Riddle me this: What is everywhere in your room but doesn’t clutter up any space?
Dust is actually very important, as far as books go. They can set a scene, they can create a mood, they can be an important plot element. So before you go off and clean your room or procrastinate about cleaning your room, you might just want to read through this list about our top 8 books that feature dust as an important element in the story.
Before we get dark, let’s start with a happy children’s book. Starting in 1963, Amelia Bedelia stars, well, Amelia Bedelia, which started this hit children’s series. Funny, brilliant, this stories often follow Amelia Bedelia, a maid in the Rodgers family, who often misunderstands various commands of her employer by always taking figures of speech and various terminology literally.
Notably, she takes the command “dust the furniture” literally and, well, mayhem ensures.
Lucky, after a series of comic misunderstanding and general mayhem, Amelia Bedelia is usually able to the win the family over with a delicious pie or cake. After a while the Rodgers family becomes astute enough to realize that Amelia Bedelia takes everything they say literally so, instead of firing her, they give her more specific commands such as “undust the furniture”.
So remember: You shouldn’t ‘dust around the house’, you should ‘undust the house’. Or you can dust the house. I don’t care, you do you.
With that out of the way, let’s get dark. Dust can set a scene, set a mood, and you know that things are dark when this story opens with a little girl dusting the house while her step-mother and step-sisters are lounge around the house.
Since her father’s death, Cinderella’s has been left in the dust, left in the squalor of her step-mother’s tyrannical rule. We all know where the story goes from here, either from the Disney movie or Grimm’s Fairy Tales, with her rising from the dust and into the arms of someone who loves her.
Before the monsters of movies, Infinity War and Endgame, hit theaters, comic readers knew since 1991 that there was a chance our favorite heroes might get dusted. Though we weren’t sure if Disney was going to go through with it, we sat back in awe as our favorite characters, including Spider-Man, bit the dust.
If you want to see where this plot point came from, we’ll buy this comic and listen to Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” as you see characters you know and love and characters you don’t know but will love get dusted. Be warned:
It’s some heavy stuff.
Published in 1986, Howl’s Moving Castle is a fantasy novel by British author Diana Wynne Jones. A runner-up for the annual Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the book was adapted into in 2004 was adapted as an animated film of the same name in 2004 and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
The importance of dust cannot be understated. After her father dies, Sophie Hatter takes over her family’s hat shop but encounters some trouble when she meets a witch who believes Sophie is doing some magic in her territory. In the book Sophie’s guilty as charged, so the witch curses her into looking like an old woman.
She runs away and, cold alone, sneaks on board a moving castle. But she’s found out!
This is when dust comes into play. See, Sophie’s cover story is that, since the castle is old and dusty, she’s the new house keeper! A quick look around and everyone is satisfied with her story, and Sophie ends up actually cleaning the castle.
The story goes on from here, but the most important moral of the story is this: Dust is helpful.
Published in 2009, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s.
A story about oppression, prejudiced, and hope, this story utilized dust to symbolize the hardships people go through and the impossibilities in cleaning away hatred.
You might know the film, the play, or Victor Hugo’s magnum opus, this story shines a lighter on the misery and the pain of poverty and finding redemption in a cruel world. From the grimy streets of Paris to the dirt of the taverns, this story is known best for this image:
There’s a reason for that. A young girl cursed to poverty, to survive and not thrive in a dirty world, she’ll have to work hard and, with a little luck, she might be given a new start and a clean slate.
In this series the Baudelaire orphans can’t catch a break. While they are bounced around to guardian after guardian, they are met with increasingly dire circumstances and squalor beyond repair. From a greedy man who just wants them for this vast fortune to a man engulfed in smoke who keeps them (including the baby!) working in a lumber mill, the orphans are no stranger to dust, grime, filth, and dusty things.
Thankfully, they never seem to catch a case of the sniffles, so I guess they’re lucky in that regard.
Darkly funny and disturbingly horrific, this series is certainly something that’ll make you thankful because, even though dust seems to follow you everywhere you go, at least you’re not being chased by a villain.
If you are in fact being chased by an evil villain, considering calling 9-1-1.
Does dust follow you everywhere you go? Well, that might be a good thing. In the His Dark Materials trilogy, dust are elementary particles associated with consciousness and are integral to the plot. Everyone is chasing dust.
