‘With her nose stuck in a book,’ Belle is a kindred spirit

Every little girl has a penchant for a certain Disney princess. Maybe it’s Ariel, the redheaded and adventurous heroine of “The Little Mermaid” who is sick of living “under the sea” with singing crabs and fat blue-and-yellow fish. Or perhaps Jasmine, the sultan’s gorgeous daughter who is eventually won over by an enterprising street urchin in “Aladdin.”

I definitely had a soft spot for Ariel growing up, even contemplated naming my firstborn daughter “Marielle” in tribute. (In fact, I still may. We’ll see how things go down.) When I was the tender age of four and wanted to watch our VHS copy of “The Little Mermaid” for the seventh or eighth time in a single day, my dad would tell me the tape needed to “cool down” before playing it again. And if you ask Dad to belt out “Part Of Your World,” he’d probably oblige. (And as a total non-coincidence, that tune became my go-to song when auditioning for musicals in high school. I never got any leads; I don’t exactly have an Ariel-quality silver voice.)

But Belle, our beauty from “Beauty And The Beast?” Girlfriend is a total bibliophile, friends. And since I watched that movie approximately 1,876 times as a child and recently again with the movie’s re-release on DVD, I’m guessing that Belle became my subconscious role model. She’s lovely, first of all, with long, flowing dark hair she often pulls back in a ponytail. (I’ve been known to rock that look a few times.) Though she’s described as “odd” and “peculiar” by the townsfolk in her French village, she’s still respected for her intelligence and devotion to her scientist father — and is an object of lust for eligible bachelor Gaston, a strapping and bullish dude who prances through the countryside with a baffoonish sidekick and musket. And really awesome hair.

Belle has read everything in the town bookshop — and one book, “her favorite,” is actually given to her by the kindly clerk. Since nothing new seems to be coming in and Belle is relegated to her “provincial life,” she loses herself in the fantasy of novel after novel, a hobby no one seems to understand.

But the Beast.



Um, anyone recall the Beast’s library? If an old beggar woman showed up at my door and I acted like a selfish jerk, prompting her to turn me into a big ol’ monster-animal-thing, you know what? I think I’d be moderately okay with that. If I had a room full of a billion and one books, a talking teapot to bring me beverages and some light to read by, I could spend all day climbing those gorgeous staircases. And staring at that massive globe. (I’m all about the geography bee and am a two-time Geography Bee champion, friends. Fourth and fifth grade. Don’t hate.)

Oh, and anyone else fantasize about having a home with tall ladders that allow you to scale bookshelves? They look so fun. Though we totally had them at Borders and actually, they scared me. When I worked there, I always begged my coworkers to haul stacks of books up for me so I wouldn’t have a full-scale freak-out over my fear of heights in front of friends, customers and God himself. But, you know. I still fantasize about it.

In fact, I fantasize about many bookish things. And since I’m also fiercely loyal to my family, hate pig-headed dudes who try to blackmail me into loving them and talk to inanimate objects from time to time, I’ve taken to calling myself a Modern-Day Belle.

Only, you know, not in public. Because then I’d sound like a weirdo. I keep things that make me look and sound like a weirdo for the blog. And my column.

I’m all about embarrassing myself in the name of a good post.

Who is your favorite Disney princess? Would you totally fight me for access to the Beast’s library? Do you occasionally find yourself talking to luminaries and clocks, or singing “Be Our Guest” in your sleep? I’m all ears!

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34 thoughts on “‘With her nose stuck in a book,’ Belle is a kindred spirit

  1. Belloe is definitely my favourite Disney princess. I recently thought back on how I always wanted to be like her. Dancing in the street while reading a book, and oh, wearing a blue dress. I have been craving the DVD for years, but it hasn’t been released on DVD in Europe yet, or so I have been told by shops over and over.

  2. My favorite princess is Mulan – ballsy, butt-kicker, and none of this love at first kiss crap! I could watch that movie over and over. That being said, I do like Belle. My husband and I owned the movie LONG before we had kids…that is some gorgeous animation. I also like the story of finding love despite outward appearances. Did you read the book Beastly? I think the movie is coming out soon.

    • I haven’t read Beastly, but I’ve definitely seen clips for the movie! It looks really scary, actually. If I can get my wits up about the whole thing, maybe I’ll check it out!

