Friday, March 2, 2012
World Book Day
Hi Kids, it is National Book Day. My dear friend, Lynette, over at Imagination Lane, has tendered a challenge - to list the books we have read recently, and to share what books have meant to us in our lives.
Books were my escape during a troubled childhood. They taught me to dream, and as I grew older and life more difficult, they encouraged me to survive, they assured me that others in the world came through hard times and were okay. They provided me with a roadmap out of pain. I have been bringing home an armload of library books every week since I was five - sixty years!!!!
I remember what A Tree Grows in Brooklyn meant to me when I was thirteen. Wuthering Heights and the moors. Look Homeward, Angel. Rebecca. Marjorie Morningstar. Anna Karenina. My grandma used to say that encouraging me to read romances by Kathleen Norris (which I adored) had ruined me for real life, made me "too romantic". I still am.
I spent some of my years as a young adult exploring The Gulag Archipelago with Solzhenitsyn, and books about life in the concentration camps.
Books carry me to places I love, that I have never seen: Africa, the Himalayas, India, Peru.........
In younger years, I read a lot of fiction. In recent years, I prefer nonfiction and memoir - you cant make up anything as interesting as real life, I have found. The book I just finished is The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok, about her childhood with a schizophrenic mother. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is one of the best memoirs ever. She writes childhood like nobody else. I also love anything written by Ann Lamott.She is brilliant, humorous and wonderfully quirky.
I have gathered a lot of books over the years - some of them are shown above. I have also let hundreds go, as I down sized.
Books I have loved during the last year include:
Burmese Lessons by Karen Connelly - the love story of an American writer and a Burmese guerilla
Sky Burial by Xinran - love and loss in Tibet - beautifully written
Little Princes by Conor Grennen- helping orphans in Nepal
Three Cups of Tea - by Greg Mortensen - building schools in Afghanistan
The Rice Mother- by Rani Manicka - a multigenerational story set in Malaysia
Favourite books of all time include:
Creation's Heartbeat: Following the Reindeer Spirit by Linda Schierse Leonard
The Perfection of the Morning and Coyote's Morning Cry by Sharon Butala
I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Galman
The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
Obasan by Joy Kagawa
and too many others to list.
I remember what a profound effect The Women's Room by Marilyn French made on me as a young woman. Also The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, which empowered and liberated my generation, and me, in the reading.
The book I loved the most in the last six months is The Mystery of the White Lions by Linda Tucker, her fantastic journey to find the last of the white lions in Africa, and how she learned from a shaman about the ties between humans and lions in antiquity, where they once shared caves and kept each other alive. And, sadly, how few remain.
I go to bed every night with a book and read. With the soft light falling on the page, I travel far, then come back home to sleep.