Monday, June 27, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'm reading a book called "The Wilder Life" by Wendy McClure, a Chicago author who sets off on a physical and virtual journey to discover what she calls "Laura World," the social phenomenon of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her "Little House on the Prairie" books.

I read the first two books when I was a child, "Little House in the Big Woods" and "Little House on the Prairie." I loved their descriptions of pioneer life and remember them well -- the family's bout with "fever n' ague," the snowbound Wisconsin woods, the way the girls were happy at holidays to receive a shiny penny and a candy cane. McClure travels to many of the Ingalls' and Wilders' former homes, some of which are now museums, and she talks to many people about their own bonds with the "Prairie" phenomenon. (Many of them turn out to be more bonded to the TV show, which differed widely from the books, but oh well.)

Anyway, it's an interesting read. But it got me thinking about books that come in series, like the "Little House" books. I don't know why I never read beyond the first two, because I loved them, but I realize that's true of many books in series. I read the first two "Harry Potter" books and stopped. I read "The Hobbit" but never made it to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. I read the first three "Clan of the Cave Bear" books but went no further. In fact, the only series I can remember reading to completion is James Herriot's "All Creatures" books, about his years as a veterinarian in northern England. (I read several of those sordid V.C. Andrews "Flowers in the Attic" books, but I don't remember whether I finished all of them.)

I'm just not much for sequels in general. I like a book to stand on its own, and no matter how good it is, sometimes I don't want to know what happens next. There's a beauty in the uncertainty, and when I turn to another book I like starting a completely fresh story with new characters and a new locale. Maybe I just have a short attention span!

(Photo: Hell's Kitchen, on Saturday.)


Reya Mellicker said...

You definitely do not have a short attention span.

I read the Hobbit and the whole ring trilogy, yeah, and also every Harry Potter book from beginning to end. For me it's about getting into relationship with the characters - I want to know what happens next. My attention span sucks, so I know it's not about that!

Lorianne said...

I've read about as much of the Little House, Clan of the Cave Bear, and Lord of the Rings series as you have...and I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books! In my case, someone gave me a copy of Little House on the Prairie when I was a child, so I read it countless times and only later got around to reading one or two of the other books. I guess my tastes are eclectic, so when I'm done with one book I want something different rather than reading a whole series of related books.

I think someday it would be fun to go back and "fill in the gaps" a bit...but who knows when that might happen!

37paddington said...

well, you stopped at the weakest of the harry potter books. i think if you had read the third, you might have kept going. i'm a little envious, because you still have that experience ahead of you, should you choose it, of course.

i'm not a series person either, but harry was definitely different in that regard.