10.16.2009

Nat With An E



Aren't public libraries just the most mysterious places?

Don't you find that musty public smell intoxicating? Aren't those squeaky plastic book covers sooo romantic? Don't you love to use those grubby computer stalls? Those miniature pencils sure do make my hands feel ginormous!

I love to go to public libraries only sometimes they are depressing to me. Something about those guys in the dirty clothes at the computer stalls.

I went last week to the library in order to reorder to my French tapes. How are my French lessons coming you are asking? Pas terriblement le puits mais vous remercient de demander!

When I go to public libraries I like to sit on a miniature chair or else the experience is incomplete. Public libraries always have miniature chairs. Usually in the kid's section, I suppose most adults have adult-sized bodies but I don't know what more to tell you about that.

Also I find the word "public" to be entirely gross. But can you hardly blame me?

This time the miniature chair on which I perched was with the M authors. I sat there and looked about and that's when I saw it.

The library's copy of Anne of Green Gables is covered in pink tissue paper under its plastic sleeve for reasons I cannot fathom. I had never read A. of G. G. however I had seen bits and pieces of the movie on PBS during pledge drives when I was a kid and knew only this of Miss Anne Shirley, that she embarrassed the ever loving daylights out of me.

I remember feeling scandalized watching the scene where Diana Barry gets drunk. To a girl of seven like me there could be nothing more frightening than accidental intoxication. When Anne recited poetry while her little boat sank I hid behind couch pillows in extreme discomfort, and when she fell off the roof after a dare? Forget it. I had to turn it off.

Then this weird thing happened over the summer where two people of divergent backgrounds and relations informed me that I reminded them of Anne Shirley. Once it was in an email and another time it was while on line for a Cafe Rio pork salad.

Both times it was like this: "You are so Anne Shirley! And trust me, you will get pregnant."
Both times in response I think I went like this: Frownyface.

And so there I was on my miniature chair come face to face with a pink copy of Anne Of Green Gables. I knew better than to tempt a pink fate, so I dutifully checked it out at the front desk. It sat in my bag while I drove to get a Diet Coke at McDonalds (their straws are too fat), and while I browsed through antiques at the antique mall, and while I painted my toes a charming red, and while I cooked up The Holbs a mighty tasty supper, and while I showered off a post-run sweat. But that night in bed I finally faced my fate, opened the pink book, swallowed hard, and started in.

By the time Marilla Is Surprised, I am surprised.
By the time Anne Shirley is allowed to stay, I know it deep in my soul.
By the time Anne is naming the Lake of Shining Waters, everything is explained to me.
I prayed about it and I know it is true.

Luckily Anne Shirley is NOT embarrassing, a delusion I had been suffering under for twenty-something years. She is AMAZING.

So now I have some catching up to do. Do all little girls read Anne Shirley and come face to face with their innermost secret wishes and dreams and desires and fears and embarrassments?

And The Holbs? Gilbert Blythe much?
Good crap.

Why did nobody force me to read this as a child? Did nobody love me? I look at my mother now with deep suspicion. How could this happen? Why does this bowl of popcorn taste so good? How did none of my teachers know that what I desperately needed (besides a swift kick in the rear) was an appointment at the Cuthbert home with my kindred spirit Anne-with-an-E??

Really.

I have already set about rectifying this most tragical and egregious mistake of upbringing. I can barely fathom how I still have any scope for imagination left at all when my talents for exaggeration and fancy were so undernourished in my solemn youthful state. Odds are with good luck I will someday have a little girl of my own. Odds are she's going to come out just like me, sadly enough. Maybe she'll be dark haired, maybe not; maybe she'll be dark eyed, maybe not; heavens to betsy she will be cranky as the day is long, no avoiding that. She'll be determined, passionate, obstinate, full of cockamamy ideas. I will have to buy her this book for her seventh birthday. I will sit her down and I will say "Read this, crazy child. It will all make sense."

I am telling you, it all makes sense.

Now tell me, who is your literary lightning rod and at what age did you discover her?

