Much of my reading consists of new release books or books not yet published and so I begin each year with a classic- thus ensuring that I get at least one into my system. It’s a bit like eating a salad before you start your main meal.
This year, I selected Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie written in 1911, and within the first few sentences I was hooked. Of course, is it possible to go wrong with a British children’s book? The language was so magical and wrapped me up in blanket of warmth (except for the bit describing Tinker Bell’s appearances! Seriously?). Despite all the adventures in Neverland, Wendy valued family most of all. Peter Pan also went through great lengths to seek out a “mother”; deep down it was something he cared about too. I’m with Peter, everyone needs a mother, no matter how old you are, and if not a biological mother, then at least a gray haired friend or two to help you along life’s journey.
My second book of 2017, The Excellent Lombards, Jane Hamilton, follows Mary Frances from her early elementary school years living on her family’s apple orchard through her high school years and is somewhat autobiographical. Mary Frances has anxiety about growing up and worries about the orchard. I felt such a strong connection to her, but it hit me the hardest when the attack on the world trade centers occurred in the plot. The narrator talked about watching CNN all day at school, carefully analyzing her teachers’ reactions to what happened, and worrying about war. Mary Frances’s experience was exactly my own. Overthinking everything, being dramatic, finding comfort in books were other similarities between myself and Mary Frances… traits I still have. I even have family ties to an apple orchard although, my generation was never on the farm- but that my friends, is another story for another day!
As we begin 2017, I hope to read to stretch my mind, hear other viewpoints, and walk in the shoes of others. I will read to be changed and to be comforted. Until next time, I will leave you with the words of David Kipen:
More desperately than ever, we need our libraries now, and all three of their traditional pillars: 1) education, 2) good reading and 3) the convivial refuge of a place apart. In other words, libraries may be the last coal we have left to blow on.