What I've been reading
Pretty much just rereading a bunch of children's books this week. Also kind of assuming that everyone who might be reading this has read the Narnia books.
I reread both of the Harry Potter schoolbooks, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
and Quidditch Through the Ages
. I really enjoy the inventiveness in FB, especially the creatures that are purely Rowling's. Having just read a bunch of stuff about the actual history of muggle football I do find it somewhat bemusing that the Quidditch World Cup is meant to be a good 457 years older than its actual-world analogue/inspiration. I thought maybe Quidditch should be played in test matches like the other sport that it's clearly inspired by, but no, international cricket only dates back to 1844. But then the medieval period of the Harry Potter universe diverge from ours in so many ways; I think you pretty much just have to go with it.
I reread The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
, because the published reading order is the only acceptable reading order. I think it is completely ridiculous that new editions have been renumbered with the semi-chronological reading order, which doesn't even make sense, since The Magician's Nephew
is clearly calling back to TLTWATW and not vice versa, and besides you'd actually have to put that book down near the end and pick up The Horse and His Boy
before you were allowed to finish it, and harrumph. The great thing about these editions, though, is that they have all
the wonderful Pauline Baynes illustrations, and not just a selection of illustrations "adapted from them" like the ubiquitous paperback editions of my youth. They've also been newly colored, and whoever did it did a nice, period-appropriate job.
Anyway, the book still does a good job of sucking you in, as naturally as if you had in fact found a portal to another world in some of your furniture. I must say, as an adult with more context for what air-raids are, I think the Pevensies are awfully cavalier about them. Also I'm not super-clear on how the system for identifying traitors so they can be sacrificed by the White Witch at the Stone Table up until now is supposed to have worked. But then I'm not exactly a fan of penal substitutionary atonement in non-lion-based theology, either. It's funny how almost entirely the kids are supposed to have forgotten the world of their actual birth shortly before they're sucked back into it, considering what will later be made of Susan's later attempt to forget/deny/move on from Narnia.
I reread Prince Caspian
, which was never one of my particular favorites, although I like the camping/survivalist part, and I like Caspian, and goodness knows I love Reepicheep. I guess it annoys me when Aslan dicks everyone around by only appearing to Lucy for no good reason. It's, like, a test. Of something. And also keeps the book from ending too quickly, I guess. Feh.
I reread The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
, which was and is my absolute favorite Narnia book because Eustace Clarence Scrubb
. I adore Eustace, okay. In spite of being someone who, unlike him, had read all the right books, I sneakingly sympathized with him not enjoying himself very much, especially when they had no water and everything was legitimately terrible. I also enjoy how ridiculously over the top awful he is at first, just because it's absolutely hilarious, and I also like his little redemption arc and him being a basically normal person afterwards. Also I think I'm the only person on earth who ships Caspian/Eustace but I'd be so into it. Maybe I will have to write it just to prove that it can be done.
I reread The Silver Chair
, which you would think that I would adore given my aforementioned Eustace fandom, but I never really warmed to it. Partly Eustace doesn't really feel like himself to me, which is too bad, because I do like Jill very much. Partly because I think everyone who likes this book tends to love Puddleglum, and I'm personally not hugely enthusiastic about Puddleglum. Partly because this is another book where the entire plot is based on Aslan being super unhelpful for no good reason. (I do have epic shipper feels about the part where Eustace realizes that he's missed Caspian, though. ♥) Also the Lady of he Green Kirtle is wonderfully menacing, but then it feels like they defeat her too easily and too early in the book. It felt off somehow. This was definitely my least reread book as a kid (excluding The Last Battle
, since it was never
I reread The Horse and His Boy
, which is another one of my absolute favorites. On reread it annoyed me a bit how Aslan was stage-managing absolutely everything that happened, though. Not only does he set everything in motion, he's tweaking and adjusting everyone at practically every turn! Although I'm still pretty into his intervening to let Aravis know what her stepmother's slave's beating felt like. In a kinky way. Um. Also I weirdly adore Lasaraleen. I think it's honestly sweet that in spite of the fact that she and Aravis are basically total opposites, they're good enough friends in their own way that she goes along with it when Aravis asks her for help, even though she thinks Aravis is completely mad to be doing what she's doing. Also I've come around to a lot more girly-things than I was into back when I first read these books.
I have to say that Calormen, in spite of being a sort of racist and clichéd mishmash of things, does come across as a more realistic country than Narnia, even if it is most often realistic in kind of terrible ways. I always found it fascinating when I was rereading this book, even though I have to agree that Aravis, Shasta, Bree and Hwin have the right idea heading for Narnia and the north.
I reread The Magician's Nephew
, which I think might be the best-written book of the series even though it can never dislodge Dawn Treader
from my heart, and I by no means protest against it being placed first in the abominable reading order because I have anything against it. I generally feel like one of Lewis's strengths was writing about kids' thoughts and feelings in a way that I related to when I was one myself, but I wonder if I think he did best with Diggory and Polly because he was going back to the era when he himself was a kid. Or maybe it's that Aslan doesn't come onto the scene until near the end, so the plot is primarily based on Diggory, Polly, Uncle Andrew and Jadis being the people they are. It feels like it holds together better to me. Also I just love the idea of the World between the Worlds, and its cousin, the Neitherlands. (Still really wish I could read the Fillory books.)What I'm reading nowCourtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens
by James DavidsonWhat I'm reading next
No, really, I am going to reread The Last Battle
sometime. Honestly. I mean, it's definitely a better end times book than Left Behind, so there's that.