Saturday, 17 November 2007

The sick-list

Blogging about reading when unwell yesterday reminded me that, when I was in my teens, I had a particular book which I always went back to when I was ill in bed. It became a ritual that I would read it before I got stuck into anything else. And, as I was rarely ill for more than a day (tendency to rude health in our farming family) I often ended up reading no more than this one book.
This is it, The Outsiders, by S E Hinton.

Nothing could have been further away from my farming childhood than this, the story of American teenage gangs and a divided city in which the young of the social underclass – the greasers – stick together for protection, while the young, upper class ‘socs’ (short for socials) stick together because they think everybody else is beneath them. And yet I loved it. The character through whom the story is told – Ponyboy Curtis – is such a real character I felt I was taking part in the tragic events of his family and his world. When I reached the part where his friend Johnny dies (last words ‘I’m just gonna miss you guys’ – see, I can still remember them even though it’s over twenty years since I read the book!) I always cried. Maybe that’s why it was my sick-book. I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and sympathising with Ponyboy and his friends did the trick.

Does anybody else have books they come back to and read again and again in particular circumstances?

1 comment:

Akasha Savage said...

The very first book by Dickens I ever read was Great Expectations, and it is still my favourite book by this great writer today. Whenever I am feeling low, down-hearted or ill, I turn to my friend Philip Pirrip (Pip), and he always cheers me up again.

It was also the favourite book of my Auntie Joy, who passed away eight years ago now. She had a very old cat who lived it's whole life in one of the upstairs bedrooms...for some scatty feline reason the animal would never venture down the stairs. My Aunt called the cat Miss Havisham.