In the first book, young Lyra is bombarded with adults who claim that dust is evil, a terrible particle that causes all the misery in the world. Even her father, Lord Asriel, tells her that
Somewhere out there is the origin of all the Dust, all the death, the sin, the misery, the destructiveness in the world. Human beings can’t see anything without wanting to destroy it, Lyra. That’s original sin. And I’m going to destroy it. Death is going to die.
In the first book, Lyra believes this wholeheartedly, but at the end of the novel her eyes are opened up to the wonders of dust when her daemon, Pantalaimon, asks her:
We’ve heard them all talk about Dust, and they’re so afraid of it, and you know what? We believed them, even though we could see what they were doing was wicked and evil and wrong…We thought Dust must be bad too, because they were grown up and they said so. But what if it isn’t?
From there, Lyra realizes:
If Dust were a good thing…If it were to be sought and welcomes and cherished..
‘We could look for it too, Pan!’ she said
The moral of the story? Don’t dust your house, because dust is magical.
Featured Image Via RZIM
'A Series of Unfortunate Events' author Lemony Snicket, AKA Daniel Handler, just published 'Bottle Grove,' a dark exploration of marriage.
The back to school season is always difficult for those of us still enrolled in the education system, however we really don’t have it all that bad. And there’s nothing quite like books to make our lives feel just a little less sucky in comparison.
Here are ten fictional schools that we would never want attend, in order from least bad to the absolute baddest.
There is no way in hell that Wayside School is up to OSHA code. It’s literally falling down.
Plus, none of the kids in this school learn anything. Sure it’s fun to muck around in class every once and a while, but these kids are learning math without numbers and being turned into apples by evil witch teachers.
Call me old fashioned but that environment doesn’t seem very conducive to learning.
Rosewood High has all the average high school stressors. There’s sexuality to figure out, eating disorders to cling to, and teachers to be assaulted by.
But what really puts Rosewood on the map? The blackmail and murder. A lot of it. So, so much.
This particular school is a bit different. It’s not Carrie’s school that’s awful, it’s her fellow students. Carrie’s peers relentlessly cruel, and the teachers don’t really seem to give a damn.
If you were to attend this school you might get a couple tampons chucked your way, which is pretty mean, but not deadly.
Definitely stay in on prom night though…
If you’ve ever toured at a boarding school or college, you might be familiar with schools like Pencey Prep. The website is sleek, the brochures are long and convincing, and the images all show students having the time of their lives sitting in class or enjoying their extracurriculars.
Then you get there and it’s raining, the classrooms still have those televisions on rolling carts, and there’s no clubs to speak of.
How phony is that…
Jane Eyre is sent to Lowood Institution as a punishment from her cruel aunt, Sarah Reed.
If the starvation, cruel discipline, and threadbare clothes weren’t punishment enough, holding on to your best friend desperately as she dies of consumption probably fits the bill.
Students attending this school today are definitely gonna want to get vaccinated before the school year starts.
Prufrock Prep isn’t exactly… welcoming.
Among Prufrock Prep’s many dazzling features are the Orphan Shack where all orphans are forced to live, a punishment where being late to class means you are forced to eat your meals like a dog with your hands tied behind your back, and your grade in gym class is worth 51% of your overall grade meaning most members of Bookstr‘s audience would probably flunk out.
Ha ha, gotcha. Nerds.
While Crunchem Hall didn’t last forever, it certainly left an impression on every child who read Matilda. I don’t even like to wear my hair in pigtails because I’m so irrationally afraid someone will grab me by the braid and fling me into the air.
They also just don’t look that good on me. I have a big forehead.
Also this school is literally shorthand ‘Crunch Them’ Hall. Who did that.
I know everyone wants to be a wizard or witch, and everyone wants to hang with Harry and his crew, but Hogwarts is dangerous.
Even prior to Voldemort’s presence on campus there was a giant lizard monster in the basement, murderous mermaids in the water, and a backyard so deadly they had to name it the Forbidden Forest to keep students from going in and getting killed.
Some people might think I should’ve put Durmstrang on this list instead of Hogwarts, but honestly Hogwarts seems way more perilous.
Hogwarts became a literally battlefield at the apex of a wizarding world war, Durmstrang is just emo.
Realistically, you wouldn’t want to be an eighth grader at any school in this universe. You probably also don’t want to be a eighth grader in any universe, to be fair.
