Monday, October 21, 2013

Old Friends in My Front Hall

     My oldest and dearest friends live in my front hall. I am lucky enough to have an entrance that is a ten foot built-in bookcase, complete with library ladder.  On those shelves are my oldest friends, the books I read as a child and still love as an adult.

     If you've been reading the blog awhile, you know that I am a compulsive reader. As a school librarian I read everything that came in before I put on the school shelves.  I still read as many new books as I can possibly cram on my Kindle ( alas, book shelves have their limits, even when you weed them twice a year), but very few books I have read as an adult have had the same impact on me that the books I read in elementary school.

    I have read a lot of good books as an adult--The Percy Jackson series, the Hunger Games Trilogy, Libba Bray's The Diviners, My Family for the War by Anne C. Voohoeve.  As much as I enjoyed these books and would recommend them to anyone (hint, hint), I still crave my old friends.

   Who are these old friends? It depends on my mood.  When I need cheering up, Patrick Dennis's books, Auntie Mame, Auntie Mame Around the World and The Joyous Season never fail to make me laugh out loud. Note:  even though these three have child narrators and I read them in the sixth grade, they aren't considered children's literature.

     The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a good cure for the boy-I-think-I-have -problems feeling.  I just re-read The Long Winter, my favorite of them all, last week.  Chapter after chapter of blizzards, grinding wheat and twisting hay to burn as fuel, and your life, whatever it is, looks pretty good in comparison. (Yes, I know there are certain aspects of these books that are considered not so PC these days, but political correctness is a topic for a different post.)

    Days when life seems to be at best, confusing, I pull out my well worn Charlotte's Web, the only book I know that can make you laugh and cry in the same chapter. Templeton the rat remains one of my all time favorite characters, and I suspect, the originator of snark. 

   The Diary of a Young Girl reminds me that life goes on, no matter your circumstances. This was a book that I read so much in middle school that my original copy if held together with rubber bands. This was a book I all but crawled inside.  Sometimes I felt as if I were living with the Frank family instead of my own, they became so real to me.

     These are my old friends, the ones I return to time and again when I am sad or lonely or just having a crummy day.  Tell me who your old friends are, the books you read and re0read.

Posted by Mary Ann Rocman


Carmela Martino said...

How I envy your front hall library, MA. I consider CHARLOTTE'S WEB one of my old friends, too, but I didn't read that till I was an adult. One of my favorites to reread when I'd down is PRIDE AND PREJUDICE for the way it transports me to another world. Perhaps that's why I was a HUGE fantasy/sci-fi fan as a teen. I couldn't afford to buy any of those books, but I read the entire sci-fi section of my public library branch.

mary ann rodman said...

Mrty--Most of my books were bought as an adult. The books I own from childhood are most crumbling copies of Scholastic and Weekly reader book Club books. Over the years, when I was single, I bought used copies of my old favorites. Happily, some of them are now back in print. I love shoes, t if I have a choice between buying shoes or books, books win every time. I also live in an area with a less than wonderful library system.

LInda Baie said...

I didn't have my own copy, but re-read Little Women as often as the library would let me take it out. I discovered Tolkien as an adult, and re-read The Hobbit often, & if I have time, the Ring cycle. The certainly are old friends of comfort, as you wrote, Mary Ann. Delightful to read your post about books.

Karen Eastlund said...

I also have great affection for the Little House series. My favorite is Little House in the Big Woods. I have also reread and loved Death Comes for the Archbishop, Peace Like a River, and I Heard the Owl Call My name a few.

Renee LaTulippe said...

What a lovely post! I also "crawled inside" the Little House series as a girl and would love to buy those books again (mine were destroyed by water damage). As an adult, I read JANE EYRE and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at least once a year, followed by watching the BBC productions of each. Definitely my two best book friends!

Cathy Ballou Mealey said...

My annual re-read is Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea" which I first read in college. I'm not sure exactly why it grabbed me when I was an 18 year old college student, as it seems more relevant as I gain maturity and experience. I always find a passage that resonates with newfound depth and meaning.

mary ann rodman said...

Thank you all for sharing your friends with me. How many we had in common....and how many of yours I look forward to reading. I am happy to hear that others also "crawl inside books." Laura Ingalls Wilder's claim shed, Francie Nolan's Brooklyn tenement and Anne Frank's attic are as real to me as if I had lived in them.