Saturday, July 21, 2007

Of Pies and A.A. Milne

Cottleston Pie is one of my absolute favorite poems for children. I have the pleasure of coming across it each time I read Chapter 6 of A.A Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh to my son. I wanted to include the poem on this blog just because. Enjoy.

Cottleston Pie
By A.A. Milne

Cottleslon, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie."

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fish can't whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie."

Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken, I don't know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
"Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie."

Monday, July 16, 2007

What Took Me So Long?

Have you ever come across a book that you enjoyed so much that you can't believe it took you years to actually get around to reading it? For me the book is Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

I was first introduced to the novel's existence during my senior year in high school, thanks to a bookish classmate. For a period of about two weeks, I would often see Carolyn* with her nose in a well-worn paperback book. She would read that book on her way to class, devour it along with her cafeteria-issued lunch and simply immerse herself in whatever world the author had created. When I finally got a look at what she was reading, I was immediately turned off.

"'Jane Eyre'," I thought to myself. "Why is she wasting her time reading a romance novel."

Being the kind of gal who would much rather read a good Agatha Christie mystery -- Oh, OK. I'll admit it. I also used to read teen staples like Seventeen magazine -- I was repulsed by the idea of actually reading a romance novel. I didn't care if it was on the recommended reading list my English teacher once distributed in class.

Fast forward to a month ago.

On a trip to a used-book store, in search of various children's books, I came across a copy of E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. I smiled as I remembered how much I enjoyed that book as a young girl, and how much time I used to spend at the library. That got me thinking about my English teacher, his recommended reading list (Charlotte's Web was on it) and, of course, Jane Eyre.

I walked over to the literature section and found one remaining copy of the classic. I picked it up and gazed at the cover art depicting a young woman in mid-1800s garb, looking over her shoulder as if she was searching for someone -- or maybe even trying to make sure she wasn't being followed. I wish I could say it was only that recommended reading list that prompted me to actually buy the book. No. It was also that illustration (and the fact that the book was only $2) that motivated me to take it to the checkout counter.

I was drawn to Jane Eyre, the character, from the very first chapter. The book that I had always assumed was purely a romance novel turned out to be something even more. Yes romance is a part of it, but so is mystery, suspense and the theme of perseverance amid hardship. I actually found myself unwilling to put the book down when I was called away because I cared about Jane.

By the time I finished the book I was hungering for more works by Charlotte Bronte. I thought about what a fool I had been for avoiding this "romance novel" for so long. You would think I would have learned from my original misguided perception of Jane Austen's work. I once avoided Austen's books because I thought they too were purely romance novels.

I'm glad I finally read Bronte's classic, even though I read it more than 20 years after I first learned of its existence. Reading it was one of the best book decisions I've made. Hmm ... I wonder if I still have a copy of my English teacher's list of recommended reading.

*Her name has been changed to protect her identity.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Trip To The Library With Mr. Bean

I couldn't stop laughing when I first saw this YouTube creation of a Mr. Bean episode. I just had to share it. Gotta love that Rowan Atkinson -- and British comedy.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What's The Motivation?

Many weekends during my youth were spent in the public library. Whether it was a book about spices, a children's classic like Charlotte's Web or a book about how to study better, I never left the H___ K____ Public Library without something to read.

As I recently finished reading the last pages of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, I couldn't help but reflect on the books I've read in my lifetime and the many I have yet to read. This blog was created mostly as a way for me to catalog the novels, children's literature, short stories and non-fiction works that have inspired me in some way. I also hope to prove, to myself at least, that there are still many book lovers out there.

I welcome your comments.