Thursday, February 26, 2015
Favorite book and why
When I was in the 1st or 2nd grade, my mother produced her copy of Little Women and gave it to me. I wasn't that interested in some of the chapters, but I devoured as much of the first half as I could, especially since she'd read the first chapter in a 'Children's Big Book' anthology which included fairy tales and first chapters from classic books. I wanted to know more about Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, and saw a little of myself in each character.
Meg: I could relate to her because I was the oldest.
Jo: I loved the fact she could write...and write....and write. In fact, one piece of wisdom I've carried with me is 'write what YOU like, not what someone ELSE likes'. When Jo is getting ready to submit her 1st book, she tries to please everyone by putting more suspense, 'lovering', and sermon-like monologues. As a result, yes, the book is accepted and printed, but Jo isn't happy with it, and says, "I wish I'd kept it the way I'd originally written it." Lesson learned: Don't let anyone mess with 'your voice'.
Beth: I also love music, and begged my parents for piano lessons. My wish was finally granted in the 6th grade, though I'd been playing by ear for years. It was finally revealed they balked at letting me take lessons, due to the fact my grandmother was a gifted pianist who became kind of a 'trained monkey' sort, who was trotted out at parties to play whenever my great-grandparents wanted to show her off. Grandma hated it, so she never pushed my mother or uncles to follow a music career. I would love to be more skilled, but by age 12, my left hand refused to conquer the notes. Since we'd acquired an organ, and I was practicing on it, my teacher recommended I switch to organ. I took lessons for 3 more years until my HS activities prevented it. I'd switched to percussion by that time, and was playing the bells, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone...anything except snare and timpani.
Amy: I loved her name. I loved her antics. I loved her curls. I even tried to get my parents to change my name! But no....
When I was older, probably 4th grade, I finally read the second half, and wept when Beth died. I've also watched two adaptations on TV: One with Susan Dey as Jo and Eve Plumb as Beth, and then the Winona Ryder version. I THINK I also have the Katharine Hepburn version on VHS, but have never watched it.
Why do I love it so? This movie is timeless! The themes, poverty, family, love, and overcoming hardships....can be related to today's culture as well.
I used to volunteer my time at school during Book Fair week, and encouraged any young reader to try this book. If they did, I'd later ask them how they liked it, and the answer was usually a resounding 'I LOVED it!' Next step: "Why don't you read Little Men?"
"There's MORE? Oh good!"
What about you? What's YOUR all-time favorite book, and have you ever tried to read Little Women?