I am grateful for all books. There are tons of books that I have loved. Then, there are those that I reread every year or two: Misty of Chincoteague, Little Women, and Dune. And then there is the book that made me believe: A Wrinkle in Time the Movie that Wasn’t.
For me, these books are like good friends who share a hug, a laugh, a feeling of hope or inspiration. There is a little of the wise mentor in each of the books. Each book showed me new ways to perceive the world around me. Each of these books spoke to me so strongly that I experienced more than a good read.
Grateful For These Books
Misty of Chincoteague
Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague spoke to me as a little girl longing for a horse of her own. My imagination enriched the story with layers of characterization and detail. Then, when I read it as an adult I found the story sweet, but disappointingly not as profound as I had remembered. But this book belongs on this list, because of the way the words on the page blossomed in my mind. I hope one day to write a story that has the power to compel a reader to make it more than it is.
I read Little Women by Louise Alcott as a preteen. The characters, their lives, their dreams pervaded my own preteen life. I identified with Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth and adopted some of their mannerisms. I wished for hair as long as Jo’s so I could cut it off to make money for my family. I’ve reread and reread the same paperback book until it literally fell apart. I still love the March family and their story. A rich story with layers that reveal a different nuance every time I read it, it will always be near the top of my list.
I read Dune by Frank Herbert as a young adult and was immediately swept away into a world where water was precious. Paul’s growth from youth to messiah for the Fremen mesmerized me. The society captivated me. The growth of faith echoed a maturation of my own faith (not that I think I am or have any desire to be, a messiah!). The book resonated with me physically. While I read it I was acutely aware of wasting water. Rereading that book I admire how the author’s use of words continues to sweep me up in the saga. Yes, it’s very near the top of my list as well, but not the first on the list.
A Wrinkle in Time: the movie that wasn’t
No, I would have to say that the very top of my list is occupied by A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I read it shortly after it had been published (1962). All I had to do was read the first page which begins with “It was a dark and stormy night.” Meg Murry is sitting on the edge of her bed, wrapped in an old quilt and shakes with the house in the storm. But it wasn’t the storm that had upset her, it was the storm on top of everything else. On top of everything that was wrong with her.
Oh, boy. Meg was just like me. She wasn’t measuring up. She felt dumb and out of place and out of sorts. I had moved five or six times by the time I read this book. Man, I could relate to Meg’s feelings. And I envied her, her parents seemed oh, so much more sympathetic and supportive than mine. (My parents just didn’t understand). But Meg had a problem, her father was missing. And if you know the story, you know Meg gets a visit from Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Meg and her brother, Charles, tesser and go to another dimension. There they battle a great evil. There are many memorable scenes in this story, not the least of which e is the subdivision where every house looks the same, homeowners and children act in unison, creating an eerie feeling of wrongness.
In the end, it is only with great love that Meg is able to triumph over evil and save her brother and her father.
The Movie that Wasn’t
This story played so vividly in my mind, that even as an adult I was convinced that I had seen a movie of it. When discussing this book with a writer friend, I insisted the movie had existed. I even said it featured the Pete Seeger song, “Little Boxes.” No, there was no movie — at least, not during my childhood. Seeger’s song coincidentally came out at the same time as L’Engle’s book, though it fits the subdivision scene as if it were made for it.
The message of A Wrinkle in Time, that great love can overcome great evil, found it’s way into my heart. It gave me hope through dark times. And when the dark corners of my life grow darker and I need a reminder, I return to the book. It gives me strength. It reminds me that if you find it within yourself to love — really love — you will triumph. What greater message could there be?
With the message, the characters, and the ‘movie,’ the top of my list belongs to A Wrinkle in Time. It’s the number one book for which I am grateful.
What book is at the top of your list of books for which you are grateful and why?
If you liked these short reviews of books I’ve read, you might like my other reviews:
Top Ten Science Fiction Novels I Love to Re-Read
LATE BREAKING NEWS!
My post A Wrinkle in Time: the Movie that Wasn’t is still true, but a movie is being made! I can’t wait to see it. Check out the trailer below.
(This post, originally written in 2011, has been edited to remove references to the giveaway contest hosted by author Beth Revis that ran at the time this post was written. She asked bloggers to write about books for which you are grateful. It was also edited to share my excitement about the upcoming movie.)
Lynette, A Wrinkle In Time is one of my all-time favorite books. I adore all of L’Engle’s works, especially Many Waters and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. She took themes that could resonate with any adult and made them relatable for children, but in a way that didn’t feel like she was talking down to her audience.
There are so many books that stick out in my mind. Little Women, as you mention, is one, and Dune is another. A.S. Byatt’s Possession is one that I read at least once a year, along with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. All of the books I love share the quality of grabbing me on a visceral level, of telling stories that are compelling and moving beyond belief.
Lena – thanks for stopping by.
I know what you mean about L’Engle’s books. I loved Many Waters and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, too. But I’ve enjoyed all of her books.
How could I have forgotten Jane Eyre? It’s another of my favorite to reread.
I have not read Byatt’s Possession. I’m guessing I’ll like it, so it’s definitely going on my to read list.
Isn’t it wonderful when a book pulls you in so deeply that it comes alive! I love that. That is a sign of a good book, and/or the right connection of reader and writer. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all inspire like that someday. I’d love to ramble off books from my childhood but I wasn’t encouraged to read as a kid. I have been playing catch up ever since I discovered my love for it later in life. *sigh*
Yes. A Wrinkle in Time was the first book that came so alive for me, but it’s certainly not the last.