61 comments :

  1. Moby Dick, Ninth Grade. That book rocked my world (still does). I was sitting on my parent's trampoline when I read the scene where the hawk gets pulled down with the ship and remember being so emotional about the injustice of it all. Would you call me a geek if I told you I've read it nine times? I am a geek, so it's okay to call me one. ;)

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  2. Hi!!! Okay - first off - I dig the fat straws at McDonalds ... maybe b/c I mostly get shakes there ... but also b/c they're so hearty unlike some flimsy ones from other fast food places.

    Anyway.

    I love love LOVE Anne of Green Gables! I still have the entire series sitting out on my grown-up books bookshelves (and not in the playroom) b/c I intend to read them all again. I vote that after you finish the first one you just continue on!

    But as for your question - I'm going to go with Are You There God, It's Me Margaret? in elementary school.

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  3. Now I must run off to the library to check this out!!

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  4. Reading...what's that? Okay, this is embarrassing (but not), however I dont really have a favorite author per say. I loved Shakespearean works such as Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, but only read them because I was required to read them.

    Early on I was fascinated by Encyclopedia Britannica, Webster's Dictionary, National Geographic, Texas Highways, and Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine oftentimes (okay always) purchasing subscriptions to them before the Ensign, New Era, and Friend. Still to this day.

    History and Nature intrigue me more than any novel so far.

    Movies are cool though.

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  5. Bree. Moby Dick? Please! Why not War And Peace? Ninth grade?!?!?

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  6. I have yet to read A. of G.G. Girlfriends keep insisting I should, I would like it, but I just... haven't.

    I have lots of book firsts and favorites, but my "lightening rod" book - as in the book I read as a (sort of) adult and couldn't believe no one had made me read as a child and I will definitely read this to my children - is the Chronicles of Narnia. I read it when I was fifteen, which is still young, but I couldn't believe I hadn't gotten to them sooner.

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  7. Oh dear, this comment is from a lurker on your blog (I check it every other day) - so sorry for never commenting before, but I HAD to comment on your Anne post. L.M. Montgomery books literally defined my life from about age 9 until...well...now. I share the same initials as Montgomery, so as a child I used to think she and I were truly "kindred spirits." And if you like AoGG - wait 'til you read Emily of New Moon, Emily's Climb and Emily's Quest...not to mention Pat of Silver Bush... and Magic for Marigold..and all the short stories LMM wrote...And if you think Gilbert is a hottie - wait 'til you check out Emily's Teddy- hoo boy!

    The books left a hugely profound impression on me of a simpler, lovelier time - in fact they made every day life and my school and my friends seem crass. I shudder to think how wide the chasm is between Anne and Emily and little girls nowadays with their inapprorpriately sexy clothes and Sephora eye makeup and Blackberry texting.

    I recently read that Montgomery actually committed suicide...that made me sad. Maybe she too was disturbed by how wide the differences were between her lovely "dreamworld" of the Island and the real-life Island.

    Thanks for letting me share!

    Sincerely,
    one of your blog stalkers :)

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  8. Anonymous blog stalker - thank you for your comment! I LOVED Emily of New Moon! My grandmother bought the series for me when I was ten. This is why the A. of G. G. mystery is so mysterious!

    I never knew that about Montgomery, that IS very sad. Puts a different twist to Anne's daydreams, somehow makes them more poignant doesn't it?

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  9. I too am reading Anne right now! I have loved all of the movies many times over and finally am reading the whole series now. Please don't stop after the 1st book! Other books that defined me (as a child and as an adult)... The Little House series, Caddy Woodlawn, Janette Oke's "Love" series, and My Friend Flicka and the 2 books that came after it (after I read Flicka as a girl of probably 10ish, I refused to read another book for over a month because I did not think there could be another book as wonderful).

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  10. I found your blog from Kelly Mccalebs...and I just, like 10 minutes ago, finished reading Anne of Windy Poplars. I read Anne of Green Gables as a child when my mom gave me the whole set for Christmas. I've never really been in the mood to read the rest until I picked up Anne of Avonlea recently and I've been hooked since then. I always liked Anne but now I GET IT. Anyways, I had to comment because the timing of your post was so serendipitous.

