Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wherein Thora Complains for Lack of a Book

While living in England I've read English books as my theme for reading. Since Avram and I have been married, I've usually had a theme for books that I'm reading; not every single book, of course, but sort of an over arching I'm attempting/pretending to improve myself and justify my favorite hobby of all time by reading uplifting literature/classics. For well over a year I focused on the King Arthur legend. I read the Malory, I read the Mabinogien (the Welsh tales; I like them because Guinevere is faithful to Arthur; it's before Lancelot was even invented). I read lots of other stories, including modern redactions. Whilst in England I've focused more on British books from the last 200 years, such as Brideshead Revisited. When we return to America, I've decided that my next theme is going to be American Classics, because of how inspiring it was to read To Kill a Mockingbird, so I'm going to get serious with my William Faulkner and Willa Cather (actually, I think I've already read all the Willa that I mean to; Death Comes for the Archbishop and My Antonia, but her name was the only one that came to mind).

I like reading literature; I like having my thoughts provoked and horizons broadened. Even writing about literature, especially writing about literature, can provoke and broaden even more. Too bad that's not what this post's about. This post's about all the other books that I read, that can't be classed into my reading as a productive hobby. Like the Wheel of Time Series. Books that I like to read, because of the plots and magic systems, and romance (well, only sometimes on that mark in the Wheel of Time Series), and because I like fantasy. Books that often have plots that I begin forgetting as soon as I've closed the back cover, but that's okay, because then when I go back and reread them later, the plot's as good as new.

I decided recently that my repository for literature was filled up, and so decided to turn to my long-neglected reading of the Wheel of Time. Now, for those readers who have read the series, you can understand why I've neglected it. There are currently 11 books, all of them dog-killers, and with an increasingly complex plot and characters, and for many years no end in sight. Then Robert Jordan (may he rest in peace) had the audacity to up and die of a rare blood disease before he'd written the final book of the series. Even before this I have to admit that I'd never even read books 10 and 11 because I'd lost the thread of the series inside of myself, so the last time I had read WofT was as a senior in High School, when I'd reread the entire series before reading the then-new 9th book.

Seven years later, and after they've announced that the final book will still be published, with (LDS) author Brandon Sanderson completing book 12 using Robert Jordan's notes and written section as an outline (Robert Jordan left notes on how all the plot points will be resolved, so in all of the important resolutions it'll be what he wanted), I decided that I really ought to bring myself up to speed with "Randland" as many on the Internet call the world.

Avram got the book for me at the Library, and for several days it sat in our bookshelf. Finally I mustered the strength to pick it up. I opened to the prologue, set 3,000 years before the action in the book, and promptly shut the book again. Two days later, I tried again, and made it through the prologue, and then began the actual book. Two paragraphs in, I shut the book again. Two days later, I once again decided that I could begin the monumental task that is reading this series, and committed myself to actually give it a fair chance.

Why the reluctance? Well, it's a mighty big world, and a mighty long journey, even for a quick reader such as myself, and the sheer weight of coming words, heartache, annoying Nynaeve braid tugging and Rand off-putting character developments caused my blood to slow and a chill in my marrow, which culminated in my repeatedly closing the book instead of actually reading it.

But I persevered though, and read the book. And then my obsession fully re-awoke, and I haunted Internet sites about the book and its plots and characters, especially the bad guys, who are more complex than anything, and considering my mind's like a steel sieve, I hadn't hardly remembered at all. I finished The Eye of the World (the first book) on Monday, but had to wait until Thursday, when we went to town to get passport photos for Elisheva (20 pounds for four ugly pictures; yikes! Good thing we love our daughter, and want to take her home with us), because then we went to the library as well. Except, shame of all shames, the library only currently had books 4, 6, and 9! Grrr. And it costs .85 pence (equivalent to $1.70) to reserve a book, and I'm cheap. So this means that I probably won't get to read the next book until we return to America, where thankfully Avram's dad has a copy of every single book in the series.

And knowing my memory, I won't remember what happened in the first book by that point.

I've been satiating my desire for reading the book by continuing to read about the books, but for some reason it's just not the same. Go figure.

(On re-reading through this I realize that I didn't actually talk about my impressions on reading the book again after so long. I'm very impressed with the read-through so far; I think that although the plot is so large that it's easy to get lost in, if I read them all in a row, and also use the handy FAQs site as a reference, I can keep track of it [and the Forsaken]).

Also, as a question for those who do read the books, do you think Rand will die? Avram and I both tend to, although after having reread through all the prophecies, it seems that maybe he could take up being a wandering beggar afterwards; not very Rand-like, but oft prophesied (well, him with a beggar's staff, at least).

