A History of Book Loves

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.

“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” -The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky,

Hey readers! I wrote a guest post for a lovely blog, Rivera Runs Through It. I met the author, Nicole, through a Twitter writing chat I participate in, #ufchat (Urban Fantasy). I followed her blog and found the posts about Book Loves, and took to chance to reminisce about my own first book love, Where the Red Fern Grows.

Please check out that post and leave a comment!

Here are some other book loves I’ve had:

  • Anything by Roald Dahl. I discovered his short stories recently, too, and have thoroughly enjoyed them. They are straightforward and pack a bit of punch.

  • The Harry Potter series. These books saw me through the most awkward decade of my life, known as adolescence. My devotion to these books was fiercely nerdy and often comical, with frequent visits to a favorite HP forum, roleplaying a Yule Ball with online friends, and a spat of Harry Potter fanfiction featuring Lily and James Potter (that probably still exists somewhere on the web).

  • The Song of the Lioness Quartet & The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce. I love her handling of heroines, who are tough, smart, and three-dimensional. Plus, fantasy and magic and stuff!

  • The Redwall Books. Because all I’d ever wanted when I was eleven was a series of books about talking rodents who live peacefully in an abbey, eating loads of delicious food and facing off against the regular insurgence of baddies.

  • The Lord of the Rings series was read aloud to our family on road trips, or for at-home entertainment. I loved The Hobbit‘s sheer adventurism, and  for some reason was fascinated by The Fellowship of the Ring‘s little-known Tom Bombadil (I even wrote a song about him to the tune of The Beatles’ “Hey Buffalo Bill”).

  • Anne Frank’s Diary – mostly because I felt very, very cool to share a birthday with her (JUNE 12, REPRESENT).

  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. It was heartbreaking, whimsical, and beautiful — and remains a favorite to this day.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird, which is one of those rare books that everyone can agree is amazing.

  • Catcher in the Rye for perfectly capturing both the heartbreaking angst and apathetic humor of being young and disillusioned. Also Franny & Zooey and A Perfect Day for Bananafish.

  • Perks of Being a Wallflower. It had a haunting, intimate, on-the-inside-of-life feel. I still think about the quote that is highlighted in this post’s image: “And I swear, in that moment, we were infinite.” Doesn’t every young person feel that way at some point?

Have you had any book loves in your life that stand out?

In Defense of Twilight (& Stephenie Meyer)

why twilight doesn't suckI remember when I first heard of Twilight. I was but a young lass, a senior in high school, and a friend of mine (who was as avid a reader as I was) rolled into class reading a book. On the cover was the now-iconic image of hands holding a red apple.

Interested, I asked her about it and if it was good. She gushed. She enthused. She spewed praises. She informed me that this was her third time reading this book.

And then she told me about the hero:

“Edward Cullen. He’s a vampire. But he’s like, the perfect guy. I’m so in love with him,” she said.

I borrowed the books from her (I believe the first two were out by this point), and I enjoyed them. They were a fun read. And I was interested enough in the Twilight world that I also read Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, which I also enjoyed, though I was still far from a Twi-hard fangirl.

But something has happened in the last two years or so.

As trendy as the Twilight books are, it’s now just as cool to mock and smear them.

They are openly held up as this great evil, a symbol of all that is wrong/stupid/annoying about society, literature, the publishing industry, women, the bastardization of vampire mythology, and so on.

Look, I get it. The Twilight saga is not for everyone. It wasn’t really for me (though I really, really enjoyed Meyer’s novel The Host). But does that mean the books/Meyer deserve all the hate? I admit to joining the ranks of ridicule and throwing jabs at sparkly, baseball-playing vampires who are 107-year-old virgins. And there are a lot of elements in Bella’s and Edward’s relationship that still bother me (pairing sexual desire with violent impulses, anyone?).

But I’m tired of the hating.

Baseball playing, sparkly, 107 year old virgin vampire: Edward Cullen

Baseball playing, sparkly, 107 year old virgin vampire: Edward Cullen.

Stephenie Meyer’s saga has become an easy target simply because it’s gotten so big.

I am bored with poking fun at the rock-hard Cullens (seriously, I have like four jammed fingers).  Some of the hateful things I’ve heard people say about the books and even Stephenie Meyer have been cringe-inducingly cruel and personal. And the Twilight-abuse is showing NO SIGNS OF SLOWING.

So I’m raising a voice of reason. For all their faults, there is plenty to admire in the Twilight books—no matter how begrudgingly I admit to my admiration.

The main thing I admire about Meyer’s series? The Twilight saga connects with readers.

Granted, the series mostly connects with teenaged girls and women in their 3os-50s. But, though they are full of flaws (a fact Meyer is the first to admit), the Twilight books have something in them that readers, mainly female readers, cannot resist. Sure, some of this has to do with the fact that it’s trendy to like Twilight. But even before it was popular, my friend was ready to sell her soul to enter the world of Twilight and steal Edward Cullen from Bella Swan.

If the Twilight books have elements that make for good escapism, if they create a world that’s worth visiting to escape the angst of teen years or the exhausting bustle of being a busy mother of four or whatever else life holds—I can only congratulate Stephenie Meyer for having accomplished such a feat.

Ultimately, Stephenie Meyer is probably not on the list of writers I aim to closely emulate. But I do respect her ability to create a world and characters that readers care for so fiercely. There is something to be said for that as a writing talent, and it’s one I hope to one day prove I have in my arsenal, as well.

What about you? What do you think of Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight series?