And then, a few weeks ago I received a phone call. While cleaning out their garage--which happened to be filled to the brim with furniture from my grandfather's home--they discovered my boxes of missing books! It was with much delight that we picked up these little treasures yesterday. Ever since, I have been in book heaven. I had replaced some of my favorites, but there is nothing like reclaiming your original copy.Like pictures, so many books hold precious memories to me. They like to remind me how they have shaped my life, and helped make me who I am. There are the books I discovered in high school, when I was just starting to create my own uniqueness, figuring out my personality as separate from my friends. In choosing two selections I would memorize and recite in 10th grade Honor's English, (the only time in my life I ever had to memorize a part of a book) why did I choose the first paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities, and the following selection from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice?
"I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" (p.45, Merchant of Venice)At 16, I was already exploring the depth of the human condition and religious tolerance (even if I may not have realized it). Like the prodigal son, I welcome with opens arms the return of my collection of Shakespeare plays I purchased over the years from the Folger Shakespeare Library. I delight in finding my beloved copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book that helped me learn about slavery, more so than the lessons from my history teachers!
And of course there is the following tiny article, part of the Reader for the General Writing class, a required course for all Pitt freshman, that sparked my love for Frida Kahlo:
Finally, there are all of the books that I purchased to prepare myself for an adventure abroad on Semester at Sea, and the required reading for my onboard class, Post-Colonial Literature. If only Professor what's-his-face would have started with Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart instead of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, I might have enjoyed that class. We never got around to reading Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North, and alas, seven years later it is still unread. However, the readings of Wild Swans by Jung Chang, A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro, and the Bhagavad Gita all remain vividly imprinted in my mind.