I apologize for neglecting my blog a bit lately; I’ve been on a roll creatively and am trying to get one of the WIPs’ first draft done within the next few weeks, if possible. But I thought I’d stop by and talk about a few more books I loved in high school.
This was another required reading, I think for my AP English course. I remember that we strangely got to take TWO WEEKS out of regular class to watch the miniseries during school, too. (And that actually our history teacher of all people was vying to be allowed to show it in her class instead, but the English teacher won out since we could actually read and discuss the book…) It wasn’t this welcome break that made me love it, though, although I loved the Jeremy Irons adaptation for the most part; it was one of my first forays into period fiction (I didn’t grow to love Austen and the Brontes until college and post-college… Granted, those are much earlier periods, but still…), and I loved the characters, and the journey the protagonist goes on, although I remember not really being too happy with the ending for personal reasons. But not all books end the way you want them to.
The story follows Oxford student Charles Ryder first through his close (close, like really close!) relationship with a spoiled, haughty, carefree rich kid, Sebastian Flyte. Sebastian is a jerk, but his laissez-faire attitude is of course masking deeper problems, and Charles begins to see another side of his friend-maybe-lover. The two part, Sebastian off to drink himself into ruin, and Charles entering into an unhappy marriage. The latter half of the book features a middle aged Charles returning to Sebastian’s family home (which is named Brideshead, thus “revisited”…) and becoming closer friends with Sebastian’s sister Julia, who’s also in an unhappy marriage. The two become lovers on the cusp of World War II and hope to one day wed…
That’s just the bare bones of the plot. There’s also an important theme about faith that resonated with me and led to the aforementioned ending I wasn’t sure was what I expected or wanted for the character, but that’s just me. It’s still a great read.
Not every book I read and loved in high school could pass for required school reading, of course. When I was 11 or 12, my sister showed me the ’90s Fox X-Men cartoon and I joined in her in her obsession for that soap-opera-with-superpowers that is the X-Men franchise, which opened the gate to my overall love for superhero comics, movies and cartoons that’s still with me today. (An aside: The ’90s animated Batman is THE best version of The Dark Knight, I swear!) Part of the way I got my superhero fix between waiting for the latest issues and episodes was reading a bunch of Marvel superhero books coming out at the time. I loved a number of them, but the X-Men: Mutant Empire trilogy was my favorite, hands-down, and I’ve re-read them a few times since I first read them as a teen.
These books follow the X-Men at what was the height of the series to me, the Blue and Gold Teams in the ’90s. Cyclops’ Blue Team was off in space helping his father space-pirate Corsair deal with some intergalactic problems (meh, my least favorite part of the trilogy, but Cyclops has always bugged me…) and Storm’s Gold Team was dealing with Magneto’s takeover of Manhattan to serve as a home for mutants. Magneto managed to reconfigure Sentinel robots to attack humans instead of mutants, so only mutants could get in on the ground and take him out. This was a much more tangible kind of crisis against Magneto versus what I’d seen in the comics or cartoon, with the made-up island of Genosha or Asteroid M acting as Magneto’s havens.
By the way, I was reading these books when an English teacher asked what I was reading in my free time, to “prove” I was an avid reader… Which didn’t score me too many brownie points! She didn’t know what I was talking about, so I had to explain that I read a lot of franchise books like Star Wars books (at the time–haven’t touched those in over a decade)… At least she’d heard of that! Ah, well, read what you love, I say!