Saturday, October 2, 2010

"A fellow can't live on books."

Ah, but Theodore Laurence, he can try.

Over the past four years, I have tried to squeeze in desired pages of desired texts over Christmas breaks and summer breaks, and sometimes over no breaks at all, which left me feeling guilty and slightly ill-prepared when the test rolled around. But now, nobody is telling me what to read, and I have two full bookshelves, the contents of which I've only probably read one-third.

The logical side of me tells myself to read something I haven't before. But a wise friend once told me that life's too short to read something you don't want to just because "you should." So I'm going to read all of my favorites again. Some I can't remember why they're my favorites, because it's been so long since I last read them. Others I would forget only if someone beheaded me. So...never, let's hope.

Here's my list of favorites-to-read-again. And autumn is the perfect time to begin a new (or old) read.

  1. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. I read this three Christmases ago. It's 600 pages; I read it in three days. Besides the fact that I couldn't put it down, I remember very little about it. This warrants another late-night binge on 19th-century mystery.
  2. Howard's End, by E.M. Forster. This book instantly made Forster one of my favorite authors. I devour his dialogue and wonder at his display of human nature. He's so real.
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Once, in high school, I finished this book, then flipped back to page one and started it all over again. I love that Harper Lee only wrote one book. She had a story to tell, and she told it. She wasn't writing for the masses. And that makes her story beautifully, meaningfully, and simply told.
  4. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. Of course. How could this book not be on this list? Yesterday I told the 11-month-old I was babysitting, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again! No, nor any of my folk!" And that's when I knew it was time for another GWtW reading.
  5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkein. I read The Lord of the Rings once a year, for four years straight. I sat in front of the fireplace and tuned out planet earth for the Middle one. This year's reading of TLotR was for a class and gave the reading a little different taste. But I haven't touched The Hobbit in years, and another fireplace-adventure with Tolkein is in order.
  6. I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith. I was so delighted in this book that I couldn't believe it wasn't more popular. It's funny, adventurous, and somewhat philosophical.
  7. An Absolute Gentleman, by R.M. Kinder. This book is seriously weird, and horrible, and yet so incredibly good that I could not put it down. Well, it's about a serial killer, from inside the  head of the serial killer. So, not so good. But the author is incredible. And after you read it (if you read it), look up the author online. She is not who you'd imagine to write a book like this. 
  8. My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du'Maurier. Another of my favorite authors. I recently reread Rebecca, and her genius in crafting such a story just amazes me. Maybe you think I'm silly for thinking so. But I love her, and I think she's genius.
  9. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. I wish I could explain in a convincing way why this book is my favorite book, above all. A million little things that add up to one big love. Right now I'm reading a copy printed in 1880, merely 12 years after it was originally published. Can you believe it? Collectors would probably tell me to put it on a shelf so as not to lessen its worth. But it was meant to be read, and I can't help loving the smell that wafts up to me when I turn a page. Inside is inscribed, "Emma L. Greenbery from Santa Claus 1892." How could I not hold this in my hands? I like pretending I'm reading it after it's first come out. And I love this story so, so much.
So there you go. Read away. And happy autumn, again.


Anonymous said...

This is entirely too coincidental. I was going to recommend you reread GWTW now, as it's the perfect fall book. And for some other reasons that I won't share on your blog. But I hope you do, 'cause I'm rereading it at the moment. I even have a fellow trainee here who's reading it for the first time. Do you remember what that was like? You never forget your first. After we're done with our copies we plan to spread them to other trainees like the joyous gospel it is.

When I said, "Yas'm it's me" to you recently, I meant to attribute it to Emmie Slattery, not Prissy.

I have a ton of other things to say about GWTW but I'll wait. My fellow trainee told me just today about how she'll never forget the first time she read Little Women. It was in fifth grade, over Christmas break, and she stayed up by the fire all night to finish it. I think you would like her.

How did someone get through a book like Little Women in fifth grade??

I love the inscription on your old copy. Thanks for sharing. You give me warm fuzzies in my tummy.

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