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  11. Jill - looove Kelly McCaleb. That is really funny timing. I'm just into Anne of Avonlea now and I'm a huge sucker for the Anne/Gilbert story line so I'm going to have to go back for the next.

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  12. Ok this is Anonymous again - aka LMM:

    Ooooh, I'm so glad you know Emily then! Naturally - This begs the question

    Poll: So who's hotter - Gilbert Blythe or Teddy Kent? Dr. Hottie McHotterson or Mr. Smokin' Hot Painter/Artist Boy?

    And promise once you read the Anne books you'll read Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat, and The Blue Castle. Those are important in the Montgomery canon...

    And yes, reading her books knowing that she was so depressed for much of her life really tinges things a little more darkly for me.

    Sincerely,
    Anonymous Blog Stalker LMM

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  13. LMM, I am going to have to say Gilbert, because Gilbert reminds me of The Holbs, and so to say Teddy would be like cheating, literarily.

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  14. NTFR:

    Fair choice, fair choice. Dr. Hottie McHott is quite romantic and smart and funny and he's totally at his most awesome with a side of awesomesauce in "Anne of the Island" Please let us know what you think of that part of the series!

    But Teddy's romantical sexiness and he and Emily's psychic connection! Sigh... :)

    OK now I'm totally that weird girl who is way overly excited about LMM and AGG etc and commenting on someone's blog who I don't even know. But I *feel* like I kind of know you since I read your blog, which I realize is creepy. Sorry - I promise I'm normal. I'm married and stuff too. So it's okay, right?

    Sincerely,
    LMM

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  15. Here is the sad truth of my life:

    I've never read the AGG books, never not once. I have religiously watched the movies over and over again.

    My literary guide light was Judy Bloom. Are you there God, it's me Margaret was like my anthem. So embarrassing. So me.

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  16. How have you never read Anne of Green Gables in our family. It is my all time favorite, forever and ever. The movies are wonderful too. Molly will read them!!!

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  17. Still haven't read War and Peace, though I've been meaning to do it! It's hard to justify reading something like that when you're lugging casebooks around...thank goodness for grad school! If it helps explain anything, my mother was an English/drama/speech teacher, so I read a lot growing up. I remember reading Tennyson (Morte d'Arthur) with her when I was seven or so. Geeks beget geeks, I suppose. haha!

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  18. I believe I compared you in a comment to Anne one time. It was my attempt to let you know I love your imagination and sincerity in which you approach even the mundane things of life, such as crockpot beef burritos at your ward Harvest Fiesta. I am afraid I would have been snarky and sarcastic should I have had to filled up on Mormon Mex at a potluck on date night. That is why I read your blog! You help me to try and find fabulousness in things in my life I normally dread like making dinner. Anne has always been my literary compass and you and she have a definate kindred spirit thing going down. Glad you get it now. Sorry you thought I called you a Pollyanna because first ewww, and second you are a warrior. And the fat straws rule all but you have to control the flow with your tongue or you'll get too much carbonation all at once and then choke.

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  19. Hello Natalie,

    I will let you know good news!

    TODAY, it is a special day because your blog was selected by Blogger as Blog of Note.

    You can see here the details about it.

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Cheers and best regards from Canada.

    Jose Luis Avila Herrera
    My photoblog

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  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. Hey! I saw your blog on the blogs of note list today. I always check on the blogs of note (well for the past month anyways). Yours is by far my favorite so far! Definitely the most relatable to me anyways since I am LDS, a girl and living in Utah (I'm not short though).
    I really, really enjoyed your post! I loved loved Ann of Green Gables; the part where she dyed her hair was always my favorite. I read it sometime in middle school I believe. Besides Ann, my other "lightening rods" as you so aptly put it were Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden (age 12ish) and Sarah Crewe from A Little Princess (9ish). Oh, and how cool was Nancy Drew?

