Never have I experienced a piece of media that simultaneously made me want to recommend it to everyone I know and tell them to run away screaming.
If you love castle intrigue, rich fantasy world-building, well-developed characters (some of which you love, some of which you hate, and some of which you love to hate), and drama beyond telenovela proportions, then welcome to the club! Run down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of George R.R. Martin’s first volume of A Song of Fire and Ice.
However, if you are one of those people that hates suspense, spins into emotional turmoil when your favorite character dies, or can get easily creeped out by the disturbing events you read in books, put down that B&N gift card your aunt got you for Christmas.
The unfortunate part of my story? I’m BOTH of the above people.
Why I Started Reading
- How did I get myself sucked into this grand mal mess, you’re wondering? It all started with the two people that have gotten me into most of the crazy adventures I’ve had in life so far: my two friends who from here on out I’ll refer to as Alex the Bundi and GracieGrace. (Don’t ask about the names.)
- Alex and Grace and I have know each other since 6th grade. We discovered we each had a knack for making ridiculous, rude, and utterly hilarious quips, and from there, it was funny-girl-best-friend love at first sight. After we graduated, we all ended up going to college in Connecticut, so we were able to keep in touch over breaks.
- In second semester freshman year, we started a group text to keep in touch 24/7. (This is no ordinary group text. It’s one of epic proportions – enough that it probably warrants a blog post later on.) Somehow, we got around to talking about this whole Game of Thrones business, and GracieGrace mentioned, to our surprise, that she had actually read the first book! She highly recommended it.
- Me, being the bibliophile I am, was instantly intrigued. As I passed by the Summer Reads table on one of my many Barnes and Noble browsing sessions, I noted with a delight that the books were nice and thick. All those hundreds of pages, sitting there, stacked and numerous and beautiful…challenging me. I had to read them! What kind of reader would I be if I didn’t at least try? Besides, it would be nice to know what everyone was talking about without having to watch HBO’s sexed-up show…no thank you. So after much deliberation as to whether or not I actually had the emotional and temporal resources to invest in this behemoth of a series, I went ahead and bought the first book in the Yale B&N. I called it a treat to myself after an especially hard freshman year to mask the fact that I simply cannot resist buying anything in a Barnes and Noble.
- Falling-in-love and Falling-out
- Let me just take a moment now to give George R. R. Martin his props: the man can write. If I gain nothing else from this series, at least I’ll have learned a thing or two about worldbuilding. In just a few short paragraphs of description, he can paint this vivid picture that completely immerses you in the world of Westeros. In a few carefully crafted lines of dialogue, you can immediately get a feel for the cultural sentiments of the peoples he describes. Now multiply this by the fact that the story takes place in several settings, narrated by several different characters, and you’ve basically got the equivalent of crack for a geeky aspring writer such as myself.
- The book was so good that I began reading it on lunch breaks at my summer internship at the Mark Twain House. On the weekends I would devour chapters at a time. About 2/3 of the way through, I bought the second book so that I would be able to pick it up immediately Every time I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did, until
- ***SPOILER ALERT***
- Scroll down for the rest of the article at your own risk!
- They killed him.
- They killed my sweet Ned.
- My pure, sweet, cinnamon-roll Ned. At the height of his career and the only character that I wholeheartedly liked. AND – this is the worst part – the only truly trustworthy narrator! If there is a writer’s cardinal sin, this is it: you don’t kill off your protagonist. Especially if there’s nothing to gain from it, plotwise.
- If that wasn’t enough, Martin also killed my SECOND favorite character – Khal Drogo. How could he? Things were finally going right for Daenarys, for once in her life. And then – to take that all away? Who cares about the dragons. I wanted Daenarys to have the domestic, peaceful life with her “Chosen One” son that she so thoroughly deserved. I mean, her life had been so horrible up until this point that she at least deserved that.
- I couldn’t believe it. I was personally offended. I wanted to hunt down Martin and slap some sense into him. Later that summer, I leapt for joy when he was unceremoniously eaten by a shark in Sharknado 3. Give him a taste of his own medicine, I thought cruelly, cackling. (Then I threw popcorn at the screen because the rest of the movie was stunningly bad.)
- The deaths left such a bad taste in my mouth that I spurned the second book from August onward. What was the point of reading if there was no Ned?
- Change of Heart, Change of Mind
- After a busy semester at school, my anger against Martin and his manipulative series finally cooled. Also, during my own reading furor I had managed to get Alex the Bundi even more addicted to the series than I was, and after she finished she kept bugging GracieGrace and I to read more.
- In the weeks leading up to Christmas break, I started to look wistfully over at the chunky A Clash of Kings volume gathering dust on my desk, wishing I had more time to devour fiction like I used to in middle and high school. It was then that it hit me: despite calling myself a writer and a bibliophile, I hadn’t been doing much non-school-related reading at all since…well, since I started at Yale. And I certainly hadn’t been reading much fiction. On the rare moments when I did pick up reading material to decompress (instead of turning to mindless games on my phone), I would usually read something like a magazine, or an online devotional like from shereadstruth.com, or a Christian inspirational book by Joyce Meyer or somebody.
- So this semester, I’m rededicating myself to reading fiction – and giving A Game of Thrones a second chance. I hope to finish A Clash of Kings by the end of January, partially because I need to stop playing so much Candy Crush before school gets back in full swing, and partially to get Alex off my back.
- But most importantly, I’m reading because winter is coming…
- Is there something – a hobby, a simple pleasure, a good habit – with which you’ve fallen off the bandwagon? Pinpoint what it was that put a fire in you to start that thing in the first place, and return to it! Let me know about your experience in the comments below or tag me on Twitter and Instagram (@whoislikemicah).