“Janet,” a friend said, “I just finished a great book, and I think you’d like it.” Few words rivet my attention like those; though recently “You won’t need another colonoscopy for ten years” came close.
I smiled when she told me the book’s title and author: A Tangled Web written in 1931 by L.M. Montgomery, the author who brightened my childhood with Anne of Green Gables. I devoured
Anne and its sequels, but soon abandoned the plucky orphan for Jo of Little Women. Still, I remember Anne: a talkative youngster with hair accidentally dyed green who lived on a wooded island surrounded by the sea.
Some books I enjoy in the moment; some I remember; some I treasure.
I once took a class where I had to list a book that lingered in my mind for each decade of my life. Wonderfully, I wasn’t required to justify my selections; but I was expected to discuss them with the class. We were told to credit the authors, even if we had to look them up because we’d forgotten. No mention was made of genre or favorites or impact, only linger-ability.
We had to be reminded more than once that the list was based on our age when we read the book, as best we could recall, not its date of publication.
Here’s my list. I was 40 at the time, so I’ve added to it since.
Age Title and Author
0-9 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
10-19 The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
20-29 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
30-39 The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
40-49 The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
50-60 Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Studying the list, I see that my choices reflect where I was in my life when I read them: a child handed a book by her mother at exactly the right age, a college student assigned to read a classic, the wife of a man changed by Viet Nam, a backpacker alive to the splendors of wilderness areas.
I continue to read avidly, knowing no joy greater than that of recognizing a book that will linger.
I’d enjoy seeing a book or two that you, my readers, would choose for any or all of the decades of your lives, books of any genre that have stayed with you for any reason. And if you’d like to explain a selection to two, I’d be interested.
By leaving a book, or books, and your approximate age in a comment, you’ll be allowing me a glimpse into your life.
I’d like that.