Another question: are there any series that are obsession-causing for you?


  1. I'm glad I've never become 'addicted' to the Wheel of Time books, because I can easily see it happening. Other book series that I have/am addicted to would be LotR (Meechele witnessed the full effects), Dark is Rising, and Narnia. I admit I'm a big dork. But I play the oboe - my dork levels are already fairly high.

    I love reading plot lines and online dictionaries, etc. about books. I haven't had any huge scary obsessions since 2004, and I'm hoping to keep it that way: I don't need to have dreams involving the main characters. I already tend to live in a fantasy world as it is!

    Unfortunately, this obsession has now shifted to new Dr. Who series. I can't handle the old episodes, but I cannot get enough of the new. sigh.

  2. I love the Dark is Rising Series. I really wanted to read it here, while living in England, since it's so completely English. Unfortunately, the Library has never had a copy of the first book, in the entire time we've been here (this Library is really nothing to write home about. The first time I visited it, I thought that I had missed where the main part of the library was, but it turned out the room I was in was it.), so I just have to remember the events at the appropriate times of year (to me the books are so tied to the times of year that they take place in, that midwinter will bring the first book to mind, midsummer the last book, Halloween the Grey King, et.)

    I know some people who haven't ever read the Wheel of Time books, who say they're waiting until the final one comes out to even begin. If you have some free time in Fall of 2009, that's when the last book is supposed to come out.

  3. hmm I have never read those books.. and frankly i dare not start long series like that becuase then nothing in my house gets done while i am reading them... and that is alot of books so that would be a while!! I also tend to not sleep much because the only time to read is when my kids go to bed and i cant seem to pick up a book for only an hour. I just have no will power to stop reading! and then its 5 am...

    Some serries that i have loved, even over again are the work and the glory books ( ahh good ol mormon romance and finally getting a real grasp on the timetable of the pioneers) Also as of late i liked the twilight series about vampires and warewolves and a human girl who falls in love. I know its not the best writing, but it entertained me quite well and reminded me of the fun part of the dating years. And it was a really easy read, which is great on a mommy brain. The different subject matter and her interpretation of them was really interesting too. I also really enjoyed the Narnia books when i was growing up and read them a few times over.

    I have read so many books in my time ( i know you can relate) that in my memory they are a bit garbled and i can not keep the plot lines strait. In fact I have gone to the library before, looked at books and picked some out that looked like i would enjoy them, gotten home and read the first two or three chapters before i realize that its not just de ja vu, that i in fact KNOW what happens. So then i flip to the back and i am right! at which point i realize that some time in high school i must have read this...

    anyways maybe when my kids are all in school and i can read for a good period of time in a row ( essential for those big confusing plots) I will have to read these wheel of time books.

  4. Not exactly a series, but as a child I was obsessed with books about horses or unicorns. I literally read every book in the children's and young adult's library that had unicorns, and nearly every book that had horses -there are a lot more- as a subject on the catalog search. After that I started supplementing with "dragons" and "dogs". I'm sad I never made it to the adult section because to this day I haven't read "The Last Unicorn" (though I did try-the library had lost its copy. Shortly after that I stopped reading much fantasy, for the rest of high school-not sure why). My favorite books from these times are the Firebringer Trilogy by Meredith Anne Pierce -about a society of unicorns- and Here There Be Unicorns, a collection of poems and stories and beautiful illustrations.

    Also I was obsessed with the Little House on the Prairie series :D

  5. I don't read fiction like I used too (those were the days), but I do have one advantage over my wife--I can actually put a book I am reading down and pick it up later. There are books and series I love but don't read obsessively. It does have its disadvantages. I used to read more than one book at a time, because I would put one down, lose it, pick up another one, lose that one, ad nauseum. It was only ever really a problem when I was reading The Work and the Glory and The Chronicles of Alvin Maker at the same time. I got confused what was the real Church history.

    I do loves me some Wheel of Time, though.

  6. I've never been tempted to sit down and read "those books". There were just too many of them, and they were just too big, and I knew too many people who were just plain obsessed with them.
    In short, they felt like too much of a commitment, and I already had a religion.
    As for other series? Well, I DO have all the Aubrey/Maturin books, as well as s facsimile copy of the unfinished 21st book, and the cook-book, and the little book he wrote about the Regency era Royal Navy, and the special edition DVD of the movie, but, I really wouldn't call that an obsession, would you?
    Back in high-school, though, I was trying to read all of the Waverley Novels, but could only ever find three of them in local book-stores (Ivanhoe, Roy Roy, and Waverley), and that was that.

  7. Umm... Harry Potter. For sure.