The Force of Nostalgia

Sarah M. Chenby Sarah M. Chen

New Year’s is always the time when we look back on the previous year and reflect, but I’m going to do things a little differently here. I’m going all the way back to my childhood. Why? Because I went to see the new Star Wars.

It wasn’t something I had to go see right away nor was I even sure I would see it in the theater. I was willing to wait until it came out on DVD. But then some friends were going to see it and I figured, why not? Plus they were seeing it at a theater I used to go to a lot while I was a UCLA student. I figured it’d be fun to check out the theater, hang out in my old stomping grounds, and see a film that reminded me of my childhood.

Now when I was a kid, I loved all the Star Wars films. I didn’t buy the action figures or anything. But I was in love with Luke Skywalker and wanted to be Princess Leia. I saw all three films and loved every single one of them.

Then I saw Phantom Menace several years ago and wasn’t blown away. The critics weren’t either and many Star Wars fans weren’t happy. I didn’t even bother seeing the second and third ones. I wasn’t sure if I lost interest in the films because I was no longer a kid or was it because of the mediocre acting and boring storyline?

So when I went to see The Force Awakens, I was somewhat cautiously optimistic. Unfortunately, I had both a good and bad experience. The bad was that we were seeing it in 3D. I have never seen a film in 3D. But when I saw we were two rows from the front, I grew concerned. I can’t stand watching movies this close when it’s 2D so I wasn’t sure how I was going to do with 3D.

3d glassesI didn’t do very well. I was so distracted by the 3D that I kept taking the glasses off. I eventually had to leave the theater for a bit to give my eyes and my head a break. I didn’t really see the benefits of 3D either. Nothing seemed to be shooting out at me and I didn’t feel immersed in the world. It was more like things were out of focus in some parts of the screen and too close in others.

But I enjoyed the storyline, and aside from the headache, I felt transported back to my youth. I decided I just need to see it again with no interruptions, sit several rows back, and without the wonky 3D images.

Then the other day I had another trip down memory lane and this time, there were no headaches. There’s this fantastic children’s bookstore in Tustin, CA called Once Upon a Storybook. I love buying books for friends’ kids as well as for all my cousins back in Canada so I’m there quite a bit.Once Upon a Storybook

During this recent store visit, I came across a shelf I’d never seen before. It was labeled “Children’s Classics.” As I poked around, memories of reading these books came flooding back and I couldn’t help grinning. There were all the Narnia books, the Velveteen Rabbit, and a lovely copy of LITTLE WOMEN.

Then I came upon my absolute favorite books as a kid. Ones I read over and over so much that the spine of the book turned white from so many creases. They were A LITTLE PRINCESS and THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I knew I must buy these for my cousin Eva even though she was a little too young to enjoy them but I would save them for her.

Frances Hodgson Burnett booksThen I spotted the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE series. I had all the LITTLE HOUSE books as a kid and used to pretend I was Laura Ingalls Wilder running through the tall wild grass. I would beg my mom to buy me the cool lace-up boots and sew me a gingham skirt and bonnet. She thought I was nuts.Little House on the Prairie

Now all three books are sitting on my bookshelf and I stare at them proudly and wonder if I’m going to be able to part with them in a couple years when Eva is old enough to appreciate them. I have a feeling I’m going to buy duplicates.

So is it our cherished memories that make us nostalgic for those movies and books we loved in our youth? Or is it the timeless storyline and characters that draw us in again and again? I wondered if I re-read A LITTLE PRINCESS and THE SECRET GARDEN now, would I enjoy them as much? I think so, but just to be sure, I’m going to re-read them as soon as I’m done writing this post.


Sarah M. Chen juggles several jobs including indie bookseller, transcriber, and insurance adjuster. Her crime fiction short stories have been accepted for publication online and in various anthologies, including All Due Respect, Akashic, Plan B, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, Betty Fedora, Issue Two, Spelk, and the Sisters in Crime/LA anthology, Ladies Night. Her noir novella, Cleaning Up Finn, is coming out May 2016 with All Due Respect Books.

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26 thoughts on “The Force of Nostalgia

  1. You just might be one of the folks who can’t watch 3D movies, they end up with headaches. I saw The Martian in 3D and the imagery was very immersive. Too bad you haven’t seen the SF movie in 3D; if that had turned out to be a bad experience for you, then you’d know nothing in 3D would work for you. Sure can tell your a ‘world’ person. You became much more excited when you described your time in the bookstore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve loved the 3-D movies I have seen, but never from the front rows. I love your story of the bookstore. I love them too, the smell, the feel, the ambiance. I read all the books you mentioned plus many more that have formed my reading and writing life, but I never got into Star Wars. I took my kids for the first one because they begged me to. I wasn’t impressed, but maybe I should have been less biased. My daughter got into the Little House books and loved them as much as I. There’s a Laura Ingalls Wilder day in Green Bay, WI every year at Heritage Park and it’s very well attended. As for going back to re-read much-loved books from your childhood, I say go for it! Recently I had that very same thought. One series of books I loved was “Little Britches”. I got each and every book and enjoyed them just as much if not more than when I first read them as a kid. I’ve got several more on my list to read in 2016.


