What your favorite book tells about YOU?

I always go about recommending my favorite books to people. Forcing and enticing them to read it. This is a habit, I believe, I share with most bookworms in the world. But have you ever thought what this favorite book of yours tells about you?

There’s this saying by Sigmund Freud. He said a lot of crazy things, but one of my personal favorites among his insights, is that the mind is like the city of Rome. Each age has its own architecture, its own monuments, built on top of those from the previous ages. But instead of knocking down those monuments to an older time and replacing them, the mind preserves each landmark. Some, like the Colosseum, are more obvious, while others are hidden in the shadows of Palatine Hill. Even more completely than Rome, each adult keeps the landscape of her childhood intact. If you want to understand that childhood landscape, the foundations on which a person’s life is built, ask her what her favourite books were as a child.

I don’t have the figures to prove it, but I would guess that the most popular children’s story in the world is Cinderella. If I tried to list its adaptions in film and literature just over the past decade, I might just break the internet. Lol. giphy

This should come as no surprise. The story of Cinderella is basically that of a child
unnoticed and undervalued by peers and parent-figures. Her fairy godmother shows up and enables her to unlock her true worth, proving the naysayers wrong and allowing her to achieve the greatness she deserves.

Most children feel undervalued sometimes. And plenty believe that, if only they were seen clearly, or if only they had an opportunity, they could prove that they are more valuable, worthwhile, beautiful, talented or strong than anyone knew. Everyone, at some point in her life, has felt like Cinderella. So, some people will identify Cinderella as their favourite story. But many people won’t. Instead, they’ll mention Harry Potter, or Star Wars, or any of the dozens and dozens of Cinderella stories that dominate our bestseller lists and box offices.

I mean, look at Harry Potter, for instance. We know from the outset that he is ‘the boy who lived’, who survived an attack of the darkest magic from Voldemort and somehow managed, as an infant, to vanquish the greatest dark wizard of all time. So he’s special. Very special. But no one knows it, because he’s being raised by an ignorant aunt and uncle, along with their brutish son (stepmother and stepsisters). But soon, someone comes to rescue him, to take him to the place he’s always meant to be – Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There is a wonderful passage in which Hagrid, who is rescuing Harry from his horrible aunt Petunia and uncle Vernon Dursley, educates Harry about himself:

‘Do you mean ter tell me,’ [Hagrid] growled at the Dursleys, ‘that this boy – this boy! – knows nothin’ abou’ – about ANYTHING?’
Harry thought this was going a bit far. He had been to school, after all, and his marks weren’t bad.
‘I know some things,’ he said. ‘I can, you know, do maths and stuff.’
But Hagrid simply waved his hand and said: ‘About our world, I mean. Your world. My world. Yer’ parents world.’
‘What world?’
Hagrid looked as though he was about to explode.
‘DURSLEY!’ he boomed.
Uncle Vernon, who had gone very pale, whispered something that sounded like ‘Mimblewimble.’
Hagrid stared wildly at Harry.
‘But yeh must know about yer mum and dad,’ he said. ‘I mean, they’re famous. You’re famous.’
‘What? My – my mum and dad weren’t famous, were they?’
‘Yeh don’ know… yeh don’ know…’ Hagrid ran his fingers through his hair, fixing Harry with a bewildered stare.
‘Yeh don’ know what yeh are?’ he said finally.
Uncle Vernon suddenly found his voice.
‘Stop!’ he commanded, ‘stop right there, sir! I forbid you to tell the boy anything!’
A braver man than Vernon Dursley would have quailed under the furious look Hagrid now gave him; when Hagrid spoke, his every syllable trembled with rage.
‘You never told him? … You kept it from him all these years?’
‘Kept what from me?’ said Harry eagerly.
‘STOP! I FORBID YOU!’ yelled Uncle Vernon in panic.
Aunt Petunia gave a gasp of horror.
‘Ah, go boil yer heads, both of yeh,’ said Hagrid. ‘Harry – yer a wizard.’

whtDc-bmxb_xWhen I first read Harry Potter, I was 11. And when I got to this passage, I had this strong heart wrenching feeling in my heart. The passage still gives me intense feels. This is J.K Rowling at her best, confirming the promise of Cinderella, confirming the unrecognised (but subconsciously felt) greatness inside the child. Rowling is a genius, and her books will one day be in the ‘perennial bestseller’ class with the Bible, because she tells the Cinderella story so well.

