I recall when I decided to join the classics book club over at 5 minutes for books that it'd be just the incentive and motivation I needed to read all of those books that a person really should read before they die.
I figured with all the novels of Austen, Dickens and Hardy alone we had a good few years worth of titles to trudge our way through.
So when I saw this last months selection was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn I thought to myself 'WHAT?' I came to the sad realisation that I am a patriotic literary snob, a fact that I had never previously discovered about myself. How could this Betty Smith woman and her book that I had never heard of in all my life be regarded as a classic?
How could it be in the same league as Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre (even if it was a bit of a yawn-fest)? I almost opted out. After all nobody cares if I play along or not. But then I saw the selection for January was Hamlet. I am most definitely skipping that one.
Now don't get me wrong I don't mind some Shakespeare, the fellow was an odd looking genius and I have spent many a day visiting his hometown of Stratford Upon Avon but please oh please spare me the Monarchy and spare me the tragedies. I love Shakespeare for his comedies and his comedies alone (truly you have to watch Much ado about nothing if only for Keanu Reeves in leather pants and not a stitch else).
So not wanting to slack off for two months I decided to read A tree grows in Brooklyn. I put my British literary snobbishness aside and dove in.
Never have I been both so depressed and so inspired by the same book.
I loved it.
I also have to admit it was a welcome relief to read it after the wordiness of those Austen and Bronte chicks.
I found the character of Francie enchanting from start to finish.
I love that Sissy reaffirmed to me that we can judge people for their actions but their hearts may make them better people than we actually are.
I loved too that I came to the realisation that parenting isn't about being perfect. It is about doing the best we can to make our children's lives better than our own. Though I may not be able to meet every single one of my children's needs perfectly if I do what I can it will benefit them and they in turn will benefit their children.
As one generation passes and another is born new opportunities abound and families are the vehicles for these opportunities.
Generally when I read I give the book away when I am finished (or else our house would be a library by now) but this one I am keeping in my permanent collection.
The selection for next month is Charles Dickens:A Christmas Carol (to be read by December 2nd) so I'll happily be resuming my British literary snobbishness for that. Why not join in?