  3. I’m with ya girl! We’ll have a duel to the finish for that library. Or, you know, we could just pull up an extra chair and share :)

    Honestly, I loved Ariel and Jasmine and Belle the most out of the Disney princesses, but Belle always won. My birthday is coming up next month and I already bought my happy- birthday- to- me present- one of the new Diamond Edition Blu-Ray copies! I haven’t watched it yet, because you KNOW that I have to wrap it first, LOL. I’m saving it for my birthday, because hubby works until midnight that night and I’ll need something to help me to celebrate! I can’t wait. It’s been years since I watched it- my kids destroyed my old VHS copy because that tape just looked like too much fun to pull.

  4. Belle all the way! (I was actually going to post about this btu you beat me to it!). I loved her the moment I first saw the movie as a kid and I still say it is my favorite Disney movie of all time.

    I fight for you to get into that library . . . as long as you share!

    I think one of the reasons i love Belle is a. she makes reading cool. b. She loves her family. c. She see the best in “beasts” and d. The hunkiest guy in town wants her, but since he is an ignorant, mean, prick she just tosses him to the side!

    I think I need to watch this movie soon! Great post!

  5. Belle is definitely one of my favorites, though I also really love Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.
    I would absolutely fight you for access to the Beast’s library. I want that moving ladder. And no one is going to stop me.
    I had to do a singing demo at work a few weeks ago (long story) and someone said I sounded like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Clearly this poor person was tone deaf. But I’ll take it. I was sooooo excited.

  6. I’ve always had a top three, Jasmine, Aurora and Belle. Jasmine often wins out, though. I have to say, I love that books make Belle happy. If I could, I’d make my library just like the one in the Beast’s castle.

  7. I loved Ariel, though I reckon it was because we never had the film on tape and so the few times I saw it were special. I think every girl I knew loved the idea of the Beast’s library, even those who didn’t read. It is so much a wow factor, I’m surprised there isn’t a replica library somewhere (or maybe there is and I’ve not seen it). There are some amazing libraries around the world but none quite compare.

  8. Belle is my favorite. The ones before her were all kind of useless. Belle has brains and beauty. One of the funniest parts was when Gaston tells Belle women shouldn’t read because it gives them ideas! Darn right!

  9. I love Belle as well for all of the same reasons as you. With her noise stuck in a book, she is definitely a kindred spirit. And I am in love with the Beast’s library. I have several friends besides myself who all aspire to somehow have a library like that!

  10. Hi Meg,

    We visited ‘Disney World’, Florida, every December for 20 years. Our first day, from the year it opened, was always spent at Hollywood Studios (I shall always call it MGM). First showing of Beauty and the Beast, would always find us in the front row.

    We saw the show at least 3 times, in London’s West end, and by coincidence, we are off to see our local ‘Light Operatic Society’, perform the show, next week.

    Guess you could say we love Belle!

  11. I always wished the library had more time in the movie! I could get lost in there. It will always be the library I compare to all other libraries. I even did that when I saw the gorgeous library at Blenheim Palace near Oxford, England this summer. :)

    Always thought it would be cool to slide across on a ladder like Belle does in her town library too. She’s definitely my favorite princess.

  12. I will totally fight you for access to the Beast’s library because Belle is my favorite Disney girl, precisely because she loves to read, she’s kind of a misfit in her town and that library! One day, when I’m super-rich and moderately famous, I want to be able to show some architect a screen shot of that scene and say, “build me a library just like this one.” Walt Disney did encourage people to dream.

  13. Ah, well, Belle was always the princess I was “most like” and I certainly loved Beauty and the Beast when I was little, but I was just like you with The Little Mermaid. I used to belt out quite a few songs myself ;)

  14. Hmmm…I just still will always love Cinderella…does she count as a princess…if she doesn’t she should…the getting dressed before the ball part…just too good for words…

    • Cinderella is totally a Disney princess! She does land her Prince Charming, after all. :) Great pick; I’m surprised no one else has chosen our girl Cinderella yet! I loved that movie as a kid, too.

  15. I totally agree with you! While Ariel was my favorite Disney character, I really identified with Belle and I LOVED the Beast’s library! In fact, the other day I announced to my boyfriend that my one enduring dream is to have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and those little ladders.

