Sunday, September 19, 2010

Books I Read and Re-Read and a Contest



For the most part, I do not re-read books. I read 'em, and move on. I know that sounds pretty careless or thoughtless or even shallow. But every book is an adventure, and as Mae West once said, "Between two evils, I always pick the one I've never tried before."

Besides, there are so many wonderful books and so little time to read them! And as life goes on, what appealed to me at one time doesn't necessarily mean squat now.

All that aside, there are a few books I re-read. Here's my list:

1. Jane Eyre
-- This book saved my life. Literally. I was growing up in a dysfunctional home with abusive parents, and I truly thought, "Is there any way out?" Since the subtitle of Jane Eyre is "An Autobiography," I took it as fact. I was very young when I read it! What I learned was that a plain woman could find great love and could have a career. My favorite line is "Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?" I think it speaks to all of us who have ever felt overlooked.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn--See above. The story helped me survive. It taught me that I was not alone. It gave me hope at a time when I didn't know if living was worth the effort. I know that sounds overly dramatic, but it's true. When you are young, you don't know anything but your family situation. These books promised me there was a different life that could be mine if I could make it to adulthood.

3. Anything by Pat Conroy.
Mr. Conroy writes in such a manner that I despair of ever calling myself an author. His command of words, his vocabulary, his gift for description all send chills of envy through me. Someday I hope to meet him, and when I do, I want to ask if he has trained himself to think in such a rich manner, or if he writes a first draft and then goes back and enriches his work. His Prince of Tides inspired me to name Kiki LOWENSTEIN after the therapist who saved his life.

4. Bouncing Back: I've Survived Everything...and I Mean Everything...and You Can, Too! by Joan Rivers.
She survived her husband's suicide, her daughter's estrangement, her bad investments, her career tanking, and she lived to tell the tail. Having been a motivational speaker for fifteen years, I can truthfully say I've read many of the best motivational books of our times, and met many of their authors. But none of them is as honest or compelling as Joan's story. Even today when I'm handed a disappointment, I think back to this book and her good advice. It's that compelling.


CONTEST

Maybe your spirits need a boost or you need to bounce back. Let me help you. Comment on this post and I'll choose one lucky person to win a copy of Bouncing Back.

24 comments:

Camille Minichino said...

It's amazing how books provide a safe place, isn't it Joanna?'
For me it was my dollhouse that was my safe place as a kid. I came to books much later.

Thanks for sharing this.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I understand that, totally. I think my dollhouses are all the houses I never will own. (Some I wouldn't want to own, but still find intriguing.) I hope to work on turning an old, broken-down house into a haunted house. Wish you lived closer so I could get your opinion!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

PS-- There's a wonderful essay in today's (Sunday's) New York Times Book Review. In "The Plot Escapes Me," James Collins wonders if reading a book makes any difference if we can't recall what we read. He called Maryanne Wolf, a professor at Tufts, and asked her opinion. She said, "It's there. You are the sum of it all." I find that comforting, knowing I've been changed by everything I've read whether I can recall the specifics ohttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/books/review/Collins-t.html?_r=1&ref=reviewr not. Here's the link:

Monica Ferris said...

Joanna, if we are the sum of everything we read, I wonder how it is so many of us (myself not excepted) read so much useless, worthless, negative, scary, trashy stuff? OTOH, I've read some uplifting, positive, energizing, clever, profound, thoughtful, intelligent stuff, too. Is that why I'm so contradictory? LOL

Camille Minichino said...

I think we're all full of contradictions; it's what we do best as humans!

Colleen said...

While I love to read a new book, I will also go back and reread old favorites. It is like getting dressed in my warm fuzzies on a cold winter night. Besides, even the teachers read during KBR and it would kill me to be reading a new book and have to put it down after only 20 minutes. That is just so not fair, so I have to read books that I have already read, so that I know the ending.

Jane Jeffress Thomas said...

I, too, love Pat Conroy. I ordered his cookbook just to read all of the writing of his inside. If you haven't read The Boo, there are some really funny things in there. All of my relatives live in South Carolina and many of my male cousins went to the Citadel and after reading the book, I asked if they knew The Boo and they did. Quite a read.

misterreereeder said...

I've gone back to a few of my "old" roots of reading - Sherlock Holmes (mystery) and Mark Twain (adventure and satire). Re-reading can be just as fun and better the second (or third) time around.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Jane, my son's godfather attended the Citadel and watched Pat Conroy play sports there!

Monica, even with "trashy" stuff, you can learn something. I was reading the NYT Book Review about the new Joyce Carol Oates book. She's been very dismissive of our genre. But reading the descriptions of her new book, I had to think that although I very much admire her talent, not all books need to be so...dire. There's room for frothy, room for entertainment, and joy. What constitutes trash, I wonder.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Colleen, what is KBR? You are right. An old favorite is warm and comfortable. We can read it for the small details we missed because we don't worry over the ending.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Mistereereader, I get more out of those classics now because I see their structure and marvel at the authors' ability.

CMOM Productions said...

I'm often a read and move on to the next book kinda girl too. There are too many great books to get my hands on and I never have enough time to read them all. lol I do have a few repeat reads though.

Linda O. Johnston said...

It's fascinating how much certain books can mean to us, Joanna. I enjoyed your post.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

CMOM, I agree. Which is weird because I definitely have my comfort clothes, my favorite places, and my favorite foods.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Thanks, Linda.

donald said...

I found your story touching and know all the joy I have gotten from books has sustained me in troubled times.

JackieW said...

When I need a boost I read Norman Vincent Peale's book the Power Of Positive Thinking.It's a well-worn book at on my library shelf.
JFWIsherd(at)aol(dot)com

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Donald, I think the highest compliment to any author is to hear from a reader that a book made a difference. I remember the young woman who took treatments up at the Mayo Clinic, and who told me that my book made the time fly by. I was so thrilled. To be able to do a little good in this world is very satisfying indeed.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Jackie, I have a copy of that somewhere. This has inspired me to start unpacking my boxes of books so I can see and re-read my old friends.

Dru said...

I don't re-read a book, but I will re-skim a book,focusing on the parts that I liked.

Susie Q said...

Yes I will re-read a book. We moved a LOT when we were growing up and one of the first things we did when getting to a new town was utilities, new driver's license for mom and library cards for us. No matter where we lived, I could also count on walking into that library and finding my 'friends' and they would introduce me to new friends...and God bless eternally the librarian who saw me walking out with a stack of books that were really too young for me and introducing me to young adult and early teen fiction. She was a lifesaver that year.

Betty Hechtman said...

I like your choice of books. I loved Jane Eyre and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I haven't read the Joan Rivers book, but after your description would like to look at it.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Thanks to all of you! The winner is Jackie. If you will contact me, Jackie, I'll see that you get your copy of Joan Rivers' book.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Dru, re-skimming is a smart idea.

Susie Q, the first thing I do whenever I move is get a library card. That's what I did in the UK and here. It's a great way to keep up with "friends" on the bookshelves.