Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Book for Good Times or Bad...Really Bad

Literary Blog HopI'm glad to be able to join the Literary Blog Hop this week (I missed the last go round because I was out of town or busy or something...my memory is failing me.)  The question of the week is from Mel u @ The Reading Life: If you were going off to war (or some other similarly horrific situation) and could only take one book with you, which book would you take and why?

I don't know if I've ever really imagined myself going to war, so this question has caused me to stop and think.  It's like your desert island pick, only opposite, right?  One book that will get you through it all...except that in war (or some other similarly horrific situation) you may not have much time to read, you are probably a little worried about having courage or facing death, and not necessarily in prime living conditions.

There is one book that I think would fill the necessary areas brilliantly:
  • engaging to read in small bits or long stretches (also, straight through/mixed excerpts)
  • real situations to make it more personal/meaningful
  • different enough setting to make the themes universal
  • main character I can identify with
  • difficult situations to contrast my difficult situation
  • display of courage, integrity, and hope--to inspire those qualities in my situation
  • substantial and satisfying in size and themes
It isn't Persuasion, much as I love it.  Nor is it War and Peace, despite the war-time setting and the fact that I loved it as well.  It is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn...and just thinking about it makes me want to jump into reading it again (must resist! did you see my recent post?!)  I think I love everything about this book.  I love the setting, the characters, the plot, the writing.  It has the power to put me through the whole range of emotions, from laughter and compassion to sadness and anger.  Francie Nolan's childhood really is a sort of battle, and she shows so much courage and integrity that she should come off as gratingly good, too perfect to be plausible, yet somehow she doesn't.  Certainly a good enough companion in the midst of war, this might be my desert island book as well.

23 comments:

  1. Aww, I LOVE this book. What a great choice. This might be my second book if I could bring two.

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  2. Ingrid, I thought the same thing about your choice. :)

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  3. Ah, I adore A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I have a very early edition (possibly first) that I treasure. I think you were posting about Villette last week, which is why you missed the hop. Did you end up having to put it down because of the mountain of books you are reading?

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  4. I'd love to have an old copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn...was that the copy that you found ridiculously cheap?

    I've not given up on Villette! I'm enjoying it a lot...I'm a little behind, but I should have a post up about it tonight. I work well with deadlines. :) I finished reading Remarkable Creatures last night, so I'm starting to feel like I'm getting this thing under control!

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  5. I love that you chose a book that gives off so many different feelings and that every part of it works well for you as a reder. I felt the same way about my choice (The Green Mile). Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

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  6. I could tell that you felt the same way about The Green Mile...that's what made me think I'd better put that one on my list! I seem to always forget that Stephen King has non-scary stuff, even though I've read a couple.

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  7. Whoa! You are veru enthusiastic about this book :)
    You mention that it must be something that you should be able to read in bits and my initial reaction was actually to bring an anthology of short stories, but then I put myself through the process of thinking abut what I would need.

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  8. Yeah, I think I get more excited about it as time passes. :) It's a book that, for me, has it all...a book to judge other books by. Glad to see my enthusiasm shines through!

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  9. Yes, of course! A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Fantastic choice.

    And I'm with you....Going to war? Me?

    Here's my post: www.readerbuzz.blogspot.com

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  10. Haha, exactly, Deb! What would I be doing on the war front? Cooking? Poor soldiers! Nah, I'd be curled up with Francie Nolan.

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  11. Ahh... somehow, I've never read this one. I really need to, though. I've also never read The Secret Garden, which everyone seems to hate me for. lol

    I like that you went through the thought-process, I had to debate about what I would want/need from a book in that situation, too. I know a lot of people just picked their favorite book, but I didn't find any of my favorites (other than Harry Potter, which is multiple books) appropriate.

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  12. Oh, I like The Secret Garden too. You Haven't Read It??!! (kidding, kidding)

    As I was thinking through what I would want/need in a book, I started to worry that I wouldn't come up with anything. :) I'm glad this one popped into my head, it really fits the bill for me.

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  13. Yes, Brooklyn is the one I found ridiculously cheap.. good memory!

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  14. not read this, although a lot of people like it, so may have to find out what the fuss is.

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  15. Parrish, it's a quiet sort of book, but one of those where the characters and the setting are so well drawn that you feel like you were there.

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  16. Melody, I remember reading and loving this book many years ago. Maybe it's time for a reread. I like quiet books, and this is one with a lasting power. Good choice.

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  17. I'm ready for a reread and it hasn't even been a year yet. :) I'm going to put that readiness-enthusiasm to good use and read her other book: Joy in the Morning. (hoping I'm not let down!)

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  18. Nice choice!! I love it and the reasons you picked it.

    I'm following from the hop.

    ecwrites.blogspot.com

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  19. I've never been able to get into A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but you talk about it with such passion that you make me want to give it another chance. Great post!

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  20. I haven't read this one yet; although I did manage to snag a copy from BookMooch last month. I have definitely heard great things about it though.

    Thanks for stopping by eclectic / eccentric!

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  21. Gautami and Elisabeth, thanks for coming by and sharing the love. :)

    Letter4no1, it does take a little while to really get into it, especially if you are reading it in bits. But if you allow yourself some stretches of time to settle into it, to connect with the characters and see and feel what they see and feel, it is a powerful book.

    Trisha, I hope you get around to reading it--I'd love to hear what you think!

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