I am a self-proclaimed bookworm. No, correction: I WAS a self-proclaimed bookworm. Although I enjoy reading as much as I ever did, I don't commit the hours to the pastime as I did in childhood. My annual book average has begun to climb again, thanks to time on the elliptical machine, but truthfully, some years I am lucky to ready 6-7 books with the bulk of the reading done on a beach. I am guilty of devoting too many minutes to the internet, social media sites, and cooking magazines to claim loyalty to the written words of authors. So the rest of the year, outside of vacation, can be barren of my former favorite hobby.
This past August, I was able to get through just one book while on vacation and it was a doozy. Weighing in at 842 pages, this paperback was a commitment--to travel with and haul down to the beach every day. But I experienced immense satisfaction when I finished the tome--a hefty book will do that--and I am happy to recommend it to you. Stephen King's 11/22/63 is not exactly a thriller but it is a fascinating, easy read that makes the reader wonder at the possibility of time travel.
Currently I have my nose tucked into two books: the first is a charming, sweet little fiction by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows titled The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, recommended to me by my daughter. It's composed of a series of letters and I read a little each day and the sweet little notes contained therein take me back to a time when I loved writing to pen pals. A good book will always inspire you to try something new, take up an old hobby, or reflect on a strong belief.
I am also currently reading my favorite book ever. I've downloaded Little Women to my Kindle app to read while I'm exercising. And even though I am not turning the pages as I did on the first occasion that I devoured this book (I was probably 8 years old), I'm still tearing up and feeling the varied emotions I experienced as a child reading the novel under my covers after my parents told me to go to bed.
Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is the first novel that I read multiple times. But thoughts of my favorite book have been drifting in my subconscious, untouched for quite some time. While on vacation in August, I spied a review for a new book titled Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why it Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Alcott's original publication and reading some of the English professor's thoughts on the classic stirred my desire to read it again.
Why is Little Women preserved on my mind's shelf of all time best reads? I cannot point exactly to the reason...I remember that I strongly identified with Jo, the primary protagonist and her love, no, need to write. And as Rioux points out, apparently I am not not alone in this character identification.
The timeless novel about four sisters who are the best of friends has been named by numerous female authors as their literary inspiration and Rioux credits Alcott's cultural influence to include many pop-culture characters of whom our daughters and sons have read and watched voraciously. (Hermione Grainger, Katniss Everdeen, the Gilmore Girls, etc.) And although the influence is there, I worry that today's generation will not experience Little Women anymore--as it seldom appears on their required reading.
Can you do me this favor? Will you buy a copy of Little Women and give it as a gift to a young person in your life? Encourage them to read it? If you've never read the novel, will you give it a try on my recommendation? I hope this lovely novel, that has inspired my personal writing journey will live on and be loved by many in the future. It would be such a shame if Little Women drifted into obscurity. It is a precious American work that deserves a place on every bookshelf in every home.
“I like good strong words that mean something.” — Jo March