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From Frankenstein To Faeries

I love to read.

Growing up, I admired those who annotated their worn copies with highlighters, pen scribbles, and folded pages. It seemed like they had cracked a code and discovered some hidden secret among the paragraphs.

In 8th or 9th grade I began to understand that there is more happening than what is on the page. Mr. Sloane, former long-time Tower School English teacher, pushed me to see the importance of what isn’t said. The subtle implications, the references, the nods - studying these helped me discover what is really happening. I began to read below the surface and between the lines.

There are books I have taught a thousand times and would happily read a thousand more times: Frankenstein, Macbeth, Gatsby, The Odyssey. Part of what I love is that there is always more to discover - these books are like people. With every reading, there is a revelation, a new question, something to discover. These books can never fully be known. Their language makes my brain happy - it feels good. It is rich and complex and emotional.

This style of fiction has been my go-to until now. Until Sam came on the scene.

Sam is a senior in high school. She is smart, driven, funny, and she loves to read. She is my portal to a world of faeries and kingdoms and shapeshifters.

Thanks to her recommendations, I have gone deep into a few fantasy series. Sam is way ahead of me and graciously swings by so I can tell her where I am in a certain book. She asks if I have any theories or predictions - sometimes I do, but mostly I find myself along for the ride.

Sam’s college essay was about the power of words and her relationship with reading. She discovered reading on her own, not in a classroom, and what it taught her is irreplaceable. The strong female characters helped her recognize and accept parts of herself that were dormant. As she read about women who kick ass, dominate realms, and refuse to be controlled or suppressed, she found power within herself. Yet, this strength also manifests in tenderness, love, and honesty. I never realized how real fantasy books could be.

Yet, the more I think about it, the more my pivot makes sense. The supernatural drives the plot in Macbeth; The Odyssey is replete with mythical creatures, monsters, and the wrath of the gods; Frankenstein is an early gothic sci-fi thriller. Maybe this is all one in the same - the suspension of disbelief is everywhere.

I am grateful to Sam and what she has taught me, and I want to give a shout out to all the readers out there. And to my 9th grade advisee who wears his “I’d rather be reading manga” sweatshirt. Keep finding the meaning, the inspiration, and the joy.

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Feb 15, 2023

Another awesome blog!

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