Like many others, I enjoy a good book. However, I inherited an unhealthy love of literature from my father. Thanks dad. There are few pleasures in my life that give me the same joy. Mainly I enjoy the actual process of reading; it doesn’t have to be anything good, although that does enhance the experience, but to be honest I genuinely enjoy the act of reading. I think you’ll find a different opinion with every person that you come across–whether reading acts as healthy release or if, in the case of my husband, reading brings back horrible memories of being forced to read Melville’s Billy Budd in high school and forever tarnishing the name of literature. For those of us that were able to move past the sometimes difficult “required” readings in grade school, what fascinates me the most about the mind’s reaction to literature is its ability to completely remove itself from reality and immerse itself into something else entirely–the opposite of reality, the fantasy, theory, or fiction created entirely from someone else’s mind.
We tend to frown upon those who can align themselves with outlandish theories with no tangible truth behind them–we call them crazy, strange, or as my mom and I used to say, “out there”. Sometimes I find it humorous that a person like me, who essentially divorces reality in the same way is considered a “book worm” for sure, maybe even intelligent while our “crazys” are shunned from society and left with their adoration of aliens and the like. Which raises the question–is a withdrawal from reality means for concern no matter its origin?
An ultimate in separation in reality and fiction– I want to recommend John Connelly’s The Book of Lost Things. The Book of Lost Things is a fairy tale for grown ups. Yes, I’d say for grown ups only. There are some adult themes, gruesome scenes, and Connelly creates a fairy tale world that is both imaginative and horrifying. The inspiration from this story is drawn primarily from Aesop’s Fables which, to be honest, I am not too familiar with. However, what I love the most about this book is the way Connelly challenges the familiarity of stories we know from our childhood. The reader is led through the story by David, the young protagonist, who finds himself in the midst of known childhood stories, yet each has a twist. Connelly allows the reader to relate by recalling stories from their youth yet leaves you with an unsettling feeling when the story takes a dramatic turn from its “original” ending. I’ve read few books with such a good balance of light and darkness leaving the reader intrigued and uneasy simultaneously. Off of the beaten path from your traditional fairy tale, I would recommend this read for anyone who still has a curious child somewhere inside.
I wanted to write a review myself, but this review by the New York Times captures it perfectly:
“High in his attic bedroom, twelve-year-old David mourns the death of his mother. He is angry and alone, with only the books on his shelf for company. But those books have begun to whisper to him in the darkness, and as he takes refuge in his imagination, he finds that reality and fantasy have begun to meld. While his family falls apart around him, David is violently propelled into a land that is a strange reflection of his own world, populated by heroes and monsters, and ruled over by a faded king who keeps his secrets in a mysterious book… The Book of Lost Things.
An imaginative tribute to the journey we must all make through the loss of innocence into adulthood, John Connolly’s latest novel is a book for every adult who can recall the moment when childhood began to fade, and for every adult about to face that moment. The Book of Lost Things is a story of hope for all who have lost, and for all who have yet to lose. It is an exhilarating tale that reminds us of the enduring power of stories in our lives.”