The A to Z Challenge has come to an end, and after all that talk about writing, it is time
I was reading this post “Books that I wish had changed my life“, and I began to wonder about books that may or may not have changed mine. (Look up this guy’s list in the link, I’ve read a few of them, and I like his choices.)
My problem is, I think, I read too many books cramped together during my school holidays, and then again too many hidden behind texts during the school year.
My first adult-sized (read unabridged) book was Robinson Crusoe, and I still look back on the summer I read it with fondness, because it took me away from my routine to this island, where one man’s determination alone would keep him alive. Sometimes I wonder how much I would like it if I read it again. I daren’t take the chance.
At twelve or thirteen, I found A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations and Les Misérables,
which means my inner landscape was a bitterly conflicted mishmash of
Russia, France and England, lost childhoods, revolutions and love.
I remember again the summer when I whipped through all of Chekhov I could find in my father’s collection: his short stories, plays, novels. Those I want to read again, I’ve already re-read a whole lot of his short stories. I loved being in his Russia, and also loved Tolstoy’s Russia: Childhood Boyhood and Youth, and Anna Karenina, though I understood precious little of the latter. I was possibly fourteen.
But the book that truly brought me to myself was Old Man and the Sea.
Hemingway kind of summarized for me what it was to be alive, to fight, to never give up, and though I was a teenaged girl, I found a lot in common with this old fisherman landing the skeleton of this great Marlin back on to his home shore, fighting sharks all the way.
It made me want to be a better person, a better reader. Not a writer, yet, but that came to me when I read the book again and again over the years, every time life threw me a curve ball. It is such a slim whopper of a book, it prostrates you with its power, and makes you understand what it is, this elusive thing we call the ‘human spirit’.
Has any book moved you so much as to change your life? What books have you been reading lately? Care to recommend a book to me and other readers?