Friday, August 17, 2007

A new book!

I started reading a new book today. A new series, actually. I have a rule against starting a series before it is completely written and available in paperback. I chafe at spending too much money on books when I know a more organized person could simply check them out from the library. And I hate to be left hanging. Undoubtedly by the time the last book comes out I will have to reread the previous one(s) to remember where we left off. This gets time consuming. Case in point: the last Harry Potter. So, it was a happy discovery that the an unread Shannara trilogy by Terry Brooks was not only finished but had been out in paperback for a while. I even splurged for it new.

Terry Brooks, for those of you of a less nerdy persuasion, is a fantasy writer. I must confess, I've had a lifelong infatuation with books involving magic. As a child I read Lloyd Alexander and Susan Cooper over and over until their characters were as comfortable and familiar to me as my own family. Oh I had affairs. A summer tryst with Nancy Drew. Flings with Anne of Green Gables and Tuck Everlasting. But it was the land of the mythical and magical that continued to draw me back again.

And now as an adult, my reading materials are as temperamental as my moods. I attempt to read the Bible every day. I wish I could say I was always faithful to this. I have a handful of popular authors I regularly enjoy. I dabble in the classics and the critically acclaimed to fight my propensity towards stagnancy. I always read chick-lit on vacation. It's a rule. When I am feeling hopeless or discouraged I turn to books on prayer. I have even been know to be frightened by a gruesome murder mystery, or seep into a love story. Well no that's not true. No romances here. I simply can't abide a sappy love story.

But the books that make me giddy, that make me settle in for the day with a quilt and a cup of coffee have always been fantasy. I admit there was a time in my life when it was a closet love affair. In high-school I certainly wouldn't have admitted it. It was too close to being associated with Dungeons and Dragons and Star Trek conventions. But since then, I have embraced my inner geek. And it doesn't hurt that "Harry Potter" and "Lord of The Rings" has made fantasy acceptable, possibly even trendy.

But still it seems a little ridiculous, even to me. A grown woman with four children reading stories about elves and dwarfs and magic in other worlds. But it's the other worldliness that is the appeal. It's an escape. Real life is hard, it's full of strife, and it doesn't always make sense. God is just, but our world will never be. But in fantasy novels things are uncomplicated. And there is always a goal. A clear path.

Oh they have problems, I guess. There's always a quest for something or other. But it's broken down simply into a battle between good and evil. And the evil is clearly evil. You don't have to feel bad about hating them. You don't have that twinge of thinking in another life they could have been you. And the protagonists, while endearingly flawed, are always victorious in saving the world in the end. Good conquers all. Love reigns victorious. Case in point again: Harry Potter.

It's refreshing to me to read about battles fought with magic and swords and knowing who won in the end. It's a nice break from ineffective sanctions and occupancies and conventions. From being inundated with problems that seem to have no solutions. And while it's true I don't come away enlightened or with new insight into myself, or the world around me, I come away refreshed. And pining a little for a world that's fantastical, that's black and white, and always has a happy ending. I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

I'm off to read now. Shannara is waiting.

Oh who am I kidding. It's the middle of the day. I've been blogging for last half hour. I am off to see what my kids have destroyed, fold a load of laundry and make lunch.

It was a nice thought.


Kyla said...

I've read the Shannara books. There are several series. I've read all but the last. I've really enjoyed them all. I think the second series was my favorite.

slouching mom said...

I think that's an excellent, compelling description of the reasons one might read fantasy!

Ben is reading Susan Cooper right now. He's struggling a bit. Maybe he's just too young for it. When I looked at The Dark Is Rising (it's been a long time since I've read it), I noticed that the vocabulary is tough, and she writes extraordinarily complex sentences...

We'll see how he does.

Beck said...

I'm not a fantasy fan, but heck, anyone who reads as many mystery novels as me has no call judging anyone else's genre choices! Enjoy your books!

Christine said...

I love fantasy but I admit I haven't read any in a long while. too long.

painted maypole said...

I love discovering a new series or new author! enjoy!

Spice Girl said...

Reading fantasy as a grown woman is no worse than writing it... hee hee. And it was a highlight of my summer to see Susan cooper at my residency.