Miracles Are Like Meatballs and Other Things I Learned from Lemony Snicket

When I found a great book as a kid, I would cling to it and become so obsessed that I would squeeze out every ounce of fun until nothing was left. Despite my undying love for Harry Potter, he is obviously a major icon and has been discussed at length. (By “discussed at length” I mean I spent hours talking to co-workers at an old job about how purely evil Voldemort is, while they stared at me in confusion, too polite to run away.) So I won’t turn this into a Harry Potter appreciation post, although, keep an eye out for that in the future. Instead, let me direct your attention toward a lesser-known series that never caught the public’s attention quite as much as Potter.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, for anyone unfamiliar, is a series of thirteen books, all with fantastic titles, written by a man called Lemony Snicket. If you don’t find his name as a good enough reason to read (or reread) these books, then I think you may be a robot and you do not have continue reading this.

It is hard to describe the voice of Lemony Snicket if you have never read his work, but I can say that his clever voice made learning new things more than fun for me, he conditioned me to be enthusiastic about it.

As a kid, when I wasn’t spending my down time pretending to be Hermione Granger, I was Violet Baudelaire. I would carry a red ribbon in my pocket so I could tie my hair back whenever I was thinking, just like Violet. I would pull out random objects from my desk and convince myself that I could invent any kind of device using a Popsicle stick, a ballpoint pen and an index card. (I couldn’t.)

The first time I read these books, I had a new baby sister, so naturally I associated her with Sunny Baudelaire and my twin brother was Klaus. I would imagine the three of us in a library reading like mad to find our way out of Count Olaf’s latest scheme. I was angry when my little sister’s new teeth didn’t come in as sharp as Sunny’s.  I remember sitting in my kitchen with my brother discussing who Beatrice could be and how she died. I would run into my parents’ room to show them the secretive letter Lemony Snicket left at the end of every book.

I re-read these books during this past summer on my commute to work. I know that I got strange looks from other commuters wondering why I’m reading a book with pictures. It’s almost embarrassing how easily I fell head over heels for the Baudelaires all over again. I searched for my red ribbon and I wished I could erase the books from my memory so I could read them with all the mystery still there. It was great. It turns out, you are never too old for a children’s book, especially one as wonderful as A Series of Unfortunate Events.

It breaks my heart to think that the lines in these books are going un-read by many. I need to share this obsession with someone, so who might relate more than members of the HelloGiggles community? If I could, I would transcribe the entirety of the books, but I don’t want to overwhelm you (or get phone calls from copyright lawyers).

So, I have complied a short list of some of the best things I learned from Lemony Snicket:

  • “We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.”-The Reptile Room
  • “Stealing, of course, is a crime, and a very impolite thing to do. But like most impolite things, it is excusable under certain circumstances. Stealing is not excusable if, for instance, you are in a museum and you decide that a certain painting would look better in your house, and you simply grab the painting and take it there. But if you were very, very hungry, and you had no way of obtaining money, it might be excusable to grab the painting, take it to your house, and eat it.”-The Wide Window
  • “Miracles are like meatballs because nobody knows what they are made of, where they came from or how often they should appear.” –The Carnivorous Carnival
  •  “Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”-The Slippery Slope

and finally, my absolute favorite…

  • “People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salad, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.”-The Grim Grotto

Are there any books you read as a kid that you fell in love with? Have you recently reread them? I want to hear all about it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.j.goodwin Sarah Jayne Goodwin

    You’re completely right, Lemony Snicket books are so underrated! They have such brilliantly magical descriptions, and lovely sentiments and messages woven into everything :)
    also- I know what you mean about reading them on the way into work.. I re-read the HP series recently, and got a few worried looks on the train :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/annamarie.rahuba Anna Marie Rahuba

    This made my heart bubble with happiness! I obsessively read Lemony Snicket my freshman year of college nearly 8 years ago, and fell in love with the adventures of these siblings, learning new words (and I was 18?!) and became so involved with their world. Yay! You’ve inspired me to dig my books out and re-read, and re-buy The Ersatz Elevator, as it met its fate during a bathtub reading session! Thank you for the lovely article!

