Friday Reads #3: The Creation of Anne Boleyn

Cover of The Creation of Anne BoleynIt’s Friday, which means it’s time for another installment of my Friday Reads series; setting you up for a great weekend of reading. This week’s book is The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo.

I’ve been interested in Tudor England since I discovered The Royal Diaries series as a kid. Since then, I’ve certainly read more Tudor literature (fiction and non) than your average person. Expect to see more Tudor books in future Friday Reads installments.

The Creation of Anne Boleyn still taught me quite a bit. Or perhaps I should say that it made me reevaluate existing knowledge and look at it in a new way. My biggest takeaway from the book was that we don’t have an unbiased, contemporary “portrait” of Anne as a person.

You have either the slanderous views of those who were staunchly against “the Great Whore”, the overly flattering views of those who supported Anne during her rise and when her daughter was queen, or attempts — many years after her death — to put together her story from vaguely remembered anecdotes passed down from parent to child. None of them have much hope of giving us a glimpse into the real Anne Boleyn.

Now, logically, this is something I already knew. Of course the people who liked and disliked Anne would give skewed opinions, but I never really gave much thought to how that shaped the lasting image of Anne herself. I also never really considered how more recent history, culture, and expectations have shaped “Anne Boleyn”.

Susan Bordo has thought about all of this, and she presents her findings and her thoughts in an interesting and entertaining way. The Creation of Anne Boleyn made me think, really think, about just how little we truly know about historical figures. And I wonder just how much of what we think we know is just the persona that people have built around famous and infamous people over the years, decades, and centuries.

Have you read The Creation of Anne Boleyn? Did you like it? What about Tudor history in general?

Check out last week’s Friday Reads, Love You Forever, and come back next week for another awesome book.

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Friday Reads #2: Love You Forever

It’s Friday again! Time for Friday Reads.

Cover of Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

Love you Forever by Robert Munsch is one of the first books I remember my mom reading to me as a child. She read it to me so many times, that at one point I had it memorized and would repeat it with her. I can still remember the poem:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.

I think part of the reason that particular piece stuck with me is that my mother often shared a similar sentiment with me, just as her mother had shared it with her. “You could be 50 and you’d still be my baby.” As a child, that was just about the worst thing I could hear (I wasn’t a baby). Now, I’d give so much to hear her call me her baby again. 

You could be 50 and you'd still be my baby

As I grew up, my mom stopped reading to me, as you’d expect, and I basically forgot all about Love You Forever. I don’t even remember, at this point, what brought it back to my attention. I do remember looking it up online and being hit by a wave of nostalgia simply by looking at the cover.

I bought a Kindle edition just so I could read it again. It’s a good thing I didn’t go to a bookstore, because I got hit in the feels HARD. I went through several tissues.

It starts out so sweet, you can’t help but smile. But then it comes around full circle, and it hits home in a way you wouldn’t expect for a children’s book. I’m surprised my mom was able to read it to me so easily. If I had a child and was reading it to him or her, I’d be bawling. Poor thing would probably be traumatized.

I’d highly recommend reading this to your kid(s), though. It’s an amazing book that stands the test of time. Just make sure to read it by yourself, first, to make sure you can make it through without turning on the waterworks.

Illustration from Love You ForeverI’m not ashamed to say I still enjoy it. The poem still pops to mind occasionally. I even still hear it in my mom’s voice. After all, as long as I’m living my Mommy she’ll be.

Have you ever heard of Love You Forever? Did one, or both, of your parents read it to you as a kid? Or have you read it to your kid(s)? Leave a comment below and let me know, and share this with your friends to clue them in to Love You Forever.

Check out last week’s Friday Reads, Little Women, and come back next week for another awesome book.

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Friday Reads #1: Little Women

For the foreseeable future, Fridays here will be the Friday Reads series (to go with the hashtag). What better way to start the weekend than the suggestion of a good book? I’m sure there are hundreds, if not thousands of reviews on the different books I’ll discuss, so I’m not going to review them. Instead I’m going to share what they mean to me. I’m starting the series with the book that I think sealed my fate as a lifelong reader: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

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My mom bought me several versions of Little Women as I grew up. I remember owning five different versions, three of which were quite literally read to death. And I’m looking for a sixth, fancy, version to start my “favorite books” bookshelf. Leave a comment if you’d like to hear more about that.

Great Illustrated Classics, Little WomenAnyway, I remember the first version I received when I was maybe 6. It was part of the Great Illustrated Classics series. Hardcover, illustrated, and abridged with large type. I thought the illustrations were so pretty. They were black line, like a coloring book, and I so wanted to color them all in, but I couldn’t bring myself to “deface” a book like that, even then.

Some time later, when my first version was looking a bit worse for wear from reading it so much, I received an unabridged paperback version. I can remember the bright yellow back cover, even now, although the front cover details are lost to me. It was illustrated as well, in a more elegant style. I specifically remember there being a fabulous stylized illustration of Meg in her borrowed ball gown with Laurie staring on disapprovingly. It was captioned with: “Don’t you like me so?” asked Meg. “No, I don’t,” came the blunt reply. 

This second version was roughly the same physical size as my first version, although perhaps a bit thicker. It might have even been a little smaller along the height and width. I didn’t understand why. Shouldn’t it be much bigger if it was unabridged? Then I opened it. The text was tiny! It didn’t matter, though. I think I finished reading it in a couple days. And I didn’t stop. Over the next few years, I read it so many times it fell apart.

It was while I owned this second version that my mom took me to see the play version. It’s the first play I remember seeing. Generally when we went to the theater it was for some type of dance (ballet, river dance, etc) or some other type of performance altogether, like STOMP! It was simple, the only set changes were during intermission, and our seats weren’t the best in the world, but I remember being rather young, and, seeing as I don’t have many other memories of that time period, it clearly meant a lot.

I bought myself my third version of the book. An inexpensive paperback, as I fully expected to read it to death as well. But before I could, eBooks became a thing. So I bought myself an eBook version. And I’ve read it a few times as well. Thankfully, the digital version won’t fall apart.

In the final days of my mom’s battle against cancer, she was somewhat coherent, but couldn’t really hold a conversation. I assume it must have been horrible for her to be stuck with no form of entertainment. Out of a loss of what to do, I decided to read to her, as she had done for me so often as a child. I chose Little Women.

It wasn’t her favorite book. I honestly don’t know what her favorite book was. But it was comforting, and I hoped it would remind her of good times we’d shared. Of all the times we’d watched the different movie versions together. It may not have been the best decision, though, as I find the book rather difficult to read now. I haven’t read it since she died in 2013. It’s probably the longest I’ve ever gone without reading it.

But hopefully soon I’ll find the strength to read it again and remember all the wonderful memories associated with it. Regardless, it’s a very important book to me. So much so that I even reference it in my own upcoming book The Most Special Chosen.

Click to check out the Little Women Graphic Novel ProjectI also recently discovered a Little Women graphic novel project that has some amazing artwork. I hope the artist continues it, as currently, only the first 7 chapters have been done. Go take a look and see what you think of it.

Have you ever read Little Women? Have you watched any of the movie versions? Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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