Once Upon a Time, I was studying for a test on English literature. All of English literature. I started thinking about the scope of material I could be tested on versus the number of books and authors I had actually read. Having a four-year degree in English does not mean that you have read every single significant work by every well-known author.
I took a class on Chaucer instead of Milton. I have read the majority of Nabokov’s books, but I have never read a full-length Hemingway or Faulkner novel. So, I decided to fill in the gaps in my literary knowledge. I used Norton and other anthologies to cobble together a list of important plays, poems and novels that I hadn’t yet read and started in on them.
I found reading the canon in chronological order incredibly satisfying. I learned so much about the evolution of literature, especially the novel. Often, authors write books in response to another writer. For example, Tom Jones is a reaction to Clarissa. A host of writers wrote responses to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Reading in order helps me understand these reactions. Also, I have a better understanding of why an innovative book is innovative. I frequently tell my friends “a character in literature has never done this before!”
Actually, there weren’t enough interested ears to receive all my thoughts about the books I was reading. So, I decided to start this blog. I just jot down my thoughts on each book I read. This way I won’t forget anything. I needed pictures for each post to make them more interesting and pics of book covers are dull. Just goofing around one day, I tried to make myself look like a bloodless Pilgrim—absent of all worldly desire—for the Pilgrim’s Progress post. Since then I have been dressing as the characters for every book.
Making this blog is absolutely my favorite thing to do. Reading and writing about these books is intellectually satisfying. Coming up with outfits engages my creativity. Getting my friends involved in the photo shoots is fun and gives us something silly and productive to do with our time.
Thanks to everyone who has taken a picture, been in a picture, read the blog, commented on the blog or listened to my incessant literary prattle. Also, costuming gets pretty expensive. So, send me all your old Halloween costumes or that LARP outfit that you never wear anymore, because you made a better one.
Oh, I’m 31. I live in Bangor, Maine.