  16. Belle! Hands-down, Belle! I think that was the first time I really found “someone” who understood books like I did … I mean, I was the kid who answered the “What do you want to be when you grow up?”-question on the first day of kindergarten with “A librarian”, LOL! (No lie :)) Plus, I just looooove the story of beauty and the beast – the girl seeing through the rough exterior and finding the amazing prince underneath … ::happy sigh:: I’m totally psyched about the new DVD re-release, and cannot wait to get my copy! :D

  17. Belle is my favorite too!!!! I LOVE Beauty and the Beast!! I remember back in like 2001 or 2002 they re-released the movie here on IMAX (I don’t remember why) and I think it was around Valentine’s Day so my hubby (then boyfriend) and I went to see it there. He also just bought me the newly released dvd.. or is it blue ray? Anyway, LOVE Beauty and the Beast! =)

  18. Brilliant post! I’ve been wanting to rewatch Beauty & the Beast for a while now, but somehow I totally forgot about the library! Screw personal appearance when you have a room THAT big (yes, with moving staircases) to read in. Then again, I wouldn’t mind just having my bedroom filled with books.

  19. I probably shouldn’t even comment, since I remember these movies in the theaters, and I wasn’t even going to them with my parents, so if I’m not so old that I’m disqualified, I’ll say I loved Belle the best too. I also love that at the end there’s a footstool that turns into a dog. I need one of those. My dog won’t sit still long enough.

  20. Um, how did I not make this connection before? I always loved Belle – in fact I was her for Halloween one year! Now it all makes perfect sense!

  21. Belle was my favorite too – and I even had that same infatuation with Ariel when I was younger. I did spend quite some time singing “Part of Your World” according to my parents. But I loved Belle from the minute that movie started and she’s still my favorite. I watched both films as an adult and I still loved Beauty and the Beast, amazingly, while I was a bit annoyed by Little Mermaid!

  22. Oh man, such a great post. Beauty and the Beast was ALWAYS my favourite disney film – am taking my three year old niece to a sing-a-long version in a couple of weeks. Disney in karaoke form?!?! What could be better?!
    Lyndsey

  23. Pingback: The Librarian Next Door

  24. But the Beast couldn’t read his books due to the fact that his claws kept tearing up the pages. Now THAT would be pure torture, having all those books at your disposal and not being able to read them.

    My favorite Disney princess is very volatile, depending on my mood. Right now, I’d probably go with Pocohontas. Colors of the Wind and all that.

    I still haven’t seen The Princess and The Frog, so I may change my mind! (again)

  25. The boxing gloves are on my dear friend! But instead of fighting, maybe we can be twin sisters and share the library! I doubt we would ever run into each other. And honestly, who wants to read all those books and not have anyone to talk to about them? And Belle is totally my favorite. While I loved singing with Ariel and losing my slipper at midnight with Cinderella, I felt like I connected best with Belle. We both had the same color hair (and at that age, that’s the one thing that determines which one you are closest with, much like Kim, the pink Power Ranger), and we both loved books. Great post!!!!

  26. What a strong reaction from all of your blog readers when you post about Disney princesses :)

    It’s really funny because my friend Sarah who went to the same HS as you texted me a few days ago and said she read this very column that you had written about Disney princesses because her mom had clipped it and saved it for her to read. Look at you! Being clipped and shared in homes all over Maryland.

    On another random note, I totally sang Part of Your World for a high school audition too!

    Belle and Cinderella are my two favorite princesses for sure.

  27. How I missed your posts! Your humor never fails me. Of course I love Belle. Not only for the shared love of books but for the nationality as well.

    I liked Aurora for her name but thought she wasn’t that pretty. Neither was Mulan and Snow White. I didn’t like Cinderella because I thought she was cliche. But now, she’s one of my top three: Anastasia, Belle, and Cinderella

    Sounds like a Russian, French and American truce, huh?

  28. I adore your blog. I ran across it when “teadevotee” referenced you in a review this morning. Can’t wait to read more!

    And to answer your question, I’ve always loved Belle (although I think I was in the same boat with the Little Mermaid… first movie I ever watched, according to my parents, and I watched it until they hid it). I love France after spending a couple of months there, and I am addicted to reading. Look forward to reading more of your blog! Check out http://thestorygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com :)

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