This new series was inspired by John Scalzi’s blog, Whatever. He recently wrote a series of posts, titled A Personal History of Music, and every day of June 2022 he picked a song and described why that song was important to him. I thought that might be a fun thing to do, too. Only with books.
As you might have guessed, I’ve been reading for a long time. And, naturally, there have been books and authors that have resonated with me at different times in my life for different reasons.
First up ~ Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I don’t remember how old I was but I’d guess eight or nine. Around Christmas, my Girl Scout troop went to Boston to see a play based on the first chapter or two of the book. I distinctly recall sitting in the dark theatre amid rows and rows of people (I think it was also my first live play), attention riveted to the stage where four poor girls made the best of the holidays. A Christmas tree glowed in a corner of the theatre. I was hooked! I needed to see what else happened to those March girls.
I’d already been reading children’s chapter books, like The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West, but Little Women was the first book I read that wasn’t written specifically for younger children. It seems to be categorized now as a children’s book but Alcott was contracted to write it as a “girl’s book” and strictly speaking, it’s a coming-of-age saga. The success of the initial release was so surprising, the publisher had trouble meeting the public’s demand for more copies.
From the beginning, I identified with Jo, an unconventional person for her time, plus she was a writer. When I first read Little Women, in the mid-60’s, Jo stood as a woman who met the world on her own terms, which women of that time were endeavoring to do themselves. But as a nine-year-old, I was more concerned with the family aspects of the story. Growing up as an only child, I was fascinated with the sister’s relationships to each other – their loyalties and betrayals, selfishness and generosity. How each sister was unique, with her own personality, talents and heart. I experienced the drama of their lives along with them. When Amy burned Jo’s story—don’t get me started!!
As an adult, I see how Jo stayed true to herself to the end and I wonder if reading about her life, especially at such a young age, has had an effect on my own life. I guess I’ve never thought about Jo in these terms before but doing things like everyone else has never been my thing. I’ve been conventional in a lot of ways but I’ve tried to stay true to my crazy heart and break out of my comfort zone when circumstances compelled me. I’ve done home décor consulting and designed and created jewelry and, of course, writing has always been a constant, even before my introduction to Jo March.
More than anything, I think Jo’s gift to readers is being a role model who opens our minds to the possibilities within us and to fearlessly fulfill our potential. That simple, amazingly valuable truth has lived in the back of my mind ever since.
One thing I realized in writing this post is that my fragile, nearly 60-year-old copy of Little Women is a “modern abridged edition”. OMG, what have I been missing all these years?! Now I have to buy a new copy and reread it! 😊
Let me know what books made a difference in your life.
Current Reads and Watches
What I’m reading now (paper): Strawberried Alive by Jenn McKinlay
What I’m reading now (Kindle): Enough Already by Valerie Bertinelli
What I’m binge watching: The Bear on Hulu