Monday, March 16, 2015

The Princess Diaries Series - A Little Light Reading

The first year I started working at the bookstore, one of my co-workers, whom I still work with today, introduced me to a term that, while unpleasant, I'm still grateful to have learned: this term is disposable fiction. He used this term to describe books that might not possess any real weight to them - both physically and in terms of their content - but that people still picked up in order to have a quick, enjoyable read. Books you might buy when you go on vacation, the novels you read in-between more substantial works, and the majority (if not all) of the teen section, according to him, constituted as disposable fiction.

To be frank, I hate this term. When I learned it I began thinking this way about a large number of books in the store, the ones I helped customers ring up at the cash register. And this way of thinking is so, so wrong! People should never be ashamed of the books they read. If you're somebody that enjoys reading exclusively Young Adult fiction or biographies on scientists or even Harry Potter fan fiction, that is your prerogative, and there's nothing wrong with that. Reading what you like isn't somehow de-valued because you're not reading Austen or Tolstoy or both parts of Under The Dome by Stephen King. Read what you love, read what makes you happy. That's why I decided to start this blog series chatting about books I love to read. They might not be the types of books I'm studying as part of my English degree, but they're books that I enjoy reading, and for that purpose I'll be sharing them with you. At some point I might start up another reading challenge like the YA Bingo I did in 2014, but for now I'm just going to casually chat about the books I read in my spare time.

The Princess Diaries Series by Meg Cabot!
My obsession with suddenly reading these books released in the early 2000's can be fully blamed on my pen pal Shelby XD She mentioned to me that Meg Cabot was releasing an adult book in the summer that continued her YA Princess Diaries series. While I had never read the books myself (I received the first 2 as a gift one Christmas when I was younger, but I couldn't find them anywhere. Surely they're in the basement somewhere with the other books I read as a kid...), I still found this interesting. To commemorate the release of this new book, Shelby wanted us (me, her, Toni and whoever else wanted to join in) to have a #RoyalWatchAlong in the spring where we would watch both of the feature films based on Meg Cabot's books, which I was all for - I adore the movies, even to this day :)

When Shelby described the series, which she had read when she was much younger, she told me that they were all laugh-out-loud funny, and that Mia was a much bigger nerd in the books than she was in the films. This ultimately intrigued me, and after my violin lesson one Saturday, which happened to be Valentine's Day, I walked to the used bookshop that is located near the music store where I go for my lessons and picked up a used copy of the first book, simply titled The Princess Diaries. Since I had nothing to do that day aside from eating some chocolate and counting down until my February Watch-Along with Shelby and Toni, I sat down and ended up reading the entire thing from cover to cover. These books are very quick reads!
The books start off with Mia as a high school freshman (whereas in the film she's a sophomore) with a myriad of issues: Her mom has a date with her Algebra teacher, Jake Ryan aka the most popular boy in school doesn't know she exists even while he's making out with his girlfriend against her locker, her best friend Lilly is a genius that has a habit of always making her feel inferior, and there's the fact that she's bombing Algebra which isn't improved in any way by her teacher going out with her mother. This is all before her father finds out he is infertile due to the chemo that helped put him in remission from his testicular cancer and breaks the news to his only (and illegitimate) daughter that she is the sole heir to the throne of Genovia, where she'd never been told her father acted as crown prince.

These books are, as you might have guessed by the title, structured as Mia's diaries. Her mother insists of giving her a diary to write in since she has a problem with internalizing her thoughts and emotions. And let me tell you, Mia's reactions to things and her chaotic train of thought that progresses through most of these books reminds me of the weird ways I used to think of things and how I would perceive of the world when I was in elementary school and even in high school. I'd like to think I wasn't quite on the same wavelength as Mia, but even so I began to eventually think of her as a kindred spirit as the books went on.

Shelby was 100% right about these books being LOL-level funny. I was constantly laughing out loud as I flipped through the pages, not just with the first book but with all the other books that followed. And Mia was most certainly a much bigger nerd than was portrayed in the films: She wears combat books and is determined to work for Greenpeace when she graduates high school and is very aware of environmental issues plaguing our planet - plus she has a very intimate knowledge of pop culture at that time. She's a big Star Wars and Buffy fan :D
If I had to pick my favorites out of the ten books (plus 2 of the novellas that I was able to get my hands on), it would be the last two books. While I do adore Mia as a character, it was really great to see big events happening in Mia's life in the last two books (which I won't give away, so don't worry, this is spoiler free), and you're really able to see Mia grow and change as a person in her junior and senior years of high school. Cabot brings about these changes in Mia's character and her progress of maturity in such a realistic manner, and one that I was personally very happy with.

Honestly, these books are so good! I managed to read through all of them in 23 days, which was pretty crazy, but I loved every minute of it. And I can't wait to re-watch the Princess Diaries films with Shelby, Toni, and whoever else wants to join in! Our #RoyalWatchAlong will be happening on the 30th of May for whoever wants to join in. We haven't decided on a time yet but we will when we're closer to May.

Have you guys ever read these books, either when you were younger or recently? Let me know in the comments below. Also, look out for the newest book, The Royal Wedding, which will hit the shelves on June 2nd!

1 comment:

  1. What was your favorite comment by Mia? I'm not going to lie, every single one of her freak-outs is a little bit my favorite, but I still think her telling Mr. G "I'll kick your butt" and her resulting mortification of telling that to a teacher had me laughing the hardest and longest.

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