Monday, July 5, 2010

Unread Book Challenge: CHRONICLES OF NARNIA

I just finished reading The Chronicles of Narnia--all seven books in the series. Now that I have finished reading the books, I have a confession to make: I was dreading reading The Chronicles of Narnia.

I never read the books when I was younger because I didn't much enjoy fantasy books. I remember watching a movie based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was younger, and the story didn't appeal to me. I think my sister had the books on her bookshelf (she can correct me if I'm wrong, but I know I remember seeing them on someone's bookshelf...), and I remember thinking, "Why would anyone want to read books about talking animals?" At the time, I just didn't get it. It took me a while to come around to reading fantasy; in fact, I was in college before a friend convinced me to read The Complete Book of Swords, my first foray into fantasy. It wouldn't be until I read Harry Potter, though, that the true magnificence of fantasy would finally open my eyes to a genre I had been largely ignoring most of my life.

And so, it was with a bit of trepidation that I included The Chronicles of Narnia in my Book to Read Next Poll because I figured that would be the winner. My underlying motive was to read it early on in the Unread Books Challenge, though, so that I could get it out of the way.

I had started reading the books right after my son was born (a little over 4 years ago), and I still had my small paper bookmark, showing the place where I had stopped reading (right after the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). So I had made it through the first book in the series, but I couldn't remember a single thing about what I had read (which I find odd, seeing as how I can leave off for several years in the middle of other books and have no problems picking the storyline up again). I began at the beginning.

I flew through the series--not because I was skimming to get to the end but because I was so intrigued that I had to keep going. I wish I had read the books when I was younger because I'd like to know what I would have thought of the books as a younger reader; as an adult, I found I wanted to get out my red editor's pen and mark places that could have used a bit more detail (I've read that J.R.R. Tolkien, a friend of C.S. Lewis, felt the same way about the books), yet I still adored the stories. I adored the stories so much that I'll be dedicating at least two upcoming posts to stories of Narnia.

And so I thank my readers for giving me a gentle push toward finally reading the classic Narnia books by voting that book as the winner of the BTRN poll. In the next couple days, I'll post the next BTRN poll and continue reading my way through my own bookshelves.

Happy reading!


Shannon said...

I am lucky enough to have read them when I was younger, then again when I was older. I loved them when I was young, but it was not a series I reread. Many years later, I read about the Christian "subtext" and decided I wanted to reread the books to see what I had missed the first time. I truly NEVER saw the Christian allegory when I read it the first time, and only saw the fantasy, fairy-land aspect. When I reread it, just a few years ago, I was shocked because the allegory pretty much hit me over the head in this reading. I guess it's kind of neat to see how much can be missed, even in a pretty savvy young reader (middle elementary school?).

The downside was that I didn't feel the same deep immersion into the world that I felt the first time. I guess, though, it's rare to have as good an imagination in adulthood as you do in childhood :-(

Jessie Sams said...

I always knew about the Christian subtext because the adults in my life told me about how the lion in the stories stood for Jesus and what not. The only comparison I can come up with about missing subtext as a kid (and this is super cheesy, so bear with me) is The Cosby Show. I grew up watching (and loving) that show and had no idea whatsoever how many sexual undertones there were between Claire and Cliff. I totally missed the nuances of the adult relationships but picked up on the parent-child and sibling relationships. I know, it's not a great comparison, but it goes to show that it's pretty amazing to see what can be missed by kids but picked up by adults.

On the flipside, though, kids can glean more from some stories than adults can, and I would agree that kids could probably get more sucked into the world of Narnia than an adult could. Then again, I got pretty sucked in as I read them last week; maybe my imagination is getting more productive the older I get. :)

Post a Comment