Monday, February 13, 2012

Re-reading my Childhood

Every now and then we all feel it -- the nostalgia. We crave an earlier time and feelings associated with them. We want to go back on the swings in elementary school, or hang out with our friends from high school and talk about nothing of great substance. Whatever it is, it happens to everyone.

Things from my childhood always find their way back to me, and I can spend hours reminiscing. One fine example is the American Girl series. I think if you were ever a girl, or ever had a daughter, you would know about these books. Historical fiction books centering around girls from different era's of American history. Do we remember Felicity from 1774? Or Molly from 1944? Or the many girls in between? I sure do, (and I had about 80% of the books. I'm still kicking myself that I ever gave them away to Goodwill.)

There's another series under that company though that not as many people may now about. It was short lived, and the books are now out of print. The Girls of Many Lands books. The idea is mostly the same -- young girls in different historical eras. The main difference is (besides these girls are twelve years old, and not nine) they aren't limited to the United States. England, France, Alaska, Ireland, China, and more. This time I owned all of them, and once again, I'm kicking myself. (Especially since they are out of print.)

Well, my nostalgia got the better of me. Most of these books still carry their original price tags, (mostly the original series.) The second series can be found on Amazon for as little as one cent each. Despite the amazing price, I wasn't ready to re-buy all the books I had gotten rid of for a reason. But still something was pulling me in. Something was causing me to keep going back to that webpage and hover the mouse over the "add to cart" button. What was that something?

Research.

Nostalgia and the need for research create amazon purchases, let me just warn you about that. So what was I researching? Which book did I buy, read, and must now add a short review onto my blog about?

Kathleen: The Celtic Knot by Siobhán Parkinson

12-year-old Kathleen Murphy has never had much, having grown up in a poor, Irish family. Then after being late for school one too many times, it is suggested she begin Irish dancing classes, and her natural talent for them makes her feel like she finally has something.

Of course this book is short, considering the age-level, and re-reading it took me about three days, (as in three half-hour lunch breaks.) What I like about this book is that it includes a short history section at the end, as well as a glossary of Irish words. In addition, the book was written by someone who grew up in Ireland, so we know the books is authentic.

Why is this important? As a child, it was amazing to jump into a completely different world. I could read about girls in other countries, and different times, and compare them to what I lived in then. It was amazing, it was inspiring, and it was fun.

As an adult, (if I can even consider myself as such,) it's nostalgia and research. It's still entertaining of course, but I read it for an entirely different reason. I was twelve years old again, not a care in the world, traveling through Dublin with Kathleen and learning to dance with her. Not only that, I was learning about Ireland. I was learning about Irish culture and speech habits. If you haven't guessed by now, my latest WIP will include some Irish characters.

It's always said that to really be a writer, one must read. I don't think there's any problem with giving into nostalgia at the same time.