Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lessons Between the Covers

I’ve been challenged to write about a book that has changed the way I look at something. Ironically, the hardest part of this challenge, at least for me, was choosing the book. How do you name only one book that changes you? Some books have taught me lessons in life; some have walked, hand in hand along with me, as I’ve learned my own lessons. There is a book of poetry, which without, I do not believe I would be writing today. There is also a book about God, which gave me peace in my heart, and showed me it’s OK to say, “I’m just not sure…”

There are classics, which gave me a deeper appreciation for writing. There are books of historical fiction, which have taught me something fascinating and at the same time, entertained me to tears.

For this challenge, I’ve chosen Margaret Mitchell’s, Gone with the Wind.

I was given the book by my mother, when I was around twelve or thirteen. I had already seen the movie, so I was familiar with the story. There was no doubt I would enjoy it. There was only one problem with the book, as far as my twelve year old self was concerned… It was too big!  I was judging the book by its cover, afraid to start it, because I was foolishly afraid it would never end.

The book sat on my shelf for at least three years. I looked at it now and then, turning its heavy hard cover around, flipping through pages.  Only to set it back on the shelf, until the next time it caught my attention. Finally, on one of those exploratory ‘flip-throughs’, I found the courage to actually start reading it. I struggled with the first sixty or so pages. I found them lacking in interest, leaving me bored and wondering if it would ever get better, an opinion which I still stand by today.

Page by page, I continued to read it, and before I knew it I’d fallen so in love with the story and the people Mitchell created, I could not put it down. By the time I had finished it, I was sad to say goodbye to Scarlett O’Hara, for the movie did not do her justice.

Never again would I judge a book by its length.

This is a lesson I’m teaching my oldest son, who at the tender age of eight, still sees reading as a chore. I see him when he picks a book, the way he holds it and judges it. Sometimes, I will suggest an old favorite, I think he might enjoy….

Does it have pictures?” He asks?

The words will paint the pictures for you.” I tell him.

How many pages does it have? He flips through it with apprehension.

Does it matter, if it’s a good story?” I reply.

Right now, on his shelf in his room, is his version of Gone with the Wind. It’s titled Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was mine, I gave it to him last year. I’ve caught him turning it over, feeling its weight, and flipping through its pages. He knows it’s a good story; he’s seen the film, but like his mother, he’s judging the book by its cover. Eventually, he’ll find himself willing to give it a try. He may put it down, but I have no doubt one day he’ll finish it.

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