Rereading a Childhood Favorite

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It’s both a wonderful and frightening thing to reread a book you loved as a child. It’s been ten years since I read Anne of Green Gables. It was one of my most favorite books of all when I was entering my teens but I’ve put off rereading it because I was afraid I’d find I didn’t like it anymore, or that it no longer holds the magic for me as it did when I was a child.

For a long time I felt cheated somehow, like the stories I loved so much as a child had lied to me about the world. I still loved Anne but had this nagging sensation that her optimism was nothing more than glorified naivete. But rereading the book I found the opposite to be true. Anne was an orphan, before she came to Green Gables–/all/ she knew was adversity and she continues to face harsh realities even in her new life such as estrangement from her bosom friend and the death of someone she dearly loved.

It was /because/ of the world’s brokenness that she turned to imagination. She had the miraculous gift of finding beauty everywhere, even in the darkest of places. As an adult, I appreciate that far more than I did as a child because I now understand how dark the darkness really is. At 11, even being an orphan sounded romantic. At 21, I hear all the things Anne /doesn’t/ say when she describes her life as an orphan. I now can sympathize with and smile in a different way at Anne’s lament, “It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?”

Contrary to my fears, I find I love the book more than ever now. I’m not the same person as when I read Anne of Green Gables the first time. It’s so strange and wonderful at the same time to be able to reread the book and find both my 11 year old and 21 year old self between the pages. Finding Anne grown up and changed at the book’s end was painful to relive because I felt more keenly the pain of change in my own life in the ten years since I first fell in love with Anne, yet that makes the book’s hope-filled ending all the more dear to me now:

“Anne’s horizons had closed in since the night she had sat there after coming home from Queen’s; but if the path set before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joy of sincere work and worthy aspiration and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road!

“God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,'” whispered Anne softly.”

Reviewer’s Digest//Fantasy and Sci-Fi

The Book of Dragons, selected and illustrated by Michael Hague

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Read August 24th-31st

This collection features several delightful dragon stories I’d never heard before or heard only in part. My one critique is that the illustrations didn’t always fit, the dragons often being more cartoonish and whimsical than fierce and magnificent as the stories describe them.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson (Wordsworth Classics)

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Read from October 20th-27th

The featured and famous short story “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is refreshingly Calvinistic in its eloquent and provocative portrait of human depravity. I give it five stars. The other short stories in this collection range from 1 star to 4. One crossed the line into useless and awful horror for its own sake (“Thrawn Janet”), several were dull and dragged, lacking the refinement of Stevenson’s later mastery of the short story form but still containing several lines worth underlining, and two stories, “The Merry Men” and “Markheim”, I found almost as riveting and intellectually stimulating as “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.”

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton

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Read November 6th-8th
5 Stars

The story opens and moves with the kind of childish silliness that makes you purse your lips, roll your eyes, shake your head, then smile despite yourself. Despite my grown-up sensibilities I caught myself laughing at wandering mangrove trees, giant poison-tongued tortoises that drop out of willow trees on unsuspecting victims, an imaginative girl determined to save the world (from–whatever it needs saving from!), a 12-year-old King who works to tears the citizens of the Island-At-The- Center-Of-Everything to provide a steady supply of pepper to satisfy his inordinate appetite for the spice, a man so long accustomed to shrinking from danger that his body has begun to shrink inside his now-oversized clothes and–of course, at a giant that is asleep under the island and may at any point wake up. Especially if the Leafeaters keep digging around his toes.

But underneath the ridiculous is a current of serious thought that will take you by surprise. You never stop laughing but somewhere along the way, so subtly that you don’t know quite when it began, you start thinking as well. You think about bigness and smallness. Of fear and adventure. Of strength and weakness. Of mystery and life’s frailty.

Life is both more terrifying and wonderful than we realize. It is “a mess and a miracle. So pick up a broom and dance.”

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

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Read October 30th
The first couple chapters were exciting. I loved the style of narration and was immediately draw into the unfolding story. But in the end, the story left me burdened by the sadness dystopias always bring me.

I am increasingly leery of the dystopian craze among my own peers. I think that the occasional dystopian novel is helpful to the Christian because of its unique ability to explore the implications of secular worldviews in a way abstract arguments can’t. Instead of telling you that communism is a dead- end road, they make you feel the oppression, ride the roller-coaster, and recoil in horror as the oppressed pigs of Animal Farm come to take on the likeness and behaviors of the Farmers they overthrew; instead of telling you that Darwinian evolution offers a hopeless future, they make you feel the coldness, the despair, and the emptiness of a godless universe deep down in your bones.

I need these reminders now and then, of just how hopeless the world is without Christ, of just how hopeless the espoused beliefs of many of my neighbors are. But I also think that if this kind of literature and film becomes our main staple and dominates our minds and affections, despite our cognitive disagreement with the worldview presented, the coldness and darkness of it will still subconsciously creep into our own worldview. We’ll begin to accept their view of reality as congruent with our own. I see it in young people of my generation manifested in a profound skepticism that there is hope for the world on the horizon, forgetting that Hope has arrived and He’s coming back and that that has profound implications for humanity. The future we face is neither dark nor cold nor uncertain and we need to be reminded of the hopefulness of our faith at least as often as we are reminded of the hopelessness of all others.

Other Fantasy and Sci-Fi books read in the second half of 2014: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, the Harry Potter books 1-4, The Hobbit (again)
Other General Fiction books read in the second half of 2014: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (click for review)

Rapunzel and Mark Antony Get Tangled

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When I first heard that Disney was bringing my favorite princess to the silver screen I was excited. Rapunzel was always one of my favorite fairy tales. As a little girl, I dreamed of having floor-length hair like hers by the time I was 20. But as I reach behind my back and feel the ends of my hair brushing just beneath my shoulders I am reminded that not all dreams come true.

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The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0830819479/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0830819479&linkCode=as2&tag=livinheassha-20

Review below written in 2012, when I was 17

Reading Francis Schaeffer is like falling out of a fishing boat into the ocean. Both the depth and vastness is overwhelming. It takes but a few pages before you begin floundering and coughing up sea water.

And Mr. Schaeffer’s subject matter, philosophy, is like studying the cellular structure of the vast, deep, sea’s water molecules. It is the ocean itself–culture–that he is studying, but with a stronger magnification glass than most people trouble themselves to pull out. Most are satisfied with the view from the boat and their sweeping observations of the ocean’s surface but with the extra magnification comes a stronger, more comprehensive, more precise, understanding of the whole ocean.

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