19 December 2018

41-year love affair with a book

Gone with the Wind

“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” - C.S. Lewis

I have a confession to make: I’ve been in love with Gone With The Wind, the novel, for 41 years - ever since my mother gave it to me when I was 13. I’ve read it every year for 41 years, having just completed it a few days ago. And after this reading, I’ve decided that it won’t be an annual ritual. I will give this beloved book, with the detached cover, the packing tape binding, and the well-thumbed pages, a rest. It’s time.

It may seem ridiculous to some to read a book 41 times. Why did I do it?
And why have I decided not to read Gone With The Wind every year anymore?
I’m entering a new chapter of my life. Will there be another book that I feel compelled to read more than once? There have been only a few books that I have read twice.

  1. It gave me comfort. As a gift from a mother who was only marginally in my life, shortly after my dad died at the young age of 46, it made me feel that I had a connection with her that I otherwise did not have. Also, having read it so many times, I could read it even when anxiety had overtaken my thoughts, when understanding an unfamiliar book would have been impossible. It became like a welcome friend.
  2. I love the story, the characters, the writing, the setting. I simply adore the book.
  3. As a novel writer, I love that Margaret Mitchell was able to write such a long and magnificent book without the benefit of a word processor or writing software such as Scrivener. I love that she completed her manuscript in only three years and that she was rejected by 38 publishers before finding one who would publish her novel. It gives me the incentive to keep writing and to keep submitting VIVOS to publishers until one says “yes.”
  4. I always looked forward to “escaping” to the antebellum South each year, wondering what it would have been like to be a Southern belle from a cotton plantation. I find the Civil War fascinating and the story inspired my interest in it.
  1. There are so many great books out there that I want to read, and I’m getting behind on my TBR pile.
  2. I’ve decided to do book reviews, both as a part of my blog and to support fellow and sister writers by reviewing their books on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble, so I have to be reading new books. Leaving reviews is a great way to help a writer. I hope other writers will give me the same support someday.
  3. I don’t write historical fiction, and I need to be reading what I’m writing, which is currently science fiction, and in the future, crime thrillers or murder mysteries, if all goes as planned.
  4. I recently celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary with my husband, Rob, who has completed my life in a way that hadn’t happened until I met him in 2013. I no longer need to revisit my “relationship” with my mother each year. I no longer need to rely on my relationship with the O’Haras, Hamiltons, and Wilkeses.
  5. As I’ve been reading some of the classics lately, I’m feeling dissatisfied with some of the dated references. Gone With The Wind, of course, has slavery, and Rhett Butler’s treatment of Scarlett at times was reprehensible. I’ve read some of the old murder mysteries that were written by men, and have been appalled at the way men treated women in these books: hitting them, touching them or otherwise being too familiar with them, calling them “doll” and “sweetheart” when they were neither. I’m not a big proponent of political correctness because I think it’s gone too far, but certain topics can be a turnoff - at which point I put the book down, I don’t ban it or burn it or tell others not to read it.

What books have you read more than once, and why?