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Why does nostalgia have such authority over us?
I was recently talking to a friend about nostalgia; about how we will gleefully cram junk food into our gullets or delight over terrible movies and toys that break apart in our oafish hands that are no longer sized for play. All because these things, often shoddy and undeserving of our deep affection, ignite our nostalgia.
It is a potent balm, nostalgia. It brings us back to those times when we were innocent of the vast heartbreak that life often offers; when the sun seemed always to shine, and when we could feel the boundlessness of love, as palpable as a hand on our forehead when we were sick or a hug on the playground.
A lot of things make me nostalgic. Nothing quite so much as books. I still have my favorite books as a child, tucked away in boxes; a few still on display on a bookshelf at my mom’s house; even fewer on display in my own bookshelf. When I sometimes pick up these books to re-read them, I feel their brilliance before I even peel open their much-abused covers. I still love reading, and delight in it, but when I was a child, reading was a portal to another dimension. Reading the books I loved as a child now is more like a time machine; it takes me back to the place where reading was a form of transportation. And that is wonderful.
One common phenomenon of nostalgia that I typically bypass when it comes to books, however, is the shoddy-quality aspect. From the toys to the movies to the foods I loved as a child, most tokens that cause me to feel nostalgic are pretty much junk from a non-emotional standpoint (oh but how could Tamagotchies ever be called junk). The books I loved as a child, with few exceptions, however, tend to still be quite good reads.
This weeks’ feature book was one of my favorites as a child, and one which I still recommend now as (and to) an adult: Shade’s Children by Garth Nix.