Serena J. Cavanaugh :: Blog

January 3, 2009

Yes, I am Unadventurous

Filed under: Uncategorized — serena @ 11:01 pm

The summer I read Gone with the Wind five times, my mother fumed, “Are you so unadventurous that you can’t pick up another book?” The implication was humiliating. At fourteen, I was a bookworm who had no admirers and only one girlfriend. Naturally, I was obsessed with the beau-magnet, Scarlett O’Hara. Never mind that she detested people like me.


Despite what more active, purposeful people like my mother (and Miss O’Hara) might think, the art of rereading indeed has a purpose. Like any form of study, rereading makes us internalize something valuable. Hence, I reread Wuthering Heights when I noticed that my first marriage wasn’t exactly the meeting of souls. There I relived the havoc resulting from bad decisions. The story comforted me if only because my mistake didn’t have such demonic outcomes. Similarly, The Return of the Soldier was a powerful cue to ascertain which of my childhood ideals were not worth losing – like the belief in love and happiness.


The Time of the Hero and White Oleander are what I call “writer rereads” because I think rereading them improves my writing through sheer inspiration.


There are also pragmatic rereads. The first three books of a fantasy series by George R.R. Martin, The Song of Ice and Fire. Yes, yes, the consuming story has the kind of characters that are so alive they show up in your dreams, but I reread it only to remind myself to never start a series that hasn’t been finished. I may never know what happens next, darn him!


There are also the great escapes – The Tale of Two Cities, Through a Glass Darkly, The Eight, and many, many more – engrossing stories that take you to another world, another experience – entertainment and adventure for those who may lack the spirit of the characters we love to read about.


Although Mom may have pinpointed my flaw, her connection was all wrong. Rereading Gone with Wind was a result not of my lack of adventure per se, but of my desire for adventure – a manual on how to attract men, get your way all the time, and get asked to dance already. Who could resist that? Recognizing that I needed some social guidance was the first step. Asking someone who essentially lived the solution — fictional character though she was — was the next step. That fall of my fourteenth year, I was asked to dance quite often. Perhaps it was Scarlett’s tricks. Perhaps it was just my newly plucked eye brows. Either way, it resulted in many adventures over many years.


What I’m Reading Now:

Silence in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris

A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot


  1. I have to say I think your short stories sound interesting. I wish the segments were longer. But it made me want more.
    I also can understand why you write about the lie that little girls around the world are told about love. Maybe that is why so many of us are depressed or choose the wrong mate…. Keep going girl. Let us know when you go to print again.

    Comment by samantha dollar — January 5, 2009 @ 10:45 pm

  2. Loved every bit of your website, Serena. Loved reading your home page….the vitality of your writing comes through in every sentence. Very natural…very impressive and makes the reader want to read more.

    Perfect…! That interest is exactly what you want to capture.

    All the best and keep up the GREAT work…!

    Comment by Linda (the purple one) Hill — January 14, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  3. I’m all for rereading - it’s like touching base with an old friend. (I have comfort reads the way some people have comfort food, actually.) Rereading can also show you how you’ve grown or changed…
    My favourite writer’s reread is the opening chapter in The Book of Flying. The use of language is extraordinary.
    Congrats on getting your website up and going!

    Comment by Rachel — January 14, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  4. Absolutely amazing work. I can’t believe the absolute magnificent crafting that must have gone into creating such a remarkable piece of literature!

    Comment by Ben — January 15, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

  5. I never thought of rereading in those terms before, but as comfort food for the mind. I think we’re both right, because what could be more comforting that to learn something…especially about/for oneself!

    Comment by Jenny — January 16, 2009 @ 9:58 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

© 2009 by Serena Cavanaugh - All Rights Reserved - Powered by WordPress