I have more time on my hands not that I am retired, and sometimes I wonder what to do with it.
I have always loved reading, and never had enough time for it. Not just ’get the news’ reading or history books, but a solid commitment to major chunks of literature. I have time for that now, and have been diving in.
My first book in this campaign was Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Written in England in 1868, it was considered revolutionary because of its portrayal of the personal and moral growth of a lower-class woman. Though full of injustices, the story has a positive-tending heroine and I enjoyed it very much.
My next foray into Big Lit was Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits. This was written in Chile in 1982 and was the author’s first novel. It was heralded as a great work and made Ms Allende famous. It tells of three generations of a family and of Chile’s political revolution.
It has some lovely descriptions and characters, but halfway through, I had to stop reading it. The main character of Esteban Trueba is so hateful that spending hours a day with him (through reading) was depressing me. Just as I avoid such folks in my real life, I needed to distance myself from his greed and bad temper.
So I broke up with Isabel Allende. What next?
I needed a complete change, but it was late at night and my options were limited. Scanning my bookshelves, I found an old, old friend, a 1955 copy of Kenneth Graham’s The Wind In the Willows that had been rescued from the University Park Elementary School library. Hooray!
Elaine Marbach, bless her, always kept these treasures aside for me when they had to go out of circulation. It is a hard cover and has stamps showing that it belonged to the school where I spent 28 years of the happiest years of my life. It even has the original check-out cards, with initials and names of dearly departed colleagues and former fifth graders who are still in my life.
As I began the story of Mole and Ratty’s friendship, the sadness of House of Spirits fell away and I drifted into a happy place.
Reading is powerful magic. Choose it wisely.