Does Reading Make Us Nostalgic for a Simpler Time?

Angie Haas//Blog Writer


Have you ever picked up a book and, as soon as you started to read it, you felt like a child again?  Suddenly, your imagination and dreams are limitless within the confines of the pages. This is exactly how I felt as soon as I read Heartless by Marissa Meyer, a story about how the Queen of Hearts, from Alice in Wonderland, came to be the Queen of Hearts. When I was a child, Alice in Wonderland was the source of all of my happiness. My mom worked the day shift at Shaw’s, leaving my father to take care of me. However, he worked nights, so while me three-year-old self was bouncing around the living room, all my dad wanted to do was sleep. So he did what any dad would do and popped Alice in Wonderland in the VCR. He woke up when the movie ended and then played the movie all over again. I probably watched the 1951 Disney classic hundreds of times when I was little; but instead of getting sick of it, my love for Alice in Wonderland just grew stronger each time it played on the box screen. Once I was old enough to read well, I immediately picked up Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass from my local library. More than ten years later, I’m sitting in my college dorm and still reading material based off of my favorite childhood movie.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

To be completely honest, I don’t watch Alice in Wonderland much anymore (and when I do, it’s usually the live action version) and I haven’t read the books in years. Yet, when I saw Heartless on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list last year, I immediately knew what I wanted for Christmas. The first time I opened the book, I was sitting in the waiting room for jury duty and suddenly everything was surreal. Here I was, in a courtroom, doing my civil obligation as an adult, but I felt like a child immersed in the book. Though my anxiety about being in the courthouse didn’t fade away, it was pushed aside as I stepped back into Wonderland, the magical place that held my childhood.

I think one of the most appealing things about reading is that it takes us to a whole new dimension. While I may have been physically sitting through jury duty, I was mentally living with the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland. Then I thought about Wicked and how, though it is mostly known as a play now, it is based off of the Wizard of Oz and how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be who she is. As the years go by, I feel like I am seeing fewer original works and more books and movies based on ones already created. Sure, some people will say that artists are just lazy and running out of ideas, but I don’t think this is true at all. I think there is a reason for Heartless, Wicked, and other books of the like. Perhaps we aren’t lazy, but just nostalgic. We live in a world that is moving faster than ever, many of us living paycheck to paycheck, and swamped with adult responsibilities and little time to ourselves. Yet, when we read or watch something that makes us nostalgic for a simpler time, it’s like the world has stopped and we’re sitting on our parent’s couch again without a care in the world. Maybe we like nostalgia because it’s familiar and easy or maybe we like to feel nostalgic because it provides us with a sense of comfort and stability that we may otherwise not have in our adult lives.

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