We re-readers are an often mocked group; I can’t even recall how many times my Mom has said to me, “WHY do you re-read books when there are so many books out there you haven’t read?!” I understand the question, I really do, and trust me, I’m doing my best to get through the hundred million or so that I haven’t read yet. But re-reading a favorite book from my youth is the book equivalent to settling down in a hot bubble bath: I relax and my tired brain sighs happily as I step back into a story I know and love. I think I’ve read my favorite book from seventh grade at least 20 times (a virtually unknown Rudyard Kipling book called Stalky & Co.); I know I read Gone With the Wind 10 or more times by the time I was 20 years old, and yes, laugh if you will, but I bet I’ve read The Scarlett Pimpernel about that many times, too… in fact, I could go on and on about the books I’ve never been able to entirely leave alone. I was a voracious young reader who grew up to be an adult whose one great weakness is buying books. And like many readers, I can now point to the characters I loved when I was young as some of my greatest influences. I didn’t just READ Anne of Green Gables— I’m pretty sure that I became, in a small way, Anne Shirley, Emily Byrd Starr, and (my favorite of the L.M. Montgomery heroines) Jane Stuart.
The popularity of blogger and writer Lizzie Skurnick’s column “Fine Lines” makes apparent that she and I are not the only women who not only remember our favorite YA books fondly; we can no more leave them alone than we could our closest friends. In short, we NEED these characters, even now, because they help us regain the feeling that we had at 13 that life was exciting and ahead of us. So, since it’s summer and you (hopefully) have the time, head to your bookshelves, pluck off a favorite book you haven’t looked at in years, and settle in for a visit with a old, but-not-quite-forgotten friend.
Here is Lizzie Skurnick’s imaginary Young Adult class reading list:
Jacob Have I Love, by Katherine Paterson
An Old Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott
Secret Lives, by Berthe Amoss
Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare
Island of the Blue Dolphin, by Scott O’Dell
And here is a link to Lizzie’s blog, Old Hag