The Dark Side of Reading

I have read three books since my last post, and they have all been sad in one way or another.

First, I read Safe at Home by Alyssa Milano.  It’s her memoir about baseball, and between that and the fact that Alyssa Milano was my dad’s big celebrity crush, it’s a book I would have gotten him as a gift.  Reading it was a weird nostalgic experience.  Otherwise, I enjoyed it, though to be honest, you can tell it was written by a blogger and not a practiced memoirist.  It’s also much better if you’re already a baseball fan.

Then, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  The mystery was very intriguing, but I was disheartened by how many women were injured or abused in this book.  At the beginning of each section, Larsson quoted statistics about violence against women in Sweden, as though this were his point.  And yet, the writer’s sexism seemed to bleed through all of his characters.  The title character herself seemed to fluctuate between different personalities, depending on what was needed for the story.

The last book was perfectly happy until this morning.  I started reading my new edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.  The illustrations are gorgeous (done by Jim Kay) and the story itself is enjoyable and light-hearted, especially since I already know how it ends and have such fond memories of it since the fifth grade.  But this morning, the actor who played Severus Snape passed away.

Alan Rickman, from all accounts, was a great man.  From my own experience, he was a great actor.  He is the main reason I have any sympathy for Snape at all, and his characters in Robin Hood and Galaxy Quest show his amazing depth and talent.  Sixty-nine seems like the end of a long, full life, and yet I keep imagining all of the other amazing art he could have brought to us.  But I am grateful for the art he did produce, as well as the other artists he has mentored and inspired who will continue to produce great art.

And as I finish this book with its beautiful illustrations, I’m also reminded of what I loved about Harry Potter when I was younger: how much art has come from it.  The new movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is going to show us another side of magic and the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is an exciting continuation of the story we already love.

I love reading, but anything that brings joy can also open us up to pain.  These books have reminded me of that.  But most importantly, they remind me that it’s worth it.

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Categories: Book Club Thursday | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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