Thank goodness for all the wonderful writers out there.
I think readers are always playing catch up. 🙂 There always more books in my TBR pile than I can get through in the next 12 months. And our WANA classmates are coming up with more and more books I want to get my hands on!
Oh wow, A Wrinkle In Time is one of my all time favorites too. It’s been way too long since I’ve read it. You’re description just brought a smile to my face, remembering how much I loved it and how many times I read it. I didn’t discover it until later, I think I was in middle school. But it fascinated me and is probably single handedly responsible for my love of sci fi/fantasy. Well that and fairy tales :-). I have it on my Kindle, I am going to read it again.
Thanks, Melinda. Oh, do reread it. I just did and it still takes me to that wonderful place.
I loved A Wrinkle in Time as a child but haven’t re-read it since then. I probably should, especially since my daughter is approaching the age for it.
Isn’t this a great giveaway? I, too, participated and wrote about A Prayer for Owen Meany.
As for Jane Eyre, I read it for the first time 2 years ago (shock!) and fell so in love it is now on my list of all-time favorites.
I loved your post about A Prayer for Owen Meany. Books have such power to affect us, to lift us up and take us to places — Jane Eyre is another book that puts pictures and voices in my head. 🙂 I’m only a little crazy!
Lynette, yep your post showed up on the Wana1011 FB wall, and I got an email and was able to click on the link and go right to you site. Nice and easy!
What I really love about this post is that you read A Wrinkle in Time so many times and love the story so much that it was like watching a movie in your mind. I love it when I’m reading a book that becomes so vivid and alive in my mind. Maybe one of these days they’ll make a movie. Thanks for sharing your favorites!
Thank you, Lynn. I’m glad the FB post worked. I’m learning so much in Wana1011, it’s kind of overwhelming at times.
As to A Wrinkle – there was a TV movie made in 2003. Of course, it wasn’t as wonderful as the one that played in my head when I was younger. 🙂
A Wrinkle in Time and Little Women are two of my favorites. I also love Great Expectations and see something I missed every time I read it. And Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave is special to me.
Thanks for the great post, Lynette. Beautifully written. See you at WANA1011!
I can’t believe it, someone else who loves Great Expectations! And The Crystal Cave. Oh my gosh. You guys are coming up with all kinds of books I want to reread, adding to an already tottering tower of TBR!
Hi Lynette – It wasn’t a book so much for me as a movie. I remember the very first time I watched The Wizard of Oz as a child and it switched from black and white (or sepia in some cases) to color. I remember my mouth gaping open and my mom watching my excitement. That was awesome! I still remember that moment every time I watch that movie now.
I loved Little Women as well and Jane Eyre and the Scarlett Letter. I was intrigued by the strong women in each of those books. Great classic!
Thanks for sharing this post.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
Another Wizard of Oz addict! I used to wait for them to rerun that movie every year. Now I own a DVD. Love that!
Okay, seriously, I can see that after this class I’m not going to get much sleep!
Thank you Lynette for reminding us of some of the great books that are out there. My book list is growing by leaps and bounds.
Look at you Lynette. You little rock star facebook poster! Thanks for the notification. Now if only I was that smart. I’m working on it. lol
I know what you mean about the book list.
Hmm, rock star? I feel all awkward and out-of-place. I’m still working on figuring out what I don’t know about setting up blogs, posting and notifications – and don’t get me started on Twitter! Thank goodness for the WANA class.
Terrific post, Lynette! I love what you say here: “And when the dark corners in my life grow darker and I need a reminder, I return to the book. It gives me strength, it reminds me that if you find it within yourself to love — really love — you will triumph.”
This is why we read and write, right?? 😉 Cheers!
Absolutely! Thanks for stopping by!
Lynette, it’s so hard for me to choose one book! When I was a little girl, I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books at night, hiding under the blankets with a flashlight after my parents told me it was time to turn off the lights. A few years ago, I read Cheyenne McCray’s “Wicked Magic,” and something inside me just switched on. That book was just perfect: two people making their way toward each other, each helping the other make sense of the shadows and demons in their lives. I’d been writing YA fantasy, and that book really helped me to branch out into adult romance and seek my own voice. I’m incredibly grateful for that.
Janelle – I know what you mean, so many books . . . Yes, I read the Little House books, too. But it sounds like Wicked Magic may be one of your books to be ‘grateful for.’ How wonderful that stories can do that. I’m going to have to find a copy of Wicked Magic. (She grins happily anticipating all the good reading to come!)
A great post!! Thank you for the great descriptions of your favorite books! I feel the same as you do regarding Little Women. It’s a book very close to my heart and I enjoyed reading your take on it and what it brings to your life. Well Done!!!
Aw, shucks! Thank you, Molly. You’ve made my day.
I absolutely loved A Wrinkle in Time. Earlier this year I went on a scavenger hunt to find some of those books that just made my childhood, and this was one of them. When I re-read it, it was like re-entering the nine-year-old me and I was, once again, transported. I’ve also been re-reading some of the Alan Garner books I loved so much, especially The Owl Service. Dark and spooky but just… magic.
I’m so glad you’re rediscovering those books, Naomi. I don’t know the Alan Garner books. Oh, dear – yet another set of books to add to my list! Love it! Thanks so much.