“These books were a way of escaping from the unhappiness of my life.”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
I have been reading books since the day I could read. Of course, in my youth, there was no such thing as computers. I grew up on the Boxcar Children, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, the Dragonlance Chronicles, The Forgotten Realms, etc., and only until post-teen years did I pick up a classic novel. I thought classics were dull. Especially when I had to read books like All Quiet on the Western Front, Lord of the Flies, and The Scarlet Letter during high school (I don’t care for any of those books). My classes didn’t read the “cool” books like 1984, and back then, it was okay by me because I was too busy reading King and Crichton.
At 20, I picked a classic book out of my father’s library at random. It was Jane Eyre. And my reading life forever changed. I though it was going to be a dull romance. I didn’t care for dull, or romance, back then. Boy, was I wrong. I decided to read another classic, Crime and Punishment, and consequently fell in love with Dostoevsky and classic literature ever since.
All those fantasy stories transported me far away from my teenage angst. All the vampires and magical spells fueled my art and imagination back then. But classic literature has, and still does, play a deeper role in my life. I know I am not alone when I say that particular books have had an eerie and unplanned correlation to whatever struggle I would be going through at the time.
Contemporary books have not done this for me. The epic fantasy books I’ve read never touched me in this way, either. They may contain pithy sayings or valiant themes, but they don’t touch my soul like classic literature.
Dicken’s quote is a reflection of David’s as a youth struggling to accept his abusive stepfather. David Copperfield is one of many influential books in my life. While Brothers Karamazov tops my favorite book of all time, I feel Les Misérables tore up my soul the most. As I read the ending of that book, I cried and cried so hard as if one of my parents had died. I love Valjean from the bottom of my heart.
I was going through an impossibly hard time in my life when I read Les Misérables. I was spiritually struggling when I read Brothers Karamazov. I was relearning everything about human nature when I read Dead Souls. I was struggling with feeling unappreciated when I read David Copperfield. The list goes on. I’ve gone through hardship for years on end for a while back then, and I can honestly say that those books aren’t special to me just because I was navigating rough seas. Great Expectations, while a fantastic book, didn’t touch me, despite the heartaches I was going through at the time. And so on.
I highly doubt I will read another book like Les Misérables. I plan to reread these books again in the future, and I wonder if they will teach me again as they have taught me already?
What books have touched your soul?
I hereby nominate the following blogs to the quotes challenge! See my first post for info. Of course, no one is really obligated to participate in the challenge — only if you want to!