Nora Ephron is exceedingly talented, and she writes some of the most charming movies in existence. Even when they aren't box office hits, or even critically well-received, I usually enjoy them enormously. Of these, I have seen You've Got Mail hundreds of times, literally. Even though it involved dial-up modems and circa-1998 technology as the basis of its plot, the themes and story are timeless. Thirteen years after its release, it is one of the best chick flicks ever. Somehow she got the conversation and characters just perfectly, so that they transcend the very timely material at the plot's center (internet romance via AOL e-mail and chat rooms). Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) is the son of the wealthy CEO of the "big bad Fox Books superstore," and Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) is the owner of the independent children's bookstore Shop Around the Corner. His newly-opened location just up the street from hers forces her out of business, but little do they know that these real-life enemies are each other's online crush. As I've gotten older, I've understood elements and little quips that I had missed in years prior. Kathleen's boyfriend Frank (played by Greg Kinnear) fully supports a neo-Luddite movement, for example, a term I learned once I got to college. He hates technology with a quirky vengeance.
Anyway, it is one of my all-time favorite movies. And I wanted to share a lovely quotation from Miss Kathleen Kelly herself, that really rings true in my own life and my memories of childhood and books. Beyond her comment, though, I think the same holds true in a life-long reader's experience; each book I read becomes a part of me, in some way making me the person I am. Those of my childhood hold particular warm spots in my heart, as images and stories from them can bring back a rush of emotions and memories when they resurface in my world sometimes. My love of books as a child has translated into the same kinds of emotion with and while reading today, though I can't say whether it was the chicken or the egg that lies at the start. (As in, Do I like to read because I had and read books, or did I keep reading because of my own interest?)
Kathleen's rant comes over her frustration with the newly-opened Fox Books, and her insistence that it won't affect her negatively. But she wanders from there in her characteristically charming way...
You know, the world is not driven by discounts, believe me. I have been in business forever. I mean, I started helping my mother after school here when I was six years old, and I used to watch her. And it wasn't that she was just selling books. It was that she was helping people become whoever it was they were going to turn out to be. Because when you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does and I... I've gotten carried away.