The Books I Have Loved
Through all of the books high school english classes required us to read, only one, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, had been written by a female author. To read outside of The Dead White Guy’s Club, I had to go to college where I was required to read THE COLOR PURPLE. I loved that story. The main character, Celia, blossoms from a victim into a strong, capable, tender woman. The story sounds simple, but it was horrifying and bruising to read. And if felt real. Far more immediate to me than most of the books my high school english teacher had thought were so delightful. (To this day, I defy anyone to explain the point of CATCHER IN THE RYE. No, really. Whining about getting laid aside, is there a point to that book? I read the whole thing waiting for something – anything to happen…) Alice Walker writes about things actually happening and about people changing as a result, sometimes, in not so pleasant ways. She gets one of my favorites spots.
All of that said, one of the Dead White Guy’s books blew me away when I read it senior year of high school. Don’t tell the english teacher I said so, will you? THE PLAGUE by Albert Camus. The book description from Amazon says: “A haunting tale of human resilience in the face of unrelieved horror, Camus’ novel about a bubonic plague ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature.” Uhm. That’s not what the novel’s about. Bubonic plague is the literary device, sure, but really, there’s no plague unless you count the occupying soldiers as the plague. That’s what the book is about. It was fascinating and striking to read the story and watch how subtly Camus directed your attention. It’s still a book that can give me shivers of both delight at his skill and dread at the story action.
Of the books I’ve chosen to read of my own accord, there are too many favorites to mention. I’ll limit myself to one. SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley. Rae Seddon, Sunshine to her friends and family, ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Kidnapped by a gang of young vampires, she’s chained to a wall as a sacrifice to an older, infinitely more terrifying vampire. As much a prisoner as she, he declines to make a meal of her. In return, Sunshine feels it’s only fair to take him with her when she mobilizes barely remembered skills to conjure up a key for their shackles.
I adore this book. Dunno why, so much, but it is one I read and reread in times of stress or when I feel overwhelmed. I don’t particularly want to analyze the why of the balm this story provides. I just want the magic to keep on working whenever I crack the cover. For a decade now, it has worked. If you read it, I hope it works the same way for you, too.
Posted on April 4, 2013, in Marcella Burnard and tagged Albert Camus, Alice Walker, Classics, Dead White Guys Club, Robin McKinley, Sunshine, The Color Purple, The Plague, Wuthering Heights. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.