A love letter to literature.

How do I love thee? Let me count the books./ I love thy monsters, named and unnamed/ For whose existence, over-reaching science can be blamed./ I love thy heroines…

Alright, I think we can all agree that it’s best that I quit before betraying the fact that I possess no poetry skills whatsoever. I am certainly an admirer of poetry. Robert Frost is an old, dear friend and Emily Dickinson is among my wittiest acquaintances. But my hours spent admiring their work—along with the single poetry class I took while an English major at UCLA—do not qualify me to express my love for literature by aping Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

BlogPostSo which came first: the reader or the writer? Obviously, there’s a bit of a conundrum here because the two are mutually dependent upon one another. If I’m answering that question based on my own experience, the answer is obvious. I was a reader before I was a writer; I am a writer because I was a reader; I am a reader and writer because of other writers. And even when I’m gnashing my teeth with envy over Edith Wharton or Roald Dahl’s masterful storytelling, I still greatly respect and admire their contributions to literature.

In fact, it wasn’t possible for me to write a book that didn’t express my adoration for other books. And why would I want to? If you’re reading my book you’re either a) my boyfriend or b) an avid lover of books. (Or, mostly likely, a and b.) And what reader wouldn’t appreciate an homage to that holiest of shrines to entertainment and ideas? To illustrate my point, I have compiled a list of texts and authors mentioned, referenced, or quoted in my book (excluding the fact that each student is named after an iconic female writer):

“To Earthward” and “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

Julius Caesar, Othello, Henry V, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott

Ulysses by James Joyce

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Cat Who … series by Lilian Jackson Braun

Henry David Thoreau

John Muir

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emily Dickinson

Stephen King

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

            In future posts I’ll probably go into greater detail about why these texts were chosen while others were excluded. In fact, you shouldn’t infer that these are my favorite works. I can’t stand Dr. Seuss; as a young child I expressed this aversion by physically removing the book from my presence. And I’m not really a Hemingway fan. Also, Frankenstein is one of my favorite books, but it never found its way into my story. Doesn’t mean I don’t love it, doesn’t mean I don’t sit around composing sonnets to Mary Shelley (in my head, of course).

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Comments

  1. What a wonderful variety of works! I myself love Dr. Seuss. I rhyming makes me happy and I love when people make up words to suit their needs.

    • It’s so weird what pops into my head, and when, and why. I still can’t understand why I didn’t write Frankenstein into the story. But I didn’t. But I did write Don Quixote in (or, at least, I wrote his “noble” steed Rocinante in). It’s kinda like being surprised by your dreams–why certain people appear and not others. I don’t know which I have less control over: my writing or my dreams. I’m glad you approve, though. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book!

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