Reading the Shelves – Check-In

Since reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about plays. I used to read (and write) a lot of plays back in high school and college. At some point, my reading shifted to teleplays and screenplays (a Broadcasting & Film degree will do that), but I never lost my love for the stage. I kept all of the plays from my college courses and picked up a number of others on my own. Last year, I KonMari’d a few of my books, including the plays, after I decided I no longer wanted to have something on the shelf just because it seemed “important” if I had no interest in reading it. Now my plays fit onto two shelves, and these are ones I want to read. (Or reread—I think that I didn’t fully understand some of them when I was younger, and others I’ll likely see in a new light with my added years of living.) So, I’m going to focus on working through my dramatic play shelves (teleplays and screenplays are housed separately).

Top row is all Shakespeare. Most of these are courtesy of two Shakespeare courses I took in college. (On the right is a jar with a lily pad lid that I made in middle school art class that I still use to hold change.) Bottom row holds the rest of my plays.

Currently Reading

Plays

  • Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht (English version by Eric Bentley). I don’t remember if I read this in college, which leads me to think that I didn’t. It seems like the type of play one would remember reading, at least based on all of the accolades on the book’s cover. That said, I tend to only remember things that had a strong impact on me, so it’s possible it was too complex/confusing/difficult for me at the time and thus it wasn’t memorable. But it smells like an old library book (the good smell, not the moldy one), so I’m ready to curl up with it all night.
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare. Since the other play is a dark comedy, I thought I’d pair it with something lighter. This one just smells dusty.

Recently Completed

Fiction (Middle Grades)

  • Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. I finally finished it! I started to warm to the book as I got further in. I particularly liked the chapter “John and Barbara’s Story” about how the young twins, like all babies, could communicate directly with animals and nature. They saw the world so differently than Michael, Jane, and all of the grown-ups (with the exclusion of Mary Poppins, of course), but this understanding of the world is sadly lost to them as they gain the ability to communicate with other humans.

Still, although I disliked the book less as I got further in, and I recognize that some of my disappointment is from my love of the Disney film, there’s still something unsatisfying about the book. The film knew that the events needed a purpose. Why did Mary Poppins come? What was the point of the crazy adventures that they had? What character growth is there? The books seems to have none of these, unless they are subtle and I missed them. Jane and Michael come to adore Mary Poppins, despite her brusqueness, but they are back to being stuck with inattentive parents at the end. Their lives are briefly improved (and I’m not sure about that, but it could be argued that they are happier, and cause less trouble, because of Mary Poppins’s care), but it seems like everything is going back to the status quo. Perhaps it is because the book is meant to be a series, but I’m left unsatisfied as to why this adventure happened at all. Has anyone else read Mary Poppins? What did you think of it?

Number of picture books read toward 2019 goal of 500: 62.

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