When you see an adult who adores Harry Potter, you are likely speaking to someone whose Cinderella fantasy is to transform from a social outsider into a wizard.

In the Dursley house, Harry is oppressed by his aunt, uncle and cousin’s cruelty, just as Cinderella is by the cruelty of her stepmother and stepsisters. But in a brilliant adaptation of the Cinderella trope, Harry is also oppressed by the Dursleys’ normality. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone opens with the line: ‘Mr and Mrs Dursley, of Number Four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’ It is the Dursleys’ devotion to all things normal that makes them hate Harry so much. He is unable to conform because he is special – his magical powers keep manifesting, inadvertently, driving Vernon and Petunia crazy, and prompting them to punish him with increasingly harsh measures.

Failure to conform is hated. Specialness is hated. Failure to conform and specialness become one. This is the magical adaptation of Harry Potter to the modern world. When you see an adult who adores Harry Potter (me), who proudly tells you what Hogwarts house she is in (also me!), and explains to you the method for determining your own, you are likely speaking to someone who has felt oppressed by the conventionality of her world, and whose Cinderella fantasy is not transforming from an overlooked child into a princess, but rather transforming from a social outsider into a wizard. This is part of the deep psychic appeal of Harry Potter.

So when a child asks for the same book three hundred times, she is telling what she needs to learn, what she needs to come to terms with. Adults do the same thing. Books are psychologists, using imagination therapy to elicit secrets that their readers did not know they kept. We don’t tend to realise what we are revealing about ourselves when we push a book into the hands of three friends. Maybe the bestseller lists, stripped of the fly-by-night entries and dopamine drips, is a snapshot of the national psyche. It might be telling us what we need to learn, what we are coming to terms with.giphy (1)

Yours-in-deep-thought,

ZEEBEE.

P.S. What’s your favorite book then? What does it tell about you? Comment down below. And dont forget to give this a thumbs-up if you liked it. Please subscribe to see more insight into the brain of this dreamer. Byieee!

 

Why I Love Scarlett O’Hara.

Ladies and gentlemen, today I present to y’all the case of the most celebrated and vilified Southern belle to ever grace the silver screen.

 

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I will cut you.

Now, depending upon where you fall in that camp–whether you revere the young woman in question, or cringe at the sound of her name–generally determines your opinion of the film that features her. I have met many a person who cannot bring him/herself to watch Gone With the Wind in full because they so detest the character of Scarlett O’Hara. And this is, to an extent, understandable. I recognize that an alienating character can contribute to one’s perception of the work in which he/she is featured.

But don’t let that stop you from enjoying one of the most entertaining spectacles in all of moviedom.

 

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Insert heart-stirring music here.

My personal history with GWTW starts at the age of twelve, when my parents bought a copy of the Margaret Mitchell book at a book sale. Yes, I was a precocious child (at least, that’s my word for it … though Ma and Dad would probably term me “the biggest know-it-all English-kaku bookworm to ever walk the planet”). I sat down and read it over the course of the next week. I fell head over heels in love with the story, the characters (especially that delicious Rhett Butler), the setting … to me, at the age of twelve, it was the romantic thing in the world, to have men falling all over you, declaring their undying love, sharing a secret passion for one another as Scarlett and Ashley do. And as an unrepentant smart-ass, I adored Scarlett and her tart tongue and sarcastic asides.

Now, there were, of course, things that I did not understand at that age. But over the course of the next several years, in which I read the book probably twice a year(I told you I loved it), I began to understand that Scarlett was not the ideal of womanhood that I had built up in my head. She was not even really an ideal of humanity, if you want to get right down to it. There are things about her that are so morally reprehensible that you wonder why people like to label her a heroine.

And yet, who are we to judge? But I’ll get back to this in a moment.

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When I finally saw the movie at the age of fifteen, I was bowled over by the grandeur that had been brought to life on the screen, and I marvelled at how almost perfectly cast the film was. In general, at fifteen, I thought everything about the story was perfect. I did not then understand the undercurrents of the “happy slave” motif perpetuated by the book and I did not realize that Scarlett’s happy trilling in bed the morning after Rhett sweeps her up the grand staircase is little more than a disturbing acceptance of her rape at the hands of her husband.

