The Wisdom of Your Favorite Stories

As a teacher, my schedule goes in cycles. I’m usually stressed beyond belief for nine months of the year and then have just enough “summer vacation” to relax and recharge for the cycle to begin again.

This past summer, I had the chance to chill out for awhile and ponder some major life decisions that are before me… thinking about where I want to be, what I want to be doing, who I want to be doing it with. You know… the normal questions of existence 😉

And all the time I thought about those big life things, the wisdom I’d learned from my favorite books kept popping into my mind. Mostly, the infinite wisdom of my favorite heroine and writer, Anne Shirley.

Since I could read, she’s been in my mind and my heart. I always wanted, and have been lucky to find, a bosom friend like Diana Barry. And I just recently bought an “I ❤ Gilbert” wristband which proclaims my undying love for the sweetest hero of all!

But the proclamations that come out of Anne’s mouth are most precious of all to me… here is some of the wisdom I hold dear, even so many years after first reading it.

  • It’s alright to use big words, even if people laugh at you: “And people laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”
  • A sense of wonder is a requirement for living: “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes feel glad to be alive — it’s such an interesting world.”
  • Good friends are worth working for: “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
  • There is never only one version of you, and this is what people will love most: “There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think it is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne, it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” & “Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while it lasts.”
  • Every day is a new opportunity: “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
  • Sometimes life leads in unexpected directions that may be just as beautiful and excited as what we had hoped for on our expected path: “I shall give life here my best, and I believe it will give its best to me in return. When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes — what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows — what new landscapes — what new beauties — what curves and hills and valleys further on.”

And of course, my favorite,

  • ‘Dear old world, ‘ she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.’

So what about you? What wisdom about life, love, and romance have you kept with you from your favorite books, both old and new? Does this wisdom inspire you as a reader? A writer? A lover of life?

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12 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Your Favorite Stories

  1. I love Anne Shirley. I love the movies. I love the books. When the world gets too much, I step back to Prince Edward Island and just absorb the simpler time. This is a wonderful post. — Amy

  2. Thanks, Amy! I adore Anne Shirley and aspire to be like her… even down to living in PEI if I can ever swing it 🙂 And yes, her world seems like a simpler time, but what I love about it is that Anne still has the same worries and problems then as girls (and women!) do now. It’s easy to relate to her.

  3. Oh Kim! What a fabulous post. This so brings me back. Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite books ever as a girl, and I still love it. In fact, to this day, I gift copies of AoGG to young girls too. I firmly believe every girl should get to know and be friends with Anne. 🙂

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. I think one of the reasons I love romance so much is the lessons and messages it imparts. It teaches women that a relationship based on mutual love, trust, passion, and respect is possible, and they shouldn’t settle for less.

  4. In my younger years, one book, I think it was Rose in Bloom, but don’t hold me to that; gave me permission to be myself. Unfortunately, my grandparents didn’t agree, and as I lived with them, I spent year struggling against their preconceived ideas of what a lady should do with her life. Later, in my late teens and early twenties, music was my main influence. Then again, that was when all the great folk music was out. I also read, but mostly esoteric books that are no longer in print. My friends and I would ponder the meaning of life and protest the Viet Nam war.

    • Ella, I didn’t live through that time, but I sometimes wish we still had a culture that actively encourages groups of people to talk about ideas like you and your friends did. This is where books can come in. I have read so much great literature that allowed me to effectively have conversations with authors and, at least in grad school, with friends.

  5. You know, it was never the traditional books that influenced me as a child, though I did have my fair share of The Boxcar Children, The Bobbsey Twins, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew adventures constructed throughout my youth. I think it was more the breadth of books that my dad thought were great for me to read as I saw fit that really influenced me. Mathematics for Mechanics, The Rise and Death of a Druid Prince, books about the history of slavery, even Playboy magazine. Everything had a purpose and no knowledge was wasted. As long as I was reading, I was learning (and boy did we talk about everything I read, just so he could be sure; I HAD to pay attention). No knowledge is wasted. Great post, luv. Thank you for sharing it.

    • I love this, Jennelle. My mom bought me Crime and Punishment for my 12th birthday and said, “I think you’re ready for this.” She always challenged me to read whatever I wanted. I still have my journals with the lists of books I wanted to read! And I completely agree with you. No knowledge is wasted. We can maybe see this even more now that we’re writing, right? There are things I remember from all those books I loved that come back now as I’m dreaming up stories of my own.

  6. I loved the Anne books so much; even more so Montgomery’s Emily series.

    Let’s see, my favorite piece of wisdom from a book…not from a specific book, but in general, I found more feisty, smart, quirky girls in books than in movies or on TV. From books, I learned that it was okay to be weird and confident, as long as I was also kind and just. From books, I learned that I would find a group of friends anyway and that anyone who didn’t get me didn’t deserve me. Anne Shirley and Emily Starr, with an assist from Jo March, Ramona Quimby, Harriet Welsch and Matilda Wormwood, taught me this valuable lesson.

    • I’ve seen the Emily of New Moon tv series and I have been meaning to read the books for a long time!

      I love the list of heroines you learned from, Emma. I agree that these characters did seem like friends and role models. I had the same thought (and still have it) that if this girl can be herself, so can I! I feel lucky to have found friends in my life who had the same attitude 🙂

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