Friday, January 13, 2012
A little more book talk
As mentioned yesterday, I have begun re-reading The Dean's Watch by Elizabeth Goudge. It is tied with A City of Bells as my favorite... at least until I re-read Pilgrim's Inn (which was my first Goudge and one always remembers their first love).
I have other Goudge books on the shelf which have not been read and I look at as one would enjoy brightly wrapped gifts under the Christmas tree. I wonder what they hold within.
Someone (I'm sorry I forgot whom) mentioned in comments about reading one of her children's books and how it seems so many wonderful books written for children that adults love are at least forty years old.
I do think Lewis said it best when he said (my paraphrase) that it is a great book one enjoys as a child and at age fifty. One would call Henrietta's House a children's book but not I. I am planning on ordering Goudge's I Saw Three Ships with credit (Stephanie read it to the kids and loved it) and I was given a copy of The Little White Horse, which sits on my To Read Soon stack.
I must admit that many "kid's" books are among my all time favorites. For instance, The Wind in the Willows is magical (Narnia magic) at any age and so is... the Narnia books. I first read A Wrinkle In Time as an adult and it added an entire new dimension (pun intended) of book love to my life. I love the Time books!
But I also thoroughly enjoy the re-reading of my favorite books. Which is why I am re-reading two right now (one I completely forgot about yesterday, how could that happen?). There is something about re-reading favorites that is all warm and cozy, especially when one needs something comforting and familiar.
I say comforting with a book such as The Dean's Watch for with the larger books, when one re-reads we find something new all over again. Then there are those times... especially in the midst of a hot summer when I need to read something quickly... that I love to re-read the lighter books.
It is at times like that when I will slip one of the paperback cozy mysteries I enjoy (especially books like Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries) into a picnic bag along with something cold to drink and a snack.
Then there are those books I have read since my younger years and they seem to change with the years. Of course, it is not the words on the books which have changed but the reader.
For instance, the other book I am re-reading is Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy, perhaps one of the most beautiful books ever written (in my very humble opinion). I read it the first time not too long after the publication date and when I was still a young wife. I thought it a wonderful book but dreadfully sad.
Now, as I read it in my grandmother years... I see mostly the beauty of the book and not as much the sadness. It really is filled with Narnia magic as it includes the author's relationship with C. S. Lewis.
I love to read other people's book lists where they write down their essential books for people to read... especially those coming from people whose Christian walk I respect. It is not surprising A Severe Mercy continues to pop up on those lists.
I think the one book I have re-read the most since it first came out is Catherine Marshall's amazing book Christy. While the short lived TV series was quite good, if you have not read the book then you are missing a great novel (based on the real life experiences of Catherine's mother).
When I first the novel, I was a teenager and about the same age as the young Christy. In my imagination, I could see leaving all behind and going boldly into the mountains to teach! Through the years I related more with others in the book and now just the thought of walking the mountains leaves me breathless. ;)
I think of Christy when driving through the Eastern mountain ranges. When I first read the book, my only experience with forests were the kind I live near as well as those my family drove through to reach Mom's relatives in Northern Kentucky. They are thick with trees but not as described in Christy.
Then hubby and I spent part of our honeymoon in the Smokey Mountains where Christy went to live (although staying in the city of Asheville, North Carolina) and have driven through them since and they are breathtakingly beautiful.
But I really thought about the mountains Christy would have known when driving back from Virginia this September and viewing miles upon miles upon miles of forested mountain ranges... no wonder there were mountain people who had never seen towns!
That's one of the wonders of literature, I feel as if I have lived in those mountains! In my mind I have walked the cobblestone streets of English villages, felt the sub-zero cold of a Russian winter, melted in the Amazon heat, been cold and hungry in a Chinese prison just for being a Christian, and road canoes down the Wabash with French traders... sigh.
Have you ever given thought to the wonder of imagination and books? I believe they are God's gifts to those of us who must live out our lives in finite bodies. :)