Saturday, September 20, 2008


When I was younger I read voraciously. Like a book pig. I gorged on books from the library, my style was to simply go to a shelf and take out a whole row. I can't even tell you how many times I took out books that I swore I had never read before and would get a chapter or so in, and...hey...this is starting to feel familiar...what the hell, I've just wasted a book.

I found that the Harlequin romances were good because they were light and easy to carry. I could take out my limit and not break my arm getting them home. Most were awful, but there were some real jewels in there. And if you grow up in a house with a great deal of strife, sometimes it is really nice to read a book about a lovely young woman (virginal or not, depending on what imprint you're reading and whether it's pre- or post- 1970) who, because of her lovely behaviour and kind heart, falls in love and is swept off into the sunset. The only problem, as I saw it, was it only took about an hour to read a Harlequin, so I really did have to take out at least fifteen.

When I ate breakfast I read the cereal box if I had already read the paper, Reader's Digest was devoured the moment it arrived, ditto MacLeans and Newsweek. Business Week I had a tougher time with; I still am not thrilled to see an article with words like index and S&P and things like that; I can tell from a glance if it's going to be a good read or hideously boring, and Business Week rarely got a nod.

We had a bookshelf; nothing fancy, this old wooden thing. It moved from house to house, and the books on it were all the same. Old textbooks from when my mom went to university, plus a few that came from who knows where. All of the books we read were from the library, so the books on the shelf were never updated.

I read them in times of sheer desperation. I think that's when I read whatever Mark Twain that had Huck Finn (and I hated it, I'll be honest), and a few encyclopedia's, and there was a book of fairy tales that had the real endings; the one where the mermaid dies at the end, and not the current crap that Stella loves.

There was one book on the shelf, though, that I never touched. I read the back of it, and deemed it not worthy. I want to underline how weird this is. I would read a bottle of shampoo, I would read a report on world markets, I would read instructions, in times of need, and I simply refused to read The Hitchkiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's not like I could even tell you why. I know I wasn't a huge fan of the cover, the one we had was paperback and sort of a bluey colour with pink letters for the title, but I've read lots of books where the colour wasn't my favourite.

It may have been the description on the back, although I can't think of it and my copy is packed away in a box somewhere (*of course it is; I will not be able to put my books out until this next renovation is finished; I miss them so much!). The description must have been odd, it is an odd little series of books, but still.

We moved, two houses, before I finally succumbed and picked it up. Within two pages I knew it was going to be one of the best books I had ever read. I was in shock. It had been sitting under my nose for years. All those bored afternoons, craving something, anything to read, and I had rejected this quintessential, mind-blowing story. For no good reason.

I think of this now because I just read that they are having someone write a sequel (there were five original books, I think five, it may have been four). The author is dead, I think, and why on earth anyone thinks it could be a good idea to have someone else try to match his wit and skill is beyond me. They failed when they did it with Gone With the Wind, and I can't see why it would work with this even greater set.

What do you think? Can it ever be a good idea to have a new author try their hand at an old series?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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