Amanda Reads: The Great Princess Diaries Audiobook Binge

Earlier this month, I posted about the experience of revisiting a favorite author from my teenage years as an adult, when I read Saint Anything. Since my book slump has continued, I decided to try re-reading (and actually getting current with) a series by one of my favorite authors and role models, Meg Cabot. For those of you who don’t know, Meg Cabot is the exceptionally prolific writer of the well known Princess Diaries series. What you may not realize is that the Disney movie (while fantastic) is almost nothing like the book series.

As a young girl, I read the first four books eagerly. However, I started to get a little uncomfortable once the subject of “doing it” came up (Mia’s words, not mine), and I self-censored and put the series down to come back to when I was older and more experienced. I never did so–until recently. Older I may be, although I don’t know about more experienced. When I saw that Royal Wedding had come out, I decided it was long past time to see what happened to my favorite accidental princess.

It’s a funny thing, revisiting something you loved as a teen. If my 5 and 6 years ago Timehop hits are any indication, I was quite a different, and much more embarrassing, person in those years. During that time, Meg Cabot was one of my favorite authors, and most certainly the most frequently cited on my list of role models. What I most admired was her way of blending crazy, supernatural elements with totally normal teenage problems–that was (and is) the type of writer I want to be.

While The Princess Diaries introduced me to Cabot, my favorite series was a quite different one–the Mediator series, which was originally published under her pen name of Jenny Carroll. I checked those books out of the library so many times that it eventually became obvious I had to own my own copies. Mia and I, however, had lost touch over the years.

I decided that, since I don’t actually own the series in print, I would listen to it on audio by starting up a Scribd subscription (think of Netflix for books–unlimited audiobooks and ebooks for $8.99 a month). What followed was quite an intense binge to rival any Netflix binge I’ve ever had. I tore through the first five books in the series within 3 days.

Screenshot of my phone, current place in audiobook.
Screenshot of my phone, current place in audiobook.

What struck me this time was how melodramatic and whiny Mia can be. At times, it got on my nerves to see how frequently she moaned that her life was over over the most minor of things, such as her boyfriend possibly maybe wanting to one day have sex with her. It took some readjusting to step back into the shoes of a 14 year old melodramatic young woman who related very strongly with Princess Mia.

The more I listened, the more I felt myself revisiting my high school years and, mortifyingly, my high school self. I remembered how often I wrote terrible love poetry in my composition notebooks, insisting I was “in love with” boys I had never even talked to. I thought about how sure I had been that my first boyfriend was “my love” and that it was impossible to imagine we wouldn’t be together forever (thank God that didn’t pan out).

As I continue to listen to the series, it’s still a bit difficult at times. I think it’s almost more uncomfortable to remember that I used to be like Mia than to tolerate her complaints. I can’t wait to continue my way through the series (I’m on book 8 now) to see how Mia grows and matures up to adulthood (please please PLEASE let her mature at some point).


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