my narnia-deprived childhood erased

Everyone has a streak of defiance built into their genetic code that comes out during their childhood & adolescence: disregarding the rules, breaking curfew, testing to see if the stove really is as hot as they (they being those parental people) say it is. You catch my drift. 

I was always an annoying stickler for the rules. I mean lame (still am, but I embrace it as part of my identity ;)). I never intentionally did anything wrong (other than that one time around the age of 7, I accidentally took a Lisa Frank heart stamp ring that probably cost $.50. But being too scared to tell my dad, I just coolly walked out of Montgomery Mall, looking back every other second to make sure security wasn't running after me. I never stole again. I petrified myself without needing the parental punishment, not that they ever knew it happened until probably now... But I've digressed). 

I was a boring kid.

My streak of defiance came in the things I read. Code word: nerd. I wore big ole Disney princess glasses & had a bob; there wasn't much else for me to go on. So when it came time for the cereal box panorama book report, about a third of the grade read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I just couldn't bear to be a part of such a popular movement. I had to be edgy. I read Gary Paulsen's The Haymeadow, mainly because my cool older brother suggested it, but in that pathetic moment of defiance, my entire childhood missed out on the wonder of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series.

So at the grand old age of 24, I finally read them. I could feel the 8-year-old me shaking her head in shame for waiting so long. While definitely children's stories, I loved the variety of plots and characters & the way that Lewis laid out Christian themes for his younger audience, especially in the last two he wrote, The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle. (Side bar: without a doubt I fall on the side that favors reading the books in the order he wrote them rather than the chronological order of the story). Plus, no lie, I have often thought of God as a Lion, so getting attached to Aslan took all of a second. 

I finished TLB late Monday night, and now I feel I must graduate to C.S. Lewis for Adults (did I not mention that I have never read anything by him? It's a bit sad, I know), starting with Mere Christianity, per my husband's request, and then The Screwtape Letters. It's turning into a C.S. Lewis fan party over here, and I just can't help it.

A few semi-related book suggestions:

+ If you love Harry Potter & the stories of Narnia (& possibly LOTR? I've never read them but I could see the connection) and wouldn't mind discovering a similar magical world story but on the darker side, you should read Lev Grossman's The Magicians. You'll see a lot of similarities between the way the story is set up, but all-in-all it's a good read (& it'll quench your need for a new realm to explore). My dad sent it to me as a surprise when I was in college, and it quickly became Priority No. 1, which at the time wasn't so great for my course load, but should convince you of how captivating it can be. 

+ To make my reading list even longer, I noticed while linking Grossman's book above that he wrote another a year ago that totally flew under my radar and must be read. Thank you weirdly wired brain for connecting dots that only you care about.

+ I also recently inhaled J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith's The Cuckoo's Calling, and loved it. If you're the type of person who enjoys a good murder mystery (similar to Sherlock Holmes' style), then this is the contemporary version for you. Also, can we talk about how she continues to create wonderfully in-depth characters & stories? Just incredible. Can't wait for Galbraith to write the next one.