    1. Oh I would love to attend Laura Ingalls Wilder Day! How fun that would be, to finally be able to wear lace-up boots, gingham skirts, and a bonnet. I see Green Bay, WI in my future. I agree – I think even as an adult, I bet I’ll love these books just as much, if not more. Thanks for commenting, Linda!


  3. I get nostalgic easily. Del and I went to Sonic yesterday, and it bought back many memories or another drive-ub restaurant years before. Music nakes me fill with nostalgia. Lots of stuff. I’m thinking you should keep those books and get your niece another set. Thanks for the memories. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s funny should mention Little House on the Prairie. I recently acquired Laura Ingals Wilder’s autobiography, Pioneer Girl, and am looking forward to reading it. When I do, I’ll review it on my blog. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I would love to read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography. I rarely read nonfiction although I’ve been buying quite a few memoirs lately because of my own interest in helping my mother with hers (basically writing it for her). I’ll keep an eye out for it on your blog, Abbie. Thanks for the heads-up. 🙂


  5. You have my sympathy. 3D is not for me, and I agree, it really doesn’t do that much.
    As for the childhood memories and books, I’m with you 100%. I’ve re-read some of the books that I loved as a child, and they still resonate with me.

    Happy reading and fun 2016. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved the Little House books as a child too, though I identified with Mr. Edwards more than Laura. 🙂 I think it’s both the timeless storylines and the draw to a simpler, kinder time for those of us who had a predominantly positive childhood. I know that’s what it is for me. My childhood favorites remind of the time before life got complicated.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, I think it’s both like you say. The wonderful stories but also, the feeling when I read something or see something from my childhood that takes me back. I remember how excited I was when I read this book or saw that movie for the first time. The simplest things made me so happy back then! Thanks for commenting, Joe.


  8. Teresa can’t watch 3d movies either. She gets headaches too. I don’t think you needed 3d for TFA. It is so much better than the prequels, but I’m don’t know if it is a classic. Finding nostalgia books is fun. The tomes that made the difference. I hope they read as well today as they did back then.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I certainly relate to your post Sarah! I loved Star Wars and Little House. I haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet but plan to – in 2D. One day I’d love to visit that children’s bookstore — maybe they’d carry my kids’ books too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Gayle, if you are ever in the Orange County area in Southern California, it is the best children’s bookstore. I absolutely adore it and I adore Susie, the owner. She’s so knowledgeable about childrens’ books that I’m always amazed with what she suggests to me. She carries a lot of books I’ve never seen elsewhere and is very loyal to local authors. I can chat with her all day long about books when I’m there. Visiting her store exemplifies why we need indie bookstores and enthusiastic booksellers. It makes the entire book-buying experience so much better!


  10. It can be a problem if you don’t ‘get ‘ a book on a second read but it really is a great feeling when the initial joy and excitement is still there – though seen as an adult viewer.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your post sparked a few memories for me. Sorry Star wars isn’t included in my memories. I really don’t think I have ever watched any of them all the way through. Although my nephew recently explained the chronological order to me. So someday I may sit down and watch them in the order that makes sense to me, but it isn’t on my top 10 list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know if I would be eager to watch the Star Wars movies now if I didn’t grow up loving them. It’s not really the type of film I watch now. It has great special effects but the storyline and characters worked best when it brought me back to my days watching the films as a kid. I ended up seeing it again in 2D and it was 100% better. Thanks for commenting, S.J.!


  12. I loved the original Star Wars movies too. I was in love with Han Solo. I saw The Force Awakens on Boxing Day and while I wasn’t blown away, I did like it. I thought it was a little too “old school” though and I hope the next one improves on that. I hate 3D movies. I try to see the 2D version if there’s one available. I wish they would stop making movies in 3D.

    I loved the Nancy Drew series growing up. I have a ten book set of the first ones and I need to go back and read them again. I’m sure I’ll love them just as much as I did when I was eight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I’ll probably never see a film in 3D again. Oddly enough, I never read the Nancy Drew books as a kid! I read many of the Bobbsey Twins and loved them so I’m not sure why the Nancy Drew books flew under my radar. Maybe I’ll give them a chance now. 🙂


  13. I loved all.those.books as a kid. Still do. They are just so much fun to read. So many good memories.

    I gave up on 3D years ago I hate wearingthe glasses because I have to.wear them over my seeing glasses. Not very comfortable!

    Liked by 1 person

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