A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I first read this book when I was 14 years old and in 8th grade. I can not remember if it was assigned reading or a book I simply stumbled upon. My guess is that it was assigned. I had a wonderful 8th grade English teacher, Mr. O'Donnell, and I can easily imagine him assigning this amazing book to his Junior High School students. As I grew into adulthood, I remembered that I LOVED this book, but I couldn't remember much else about it. Except for an image of a homeless man with gnarled and filthy feet and how the protagonist (a teen age girl) saw his feet and thought to herself that at one time he was someone's precious baby boy and his mama probably kissed his tender pink toes with love. Wow! THAT image stayed with me for nearly 25 years at which time I finally took the time to reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I was curious to see if I still loved the book as an adult as I had as a young teen. The answer is YES! I loved it! It's wonderful. I recommend it to almost everyone who comes into the library and tells me they are "looking for a good book". And not a single one of them has ever been disappointed. Typically, when they return the book they ask for another recommendation. And without a moments hesitation I say....
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Ahhh! Somehow I managed to live 43 whole years before I read this book! What a shame. I remember first hearing about this book from the woman who was my hairdresser at that time. Isabel was a fellow book lover who received this book as a Christmas present and positively raved about it to me. It took me approximately 3 years before I finally decided to pick it up myself. Why did it take so long? Well, I am constantly learning about great new books. I try my best to keep up with all these wonderful new titles. Of course, I can't possibly read all the fabulous books I hear or read about, but I do give it the old college try. Since I am always frantically trying to keep up with all the great current literature being published, to go back and read an "old" book is very hard for me. Such a dilemma! Anyway, this book is worth a bookshelf full of great new books. It is worth dropping everything and reading - right now! And like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, no one has ever been disappointed that I recommended it.
How about you? Is there a book (or books) that you consider to be "transcendent"? Not just a good book or a great book, but your All Time Favorite Book. If so, I'd love to hear about it. Please feel free to leave a comment sharing the title of your "transcendent" book.
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