In these instances, and several others, the perspective brought by the passage of many years has made me realize that there are elements of the story that are far from perfect. But it is still one of my favorite stories of all time, and one of the ten best ever put on the big screen. I firmly believe this, and I doubt I will ever change my mind. And to me, Scarlett is one of the most fascinating characters ever conceived.

The thing that I appreciate the most about the film version of GWTW is that the filmmakers did not shy away from putting some of Scarlett’s least venerable characteristics on screen. So many times, a film adaptation falls apart because the characters are whitewashed and made “prettier” (at least from a moral standpoint) so as not to offend the general viewing audience. But not in this case. Scarlett’s jealously, her pettiness, her utter derision for her fellow man, her coquettish determination to claim Ashley for her own … all of it is shown, and rather unapologetically so. And for that, as I stated at the beginning of this post, some celebrate her fight to survive despite its costs to others, and some condemn her for her selfish disregard.

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Fiddle-dee-dee.

I lean more toward the first camp myself. I enjoy watching Scarlett toy with the affections of men she does not love; she is, after all, the “belle of the ball,” and that has its privileges. To take the attentions of men who view her as nothing more than a plaything, a beautiful trophy to take to their beds, and become the puppet-master, dangling those same, ultimately helpless men by their strings … she is, as second-wave American feminists would claim, simply asserting her power. She is, in the end, smarter than those men, and she’s smart enough not to let them know it. And it is interesting to watch this kind of behavior through the concept of the Civil War-era, when women were bound by the rules of society into home-and-hearth roles that became virtually inescapable. Scarlett, determined to enjoy life in the manner in which she sees fit, flouts those society restrictions, which most modern audiences would find admirable.

Yes, Scarlett is a bitch-with-a-capital-B. But she’s just so honest about her overall bitchery. She recognizes her own flaws and agonizes over going to Hell, but in the end is not particularly bothered by the lies she tells or the manipulative behavior in which she engages on a regular basis. Her obstinance leads her to marry her first husband simply out of spite and to inadvertently cause the death of her second husband. And she never ceases her pursuit of Ashley despite the bone-deep frustration she feels toward his passivity, unwilling to admit that she’s in it for the competition more so than actual love. At least when she finally understands this about herself, Scarlett tries to correct her mistakes, rather than allowing pride to continue to thwart her better judgement. There’s growth to her character–though not much, all things considered; the film (much like the book) tries to cram Scarlett’s redemption into the last ten minutes, leaving viewers with the sense that Scarlett has not “grown up” so much as she has finally “wised up” (and yes, there is a difference between the two).

In the end, at least in my mind, the fact that she allows the worse parts of her nature to override her one chance at happiness with Rhett is something to be pitied rather than to be celebrated. Who hasn’t lost love or friendship for the sake of pride? Who hasn’t stood in Scarlett’s shoes, staring at someone walking away from you, wondering how things would have been if you (or they) had done things differently? Who doesn’t have regrets? When Scarlett collapses on the staircase, sobbing as Rhett strides away in the mist, I’m taken back to points in my own history when I felt the world crumbling around me, when “resilience” felt like a dirty word. But as Scarlett exclaims, there’s always tomorrow. You know, as the story ends, that Scarlett will redouble her efforts to win Rhett back, and that she will ultimately be successful.

This, I think, is why I identify with Scarlett. She’s only human. She’s not a caricature of Southern gentility, the stereotypical fragile blossom whose bloom fades the moment she dons her wedding gown. As Rhett laughingly tells her, “And you, miss, are no lady!” Instead, she’s a nineteenth-century steel magnolia. The character is, in essence, a flawed, natural, thriving, and searingly honest depiction of a woman who was never meant to fill the mold. She may not cherish life, judging by her somewhat cavalier attitude toward the deaths of her first two husbands, but she sure as hell relishes it.

She also protects what’s hers, and that includes the family she does not even particularlygwtw-hungry like. She detests Melanie (her favorite descriptive term for poor Melanie is “mealy-mouthed”), but she does her duty to her sister-in-law, ensuring her survival and providing a roof over her head and food to eat. She commits murder without flinching, shooting a Yankee deserter who attempts to steal the family’s meagre remaining possessions in the final days of the war. She even accepts the possibility that she will have to prostitute herself to Rhett, offering him a place in her bed in exchange for the money to pay the taxes on Tara. For all the supposed “evil” that Scarlett does, she makes certain that her people are provided for and her beloved plantation remains in O’Hara hands. Now, such ruthlessness and self-serving determined would hardly be cause for concern were she not a woman. But because she is, Scarlett is untoward, unladylike, a lesser human being?

