Expectations that are Great

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“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears…”-Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I read. a lot.

Since learning to read as a young kid, there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t held a book in my hands. I always carry whatever book I’m reading plus one or two back up books in case I finish the current book and have reading time to spare. I can’t be without reading material of intellectual substance at my fingers.

Every book worm should carry a spare book in case of emergencies of boredom.

I buy purses based on how many books I can cram into them while still holding those so called essentials like my phone, wallet and keys. Still, there have been times when I have carried those things outside of my purse so I can fit more books in my bag.

Only the best of the literary best, however, gain that kind of special treatment.

Honestly, though, to choose one text that I hold in the highest esteem would be an impossible feat. Still, there are texts that capture my love more strongly than others. I have two favorite books. Well, books that will tug at my heart strings a little more tightly than others.

To start, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I am absolutely in love with the innocent honesty of the protagonist Pip. He was sweet without being sappy and easily wins the audience reading his story with his vivid, childlike descriptions. You rooted for him at every twist and turn.

At least, you rooted for him when you could sift through the wordy language that defined Charles Dickens’s writing.

Books like Great Expectations and honestly most books from the nineteenth century provided me with something that I hadn’t encountered in my reading life in a while: a challenge. The language was complicated and elaborate and gave me something to work at. The reading wasn’t easy, and that made it all the more enticing to me.

Yet, sometimes, it’s the books with the most simple language that give me the hardest challenge with the greatest rewards. While the long novels of the nineteenth century gave me literary mountains to climb, it was a short young adult novel that had captured my mind and has yet to let go of it.

The Giver by Lois Lowry.

“Jonas’s world is perfect. There is no war, no fear, no pain…”

That is first sentence on the back summary of my copy of the text that has been a part of my life for almost two decades, and I have it memorized. To give a short summary of the book, The Giver is the story of a twelve year old boy named Jonas who lives in a seemingly perfect utopia. Upon a further read, you learn the price of this seemingly perfect world he lives in.

Choice is gone here. Color has been taken away as it caused racial tension. Snow, sun, and even love find themselves eliminated for their painful side effects.

It taught me that perfection itself comes at a price.

Since reading this book at the age of twelve, it has been held a place on my reading list every single year. I have read this book at least fifteen times since.

I get lost a lot in life. While we’ve invented maps to get us physically where we need to go, life doesn’t come with a guide book.  Some turn the bible; I turn to this book. Whenever I feel like I’m failing or my efforts aren’t paying off, I re-read this book to find myself again.

Whatever you need guidance in live, to quote the television show Reading Rainbow, “Take a look; it’s in a book.”

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