If real life were books.

It’s funny how, like with memories of things that actually happened, there are images derived from passages of books read that stick with us forever, despite their particular existence in individual minds alone. Reading Little Women for the first time as a girl, I was immediately drawn to Jo March—not because of her energy, independence, wit or general endearing qualities—though those later became ideals as well, but because of a single scene very early on in the story. There is an image of Jo carting a bag of apples up to a window seat in the attic (or at least somewhere high up in the March house) and spending hours reading and eating the fruit one after another. I remember thinking that this was perfection, that this was something that I would do and from that moment on, I allied myself with Jo in the story thinking that surely, we would be very good friends in real life. I love reading! I rarely go a day without devouring at least one apple! I didn’t have a window seat, but in lieu of it, on nice days, I used to climb up a particularly well-suited tree in our front yard and sit on a strong branch with my back against the trunk to read and watch people go by. Jo would do that too, right?

I have always carried this impression with me as the perfect day. With the kind of high spirits that are unique to spring, particularly those first days when it is warm in the morning as well as the rest of the day, the picture of Jo March reading and eating apples, curled up in a sunlit seat came to me today…and I’m pretty sure that I know how I’ll be spending my Saturday, now. While I still don’t have a window seat (mental note for future house), there’s a park and a farmer’s market for apples and plenty of books to make the afternoon worth it.

Are there any particularly lovely or strong literary memories—or characters—that come back to you every once in awhile? This weather does it for me, though I am sure there are other scenes and dialogues that will come to me just as clearly when something else triggers my memory in that right way.

4 Responses to If real life were books.

  1. Terri says:

    hot buttered toast and sweet milky tea from 101 Dalmatians- gets me every time

  2. Amy says:

    “Wild nights are my glory.”

    That line of Mrs. Whatsit’s (A WRINKLE IN TIME) echoes in my head on particularly windy evenings. I always hope she’ll crash-land on my doorstep.

  3. Donn says:

    Would you say it’s something about children’s books that do this? Because for me, well a lot of different scenes – very specific, very determined, very real – come to mind when I think about the idea, but they’re almost all coming from books I read in childhood.

    Is it just because of how children’s books are written next to most other fiction, or is it because of who I was when I read them, my imagination or immersion? Has something been lost?

  4. Gilbert J. Avila says:

    When I was little my ideal days were spent lying on the cellar doors and eating vanilla wafers while reading ACE Doubles science fiction paperbacks. ACE Doubles were books printed back-to-back. When you finished one you just flipped it over and there would be another novel to read. I’m 62 and I still have and re-read them.

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