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text 2017-08-04 21:02
Personal Canon - Hero and the Crown
The Hero and the Crown - Robin McKinley

First Read: 6th grade  - Still have that edition.  It is held together by a rubber band.


                Robin McKinley’s book The Hero and the Crown has made me more friends in the real world and on social book websites than I can count.  I owe one of my longest friendships to this book.  It is a book that is currently being held together by a rubber band.


                When I was in 6th grade, they had these things called Scholastic Book Clubs, where every couple of weeks or so, students could order books that would be shipped to the school.  It was though one of these that I got my copy of Hero and the Crown.  The basic plot is a young princess whose mother has a dubious past, and therefore, she is an outsider at the court.  She isn’t the pretty noble whom everyone loves, though her father does love her; eventually, though hard work becomes a dragon killer.


                She is in many ways St Georgina.  She even has a white horse.  His name is Talat.


                It was the first novel I read, the first fantasy novel, where a woman takes on the “man’s” role.  It was totally awesome.  And in particular, it was one of the few adventure stories were a woman was front and center and not a boy/man.  It was just so wonderful because it didn’t have the complicated issues that say Riders of Pern has when you get older (is it or is it not rape).  The only objectionable, if objectionable is the right word, is when she sleeps with someone.  But that happens off page, is not graphic, and was of her own choice and without pressure.


                In some ways, McKinley foreshadows books such as the Hunger Games or Divergent with the emphasis on action more than romance, though McKinley, unlike HG, stays away from a love triangle.  McKinley takes the outcast and doesn’t make her into a practically perfect individual, one that everyone loves though the outcast will constantly deny this.  Aerin is truly an outcast, truly separate.  And that is something that most books today do not use.


Aerin also allowed me to meet my oldest and dearest friend.

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text 2017-07-07 02:20
Personal Canon - Watership Down
Watership Down - Richard Adams

Watership Down

Richard Adams

First Read: 3rd/4th grade


                 I first read Watership Down after seeing the cartoon.  I was dusting my parents’ bookcase, and boom there the book was.  So, I read it and loved it.  Except for that one chapter.


                The basic plot of Watership is a quest by a group of rabbits as they try to find, first, a home and then female rabbits.  The rabbits have a trickster god called El-ahrairah.  The chapter that freaked me out when I first read it was a story about El-ahrairah going to the Black Rabbit (death).  El-ahrairah wanted to save his people so he gambled with the Black Rabbit.  Each time he lost, he lost body parts.  His ears were replaced with cabbage leaves and so on.  It freaked me out.  Really freaked me out.  It was the only time I ever needed a night light.


                It was the cabbage leaves.


                Yet, even this chapter couldn’t kill my love for the book.  I re-read pretty much every year though college.  Until high school, I skipped that scary chapter.  But then I read it again and loved it.


                The great thing about Watership Down is the whole language.  The whole world building.  The characters – Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Dandelion, Blackberry, Pippin, and Keehar (who is not a rabbit).


                I love those characters.  I love this book.

                Rabbits taught me much.


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text 2017-06-03 20:54
Personal Canon 02
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood - Howard Pyle

Title: Adventures of Robin Hood and His Merry Men

Author: Howard Pyle


First Read:  Have no idea, forever


                This was my first literary introduction to Robin Hood, it might even pre date my seeing of the Flynn movie, though I am not sure. 


                The strange thing is that this book also had my first literary crush – David of Doncaster.  I’m not sure why I fastened on to him, but I did.  Maybe because I knew, or thought, Robin was already taken, and Little John never seemed to be a man for me.


                Robin Hood no doubt is a large influence on my love for elves, so this book is partly to blame.  Much is made of his books being for boys, but they are pretty good for young girls too.  The examples are all heroic, but there is no moralizing.  The purpose, if purpose there is, seems to be educate the reader on the basic myth or legend.


                This was also one of the first books that my father gave me.


The aged palmer gives young David of Doncaster news of Will Stutely. From The merry adventures of Robin Hood, written and illustrated by Howard Pyle, New York, 1892. (Source: archive.org):


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text 2017-05-26 21:46
Personal Canon - Hobbit and LOTR
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien,Michael Hague
The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

Author: JRR Tolkien

First Read: 6 or 7 years old.


                I can’t remember when I first read the Hobbit.  I do know when I first read LOTR.  It was when I went with my mom to the eye doctor.  She started reading it to me, and when she couldn’t continue because of the eye drops, I started reading it on my own.  About four years later, I received my own illustrated copy of the Hobbit (with Hague illustrations, so he is my first LOTR artist), and then a few years after that, I brought my own copies of Fellowship, Towers, and King.  When the movies came out, I caved and brought hardcover editions of the trilogy.  Additionally, it is one of the few books where I own multiple versions – not only physical books, but kindle version, audio cassette versions, and Audible files. 


                And that’s not counting the movies.


                But let’s not count those because I will keep bitching about the lack of a thrush.


                I have read the books so many times, that I got a little po’ed when I reviewed the kindle version of LOTR and somebody thought it was the first time I read the books. 


                When I first read the books, I found everything before the Council of Elrond boring and after the first two times I read the story, skipped it for a bit.  I liked the bit at the Ford, but the Council of Elrond was where it was at because it had Elves.  I loved Elves because they had bows like Robin Hood.  Flynn’s Robin Hood was the first movie I saw, the Pyle version of Robin Hood was one of the first books I owned.  Bard was my favorite character in the Hobbit because he had a bow.  You see how it goes.  I also couldn’t figure out why Arwen married Strider because she didn’t do anything but sew.



                While I agree with Pratchett -that if you think LOTR is the greatest book every, you haven’t read it enough, I love this book.  It isn’t perfect, but it holds up well.  And yes, there are parts that don’t quite fit – Tom Bombadil for instance, but their friendship and bonds that run though the novel are the joy of the novel.


                As I got older, I grew to love the Arwen story at the same time I got angry with how it set such a standard of elven maiden giving up immortality to marry a human man, something in reverse that you tend not to see too often.  I realized that there are aspects of the Prof in many characters, perhaps mostly in Eowyn when she complains of being left to burn in the hall when men have more use for it.


                What the Prof did was not only give Britain a saga, a story that Milton wished to do.  He didn’t just simply set the standard for world building or create a template that writers like Terry Brooks would “borrow” (or steal) for years to come.


                It’s humanity.  Really. 

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text 2017-05-26 21:41
Personal Canon - The rule for moi -update

Moonlight Reader started this with her post about her personal canon, so she is too thank or blame or both.  And I wish to thank her again because writing this has made me think of


                I thought a bit about my criteria for my personal canon.  Then I got out a notebook with gnomes on it and designated it my canon book.  I’ve been keeping reading journals since 2000.  Listing the start date of the book, a bit about it when I finished, and so on; therefore, I have plenty of notebooks.  The first page of my Canon Notebook is the “rules”, which are roughly as follows.


  1. Fiction and non-fiction allowed.
  2. Short stories and poems are allowed.
  3. List book, author, and first reading time/period
  4. Series are allowed in some cases, but pull out a particular few books.
  5. Has to be something more than simply liked it.
  6. Give reasons why.
  7. In most cases, the book or work should be read more than once (though there will be expectations).

 Comic series or individual issues are allowed


The reason I allowed short stories and poems because for me such work is just as vital.  In many ways, I am basing the ideas of the Personal Canon along the ideas of the list of books that I had to study for gaining my Master’s in English Literature.  There are some stories and poems that are central.  So, to not include them is stupid.  In short, I am looking for what impact, touched me, or made me think in a new way. 


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