I don’t effing think so.

She’s a survivor; in fact, when Margaret Mitchell was asked to basically define the theme of her novel, she said it was simply about “survival.” And Scarlett is the ultimate survivor. She thrashes against fate to stay alive, and then she sticks it to everyone who doubted her in the most delicious way possible.

So I admit it. I like Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler. I really do. I even feel a sort of kinship with her. Does that make me seem odd? [Well, if you’ve only now figured that out, where have you been?]

The only thing I don’t understand about the character? Why, on God’s green earth, she’d prefer this …

 

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Ummm….

….over THIS.

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<wolf-whistles> Helloooooo, handsome.

Are you for real? Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes is the very definition of “milquetoast”. <snorts derisively> Clark Gable as Rhett Butler just radiates sex. I don’t care if rumor has it that Vivien Leigh did not want to kiss him because his dentures smelled bad. If Carole Lombard could kiss that every night and be fine with it, then make room for me. <wink wink>

Yours-frankly,

ZEEBEE.
P.S. Gone With The Wind is the epic to beat all epics. If you have never read it or seen it, I urge you to do so. It’s a long investment, but I truly feel it to be worth it. It’s one of those stories everyone must read or watch at least once, if only to marvel at the spectacle of it all.

P.P.S. Now that I have spoken my piece, tell me: are you a Scarlett fan, or do you wish she would have accidentally strangled herself with that green curtain dress?

The Hype Monster.

When I don’t like something…..anything that everyone else does or not AS MUCH as everyone else does, I literally start going mental thinking about it and my brain starts running through all the reasons why that could be.

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Is it just a case that it wasn’t my thing? Were there too many problems I saw? Did my own values or experiences or mood influence it and make me see it differently? But there’s one thing I always come back to and that’s the Hype Monster — which is both a good and bad thing for different reasons.

I am always hungry for new music. So it often happens that I have already heard the song before they have a chance to be hyped. Or a movie. Or maybe a book. I am a true bookworm so I usually read a book before someone comes up to me and says hey…you gotta read this. Its amazing. In those case, its like I’m doing it in my own little personal bubble. I have few to no opinions to influence my thinking and really NO expectations to live up to. It’s something that I may or may not enjoy and that’s all I know about it. It’s a less stressful process overall.

But then let’s take the song/book/movie……Thing that I’m somehow late to the game on…stuff that people RAVE about and which seem to be universally loved. I go…hmmm. This seems to be popular lately. Let’s see what it’s like. But then it really deflates me when I find that it really wasn’t all that. I mean, it’s often the situation that I LIKED it but not as much as everyone else did — I didn’t get that O.M.G….#favsong or the life-changing experience that so many trusted people talked about. All those REASONS that made this thing their favorite. I sit there and wonder that, if I had been a complete newbie to this song and never heard anything about that book, would I have felt differently?

So I sit there all like…”Ok, Thing [btw I don’t actually call it a thing, this is because it can be anything…book/movie/song/video], would I have liked you MORE had I found you back when you just came out and there was relatively no hype? Or would it have been the same? Or was it that maybe you really just weren’t the one for me?”

And *long sigh* obviously, I don’t have the answer to that. It’s not like I go back in time or try that thing in a vacuum where I hear basically nothing about it. But I feel sad for the poor things I could have probably LOVED if I hadn’t such high expectations of them because of all the hype. I’m SO easily wavered with the opinions that I begin to expect too much. So much that it’s hard to read without being influenced by them. I JUST WANT TO BLOCK THEM ALL OUT so I can have my own experience that is free of any hype.

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……okay so this post took me an hour to think and perfectly type up so that it exposed my emotions. I think it more than covered what I was feeling and I am being ridiculous because this is what happens when everyone around me is going crazy about Hymn For The Weekend while I am going bonkers wondering if there’s something wrong with me. There I said it. I can practically feel your eyes judging me.

WELP.  xD

Yours, forever Miss. Bonkers,

Zeebee.