  • http://www.facebook.com/EliseMcCarthy92 Elise McCarthy

    I was so obsessed with these books when I was a kid! I think I’ll go reread them now… :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1418582717 Becky Hermann

    I have all 13 books still on my bookshelf and keep saying I am going to re-read them. I believe that time is now. I;m ready to fall head over heels with the Baudelaires again.

    PS: This is also inspiring me to get my VFD tattoo I was going to get the first time I read the series. I think it would be a great addition.

    PPS: Lemony Snicket’s real name is Daniel Handler and his book The Basic Eight was awesome. For sure for adults, but awesome nevertheless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/msrachelcasey Rachel Casey

    also a ravenclaw alumi.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=31208271 Stephanie Houser Newman

    I loved Lemony Snicket! Also – I am currently re-reading all of the Chronicles of Narnia. It’s amazing how as a child these stories were simply imaginative and wonderful; as an adult, you can really grasp more of the underlying themes that C.S. Lewis included.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14231071 Dina Dry

    I loved Snicket!!! I would sit and obsess about the mysteries of the VFD and Beatrice. I have to say though for as much as I loved books 1-12, I was a little disappointed in THE END. I understand his goal to achieve a post-modern feel and to show children that not everything is black and white, but I still wanted to know the exact fate of the Baudelaires! Darn you Snicket! Plus, I was so upset about Dewey and Kit!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kellytierney13 Kelly Tierney

    Lemony Snicket is fantastic! His writing has always inspired me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnnieBukowski Annie Bukowski

    I love series of unfortunate events even now! Also you should check out the mysterious benedict society, its a triology with a prequel coming out this year. And of course it’s in the kids section but it is worth the weird looks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/irishdramaqueen Israel Melloy

    Loved these books as a kid and as an adult! you should check out Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid by Lemony Snicket if you haven’t already.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MeChelle7 Michelle Hupp

    Great Article! Those books were awesome <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003235194530 Lola Romero

    I´ve been looking for this books EVERYWHERE since I saw the film… Here in Argentina they´re really dificult to find: the only volumes available are the seventh and the eighth, and some of them haven´t even been edited. It´s a shame, cause I´ve already read the first one (I´ve downloaded it (: ) and I wanna know what happens next. IF SOMEONE KNOWS WHERE CAN I FIND, PLEASE THEM LET ME KNOW!!!!
    PS: I apologize for my pathetic English. I´m only 13 and I seriously have to practise it :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/neveragain329 Carina Brown

    I was absolutely madly in love with the His Dark Materials series. When the Golden Compass movie came out, I decided it was time to re-read the books. SO glad I did! They were just as magical as(and now, more fully understood than) when I read them as a younger person. SUCH a great series!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000416265255 Ashley Covey

    I love those books! I first read them when I was 19 or 20. The movie had just come out, and I was unaware it was based on books. I can’t wait until my daughters are old enough to read them. For now, we read The Lump of Coal at Christmas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/weilin.chi Weilin Chi

    I still love these books and can’t bear the idea of EVER having to give them up. A good year of my life was spent looking for these books until I was able to compile the entire series.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathleenrheag Kathleen Rhea Galeos

    Ahh! This series was my childhood :) I adored everything about the Baudelaire’s and despised the likings of Count Olaf (what a villainous name, eh?). I read this instead of hopping on the Potter train (but I did watch the films, but nothing compares to reading it). & I do wish more people read this series, it’s loads of fun and imagination!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9018747 Lindsay Ann

    I’ve never read Lemony Snicket but I need to! I recently re-read His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman…love those books! :) I actually did read them until I was older though. I love children’s books – most of my favorite books are from when I was a kid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kara.wilson.yapp Kara Wilson-Yapp

    “If you are allergic to something, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth. Particularly if that thing is cats.”
    My favourite quote of all time. Funny and educational.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jaclynkate Jaclyn Wood

    I loved these books too. I remember doing a book report on one his stories in 5th grade and I created a full on puppet show with the Baudelaires.
    A favorite childhood story of mine I rediscovered a few years ago is Mary Poppins. I saw it on broadway and was in absolute awe each time she flew. They incorporated more stories from the books which I didn’t know existed]. It was then my mission to buy and read them all. I adore them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002544817765 Kristin Eley

    One of my favorite series. Wooo! I also loved the Portraits of Little Women series- kind of spin-offs/expansions of Little Women by Louise May Alcott. :)

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