but it was a still a fun read! So what if this wonderful, marvellous and magical book is not the glorious and transcendant work of goodness and light**** that I remember? Even as a child, I was clever enough to recognise fun reads and I don't think I have changed that much in at least that respect.

So...because of my deep and abiding love for this book and my refusal to be afraid of a book, I have just bought my very own copy of The Mists of Avalon. And because I am 32 and my joints don't work so good anymore, I have bought it on my Kindle.

I may be some time.

*I was about 10 and all knees and elbows which were mostly scraped, scabbed and filthy. I bit my nails and grubbed around in the dirt a lot. I climbed trees. I had a short mop of almost white hair. People really had to look twice to figure out if I was a girl or a boy.
**I had a weird habit/tic for the longest time. When reading a book, I would tear off the corner of the page I was reading and eat it. Gods only know why. I wouldn't do it with magazines or old books (possibly they tasted bad) or even all newer books. Just...some books were irresistible. Even now I sometimes catch myself doing it, so I'll switch to tearing up and eating a blank piece of printing paper. Or my nails, but those start bleeding after a while.
***One of these recommendations ended up with me reading three volumes of satirical erotica. That was an interesting experience at 17 and had a really positive influence on my views of sex, sexuality and politics. Thanks, dad!
****Not that we're biased here...

Gni

Sep. 25th, 2007 11:05 pm
sessifet: (Happy)
Started reading The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko earlier this evening and it's brilliant. I foresee a night of not much sleep.

Gni

Sep. 25th, 2007 11:05 pm
sessifet: (Happy)
Started reading The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko earlier this evening and it's brilliant. I foresee a night of not much sleep.
sessifet: (Bouncy!)
Excuse me while I lurk near my mailbox so's I can pounce the delivery guy tomorrow.
sessifet: (Bouncy!)
Excuse me while I lurk near my mailbox so's I can pounce the delivery guy tomorrow.

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