Thursday, July 22, 2010

Forgotten Books


It may seem crazy to some to think of Gone With the Wind, a perennial favorite for close to 75 years now, as a forgotten book. But among many women of my generation (I’m 44), it IS forgotten. That is to say, my friends KNOW about it, but they’ve never READ it. Something unknown keeps them away from it, tempted though they may be. They toss around all kinds of explanations as to why they haven’t read it:


"It’s dated, it’s too long, I don’t read historical books, I’ll watch the movie instead..."


I think they’re nuts!


I first read Gone With the Wind when I was in eleventh grade. I couldn’t put it down--even sneaking away to the back room of the little store I worked at to read when I should have been dusting shelves or stocking or any of a number of other retail tasks. But I had to see what Scarlett would do next. How Rhett would respond. What he’d do in return. I was lost in Atlanta, a city I didn’t know from Adam, but which held magical charm for me. And Scarlett’s life philosophy--After all, tomorrow is another day--are pretty good words to live by.


I’ve tried to get friends to through caution to the wind and read the book. I chose it for book club and it was a smashing success. Startling after all these years how the book holds up, how there is so much to discuss in terms of the Civil War, Scarlett’s choices, Rhett’s commitment and unique system of honor, carpetbaggers, yankees, midwifery, the South, and so much more. It was an interesting reminder, as well, to recall how different the movie is from the book. Katie Scarlett had children! Several children, not just the tragic Bonnie Blue Butler.


Scarlett was a feminist--of a sort-- before feminism existed. She used whatever means she had to--whatever was at her disposal--to get what she wanted, and she made no bones about it. Was she always right? No. In fact, usually she was wrong. But we cheer her on anyway because she’s so determined not to let life beat her down.

Gone With the Wind probably isn’t as forgotten as I'm making it out to seem--in fact, I could take the other side of my own argument and say it will never be forgotten--but to those women who’ve not made the leap yet, or who would rather watch the movie, and to my daughter’s generation (she’s a week shy of 10), it could well become forgotten unless we, who love it, pass it on.


So here’s to Margaret Mitchell for creating one unforgettable heroine and a book which should never be forgotten.


Now it's your turn. What's one unforgettable book in your reading history?


~Misa / Melissa

11 comments:

  1. Pretty much all the Jane Austen books are my unforgettables. I usually read one or two every year.

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  2. Some of John Steinbeck titles (Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

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  3. My older brother read Of Mice and Men to me and my younger brother one rainy afternoon when we were teenagers. I'll never forget that!

    Funny, the things that stick with you.

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  4. GONE WITH THE WIND is my "book I'd take if I were stranded on a desert island and could only have one" because I can read it over and over again and still get lost in it! Thanks for writing this post, Misa! It's so nice to know there's another huge GWTW novel fangirl among the Stiletto Gang! ;-)

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  5. I'm not sure why, but "The World According to Garp" by John Irving is my favorite book of all time. I think that book is the reason I became a writer. But I do love GWTW. Great post, Misa! Maggie

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  6. THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson had a big effect on me as a pre-teen. It gave me the love of haunted house stories.

    (Here's what Wiki says about the book - "The Haunting of Hill House" is a 1959 novel by author Shirley Jackson. Considered one of the best literary ghost stories published during the twentieth century, it has been made into two feature films and a play. Jackson's novel relies on terror rather than horror to elicit emotion by the reader, utilizing complex relationships between the mysterious events in the house and the characters’ psyches.)

    Believe me the films are no where as good as the book.

    Rhonda
    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

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  7. I read Gone with the Wind when I was 13, and other than the fact that I wanted to slap Scarlett most of the time, I'm very glad that I read the book. I think the magic book for was To Kill a Mockingbird, or Rebecca, it's a very close tie there. I know that I've reread both over the years and enjoyed them just as much, if differently, from the first time I read them.

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  8. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a great example. I love that book. Just purchased a new hardback copy of it in celebration of its 50 year ??? anniversary.

    Rhonda
    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

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  9. ah yes, To Kill A Mockingbird is also one of those books that stay with you often. I enjoyed reading it again just a couple of weeks ago. Gone With The Wind is one of my all-time favorite books and movie as well.

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  10. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all time favorite books, too! Awesome choice!!

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  11. I loved "Gone with the Wind" - but my favorite book is "Moonheart" by Charles de Lint. It speaks of music and family, of magic around us and in us, and uses Celtic and Shamanic mythos.

    -Kess

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