Out with the Old, in with the New

3

One of my (many) resolutions this year is to read only new books. With my history, this is going to very difficult for me. I’m the girl that gets the exact same thing every time I go to Panera- a Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, with no tomatoes, onions, or romaine (field greens only please), and an extra dressing. I’m the girl that has been wearing the same pair of jeans for five years. I’m the girl whose favorite Christmas present was that her fiance was FINALLY going to read the Harry Potter series. Seriously, he’ll get like 50% more of my jokes now.

I like what I like.

Don’t get me wrong, I read several new books every year, but I always seem to gravitate to my old favorites time and time again when I have an afternoon to spend lazily immersed in a different world.

When I thought up this resolution the other night while I was lying in bed, fighting the urge to turn the bed-side lamp back on to pick up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I began evaluating what it was about the books (series, really) I love so much, why I keep going back, and what they say about me as an individual. I’ll start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.

The Little House series

I haven’t read these in a few years, but ages 4ish-12 it was rare that you would see me without a bonnet, apron, and my tattered, coverless copy of On the Banks of Plum Creek. It’s hard for me to pinpoint why I love Little House so much. Laura was so imperfect, impudent, adventurous, loving, imaginative, jealous, impatient, kind, and she fought with her sisters. She wasn’t a heroine of the traditional sort. She was so real to me. To this day my dream house is a log cabin, and I plan on giving my son the middle name Almanzo. I also think it speaks volumes that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane is one of the mothers of the modern Libertarian movement.

The American Girl series

My sisters and I didn’t really have Barbies, we had American Girl Dolls. My mother was dead set on providing my sisters and me with strong female models from a young age. I received Felicity for Christmas from my grandmother when I was 4, and she became my companion for a large chunk of my childhood. Set in Colonial Williamsburg in 1774, Felicity’s story is intertwined with the story of our country’s founding. A few years later I was given Kirsten, a swedish immigrant whose family moves west and establishes a homestead on the prairie (the whole pioneer thing is really a recurring pattern in my life). I ended up reading the stories of all 6 (in my day there were only 6) dolls/characters over and over again; reveling in the mixture of learning more about the history of my country, and the applicability of the sorts of issues young girls have struggled with for hundreds of years. Someone much more witty and observant and I wrote an article, What Your American Girl Doll Says About the Rest of Your Life. If you had an American Girl doll, or even read any of the books, check it out, it’s incredibly accurate. Kirsten’s is just dead-on for me.

The Harry Potter series

I don’t think this series needs much explaining. I’ve read them all at least ten times, and every time I read them again I become more and more amazed with J.K. Rowling’s incredible story-telling ability. I’m a mix of the ever-awkward, but loyal and loving Neville, and the pretentious know-it-all struggling with her self-esteem Hermione. I was a member of HPANA (which has apparently become defunct), I went to Barnes and Noble with thousands of others to be among the first to buy the next installment of the story, and I would stay up all that night reading the 500 page + books in one sitting. As I mentioned earlier, my fiance has just begun reading HP, and it is incredibly precious seeing him, a 24 year old man, get excited about something I’ve loved so much for so long.

The Sword of Truth series

Author Terry Goodkind: libertarian, fantasy writer, painter, badass. I was introduced to this twelve part series my senior year in high school, and it has been my number one most recommended series ever since. Laced with adventure, moral dilemmas, Rand-esque monologues, an incredible love story, and (truly) powerful female characters, Sword of Truth is one series that cannot be even remotely judged by its horrible TV series. It’s a travesty, really.

I’m going to miss these books over the next year, but really it’s going to be good for me. Seeing my tastes above, what new stories do y’all recommend I spend 2013 discovering?