This post is almost a Part Two of a discussion/reflection I began the other day over at the Emerging Writers’ Festival blog, subtitled ‘The Books That Moved Us and Changed Us’.
As I was writing it, I remembered that over a month ago I took a photo of a couple of purchases I’d made in order to perhaps, later, being now, I guess, dismantle the reasons and justifications behind the decision of handing over my credit card.
These are the books in question:
I was at a session at the Melbourne Writers Festival yesterday with authors John Larkin, Emily Rodda and Penni Russon, throughout which they discussed what they read when they were young, what their favourite books then were, and are now, and how some have remained the same: John Larkin stated that although he wasn’t a big reader as a child, ever since reading Pride and Prejudice he keeps on picking it up once a year because it makes him feel like he’s being “massaged with coconut oil, with words”.
Although I had many favourite books as a child, Daddy Long Legs stays up towards the top because it was the first recommendation of my mother’s that I paid any attention to: I was a proud, independent reader, happy to sort myself out on the selection front, thank you very much. I still remember holding her copy of Daddy Long Legs (although I can’t recall if I’d climbed up to the shelf to get it, or she passed it down to me) and her saying “That was a favourite of mine, and I think you’ll like it too”.
And I did. Loved, more like.
Re-reading it last month, still buzzed I’d found a copy, for I hadn’t seen it in the shops before, I had the jolt of remembering the (only) twist in the rather slender plot halfway through, but it has a charm, carried along by the cheeky heroine that I put aside any narky critical thoughts and just enjoyed the experience.
When I pulled out the copy of Dracula, Adam did the palm-slap-forehead action that I’m quite used to when it comes to matters of literature and books I like to collect. This is my… third (fourth? I’m losing count) copy of Dracula, the last being an expensive 30th birthday present to myself.
This is how our conversation went:
Him: Dude, really?
Me: Yes! Isn’t it marvellous! Look, its a new edition with the identical cover, typefacing and layout as the original 1897 version.
Me: That makes it cool!
Him: [Blank stare]
Me: There’s an introduction by Colm Tóibín as well.
Him: [Stare gets even blanker, if that's at all possible.]
I wouldn’t do this for any novel I love. No, Dracula was my teenage life-changer. It’s why I have a picture of Whitby Abbey hanging in my bedroom. It’s why I buy Gary Oldman t-shirts from Pulp Kitchen when he’s in costume from the movie.
It makes me strange, granted, I wager. It also makes me, me.
And I’m totally fine with that.