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"A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon, and by moonlight." ~ Robertson Davies
I ran across this quote recently and have been thinking about it. There are many books I’ve read over and over through the years, books I love and books I’ve taught or wanted to share the experience with others. Of course, if I’m sharing the experience or teaching them, I need to read them again during the process. The first book that comes to mind is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I’ve written about it before and how it changed my life. If you missed that post, please click here.
Of Mice and Men is a book I taught as well, so it was read over and over during the process. Other books I’ve taught that I enjoyed reading many times – Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (my brother-in-law George’s favorite apocalyptic novel), Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Bean Treesby Barbara Kingsolver (I really need to write a blog about her works. I once signed up for a three-day workshop on Animal Dreams just so I would have an excuse to re-read it!), Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and, of course, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. There were others, but these pop easily to mind. They are all great books and it was always a pleasure to revisit them. But that isn’t really the intent of what Robertson Davies said, is it?
Since I’m already in my old age (okay, maybe 65 isn’t exactly OLD, but it’s well past just maturing), I tried to think of something I had read as a child and again as an adult, that would be worthy of being designated “truly great.” I’ve lighted on the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read them, all more than once, as a child. When I found myself the mother of two daughters, I bought the whole set so I could share them with my daughters. I read them when I was around thirty and enjoyed them at least as much as I had as a child. I remember being surprised at how much I enjoyed them as an adult. They were so well written and the stories were every bit as compelling as I had remembered. Granted, I grew up in the Midwest and have an affinity for the place of the stories. I also love to be transported to other times, and Wilder does an exceptional job of that.
It’s time for another reading of the books. Now I write for children, so I will bring a new perspective to my reading. I also have a granddaughter who is just about ready to read these wonderful books, so I have another opportunity to share the experience. I will be putting this set of books on my summer reading list and will report back at some point in the future about the experience. I would do it now, but I’m leaving in a couple of days for a writing workshop (you'll be hearing about that next time) and will be quite busy. I also have some book reviews that will be due soon, but I will get back to the Little House soon.
What books did you read as a child that deserve another look wherever you are in the life process? Why do you feel compelled to choose that book or those books?