Why I Read the Same Novels Over and Over Again as if That’s Normal

downloadMy mother cannot read the same book twice. She just can’t do it. She has made exceptions for franchises like Twilight and Hungry Games, but only as a refresher before she goes and sees the movies. She is constantly looking for new material to entertain her, new characters to meet and new plot lines to follow. I, on the other hand, can’t put a good book down.

The first time that I read “Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was in sixth grade. It’s 1,024 pages long and I finished it in a weekend. Since then, I’ve consistently read it again once or twice every year. Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day or am feeling entirely uninspired in my own writing, I’ll flip to the part where Rhett steals a horse for Scarlett, or where Frank Kennedy falls in love with a girl dressed in drapes as if that’s where I’d left off, and read on from there.

I’m not a fiction writer. I write fiction, sometimes, but it’s not how I identify. I am, however, a fiction reader. I love analyzing the same plot line over and over again; I love crying when my favorite character dies or losses love all  over again. I enjoy it just as much as I enjoy finding new literature to read.

I think, in part, it’s because I understand how much a writer has to go through to create something like this. To write a novel, or even a poem or a short story, a writer has to know their characters fully. We don’t usually make things up as we go along. We usually plan things out, we think about who our characters are; we think about how and why these things are happening to them. To a writer, their characters are real people. So to me, when I read about them, these characters are real people too.

The best part of writing is that it encapsulates humanity. I think that I read the same novels again and again because I can relate to them, even if the story does take place in Georgia during the Civil War or in a constant loop of reincarnation. I see myself in the characters and in the lessons they learn. I want to see their triumphs, to laugh at the funny things that happen in their lives and even to relive their heartbreak. Novels remind me that everything ends, but also that everything can begin again. It’s kind of hopeful. And so, I can’t ever really move on from a story that truly touches me.

Do you have any novels like that?

-Savannah Thanscheidt, Web Editor 

A World Within My Own

Kat BP pic 2All people do their entire life is try to figure out who they are as a person.  Many people die trying. As for myself, I can’t say I know the essence of my entirety. My mind and soul and body are on wheels spinning in different directions, sometimes on different continents, it seems… But what I do know is that I understood myself less before I poured into the pages of the Harry Potter series. I’ve found my fingers flipping J.K. Rowling’s pages, becoming lost in the labyrinths of her plots, carried away in the compassion flowing from her characters.

As I’m reading this series, all these people see the body of the book, its spine, or the cover between my hands wherever I am. I heard things like: “I read that series in elementary school…” I couldn’t help but feel a flush of red overpower my cheeks and almost feel ashamed for being a seventeen year old reading this series. I kept reading and it was soon that I decided reading this series was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Anyone I’ve met that shares an interest and love for this series has felt instantly like family to me. These books hold so much invention and creativity, from creatures such a as hippogriphs and phoenixes, to things like death eaters and giant serpents, to settings of moving staircases and talking portraits…The plethora of uniqueness drips from page to page.

Perhaps the love I feel for the Harry Potter books is mostly due to its characters. Like Ginny, I am often shy and quiet around crushes. Every now and then I am the clumsy and unlucky Neville. Sometimes I am the ambitious and overachiever Hermione. I am the animal enthusiast, Hagrid. I am the embarrassed, red cheeked Ron as my parents discuss bills, or my sibling’s triumphs surpass my own. I am the average person who found out they are indeed brave and special and worth something.

Someone smart once said “you must love yourself before you can love others”. In a way, finding who I am is a step closer to being able to accept and love myself. I may not live in the world beyond the bricks of 9 and ¾. I may not fly Firebolts and speak to elves like Dobby, but that’s the magic of fiction. I can coexist as myself, in this world, or I can apparite into another world.

And to J.K. Rowling, you’ve made a world in which I love the characters, and in return, have found ways to appreciate myself. And so for all the days and nights flipping pages, I give my most real and honest thank you.

-Kathleen Roland, Art Editor 

The Fictionality of Poetry

Grace 1As the poetry editor I don’t focus a lot on fiction. In fact, I stay far away from it. I like to stay in my little poetry bubble with metaphors and ambiguity. Recently I have been having trouble in my personal writing. I’ve been trying to write poems with stories too complex for their lines. Believe me I tried narrative poetry and it didn’t work. I had hit a creative road block all because I was stuck on a form.

The simple fact is that some ideas aren’t meant to be poems. Some stories are meant to be told in prose or in novels. A while ago I told myself I was a poet and restricted myself to just writing poetry. At the time I didn’t realize that language cannot be restricted to one form. Language talks back. Language will tell you when it doesn’t like what it is. During second reads I read fiction pieces. While reading the stories I realized that maybe some of my poems were meant to be something else. So I decided to go on a journey with my language. I sat down with my poetry and asked it what it wanted to be. Some said poems and others said that they were fiction.

The only thing I could do in the situation was comply with my pieces. Nothing is worse than making your pieces be what they don’t want to be. All it does is result in a lot of hair pulling and unhappiness. Through the process of reworking my pieces I started to appreciate fiction more. Fiction has a lot of the same techniques as poetry. Fiction is just poetry with a lot more characters and a more complex plot. I found that fiction isn’t all that bad and I stopped being scared of it. I found that language is its own beast and I shouldn’t try to tame it.

-Grace Green, Poetry Editor