Well this seems to be a bit of a Sunday tradition for me. Anyone who is in a part of the world where it is not Sunday this is just unfortunate for you. My Bookends posts are supposed to Sunday traditions, but I guess you can still read on.
The first book I want to discuss today is a classic, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Move over Twilight, it’s time to get back into good Vampire stories, and what a better place to start than with the original vampire himself. Dracula is a fairly long read I’ll admit that it can get tedious in a few sections – a rather small set of sections, it is really quite a captivating read. I wouldn’t call the actions of the plot ‘fast-paced’ per say, but the writing really does move the reader along and if you can’t stay interested during this novel than I’m not sure if we can be friends anymore.
I’ve read Dracula only once so far, about four years ago. Ever since then, I have wanted to read it again. I was in Grade 11 at the time, about sixteen years old, and this book completely blew away not only myself, but all of my expectations as well. I wasn’t quite prepared for the intelligence behind the words and I found myself having to re-read certain sections to clarify in greater detail just what had happened. In that respect, it was the one of the hardest books I’ve ever read. I definitely want to read it again, now that I am a little older and a little less of a teenager – though my mom would probably contend that statement.
I can remember feeling mystified by the anomalous Count Dracula and he was unlike any character I’d read before. My Grade 11 year of High School was kind of a tough one for me, in many ways. I shut down in a lot of aspects of my life and shut out many friends. I remember not reading much that whole summer preceding the school year or that fall. Something changed when I read Dracula, though. I told myself, “This is what I’m missing when I don’t read and I really want to get back into reading every single day.” After I made that commitment to myself, I tried to figure out why I was so shut down of late and why I hadn’t been reading much. Without getting into too much of the personal details – that would not only take too much but also be irrelevant – I was able to point out certain things in my life that were making me unhappy, change them and pick myself back up. Feeling happier, my relationships with my friends only improved and I was back into reading every day – and still am. In a sense, then, Dracula was more than just a good book for me. It reinvigorated my passion for reading and also my passion for life. I think, in part, the credit for this is owed to Bram Stoker’s magnificent ability to capture completely any emotion he decides to incorporate into his writing, and that is what you will get when you read Dracula – a great story, descriptions that will make you feel as if you are living the story and words used in just the right way so as to make you experience every emotion the character feels. Needless to say – for I think it’s fairly obvious – but I highly recommend this novel to anyone who has not yet read it.
The second – and final – book I want to share with you is another one that I’m sure all of you have heard about, especially with the new movie coming out this month. Of course I’m talking about The Hobbit, which is one of the most splendid books I’ve ever read. The dynamic of The Hobbit, being a children’s story, is dramatically different than that of Tolkien’s other masterpiece – do I even need to say its name? The effect on the reader, however, is still the same. What can I say, Tolkien is Tolkien, no matter how you read him and Tolkien is most assuredly synonymous with incredible.
I have a funny story that goes along with my first reading of The Hobbit, which I just read for the third time this year in eager anticipation of the film this month. If you read my first Bookends post, then you’ll know that first I read Lord of the Rings when I was in Grade 3. I’m not sure why I didn’t read The Hobbit right away after – or even before, for that matter – but I waited until I was in Grade 5 to chance a reading of this much shorter Tolkien epic.
I had two teachers in Grade 5, one for the mornings and one for the afternoons. When one of them went on maternity leave, we were forced to suffer through the mornings with a true witch who absolutely hated children and sent me to the office more times in a few months than my entire history of Elementary and High School. I just have to make it clear how wicked this woman was. No, my perceptions were not skewed because I was a trouble-making, Grade 5 brat so don’t even bring that into the equation.
Anyways, my mom works at the Library and often times will bring home books that are withdrawn. Books can be withdrawn for various reasons, including they are falling apart, the Library needs more shelf space or they ordered a bunch of copies when the book was popular but a few years later all these extra copies are no longer needed. Most of these withdrawn books are just sent to be recycled, so the Library staff leaves them on a set of shelves in the basement of the branch my mom works at, allowing the staff a chance to look them over before they are recycled. This is where many of my books come from and it is awesome.
My mom found The Hobbit on one of the shelves, but it was a pretty rough copy with lose and torn pages. Nevertheless, it was still readable and so I got right to it.
One day in school we had ‘silent reading’ in the school library, to which I brought The Hobbit. I was halfway through and by this point there were at least a dozen pages that had come free. To save myself the trouble of having to make sure the pages stayed in the book, I just took them out and set them on the table in front of me.
Someone walked by and one of the pages fell on the ground. Thinking it was funny, my friend across from me decided to flick the rest off the table while I went to get the first one that fell. Before I could even pick the off the ground, this nasty old hag and excuse for a teacher – see, I’m still bitter about – ripped my book out of my hands and started lecturing me about respecting books. I told her, probably with a good serving of attitude with a side of snob, that I was the last person she had to talk to about respecting books. She didn’t like that either.
As she yelled at me to pick up the pages on the ground, she noticed the Public Library sticker on the front of book and I think her face turned red with rage and her head started spewing steam. Now, this may just be my childish imagination at the time, but I think her had actually did a complete 360 degree rotation – kind of like in the Exorcist movie. I’m not insinuating anything about this woman, though…. Not at all.
Not only did I get the lecture about ripping pages out of books, I also got lectured on ripping pages out of books that weren’t mine and now I was going to have to pay the Library back for this book. When I told her the book was withdrawn because the pages were falling out and I had nothing to do with it, she told me I was making it up, called me a liar, made me go read in the corner away from everyone for the rest of ‘silent reading’ and made me go to the Principal’s office and fill out a Conduct Report, of which I had to fill out maybe twice a week or so while she was there. My afternoon teacher actually asked me one day what was going on because I’m usually such a good student. I got snarky with him and said, “Yeah, well maybe it’s the teacher and not the student. She’s the worst teacher ever.” After that, he had less sympathy for me and made me write 200 lines of something to the effective of “I will not disrespect teachers but treat them with the respect they deserve”. He loved to make kids write lines, and always made sure to give long sentences.
I realize I haven’t said anything about The Hobbit, but every time I think about the book these are the first thoughts and memories that come flooding into my mind. The Hobbit is a good enough book that it doesn’t need my little review to improve its status in the world anyway.
Well, I hope you enjoyed my little tale.
Thanks so much for reading!
- A to Z of the Hobbit (independent.co.uk)
- Today’s News: The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien link to Newcastle found in graveyard (journallive.co.uk)
- The Bookends Of My Life – Part 1 (allmeanssomething.wordpress.com)
- Picturing The Hobbit (tor.com)
- Martin Freeman had never read The Hobbit (contactmusic.com)