We've sidled along this subject before--those books that stick with us through our lives. Kim's Top Ten Books meme a few weeks back brought a whole bunch of great books to the list, and we even got a bit of why. I want to take it a step further.
If you are reading this, you are a reader, or a writer, or both. Some stories are read and enjoyed and forgotten. Some are remembered. And some, those treasured few, linger in our minds all our lives. I have loved many books, and I though I will name three here, they might not be my absolute favorite reads of all time; they are the ones that linger.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay
I could not count how many times I have read The Giver. When I read it the first time, I was in my twenties. I read it from the perspective of a sheltered young woman coming out of a very dark place to a world that was nothing she ever expected it to be. The Giver made me see that there was so much just beneath the surface, things I glimpsed now and again but never truly acknowledged. As an angsty thirtysomething rebelling against all those conventions and restrictions of a housewife and mother in 1990s suburbia, I disdained the conformity. The ultimate "keeping up with the Joneses" prettied up to look like it was all fair and equitable--as long as no one stepped out of their boxes. When I read it in my forties, I saw the overwhelming love imbued into every word of this story. Heading into my fifties, I am wondering what will grab at my heart next time.
Ender's Game. Is there a book with more controversy these days? While I respect those lines people draw around art vs. artist, I am one who separates them. Ender's Game never fails to bring me to tears from the very first pages. It touches that little kid in me, the one who never fit in, yet longed to be liked, safe. Loved. Every time Ender gets hurt, tries again, outsmarts those trying to trip him up--I cry. He is us, we are him. My motherly heart had a hard time saying, "I loved this book so much!" when it was all about a child being hurt, used, misused--and triumphant. As I read it now (the spark for this post) I read with all that controversy I mentioned earlier firmly in mind. It can't be helped--but it did not stop those tears when Ender is first forced to do or die.
Tigana. This is the one; the book I point to and say, "This is what made me a writer." I read it at first as any reader would--as a story of love and betrayal, adventure and hardship.
But then came the end...
I read the whole book believing one thing, and then got to the end and said to myself, "Oh! See what he did there? I didn't know this story or these characters at all!" When I read it the second time, because I now knew, I saw all the hints Mr. Kay wove in for me to follow. Details took on new meaning. Tigana taught me that good and evil depends upon the eyes one is looking out of in a way I might never have understood otherwise. It started the clicking that fit other writerly pieces into place, because Mr. Kay, in his brilliant way, taught me that creating a story isn't just pretty words that make adventures for our characters; he set me on the road to weaving tales rather than simply writing them.
These are the stories that linger for me, will linger all my life. What are yours?