Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stuff You Really Should Have Read Already, But It's Never Too Late

I thought I would share with you a couple of books I really think everyone should read. Not that my opinion is of any consequence, but nonetheless I will carry on as though it is.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I can hear your excuses now. Let me guess...
I don't read romances. 
Get over your pre-conceived notions and make this the only romance novel (read: masterpiece) you ever read. 
I don't read historical fiction. 
Well make an exception just this once. Trust me. The story will eat you up and swallow you whole and you will be too dizzyingly caught up in it to care if it takes place in 350 B.C. or 5000 years in the future. 
It's so dang long. 
Yes it is, but you will devour each of it's 960 pages, get to the end, and wish with every cell of your being that there were 960 more pages. 
I have a confession to make, which is that is I read the sequel to Gone With The Wind, Scarlett, by Alexandria Ripley, and I have to admit it was somewhat satisfying in a totally inauthentic and Pollyanna kind of way. But the beauty of Rhett and Scarlett's true (fictional) story is its heart-wrenching ending. Read it and weep!

Catcher In The Rye and anything else you can get your hands on by J.D. Salinger

Catcher In The Rye is probably my favorite book of all time, which is saying a lot because I have read many, many, many books. I used to coerce all my friends to read it in high school, and I'm pretty sure no one was ever sorry they did. I always wanted a son named Holden Caulfield, but then I read that some celebrity (Denis Leary?) beat me to it and stuff like that just ruins names for me. What I love about the book is its realness. Life is going on around Holden and everyone acts like all the phony crap is the real stuff when we all know that is so not true. But because he doesn't want to go along with the delusion, he is the outsider. Doesn't every teenager feel like that at some point? Every adult too? This is why I love books. People don't tend to talk about these things in everyday conversation, so how else would I know that other people feel like I feel? Plus it's been banned periodically since it was published, and doesn't that just make you want to read it more?
Salinger's other works are gems too, I love each story and book. Many of his pieces share characters, which I also love. In high school I wrote this poem inspired by one of the Nine Stories, and while I am not much of a poet, it is my (self-proclaimed) crown jewel of poetry achievement. But you would probably need to read "A Perfect Day For Bananafish" in Nine Stories to fully appreciate it.
Blighted Hope
Mother called,
     asked how I was and she said
Daddy was worried about me.
And my irritated
     sun-burnt skin stung.
Sybil asked her mother, "Did you see more glass?"
Then she ran down the beach
                              (her canary-yellow swimsuit singing all the way)
                         to find him.
                         She was selfish
                                 she basked in his lonesome obliging affections
                                    for awhile                              before she ran back the way she came.
                         And Seymour Glass once again hid his pale, sickly

                         He was on his way to heaven
                               in an elevator
                         crying and wondering what was wrong
                              with his feet.
                         While I slept
                              and wondered in my dreams why
                         I couldn't see the dancing trees
                         And thought maybe
                              I should take up German.

So yeah I guess it really does not make any sense without knowing the story. Besides Cather In The Rye and Nine Stories, Salinger also wrote Franny and Zooey and Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. Rumor has it he actually wrote a lot more that he never published. Maybe someday...

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