The word “weaves” made me think of Louisa May Alcott and every other writer who has successfully woven people, places and plots into stories that have captured our imaginations for centuries.
I am in no position to critique anyone’s writing; I only know that there are books I enjoy and happily reread, and there are those I scratch my head over, and go “huh?”.
I read Alcott’s books as a teen, and nearly had Little Women as my English Literature text. It was changed to another book and we were never told why. Perhaps this was a good thing so my connection with the March girls was not influenced by any class discussions or dissections. On the other hand, there might have been much more depth and understanding to be gained.
Regardless, I do have two questions: Do you think a contemporary book called Little Women would go down well with readers today? How would you respond to being called a “little woman”?
It was quite difficult to settle on my November bullet journal theme.
There was so much uncertainty, pain, even nastiness each time I tried to watch the news that it became difficult to sit through it. I questioned humanity, or the lack of it. I wondered for the umpteenth time why it was so problematic to accept wearing a mask – if those working at the ice cream shop have always worn masks because it was hygienic to do so, why couldn’t we when there was a pandemic?
Anyway, I digress. This post is about my trusty bullet journal and the theme I settled on.
It is my tribute to Louisa May Alcott, writer of the series that made me wish I had sisters, a Marmee and time for make believe dressups, writing, messy relationships and all the ingredients for a memorable growing up period. Alcott was born in November.
But, with today’s backdrop in mind, I wonder what the reactions might be to a title like LittleWomen.
Last November, I was in the Young Adult Fiction section of my local bookstore, wondering whether or not to purchase a set of Keeper of Lost Cities books by Shannon Messenger for the library.
You should get them all,” said this voice behind me.
The speaker was a teenaged boy. Bespectacled, way taller than I was, and holding a stack of books in his arms.
They’re really good,” he continued. “I’ve read the lot and I’m just bummed number eight’s still not out yet.”
He must have thought I was an idiot because I literally stared at him, mute, for several seconds before remembering my manners and thanking him for the recommendation. And that yes, I would buy the set.
His mother joined us as he was describing the stories in Book Three and promptly apologised for him annoying me.
I assured her he was doing nothing of the sort, and that I was learning a lot from him. We chatted a bit more about the other books he had with him, then parted ways.
I could not have imagined that my book buying jaunt would result in the privilege of meeting this young man and his mother, and learning so much about seeing books through the eyes of an actual teenaged reader of books, the group I’d feared misplaced in modern techo-civilisation. Indeed, he had been a joy to chat with. He was articulate, knowledgeable, well mannered, and a credit to his mother.
I highly doubt he or his mother will read this but if they do, thank you. The young man’s unexpected act of kindness in taking the time to share his enthusiasm for some books restored my faith in young readers and, more importantly, in the future.
Don’t get me wrong – I realise they are critical. Where else could we go if something’s gone wrong and we need to consult somebody?
But, really, do I have to tap this many numbers to establish my identity, my language preference, the type of service I require … after listening to lists of options where I’ve forgotten what Option 2 was because I’m trying to decide if Option 7 is more appropriate?
Then I hold, and listen to scratchy 80s music on a never-ending loop, interrupted by recorded messages announcing how the customer service officers are all busily engaged but I will be attended to shortly. I’m lucky if I get to speak to an actual person within 22 minutes, despite my call being of utmost importance.
So I dreaded this call to my library. You see, my phone died on me. Despite valiant resuscitation efforts, it became clear I needed a new phone. Fortunately, I’d backed up the old phone fairly recently so I was able to transfer data back from the computer, except for the ebooks I’d borrowed via the OverDrive app. Those books completely disappeared.
I reinstalled the app, logged back in, registered myself all over again … nothing. Now, I wouldn’t have minded if I’d lost my own ebooks. But these were library ebooks – would I now be liable for eternal e-fines because they would be forever overdue?
Life, as I’ve learnt, always has surprises.
A lady answered after five rings (yes, I counted). She was polite, cheerful and supremely apologetic that she was unable to help because she wasn’t familiar with OverDrive. If I would please hold, she’d transfer me to someone who could help.
Lionel Ritchie barely sang three bars before another lady answered. She patiently walked me through what I’d done, making encouraging noises along the way. Then she explained where I’d erred. I won’t bore anybody with the details but I understood her explanations, followed her subsequent instructions and – behold! – the ebooks were back in my new phone.
But she wasn’t done. She suggested I logged out and repeated the steps so I’d remember what to do “next time, just in case”. That done, she asked that I borrowed another book, just to check that the app was working fine. It was. She wished me well and said to call back if I had further problems.
It was the most pleasant conversation I’ve ever had with anyone from customer services. Cynics might interpret this as, ‘well, it’s a library, not the ABC Store with 250 call-ins a day’ but I don’t think it changes how pleasant and helpful the ladies were. The second lady, in particular, was unbelievably kind enough to go the extra mile: she could have hung up after my books were downloaded.
I came across this Reading Corner at the airport, of all places.
Intrigued, I wanted to inspect the titles and savour this joyful moment of discovering such a corner in an airport. First, however, I wanted to take a photo to prove I wasn’t hallucinating.
But as I lifted my camera, a little poppet galloped towards the shelves, shrieking, “Book! Book!”
I paused. A Reading Corner in a public space with books and a poppet excited by books?
Life had more surprises for me. The father grabbed the poppet. “Meimei, wait. Let the auntie take her photo first.”
It really was too much. I snapped the photo, thanked the father, waved at the poppet and retreated.
Inspecting book titles can wait. Celebrating this little vignette cannot. I am warmed by a father’s kind understanding and gracious patience, and a tiny child’s enthusiasm for books. And by the use of potential retail space for encouraging reading.
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