I stared at my bookshelf the other day. I thought about the books I had read, especially within the last few months, and here are some examples of what I found. Young adult novels about a dystopian future society. Fantasy novels where the good guy wins in the end, but lots of people get hurt or die in the process. Novels where the good guy doesn’t win. Young adult novels where lots of people die. Non-fiction books about today’s depressing reality. How am I supposed to come up with a book that makes me happy when this is what I see?
I had to reach back, which is hard for me since I have some memory problems. I can’t recall every single book I read. And some of those that I can recall, I have trouble remembering the plot. Then, just yesterday, while daydreaming, it hit me. My childhood favorites. I can picture them now, still sitting on my parents’ bookshelf back in Iowa. My Disney Classic Series.
I have always been kind of a loner. With a broken home and a large family, I found myself floating somewhere around the middle. Maybe that was why I took to books. I can still remember having to write down the numbers of the Goosebumps novels I DIDN’T own when I was asked for birthday ideas. But before those, there was Disney.
I had an aunt who loved everything Mickey Mouse. When I was young, I would go to her house on the weekends, and we would watch movies together. I grew up thinking I was Belle (I still do). I wished I had a loyal friend like Rajah. And I still cry when I watch the scene with Mufasa. My aunt often tells the story of us going to see Beauty and the Beast in the theater. When the credits started rolling and the title song began to play, I sang. Supposedly, I got a standing ovation from strangers, but I must have blocked out this memory out of embarrassment. Combining this love with my hunger for books, I received the Disney collection you see to the right (not all, but some). Each book is a “novelization” of the movie with illustrations. I use that term lightly, because it is a shortened retelling of the main plot points (and some of the jokes). It is meant to keep the attention of a young child who barely has the patience for an hour and a half movie. It worked for me. I read them too many times to count. These books were my childhood.
Since moving away from home, I have requested my books many times. But I am denied. First, I was told that my young nieces and nephews read them, so I had to wait. Even at my most recent visit, I was told I couldn’t have them yet, even though none of them are read anymore. My step-mom said I could have them when I have my own children. I think she just likes the way they look on her shelves (sounds like someone I know). But luckily for me, now that I am married, I may soon have my books back.
Just sitting here writing about these books is putting a smile on my face and bringing tears to my eyes. Don’t worry, they are happy tears. These are books that not only make me happy, but make me hopeful. They represent my past and future. And I hope someday soon, I will be able to read them to a new Belle.