 

P.S.   So what about you? Do you ever think about this? Are there any such things you think you probably would have LOVED more if there wasn’t that dreaded hype monster or any sort of built up expectations because of people’s opinions – like if you found them early on? Or do you think you were always destined probably not to LOVE those books? How do you keep those expectations at bay so that you aren’t disappointed later on?

Little Things[Bookworm Edition!]

Hello again, my Little Internet Explorers,
OK, let’s face it. We all have to escape reality sometimes and that’s okay. Life tends to grow stressful by the clock and it can be hard to keep up. Sometimes we need a moment alone to sit back and smell the coffee (or tea, in my case) in order to recharge. For most of us, that’s where books come in.

If you’re addicted to books like I am, you’ve probably enjoyed the intense escape they provide. Bookworms understand the phenomenal feeling of reading a good book. It’s like stepping into another dimension with the snap of a finger, travelling through colorfully surreal settings, and making four-dimensional friends along the way. But the pleasure of reading is only one of many things I enjoy doing. The tiny little things that can be associated with books can probably fill a million pages but for today, here are ten of them:

1. The Smell Of Books.

Books are the absolute best-smelling thing in the world, because books appeal to our memory. Books always remind me of the wonderful moments I have experienced, and that makes me feel inexplicably, emotionally good. The smell of books makes me feel calm and safe, as if I were in a sanctuary. I think that the smell of books is comforting ‘cuz it reminds me of being warm, curled up, and relaxed. And btw…I am literally a full-on #booksniffer…..Annnnnd I really need this in my life.

 


Literally book-scented perfume!!!!

2. When The Title Of The Book Is Mentioned In The Book.

That little giddy excitement you get when this happens. And the ‘oh’ face you make and the instant grin on your face. Yes, that moment.

3. Arranging My Library.

Arranging my library according to color, author, genre…..etc etc etc is the most calming exercise for me. Whenever I get stressed out, I start planning how to arrange my books, and my stress melts away. And fun fact, I always change configurations every time I arrange it. (Currently, it’s according to genre.)

4. Discussing Books With Friends.

That is the best feeling ever! I remember in school when a new book in any series would be released, a group of fans would meet together just for it. And one of us would have already bought it and we would all take turns to read it. Awesome!! (OMG. That memory made me smile so much)

5. Seeing A Stranger Reading A Book You Like.

Its like a personal recommendation of the person. I love it when I randomly meet a stranger reading one of my favorite books. I can never help myself from going up and telling them that I love that book. And if they like it too, then its just……BAM! Instant Friendship. That ‘OMG!! Me Tooooo!!!’ moment…….awesome.

6. That Moment When You Get Immersed In A Book…..

………And the weird disconcerting feeling you get when you come out of reading and find its daytime because you have been reading and imagining about a night scene. Yeah, that. I dunno how common this is. I have met very few people for whom this happens. But this happens practically every time with me.

7. Fandom Mentioned In Other Books.

I love it when this happens. Even better when it happens in a book that belongs to my fandom. (cough..Percy Jackson….cough). It’s like a personal recommendation by the author. I almost immediately check those mentioned books/movies/TV series out if they are unknown.

I literally squealed when I read that!!

8. Finishing A Really Thick Book In A Short Time.

This happens when I get really engrossed in a book. Don’t mean to brag [Totally do.. ;)], but if I really get into it, I can even finish a 600 page book in an afternoon. That satisfaction when that happens feels good. Also that bitter-sweet feeling that the book is over tooooooo soon.

9. Old Used Book Stores.

In fact, old used books in general. I love old books, sometimes better than new books. No.1, the strange yet weirdly pleasant unknown scent of books that have been to unknown places. Sometimes, old books have writings on them. For me, they’re like tiny treasures. They are clues to how the previous owner had been. I love it when I find a book with writings on them. Also, I love the prices. And the randomness of books in them. You never know how the book will be ‘cuz its always haphazardly arranged. Also, aren’t these places almost always the best kind of book stores?

10. Curling Up With A Book On A Rainy Day With A Hot Beverage.

Lastly, this. Every bookworm in this world will agree with me that this situation is the best thing in the world. Especially if it’s curling up in bed with warm sheets and hot chocolate and an awesome book in hand. Heaven, don’t you think so??

These were ten of my favorite book related little things that I love the most.

Soooooo, what about you, my darling readers?? What makes your bookworm heart go ba-dump! with excitement???

As Always,

Your Little Bookworm,
Zibell.