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!