We in the bookworm community have a deep-seating and abiding love of fairy tales in all their forms, but we have a special bond with that of Beauty and the Beast.
Perhaps it’s the spunky princess or the romance for some of you, but for us, it’s the magic of the 1991 classic Disney movie and that deep-seated jealousy all bookworms feel at the sight of what may be the most glorious library in the history of glorious libraries.
I know you all think it’s your library. You are quite wrong. It is mine.
But I digress…
What we truly need are some strategies to employ whilst surviving the increasingly painful wait for the new live-action version of the classic fairytale starring my girl crush: Miss Emma Watson. She doesn’t know this yet, but we’re going to be best friends.
Obviously, we’ll be reading some favored retellings of the glorious original tale, but how else can we pass the time until Watson’s debut as Belle? We at Books Rock My World have some ideas and I’d like to invite you all to join us in our efforts to pass the time as swiftly as possible. We can do this, guys. We’re going to make it. I hope.
SEVEN SURVIVAL STEPS OF THE BELLE OBSESSED:
STEP 1: Schedule a viewing of the 1991 Disney Beauty and the Beast:
Whether you are a parent of a Disney-movie-aged child who might benefit from a parent-child bonding experience or an adult in your own right who may also enjoy the magic of Disney sing-alongs, setting aside a night to re-immerse yourself in the nostalgia of “Be Our Guest” and the fun of Gaston’s tavern tune is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Now, this night can be as low-key or as thematic as you wish. Personally, I’ll be building a pillow fort, popping plenty of popcorn, loading up on orange juice (hello childhood), and allowing my friends to hear what I fondly refer to as my “voice” as I belt out every single song.
For those of you who might prefer a more official kickoff to the list, here’s a link that might assist you in creating a fully catered and decorated Beauty and the Beast party.
STEP 2: Try the “grey stuff.”
Is this the true recipe? I’m not sure. Ask me if I care—BECAUSE YOU CAN TRY THE GREY STUFF!!!! I’ve always wondered what in the world it could be and now I have my answer. If you’d like to know which recipe, in particular, I’ll be attempting, you can follow this link.
Even better, make the above recipe and try it whilst reading one of the books on this list or during your step one party—you might even have enough servings to get through all of the steps on this list.
STEP 3: Have your coloring book ready.
In between those moments of setting up your pillow fort and creating the grey stuff, you might find yourself of a mind to return to your childhood via the ultimate activity—coloring.
While you might have graduated to colored pencils rather than the beautiful Crayola 64-pack with built-in sharpener, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Jae-Eun Lee’s gorgeous images. Her incredible rendering of the Beauty and the Beast classic can be found on Amazon.
STEP 4: Wear your obsession on your sleeve…er…neck…ear…wherever:
If you’re like me at all, you may have an obsession with a book and fairytale-themed jewelry. Well, now is the time to flaunt that love with some true one-of-a-kind pieces from the mother of all geeky websites: Etsy –I’ve even done the hard part for you. Follow this link for a jewelry specific search.
STEP 5: Literally wear your obsession on your sleeve!
Jewelry might do it for some of us, but for others, we need a more permanent reminder of our deep-seated infatuation with the world of the Beast. For those few, a tattoo may be the only way to go, whether it be a small reminder:
Or a bit more obvious homage:
STEP 6: Ballroom dance classes
While step one may have focused on a more relaxed and introverted activity at home, step six does require us to step outside our comfort zone and try something a little more intense.
Ballroom dance is the perfect date night for those who wish to include their significant other in their return to childhood, but just as fun for singles or those who wish to bring a friend. Most dance studios are set up so that everyone dances with everyone else and no one is left partner-less.
To start, a simple Google search for nearby dance studios will set you on your path to re-enacting the timeless ballroom scene.
STEP 7: Read a retelling of the beloved classic
There are literally dozens of novels, movies, picture books, and graphics that bring to mind this particular tale, but I’ve chosen some of my absolute favorites for your perusal:
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik
“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”
While this particular retelling is deeply rooted in the mythology of Eastern Europe, it also brings to light a surprising amount of archetypal characterization in the pattern of the Beauty and the Beast storyline—a terrifying “beast”-like monster, the threat of being held against one’s will, the deep dark Woods, and magic to reveal the “truth” of who and what one is.
Sounds rather clinical, doesn’t it? For those of us without the scholarly bent that I try hard to hide (with varying degrees of success), it’s enough to know that Agnieszka (whose name I still mispronounce, to my eternal shame) is the awkward, unkempt heroine we all have been waiting for—not the creepy Mary Sue level awkward of the doomed Anastasia Steele a la the Fifty Shades trilogy, but the simple all arms and elbows feeling most of us would have if suddenly thrust into a world of magic and intrigue.
Not only do we see a relatable character, but this novel also brings to life the creepy thrill of attempting to survive the most dangerous of deep, dark Woods.
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
“’So is this what you do with your lives? Spare humans from the Treaty and have fine meals?” I gave a pointed glance toward Tamlin’s baldric, the warrior’s clothes, Lucien’s sword.
Lucien smirked. “We also dance with the spirits under the full moon and snatch human babes from their cradles to replace them with changelings–‘”
If Uprooted is the novel that follows the path of a traditional fairytale, then A Court of Thorns and Roses is the rather more scandalous younger sister. Marketed as YA, but most definitely more in the adult category, ACOTAR (as bookstagram affectionately refers to the novel) gives us the violence, humanity, and yes, a bit more physical romance than we ever received in the original fairytale.
A word of warning—ACOTAR does not represent the healthiest of romances by any means, nor does it escape from certain romantic tropes.
Honestly, though? I still loved it. The sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury, resulted in a book hangover for days that was only broken by the excellence that is A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (which I also highly recommend for those Sherlockians in the audience).
Even better, the paperback of the sequel is due for release in early May as well as the third book in the series, A Court of Wings and Ruin. I may not last that long. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!!! Ahem. Yeah. Try it. You’ll love it, I swear.
- Beauty & Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
Yes, I’m cheating by putting two books together but as they’re both by the same author and I’m the one writing this, I’m going to take some artistic license and keep Beauty and Rose Daughter together. We’re all just going to have to deal with it.
While one can easily be read without the other, I prefer to treat them as bookends to the same subject. Unlike the previous two books on this list, these ones stay quite true to the original framework of the fairytale and are generally appropriate in content for nearly any age.
I’m not entirely certain if that is a recommendation or a condemnation, but regardless, I still find myself fascinated with each for differing reasons.
Whether you follow the previous suggestions or not, I hope you find some small way to survive the remaining time before our next dose of Beauty and the Beast. It’s been a long time coming and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we couldn’t be happier that it is finally March.
Emma Watson, I can’t wait to watch you in Beauty and the Beast—and I mean that in the LEAST stalker-ish and least psychotic way possible…I think.