Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the nerdiest of nerds: a fairy tale of sorts

Once upon a time, a 20 year-old girl attended college and took a class all about literature targeted at teens. Sounds silly, I know. A waste of time, you may think. But this girl loved that class more than Shakespeare. She felt as though she was betraying her fellow English majors, but she just couldn't escape her love for young adult literature. They were so much more appealing than the classics, which took about 100 years to get through just one. (This girl knows because she has been trying to read Anna Karenina and it has been a very long process.) As one of her assignments, this girl read The Book Thief, which is an excellent book. And in that book there is a passage that goes like this:

"...a room that was full of cold air and books. Books everywhere. Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving. It was barely possible to see the paint work. There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the binds of the black, the red, the grey, the every colored books. It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen. With wonder, she smiled. That such a room existed. Even when she tried to wipe the smile away with her forearm she realized instantly that it was a pointless exercise...She ran the back of her hand along the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her fingernails gliding across the spinal cord of each book. It sounded like an instrument or the notes of running feet. She used both hands. She raced them one shelf against the other and she laughed. Her voice was sprawled out high in her throat and when she eventually stopped and stood in the middle of the room, she spent many minutes looking from the shelves to her fingers and back again. How many books she had touched? How many had she felt? She walked over and did it again, this time much slower, with her hand facing forward allowing the dough of her palm to feel the small hurdle of each book. It felt like magic, like beauty, as bright lines of light shone down from a chandelier. Several times she almost pulled a title from its place but didn't dare to disturb them. They were too perfect."

The girl realized that this was how she felt about books. And this was how much she loved them. And she didn't even care if she preferred to read Unwind, Harry Potter and Matched over Frankenstein and Hamlet. So guess what she's done this summer? Read a lot of books and not one of them has been a classic, except Anna Karenina which she has a weird determination to finish, even if it does take the rest of her life.

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