Sunday, August 14, 2011
On a milestone day like this, it makes one reflective on other milestones in one's life. And since this is a blog about reading, I feel it is appropriate to think back to a milestone book in my life. Occasionally, I plan to look back on such books in my life, not necessarily to review them, but to remember how I loved them and the impact such books have had on my reading life.
Tonight I want to reflect on my first "grown-up" book: Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. This is the first book I can remember reading that could not be found in my elementary school library. It's the first book I read that was lengthy with heavy, adult, hidden themes. Its haunting tale was a coming-of-age journey from me, taking me from my childhood favorites like Number the Stars and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle into greater literature such as Gone With the Wind and A Tale of Two Cities.
If you haven't read Rebecca, I recommend picking it up. It's lengthy, but doable. If you have ever seen the movie, you won't be disappointed - it's much, much better than the movie. The movie, in fact, is what brought me to the book itself. I first saw the movie when I was about 12, around 6th grade. I loved it. It was one of my favorites - and not just because I thought Laurence Olivier was one of the most beautiful men I'd ever seen in my life! The mystery and artistry of the movie captured me, and I wanted to read the original book. That's why I found myself, at the age of 12, tackling Daphne DuMaurier's 380 masterpiece.
Of course, I didn't understand it all at the time. There were chunks I skipped over because I thought they were boring. Some of it went over my head. But I understood the tale itself, the twists and turns, the development of the characters that was so vivid I would have been able to see them in my head with or without the movie to back it up. It is a wonderfully woven tale of love, treachery, loyalty, despair, psychosis, fear, and redemption. As a 12 year old romantic on the edge of adolescence, I soaked it up like a sponge. I reveled in it. And it brought me into the world of grown-up books, books beyond what was recommended in my English classes or on the Newbery Award list.
Rebecca was an important milestone in my life, and as I reflect on the many milestones of literature in my life, I am thankful to have experienced Rebecca over and over again. That original copy from 18 years ago still sits on my shelf. It has gone with me to college, from dorms to apartments to intern housing, to my temporary, pre-wedding housing, and now to my own house. Through many moves and turns and adventures, it has been on of those books I have held onto like an old friend and occasionally taken out once more, flipping through its pages, reading scenes out of order because I know them so well thatI don't have to read them straight through. I know Rebecca like I know a family member. It holds a special place in my heart, and it holds a special place on my bookshelf.
If you are reading this out there in the Internet world, feel free to respond to this question: what have been the milestone books in your life?
Quote of the day: "If only there could be an invention that bottled up a memory, like scent. And it never faded, and it never got stale. And then, when one wanted it, the bottle could be uncorked, and it would be like living the moment all over again."
— Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca)
Scale of 1-5: 10
What's up next: Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell
Top Five TBR:
1. Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert
2. To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick
3. Hearing God by Dallas Willard
4. Cleaved by Julie Powell
5. Cleopatra: A life by Stacy Schiff