This week on Broke and the Bookish, the topic is a little more heart felt, books we feel differently about now versus our first reading. This topic was just the challenge I’ve been waiting for, but not for it’s difficulty, but because it forced me to really think about my reading choices and how I feel about certain books that are or have been my favorites, books I’ve read time and time again.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I finished my rereading of this classic American novel last week in prep for her latest installment, Go Set a Watchman. I absolutely hated this book when I was forced to read it in high school – I felt no connection to Scout and I thought all that work with no result was appalling. How could they let that happen to an innocent man?
But now, I understand. Her words are poignant, and I appreciate her lack of adult sentiment while recounting something so tragic that happened during her childhood, which would be so easy for her to do. But instead, Scout reports the incident as it happened, as she experienced it as a child – making the end all the more touching. What happens to Tom Robinson is tragic, but Atticus gave his best effort to defend him, hoping to save his life. Even though he failed in this aspect, it proves that doing something to make life a little better or a little more fair, even without effect, is worth doing. It’s the right thing to do. Not just for a clear conscious, but because we all deserve a helping hand in tough times.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I have always loved Jane Eyre – she’s spirited, forceful, strong willed, independent, while also a bit fragile, reserved, and plain. While the latter might be considered by some an insult, it is not. She is not a beauty or a delicate rose, she is Jane, take it or leave it. She’s not there to play a part, not to become a beloved house-wife to lessen your wearies, she’s living her life as she intends it, as best she can. She’s not there to conform to your rules or your version of her, she is there to be loved, to be accepted as she it, not to be changed.
“I am not an angel…and I will not be one till I die. I will be myself.”
“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”
Though this message has not changed since my first reading of the novel, it’s value has certainly increased. She is a visionary and a true role model, one I’ve looked to time and time again for inspiration over the years.
Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
This novel will always be dear to my heart, and simply, that is the change it has taken. Upon my first reading, I was absolutely fascinated by the scientific discoveries it revealed and the wonders they found along their journey. It opened my eyes to the splendor of science, itself.
“Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make because they lead little by little to the truth.”
These days, my love for the novel is more sentimental, for when I think of the adventure and their un-quenching thirst for discovery, I always think of my Dad. A brilliant scientist himself, he’s one the smartest people I know and never satisfied till the what, why, and how is solved. I remember in high school when I chose to do a report on the novel and his eyes lit up, so proud to share his love for one of Verne’s greatest works.
Be sure to check out Rick Wakeman’s rock opera, also titled Journey to the Center of the Earth. No movie has brought the novel to life quite the same way – it’s an absolute treasure. (and available via YouTube)
The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I recently reread the second book of my beloved childhood series, and fell in love all over again. What a wonderful story for any age! As a child, I couldn’t appreciate the length they went to make a better life for themselves. All their hard-work, all their efforts and hardships – all to start again, to build something for their children. I admire their courage and their strength, for without Pa’s self assurance and Ma’s faith they would not have been so successful in their endeavors.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I first read Jane Austen in middle school, and again in high school, and then in college… I’ve read and reread her novels many times and I’ve most certainly watched each and every film adaptation – how could I not! But, I’m sad to say, this novel in particular has lost its original spark for me in the past few years. I once looked to Lizzie as an admirable female lead, but I can’t help but question her esteem (call me cynical but I’m just not sure about her these days). She’s most certainly been pegged as a woman of intellect among her sisters and neighbors, but she admits, herself, that she and her sisters had no formal training in any particular subject and she reads primarily what’s considered “women’s fiction”, not that that’s a bad thing. But looking on her now, I just want more from her character. She strikes me as ungrateful and not at all appreciative of her mother’s help – when all she’s trying to do is ensure her daughters will have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies the rest of their lives. I still love Pride and Prejudice, it’s charming providential splendor and teasing romance, but I’m definitely more critical now that I’m older.
What books do you feel differently about now? How have they changed for you?