However being an eighth grader in Battle Royale means you could be randomly selected by the government to participate in a Hunger Games style fight to the death that lasts over the course of three days.
Now I didn’t love my middle school classmates, but I don’t want to murder them, and I definitely don’t want to be murdered by them.
This school is where handmaids learn how to be handmaids. The women attending have their hands chopped off, their eyes gouged, and their tongues cut out as punishments for misbehaving.
Definitely makes detention seem like a walk in the park.
Featured image via American Cinematographers
We’ve all craved a magical food that doesn’t actually exist, or we’ve read about a real food that didn’t live up to the hype of our childhood imaginations. Here are some of the foods (in no particular order) that still seem to appear in my dreams.
Image via iCollector
There are what feels like hundreds of candies within the walls of Willy Wonka’s factory, all of which sound absolutely mouthwatering. However, everlasting gobstoppers stick out to me because they actually exist. You can go down to your local corner store and buy a box right now if you really wanted to.
But you don’t want to. Because the real everlasting gobstoppers are flavorless little balls of cement. And the fictional ones are, well, fictional.
Image via Citizen of Anvard
C.S. Lewis doesn’t do the most creative job of describing this treat. The fruit falls from a tree, and it’s described as being “not exactly like toffee – softer for one thing, and juicy – but like fruit which reminds one of toffee.”
The tree formed when a toffee candy was planted in the ground in the moment of Narnia’s creation, and it grew at an incredible rate because the song that brought Narnia to life was still clinging to the world.
Must taste pretty good, with an epic backstory like that.
Image via Amino Apps
There are a couple of bad side effects when you snack on these magical cookies. In Alice in Wonderland, Alice takes a bite of one these and grows to be about the height of a one-story house.
Yet somehow, that just makes them more tempting. What’s life without a little risk of becoming gargantuan?
Image via Fiction-Food Café
Pasta puttanesca is a very real dish, and something you can order at most Italian restaurants. However, sometimes the way something tastes in reality just can’t compare to the way it tastes in your imagination.
In A Series of Unfortunate Events, the pasta puttanesca serves as a small amount of comfort in the bleak world that the Baudelaire children have found themselves in after the death of their parents. Something about the warm, homey feeling that it provides makes it an absolutely crave worthy dish.
Image via io9
Sam-I-Am was pretty insistent about this dish. If someone follows you from a house, to a box, to a tree, to a train, to the dark, to the rain, to a boat just to get you to try a bite of their food then they’re probably insane.
But they probably also have some pretty good eats.
Image via Food Network
Coraline isn’t particularly excited by this dish, choosing instead to stick with her frozen mini-pizzas. However, considering the themes of family and parental love in this novel, this soup dish gives off a cozy and homey sort of vibe.
And if someone hands you a warm pot of homemade soup, that someone must love you an awful lot! Certainly more than your eyeless, soul stealing, puppet mom.
Image via Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio, has a knack for animating foods in the most delicious looking way possible. This particular gif is from My Neighbor Totoro, as the saffron tea from Kiki’s Delivery Service didn’t make it’s way out of the book.
In the book the tea serves as a reminder of Kiki’s home while her travels become too much to handle. The smell and the warmth remind Kiki of her mother, and the memory helps keep her spirits high while she’s speeding around on her broom.
Image via Sci-Fi Stack Exchange
This one is a bit macabre, but there’s something undeniably intriguing about the unicorn blood in the Harry Potter.
The golden trio (plus Draco) are serving detention in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid, when they stumble upon a pool of shiny silver goo. When they see a shadowy figure knelt over the body of the unicorn, the kids all run away screaming, except for Harry who stumbles over a tree root.
He’s saved by a centaur, the story moves on, and no one even asks for a sip of that shiny, magic goop.
Maybe this is why I never got my Hogwarts letter.
Image via Tourism Currents
If a bag of beans is worth selling your family’s only source of income, they better be some damn good beans.
Image via Giphy
Bruce Bogtrotter is one of literature’s bravest heroes. He’s punished for his humanity (what child wouldn’t try to sneak a piece of cake?) and still emerges triumphant despite all odds.
While this scene can be a bit nauseating, there’s always something enticing about the thought of having a triple layered chocolate cake plopped down directly in front of you.
Plus, you get to dive straight into that sucker fork first.
Might not be such a punishment after all.
Featured image via Simplemost