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:
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.)