Thursday, November 3, 2011


All this week I'm going to be discussing the books I'm most grateful for. Doing a post like this one is all you have to do to qualify for the 19-YA-Book Giveaway I launched yesterday. Just tell people about a book you're thankful for, include a link to the contest and the graphic right there to the right, and you're qualified.

King Lear by Shakespeare

I'll be honest, my first two books I featured were softballs. Who doesn't love Narnia and Harry Potter (don't tell me if you don't love them, I live in a world where everyone loves them).

I also mentioned my love of YA and how reading so much adult lit drove me even further into YA. So let me switch it up today: today I'm talking about my favorite play, King Lear.

My first experience with this play was actually as a child--one of my favorite books growing up was Grandfather Tales a collection of folk Appalachian stories collected by Robert Hillerich. I read and absorbed every single one of those stories, and eventually, as I grew up, I started making connections between the stories and their sources. "Whitebear Whittington" had roots in the classic "Beauty and the Beast" stories, for example, and I realized that many of the stories can be traced back to classic fairy tales. The settlers in Appalachia took the stories of their European ancestors and made them their own.

One story, though, was always a mystery to me: "Like Salt Loves Meat." In it, a girl tells her father she loves him "like salt loves meat," a similarity that he doesn't appreciate, and he sends her away. It's not until a clever cook (his daughter in disguise) makes him a meal without salt that he realizes the depth of her love.

When I was in high school, I was assigned to read King Lear. Within the first scene, I realized I had found the source of my favorite folk tale, and by the end I was as in love with the original as with the bedtime story.

One of my favorite things about King Lear is that it touches on all forms of love--and it most definitely IS a love story, even if the main love story is between a father and a daughter. It's about familial love between parents and children, brothers and sisters. It's about the love between friends and strangers. It's about love turned sour by greed and kept pure by sincerity.

There are little moments in the play that I relish. When Goneril smashes out Gloucester's eyes and describes them as jelly, I can't help but laugh. Kent's loyalty and Lear's madness are some of my favorite scenes, as is Gloucester's "aided suicide." But one of my favorite aspects of the play is the fact that it's possible for the same actor to play both Cordelia and the Fool--which adds a whole new layer of meaning to the Fool's words.

Shakespeare's probably most well known for Romeo and Juliet...and that's my least favorite of his plays. I don't think that Romeo and Juliet had love at all. At best they had a manic sort of obsessive attraction, but love? No.

If you want love, look at how Cordelia loves Lear.

She loves him like salt loves meat.

Find out what the other Bookanistas are reading here:

Elana Johnson is crazy about Crossed and Shatter Me
LiLa Roecker swoons for Sirenz
Christine Fonseca  interviews Kids Inventing! author Susan Casey
Shelli Johannes-Wells dishes on Become (Desolation Book #1)
Beth Revis celebrates books for which she’s grateful – with gigantic signed book giveaway
Jessi Kirby applauds Virtuosity
Megan Miranda marvels at How to Save a Life
Rosemary Clement Moore is wild for The Iron Witch
Veronica Rossi  is amazed by Shatter Me
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