I hope that you all enjoyed the first day of my reading challenge! (If you didn’t, that’s cool, too.)
DAY 2: A BOOK I’VE READ MORE THAN 3 TIMES
If I am to be perfectly honest, I have read a numberless amount of books more than three times. I love rereading books–I love reliving those beloved stories and feelings. It feels like talking with an old friend. Having said that, I think the book I have read the most in my life is Howl’s Moving Castle by the impeccable Diana Wynne Jones.
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl’s castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there’s far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.
I LOVE THIS BOOK.
Many of you might be familiar with the anime by Studio Ghibli. While good, the anime is quite different from the novel it’s based on. (I have a list of complaints if you ever want to hear.) But if you haven’t read the novel, you’re doing yourself a great disservice.
I do not know how to articulate what I love so well about Howl’s Moving Castle. I have written an eight-page paper on this novel trying to do that very thing (don’t worry, I’ll spare you), and still I cannot explain the deep affection I feel for this silly, wonderful book. Here are just a few reasons why this novel deserves all the love in the world.
First of all, Diana (I call her Diana because I like to pretend we are best friends) perfectly satirizes the fantasy genre, while still crafting a story that fulfills all one’s fantasy needs. We have Sophie, the mousy eldest daughter so unaware of her own ability that she does not even realize when she enchants things; Howl, the slithery scoundrel of a wizard who’s too busy with his hair to see what a good person he is; and a myriad cast of other characters that are just as zany and magical and unexpected. Basically, Diana takes all the best tropes of fantasy fiction and blends them into a hilarious mess of an adventure.
Despite the rather ridiculous circumstances of the novel, Diana creates characters that are still quite real and relatable. Sophie, for example, is an inspiration to me. At the beginning of the story, Sophie hides within her family’s hat shop, letting her sisters and (not so wicked) stepmother go and experience life outside their little town. Sophie doubts her abilities so much that convinces herself she is better off cursed as an old woman. Though being turned into an old woman is not exactly ideal, the curse ultimately frees Sophie and proves that the most powerful curses are the ones we put on ourselves. Howl, too, (despite all his Byronic, drama-queen-ness) can be so very human and it is just absolutely wonderful.
AND THE HUMOR. This book cracks me up like no other. The comedy, I will say, is rather British and will not be everyone’s cup of tea. (Get it? Tea? Because, you know, the Brits drink a lot of tea … anyway.) As a self-professed Anglophile, though, I grin and cackle constantly throughout the novel. (The banter between Sophie and Howl and Calcifer gives me life.) Diana is so darn clever and always seems to know exactly what to write.
Here are just a few choice quotes from the book:
“I feel ill,” [Howl] announced. “I’m going to bed, where I may die.”
“I assure you, my friends, I am cone sold stober.”
“Hell’s teeth! I’ve got a hangover!”
(All of these come from Howl, whose wit surpasses us all.)
In short, I really, really, really love this book. (I don’t even know how many times I’ve read it.)
Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post.
*A lot of this text comes from my post published on Augest 2, 2014 on my previous blog.*