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  22. I was on a PUBLIC library today (yes... it sounds weird... public...) and honestly I just stood there doing nothing, did not touched the books, did not cared about the distrustful face of the lady with greasy hair behind the entrance desk. But the coincidence is that I actually thought about THAT today, about which is my life time author and I guess it´s one women, one Portuguese poet called SOPHIA DE MELLO BREYNER ANDERSEN (we portuguese have veeeery long names). Don´t know if it´s famous outside Portugal. Anyway she was great and she is already dead.

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  23. Little Women was/is mine. I have read it once a year since I was 10. Now I'm thinking I mustmustmust read this Anne of Green Gables. Honestly, I have always judged a book by it's cover, and I remember seeing it around as a kid and just thinking I couldn't possibly read about someone so nerdy looking. It would make me seem like a nerd. And since I knew I was already toeing the edges of Nerd-ville, I didn't want to do anything more to encourage that image. However, now that I'm a mom, I believe wholeheartedly in encouraging nerdiness. So, yeah, totally picking it up and reading it with my favorite 10 yr old this weekend! Thanks for the tip. Love your blog!

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  24. I have to agree that you were probably neglected as a child if you were not exposed to this book. ;)Anne has long lived in my heart, mind, and soul, forming me into the person I am today! oh, how I just love her! Watch the movies when you are done, just like the books, the girl that plays Anne will make you want to be her.

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  25. I think that Anne Shirley is a kindred spirit to every little girl.

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  26. Nice blog, thanks for posing...
    gotta go now... to the library...
    lol

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  27. War and peace? Ninth grade? No way, will any ninth grader will pick up War and Peace and try to read it all the way through. I've embarked on that journey, and because of time, school, sports, and church, I was not able to complete that journey. War and peace? Ninth grade? I love your sarcasm...

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  28. you are great - such funny and interesting blog. i have just started myself. bit boring i know. take care

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  29. Congrats at being blog of note. I agree - you are the best one that's come along for ages.. I loved Anne of Green Gables and spent my whole childhood reading as I do now obsessively late into the night. I'm pleased I found you and now I'm going to follow you!!! Stop by my blog if you have a moment - I've just started recently and am hooked on the whole thing. Hooray.

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  30. I am soooo happy you discovered Anne. She has been one of my best friends as long as I can remember and I try to re-read the series, and watch the movies as often as possible. I still cry in all the right places, including just a few weeks ago while driving with my husband. He turned to me alarmed and wanted to know why I was sobbing in the car. I replied, "Matthew is going to die in a few pages and it will be so sad!" He just shook his head! I hope you read the rest if the series as well.

    Beth
    http://thinkingofthink.blogspot.com/

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  31. I've never read the AGG books but have loved the movies since I was a wee one. (Will definitely be reading them soon after your post.) In fact, my sister and I recently had an AGG movie marathon complete with delicous snacks and out of control toddler tearing up the house due to lack of supervision. A little tip: Do not watch (if you haven't already) the final installment of the series; the one where Ann and Gilbert are all grown up and married and in the war and what not. You'll be a better person for avoiding it.

    As for my favorite book: definitely the Little House on the Prarie books. I got the series as a kid and loved them. But reading them again as an adult is even more amazing. Oh for the simpler and more family focused times of the Wilder days.

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  32. I have always LOVED Anne of Green Gables and everything by L.M. Montgomery. I have read and re-read the series many times. To Kill A Mockingbird was another book that sparked my love of reading when I read it in 5th grade. It captures the essence of childhood in such a vivid way.

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  33. Never read A of GG. Now thinking I should.
    riem a PBS girl, watched with laughter and tears so much I got the movies and watched again them not six months ago.

    If I could... I would marry Gilbert Blythe. God bless the men who love stubborn redheads :-)

    Love the blog and the name-

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  34. Oh, for me it was "The Secret Garden". However, my Aunt got me the whole set of Anne of Green Gables (there are 8) and I read them over and over and over again. I read them 1-8, then 8-1, then started in the middle and read both sides out.

    I LOVE that series. L-O-V-E it.

    I hated the movie.

