I'm not going to write about the weather today. Really, I'm not. Except to mention, just off-hand, briefly, you know, all nonchalant and stuff, that it is currently 50 DEGREES OUTSIDE. What is that sound? That drip drip drip drip drip? Oh right - THE SNOW IS MELTING! THE SNOW IS MELTING!!! HALLELUJAH!!
Ding dong the winter's dead! What's all dead? The winter's dead! Ding dong the wicked winter's dead!
(Man, I must be losing it; that's my second Wizard of Oz reference in the last few weeks.)
In celebration, I shall write about something besides snow. Amazing, I know.
So, during this nasty, insane, ludicrous winter I had a large amount of time to spend holed up in my house, waiting out the storms. Add to that the fact that it was utterly miserable outside for long weeks at a time, and you have a perfect recipe for escapism. Not one to be deterred by cliches, I dove right into an old, beloved fantasy series: Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I've read these books before, and adored them, but it's been years since I last picked them up (well, except for The Tombs of Atuan; I read that one on an annual basis.) And this time through, reading them as an adult and not a teenager or college student, one of my favorite things happened: I read the familiar, much-loved stories and characters, and it was an entirely new experience. There was the memory of how I felt reading them years ago, and then there were all of the new, unexpected, and very different feelings reading them again.
I love when this happens. It's the mark of well-written, thoughtful books: the ability to reach different readers on different levels at different times. I'd even venture to say it's one of the things that fantasy does so well, because everything in fantasy is cloaked and wrapped in metaphor. Sometimes, at some points in our lives, we see its disguise, and then at others, we see beneath that costume to its true nature. Metaphor, myth, fantasy; these things are primal; felt but not always understood; they reach down into the dark corners of our minds and touch something there, in the deepest level, our collective unconscious.
I won't give away anything, or spoil anything, but there were things I'd disliked about these books when I was younger, that I found had now become some of my favorite parts - because I understood them so differently. The fourth book, Tehanu, used to be one of my least favorite, and this time, I loved it. I also learned, incidentally, that Le Guin wrote it nearly twenty years after the third book - and you can see that change and growth in every word. Or at least, I could see it now, fifteen years after the first time I read it.
What about you? What books do you return to, and find new meaning in, over and over again?