My daughter began devouring, and then re-devouring, the Twilight novels back when she was 12. Stephenie Meyer had yet to finish the series and, at that point, the only people who had heard of the books were a million obsessive fans, plus a nation’s worth of grateful bookstore owners. (Entertainment Weekly actually began covering the Twilight phenom so early because my daughter’s enthusiasm suggested there was a big audience out there that the national media was ignoring. By the way, she thinks the movies are lame, so please don’t blame her for EW’s admittedly thorough coverage.) Anyway, my daughter — I’ll refer to her here as Llama, because she thinks llamas are hilarious for some reason — waited for each successive Twilight book in the same ecstatic agony that Bella waited for Edward. Like the Harry Potter books, Meyer’s novels became comfort objects as much as anything else: There was always one in her possession.
Because Meyer loves Wuthering Heights, she made it Bella’s favorite book. My daughter, Llama, tried reading Emily Brontë’s novel when she was 13 or so, but couldn’t get into it. (Judging from Charlotte Brontë’s preface to her sister’s novel, Charlotte Brontë couldn’t even get into it.) For Christmas, I bought Llama one of the cool new editions of Wuthering Heights specifically marketed to the Twilight generation. I went for the cool, sort of Edward Gorey-ish cover, not the one with just the hokey red rose. Long story sped up: She loves it and has already decoded all Stephenie Meyer’s allusions and literary debts to Bronte. Wuthering Heights, in all its weird, gothic glory, has always been my favorite of the “great books,” and seeing Llama insist on carrying a copy around is something I can’t thank Meyer enough for. In reading, as in addiction, there are gateway drugs, and Meyer’s Edward Cullen has introduced my daughter to Heathcliffe.
Any of this ring any bells for you? What are the books you love to see your friends, or kids, fall in love with? Has one novel ever sent you on a mission to devour another?