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  35. I am very happy that I've stumbled across your blog.

    I think it's very important for all children (and children at heart!) to have a literary hero that they can relate to.

    Mine was/is Jane Eyre. Still is my favorite book. I believe I was about 13 when I read it for the first time.

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  36. i feel the same way about libraries. so splendid and special.. and yet somehow depressing. i think for me its the outdatedness and old people aura. horrible, i know. anyway! now i'm persuaded to pick up anne! thanks.

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  37. I absolutely LOVE this post! Libraries are such magical places for me. I've got a bit of a crush on books. A. o G.G. is one of my favorite books of all time & you definitely are Anne Shirley:) You add color to life, Nat the Fat Rat!

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  38. Yippee! I'd never clicked the blogs of note till today and voila! there you are! Talking my kinda talk, libraries, A.o.G.G.... sorry, I'm 5'9 so can't identify with the short thing. My fave aunt is short, does that count? I didn't discover Miss Anne until I was 53. sigh. I never even saw the movies. bigger sigh. I "think" my mom loved me.


    Libraries are sanctuaries. Hallowed little cubbies of escape. I was hooked by 2nd grade. Mom would take me in the summer when they had reading contests, poor mom didn't know it would make her drive back and forth 3 or 4 times a week. Mom was thrilled and relieved when they started sending the BookMobile to our neighborhood. And they had A/C.!! Nobody in the 50's had A/C.
    Then in high school the boyfriend and I would meet there to "study". Not.

    We homeschooled our 3 kids so the library became my resource center and day out destination. Story Hour for the kids was my 1 free hour per week I could count on. So what did I do w/that hour?? Shopped the library!! When they started carrying movies! Holy Dewy decimal! All I needed was a Starbucks in the corner and my nirvana would've been reached! When we moved I wouldn't put the stamp of approval on our new home until I made sure the library was a goodun. Hubby went to interview, I went to library. Now my kids are grown and not ONE of them has a library card!! NOT ONE!! Oh, how I've failed!? I secretly believe they all have overdue fines from homeschool days they didn't pay.

    My lightning rod wasn't discovered until I read Gone With the Wind. I had seen the movie a million times (it's my #1) but Scarlett in ink is me. (Miss O'Hara onscreen is way too pretty to be me). She did and said everything I think and almost-but-not-quite do. She's the scoundrel I could be if my filters weren't so tightly fitted in my head.

    Add me to the going to be reading you list!!

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  39. Yes I watched Anne of Green Gables on TV, (as a grown up, since that's when they were on), and I didn't seem to like the books as much so I gave them up. It's kind of like watching LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE on TV, and then reading the set of paperback Little House On the Prairie Books I bought my 80 something year old Gramma French for Christmas in the 1980's. Now don't get me wrong I read all those books and loved them, but when I read about Laura Ingel Wilder's REAL life in a magazine last year I was sorely disappointed.. It wasn't nearly as romantic and cozy!

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  40. I was always a fan of Anne... and yes, I watched the movie before I read the book. I don't know how far you are in the series, but I was very frustrated how long it took for her to get together with Gilbert. As a reader, you know they're meant for each other, but she is so damn stubborn.

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  41. Ha ha.. what a great find. Not only do I have a blog post ready in reserve about how much I love libraries, I also read the entire Anne series once about every seven years and love them so I feel like maybe we are kindred spirits! Enjoy

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  42. I am new to blogging but did enjoy reading about your foray into Anne of Green Gables. I only have three posts on my new blog. I am attempting to do some metafiction, but very autobiographical. I will check in with your blog again soon.

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  43. The library does have an appeal. For me it is like seeing all those books and other learning materials and thinking I can learn that or listen to Spanish on CD. Fascinating!

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  44. Ann with an E became my best friend when I was nine. I loved her so much that I read every book in the series and at twelve, somehow convinced a friend's family that the absolute best vacation spot in the world was Prince Edward Island and they should take me along for the ride. Two adults and four children drove all the way from Poughkeepsie, NY to P.E.I in an old station wagon. And I got to go to the actual Green Gables. Twenty years later and I still love Anne.

