Saturday, May 14, 2016

ArmchairBEA 2016, Day 4: Surviving Fictional Worlds

Today we'll talk about surviving fictional worlds. We all know that sometimes, the worlds we love in fiction can be dangerous. Which fictional worlds would you want to live in? Which worlds do you never want to dive into? Which worlds are you content to stay behind the glass, so to speak, rather than wishing to dive through the page? And once you get there, what would you do?

The first book I ever remember really wanting to live in was Little House on the Prairie. To this day I'm not entirely sure why, except that there is a part of me that really likes small spaces. I loved my tiny little "officetel" quarters in South Korea, and when I was in college I put my bedframe on risers and put the mattress under the bed. That way I had a cozy little nook to sleep in, and I got the bonus of a huge workspace I could spread out books and papers on. The actual desk just became like a bedside table and a random depository of stuff that accumulates: bath stuff, unrelated reading, and so on.

I'm the only person I know not freaked out by capsule hotels. // Image courtesy Peter Woodman

So the idea of living my whole life in a covered wagon was appealing to 5-year-old me. In a different life, I would probably be one of those retirees who just spends the rest of their day in a Winnebago. Who knows, maybe that will still be me?

I was also obsessed with boarding schools and Raj India, thanks to A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. (Yes, most of The Secret Garden takes place in England, but the first chapter about Mary's life in India was always filled with mystery for me.)

William Gibson's worlds are always fascinating, but more and more it seems like we're living in them right now, so....wish granted?

Finally, while we're on the topic of living in fictional worlds, I'd like to take a trip down memory lane and bring your attention to a semi-obscure picture book from 1977, The Paper Party. It's about a boy named Jory who, after wanting so badly to live in the world of his favorite TV program, actually gets sucked into show, in a world where everyone and everything is made of paper. It's a really adorable book, but it gets overshadowed by Don Freeman's much more famous work: Corduroy!

And as for worlds I'd rather avoid, it's basically every fantasy novel ever. Not because I hate fantasy, but because in fantasy novels it's almost always the end of the world, or in the middle of a war, or under the oppressive regime of some kind of fascist tyrant, or sometimes a combination of the three! Fun to read about, terrifying to live in. I'll pass, thanks.


  1. I almost put Little House of the Prairie on my list but went with a different childhood favorite - Anne of Green Gables. Girl Who Reads

    1. Ohh, Anne of Green Gables! I loved her!

  2. I've kinda got the opposite from you - I dislike "reality" so anything based in our reality (even a romanticized one) is not one I want to visit. Magic, dragons, talking animals and prophecies come true--sign me up!

    1. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to live in a fantasy world with dragons and magic and so on. But not when it's in the middle of a war or Ragnarok or what have you!