Melissa Wiley is having a lovely discussion about books in her comments today. Specifically about favorite books. The ones you reread until they were about to fall apart.
I’ve more usually been a book devourer rather than a savorer. I gobble them up and retain very little. So my list is rather short.
There is, however, one book that immediately pops to mind and that is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I still have my childhood copy of it and it is very well loved. Sara was another me. I loved her madly. More, I think I was her. Although I never lost my family and all my posessions, still I was often lonely and shunned by my classmates so I identified with Sara’s plight.
Second to that is The Secret Garden. A beautiful and much read book; though Mary never captured my heart like Sara did.
I loved Narnia and I am so glad that my parents bought me the series in hardcover because my childhood copies are still in excellent condition (though the dust jackets are long, long gone.) and I can still reread them in the books that I’ve always read. I just can’t imagine reading another copy. Oh and because they are old enough that The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is listed as the first book and not The Magician’s Nephew.
Then there was Madeleine L’Engle. I only had the time trilogy, A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Meg was another other me. I loved her then and I still love her.
Anne of Green Gables and I didn’t meet until I was in high school but we became bosom buddies immediately. As did Emily of New Moon and I. They are now books I reread and love to tatters.
And then there was that beautiful edition of Louisa May Alcott. A big red cloth-bound book with golden embossed letters that contained a treasure trove: Little Women, Good Wives, and Little Men all together. I remember the first time I read this one. I discovered it one day sitting on my shelf and I remember running to my mom asking where it came from because I was sure I’d never seen it before. She said she didn’t know or she was under the impression I’d always had it. In any case I formed the secret belief that the fairies had delivered it. That volume was magical to me. Oh the joys and tears and loves that were contained within those covers. Now it is faded to a very dusty red and the binding is broken; but it still hold pride of place on my shelves.
The other books I still own and treasure are my complete Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen and Sherlock Holmes. Big fat hardcover books that I perhaps loved as much for their weight and completeness as for the hours I spent wandering through their worlds.
Oh but I am getting off track. What I wanted to write about here was a memory that was jarred when Melissa mentioned Oz in the comments:
I keep thinking about the Oz books. It has been many years since I revisited them, but as a child I probably reread that series more than any other. My dad helped me collect them all from used bookstores and thrift shops. We still have most of those books, and I think all of my reading daughters have gone through an intense Oz phase at one time or another.
They didn�t lure me back after college and into motherhood, the way other books have. But they were hugely important to the elementary school me and probably warrant a place of honor on my Maudly list.
Like I said, this one sent me back to a specific memory, like opening a box and smelling a smell. Suddenly I was at the library, the big public library building in downtown Austin, not the local branch where we usually went. I know I went there a few times with my dad. (Perhaps when he was researching something or other before opening the bookstore?)
In any case, I remember going with him and what a treat it was. I remember the children’s section with a little reading area. There was this castle covered in carpet where one could climb up into a tower and curl up with a book.
That was where I read all the OZ books. I remember finding the place on the shelf and returning to it again and again as I made my way through the entire series. Oh and I believe that’s where I encountered Half Magic and The Egypt Game.
These aren’t books I read again and again and again because they were rare jewels only available from that library. But somehow they seared themselves on my memory all the more for that rarity.
One thing I love about being a mom is that I look forward to sharing these and other new favorites with my girls, losing myself once again in their worlds.