    Loving your blog!

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  45. Big Anne fan over here!

    Wasnt anticipating much by it as had already come across the vile pollyanna and the disgustingly didactic Katie from 'What KAtie Did'.

    This turned out to be a refreshing little tyke however. Still love those books...

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  46. I grew up reading Anne of Green Gables and all the sequels. I probably read the series 4 or 5 times by the time I was 16. It's a set of books that just makes my heart happy. So glad to see you discovered its wonder, too.

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  47. Just to make the book all the more enjoyable for you- the scenery she so eloquently writes about, the school house - everything exists for real on Prince Edward Island. The roads and landscape have changed a bit....but it's all there.

    I love Anne, she fills one with hope.

    Dual Mom

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  48. I love Anne, she's a lot like me.. Though I don't get quite so carried away and are't quit that optimistic..!
    And I like libraries, but i love big bookshops. They are so quitet, and have then kind of carpet that muffles footsteps.. And you can SMELL new books, pages and pages of paper and quite fresh ink..-though nothing beats the smell of a good old musty book! (Except maybe hot gooey brownies..)

    I like the way you write, and I'll come back here!

    Byye

    Naomi

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  49. I was in Anne of Green Gables the play in high school. Sadly, I played Josie, the mean girl. I hev never read any of the story, but I recall loving the play. I think now I will have to head to my library too! Thanks!

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  50. oh my GOSH! I read this to my daughter about a year ago and for the first time I felt a little less like an alien and a little more like an ANNE.

    I can totally relate to you not being loved as a child. Sheesh what were grown ups thinking? ;)

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  51. hello, nat. i've spent the majority of my childhood within the pages of a book. i thought they were better friends than any kid i knew, they didn't want to just play barbie and football. they Talked to me.
    annie of the green gables met me about three months ago, age sixteen. and a half.she made me ignore the party that was happening and curl up in a corner for four hours straight, and come out smiling and laughing and loving.

    the book that's helped define me. sorry, statistically impossible, so books. atlas shrugged. (ayn rand) on the road (j kerouac)every single issue of calvin and hobbes- trust me, its profound- and the colour purple.
    read 'em. if you haven't already, that is. :).

    btw. love how irresponsibly spontaneous and genuine you are. you put us all to shame, living in little cages that we make for ourselves. :D.
    you'll be an incredible mother. there's too many kids out there for you not to end up affecting some of them.
    hugs.

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  52. I enjoy sitting on the miniature chairs also, but in our library we also have small yoga mats(??) and bean bag chairs which definately bring joy to my otherwise sad face! (IM SO LAME)

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  53. Love this post! I'm a librarian and this is such a great post.

    My parents raised me more academic than girly or athletic, so going to libraries was a normal daily outing. Books do change lives.

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  54. I loved Ann-with-an-E, and I still do. I have all the episodes(??parts??). I also loved Jane Eyre, even though I didn't understand all of the stories implications in middle school. I sure do now(weird, and somewhat less romantic than I originally thought). I have had love affairs with quite a few books. Speaking of books, you should write one, really!!! :)

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  55. i have read anne's story too many times to count. and every time i bawl into my pillow uncontrollably. when little, my mom and i took a community trip to PE island and saw where the books take place. it was delightful. i love love love anne. i am glad you know she is true.

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  56. I refound this post so I could tell you about this. So. Go onto youtube right now (I know you probably spend a lot of time on there anyway) and look up the music video for the song "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry (their name). Watch specifically from :08-:10. Anne Shirley pretending to be a girl dying and then her boat starts sinking? Yes? Oh good, I knew it wasn't just me :)

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  57. and if you go to the very end of the video, the girl who was lying in the boat was reading a poem called "The Lady of Shalott"...the very same poem Anne based her little role-playing game on :)

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  58. Once again I love your blog. So glad I found it! I myself love old libraries, and am lucky to have one within walking distance in Jersey. Books and music are #1 in our home. So thankful for our musical kids, and the love we have for books!

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