It was a good birthday.
We have two large bookcases in our living room, compliments of Jay’s parents (along with every other piece of furniture we own, save the couch and a small wooden chair from IKEA we put together ourselves). One of my goals, inspired by my own upbringing, has always been to have an extensive personal library. My parents have bookshelves in every bedroom, in the den, in the living room, and all of them are full to overflowing. We grew up with dozens of picture books and hundreds of chapter books. My parents have an impressive collection of religious and adult-level literature (I almost wrote “adult literature,” but realized that might give you the wrong idea about my parents!). I wouldn’t say that reading was “encouraged” in our home; it was expected. It’s just something we did.
My dream is to have the real-life equivalent of the library in Beauty and the Beast in my home. Every time I get to the part in the movie where the Beast tells Belle to open her eyes and she swoons at the sight of the shelves upon shelves of books complete with rolling ladders, a second story, and a winding staircase, I start falling for the Beast right along with her.
Back to my reality. We have a very modest book collection, but it’s growing steadily. I think books are the perfect gift: they provide hours of entertainment and enlightenment, and they look great on display. And I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but few things give me greater pleasure than seeing my line of books slowly inching their way across the shelves. Especially when they’re esthetically pleasing. I try not to judge a book by its cover, I really do, but the classier-looking tomes are by far my favorites.
So Jay basically got me 2 gifts in 1 six times over when he gave me books for my birthday: I’ve loved reading them (especially during class, but don’t tell anyone), and they look fantastic on our shelf. I’ve fallen in love with Barnes and Noble’s classics collection: they’re very reasonably priced, and they're beautifully classy. The hard covers, the dust jackets, the spines with the detail of the front pictures, and the pages with that "unfinished" zigzag look all contribute to their irresistibility: I'm pretty sure I've found a new obsession. Here are three of the titles that now grace my bookshelf:
So even though I read Catching Fire (the sequel to the amazingly haunting Hunger Games) and The Lost Symbol (Dan Brown's rather anti-climactic new Robert Langdon installment) in a flurry of pages earlier this week, it's these other books Jay gave me that I'm most excited about. Yes, they're pretty, but it's more than that--the books themselves are beautiful. And to me, that's the definition of a classic: a beautiful book that people read voluntarily over the course of time (not to be confused with literary tripe written by authors like James Joyce, William Faulkner or Herman Melville that the AP English teacher ilk delights in heralding and shoving down the protesting throats of young students who then decide they hate "classics" and English in general when in reality all they needed was exposure to Twain or Austen or Dickens or Alcott or Montgomery, and just so I'm not misunderstood, the term "beautiful" can encompass books that are tragic and comedic, heartwrenching and exhilarating; it's all about the timelessness of well-developed characters and a well-written story, and lest you begin to think that my passion on this subject has overridden my abhorrence for run-on sentences and all errors grammatical, allow me to explain that I am merely employing a literary device I learned from Faulkner (namely that of using absolutely no periods whatsoever and introducing at least 10 unrelated ideas in every sentence) in Intruder in the Dust). I am excited to enrich and edify my mind as I read and revisit these classics (because, let's be honest with ourselves, Dan Brown is entertaining, but he's hardly enriching).
And so, to sum it all up in true chiasmic form, entertaining is good but enriching is better, my definition of "classic" would not be well-received in a university-level English course, I'm in love with B&N's classics collection, books are for reading and decorating, the Beauty and the Beast library will someday be in my house, I want lots of books and, last but not least, happy birthday to me.