It’s Christmas. Right now it’s the 1:00 AM hour and I just got finished washing dishes. As I grumbled under my breath during that task, I had an idea. Now, I’d have recorded my thoughts in an audio post ASAP if I were more inclined to, but I am not Cole Sprouse.
But anyway. I want to talk about books. Books are fantastic. They’re like an escape from the world around us, while simultaneously giving us insight about that same world through alternate versions thereof. I’ve tried doing that on occasion. Your mileage may vary on whether or not I succeeded, but that is a different story for another time.
But how are the writers related to the books, and the books to the readers? I pondered how I wanted to express my thought on that triple relationship, and then I found a tidbit stuck in my mind that suddenly clicked perfectly.
John Green once put on his website the phrase “books belong to their readers.” I like that idea. I stumbled upon it when I was trying to find the pronunciation of the neologism “bufriedo” from his book Looking For Alaska (great novel, by the way). At first I just thought that it meant I could say bufriedo any dang well way I pleased, but there was more to it than just that.
If you ask me, I think it means books, and the universes they portray, are like little playgrounds, built by the authors. The kids that play on them are the readers, of course. By extension, being a kid in the playground means you can imagine your surroundings however you want. The writers are free to play in their own playgrounds too, and they may imagine it a different way than you do, and you both might imagine it differently than your English teacher.
But none of you are wrong. Everyone can interpret a book in a slightly or wildly different way, and each variation is an OK one.
"But Tre," some might say. "Doesn’t that mean some kids may try to ruin the playground by drawing on the walls with fan fiction and stuff?"
Maybe so. When JK Rowling made Harry Potter, she probably wasn’t expecting My Immortal to be one of its end products.
But not every fanfic is as bad as My Immortal. Heck, there may be worse ones out there. (It’s doubtful, but possible.)
And even then, a little drawing never hurt anyone, right? The original playground’s still there, and you can ignore the drawings as you please.
Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas.