Confession and Resolution

9 Jan

I have a confession to make.

Some background context: I graduated from Grant McEwan University in Edmonton, AB, Canada in the spring of 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology. The last two years of my degree were hectic to say the least. I had to cram three years of arts courses into two because I spent the first two years of my undergrad degree in the Faculty of Science because I had wanted to be a geneticist. I then realized that that was the last thing I wanted to be and switched from the Sciences to the Arts.

When I completed my B.A., I continued onto the University of Alberta to complete a Bachelor of Education because I wanted to be able to share my love of English Language Arts with the next generation. When I graduated in the spring of 2011, Alberta Education had made sweeping budget cuts and 300 teachers in the greater Edmonton area had lost their jobs. To date, I am still actively seeking a teaching job and am not currently employed in the education sector. But I digress — this just helps to set the scene — let’s get back to my confession.

Since I graduated with my B.A., switching from student mode to teacher mode proved difficult. When I read (when I even had time to read between lesson planning and marking), I wanted to read for fun. So I essentially learned to turn my brain off when I was reading for pleasure. I turned my inner literary critic off and let the stories ride.

Enter Foz Meadows’ tweet (@FozMeadows) this afternoon regarding her review of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians (Full disclosure: Up until today I would have probably listed this book, and it’s sequel The Magician King, among my favorite books). So I read Foz’s review and was stunned.

Every single thing Foz said about The Magicians seemed as if she had plucked it straight from my brain. Only, they were all the thoughts that I hadn’t let myself ponder too long over, or even really internalize to myself. Yes, I had problems with Quentin, with Eliot and Janet and Josh and Penny and a litany of other characters and situations that arise from The Magicians and The Magician King (I actually had a really big problem with the ending of The Magician King, but that’s another blog post in and of itself). But I chose to overlook them because of one thing that Lev Grossman once said and it struck me and has stuck with me ever since. Fantasy is essentially about longing. You can read about it at length on Lev’s blog post on the matter and I believe he’s spoken of it elsewhere as well (not to say he’s the one to come up with this idea, but he’s at the forefront of my brain when I think of the concept).

What originally made me like Quentin was that he was like me. I am of the Harry Potter generation. I was twelve when Harry received his letter from Hogwarts, I grew up reading about Narnia and Middle Earth, Merlin and Morgana, The Seeker and the Dark. Heck, I was reading Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors before I even had a learner’s permit, let alone understood some of the themes from his work. I understand the longing that underlies the fantasy genre. So I overlooked. And overlooked. I passed the book onto friends and tried not to feel the way you always feel when you love a book and a close friend hates it: affronted, like they’ve personally slighted you because you don’t have the same taste in fiction.

So today when I read Foz’s review (and by extension Ana from The Book Smugglers’ review), it instantly verbalized all those uneasy feelings and misgivings I had about The Magicians and The Magician King. I had realized that I had committed a cardinal sin; not only had I become a lazy reader, but an intellectually lazy reader.

So, dear reader, there’s my confession. And here’s my new resolution for a brand new year: Read with an open mind and a critical eye.


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And then she taught!

A journey through the nooks and crannies of Secondary Education with a lady who sometimes misplaces her maps.


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