I first read The Historian, our September book, a few years after it was released in 2005. As I’ve discussed before, I’m a sucker for historical books, especially if they explore a particular time period or person from a new angle. I am, after all, the woman who decided to do my ultimately feeble senior research project in college from a “what if???” point of view. I thought it would be interesting to write about three different Edwards in the Tudor period. One of them was Edward VI, and the other two were hypothetical Edwards: one was an Edward who lived his life in the poorest class in England. The other was an Edward whose family were merchants and were firmly ensconced in the relatively new and burgeoning middle class.
It was going to be amazing, and I never finished it — which is a whole rant I have about the local university I attended.
Anyway. When I first read The Historian, I loved it. It opened up a whole area of history that I had peripherally been aware of but had no real knowledge in, and it spurred me to do extra research just to see what actual history Elizabeth Kostova had included in the book.
Our actual book discussion on Saturday was relatively short, since only one person had been able to read the entire thing, and a few of us only read a small way into it. I was one of the latter. It was hard-going, for many reasons. Some of my reasons had nothing to do with the book and everything to do with my current levels of anxiety. I’m working on forgiving myself on things like this. Not reading the entirety of the book for book club isn’t going to spell the end of the world. Being enthusiastic about a book and then finding that my feelings for it have changed in the intervening years is actually okay. I’m allowed to grow and change, and my reading tastes and how I internalize what I read is allowed to change. This is true for you, too.
Sometimes, when we read a book as a child, it is the best book in the world, and nothing can change your mind on that. And then suddenly, years have gone by and you reread that book, and it’s no longer the golden pinnacle against which all other books are to be measured. And that’s okay. It’s okay if the you of now looks at the content of a book and realizes that the you of then who loved it as a child no longer exists or had bad taste. That book was still a stepping stone to the reader you are today.
The takeaway is that it’s okay if you don’t finish a book, especially if you aren’t feeling it, or if a character or a theme doesn’t sit well with you. It’s okay to give up on that book and to pick up another. This is not to say that you should shy away from reading difficult or uncomfortable books. You should, but you should do so while being mindful of how you’re feeling and reacting to the book.
I still haven’t read all of Fahrenheit 451. But I will, eventually. When I feel that I can do it.
This month we’re reading The Hidden Icon, by Cincinnati author Jillian Kuhlmann. Now, Jillian has been an online friend of mine for years. We first met in the Harry Potter fandom, where we wrote together. She is one of the kindest, sweetest, most intelligent women I know, and she is raising her daughters to be the same. She LARPs, she cosplays, and she writes, all in addition to her day job. Her day job is cool, too. She’s a communications specialist at the Knowledgeworks Foundation, which is a non-profit that works to give all learners a learning experience that will ensure success in all parts of their lives.
On October 13 she is moderating two panels at CinCityCon 2018 for Super Heroines, Etc., Cincinnati Chapter in Cincinnati, Ohio. If you’re going to the convention, or think that it sounds like a fun thing to do, please go to one of her panels! One is on Cosplay and LARP Costuming on a Budget, and the other will explore a Cosplay Code of Conduct. I’m very sad that I likely won’t be able to make it.
I really hope that you all enjoy The Hidden Icon. With any luck, Jillian will be able to join us remotely on October 20 as we discuss the book, so think about questions you may want to ask her! If nothing else, I’ll have an email conversation with her to ask questions to be read at our discussion.
And finally, because Jillian is one of us in spirit and at heart, she made a quiz on Buzzfeed to find out who your inner Icon is. I got Theba.