Saturday, November 22, 2008

Downloading Princesses

Meg Cabot's first Princess Diaries novel is available to download for free. For those who have been wary of the Princess phenomenon, this is a good book to try out. It's not like the Disney films, either. As much as I secretly (or not so secretly now) enjoy the films, the novels have a much better balance that is closer to a Bridget Jones' Diary's form of fairy tale. Mia does not get a makeover to turn into the prettiest girl in school, for instance. She does get a makeover, but it's rather funnier. And her grandmother is far more hilarious in the novels - not a scrap like Julie Andrews (whom I also like, but... the grandmother in the novels is a treat not to be missed with her missing eyebrows and little, stressed-out dog).

Her blog entry about the free novel also includes one of her many drawings from high school. I love her series of romantic and fashion drawings, all executed during Algebra or other subjects in which she was not paying attention. She drew, I wrote. May those tales never see the light of day! They are hopefully long gone in tossed away geography notebooks. I do love school books, though, for their revelations of secrets and gossip and daydreams. And the study of such marganalia is an academic pursuit. Some view it as 'book abuse', of course, and others will repine that it effects the value of the book, but the history of readers revealed in the margins is fascinating and long may the practice continue. It may be one of the downfalls of the non-paper book. Much as we're losing the early drafts and manuscripts of novels, because writers are often simply editting on screen, we may lose the marganalia of readers as they read on screen.

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