“If you take a book with you on a journey, an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it . . . yes, books are like flypaper—memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”
– Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Sometimes books become sensory containers for vivid memories, and the next book on my list certainly has. I distinctly remember sitting on my parents’ back patio, curled up in a wicker rocking chair on a warm summer afternoon, and finishing the last page of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It was the first time I felt like I had read a real, “grown up” book, and I was so excited that I went straight to my journal to write about it.
Little Women is, of course, a perennial classic, and for good reason–who could resist the many adventures of the lovely and sophisticated Meg, spirited and stubborn Jo, shy and kind-hearted Beth, and spoiled and impetuous Amy? With their beloved father away fighting in the Civil War, and their mother working to try to provide for her daughters, the sisters had to care for each other, help bear each other’s burdens, and work through the challenges and joys of life together. Once again, I realize I was drawn to a story in which a main character–Jo, in this case–is a writer, scribbling out dozens of stories with dreams of being published in what was, at that time, an industry fairly dominated by men. But in addition, having always enjoyed a sweet and remarkably close relationship with my own sister despite our 5-year age gap, I also loved reading about these four sisters as they learned to grow up together.
It is, in short, a book that will always retain the same charm as it carried that summer afternoon on the porch.