I'm always amused by my feelings towards certain titles. When I was first discovering reading, I had very strict feelings about the types of books I read. Obviously as a young girl, I read a lot of classic children's literature, like The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I also read The Babysitter's Club, The Boxcar Children, and random titles from other big names.
Moving into middle school, I began to discover other things that captured my interest. I don't ever remember the young adult section being as big or as diverse as it is now, so I had a hard time finding interesting things for my age group. That is when I began to branch out (one of my friend's and I loved to read Mary Higgins Clark and would share our books). It was only after some great English teachers that I began to venture into the classics, and I did so with great trepidation.
When our English teachers passed out lists of classic titles, I always searched for titles similar to what I already enjoyed-I read a lot of H.G. Wells, Orwell, etc. It was only after some gentle nudging that I started to read and enjoy other classic pieces.
But during all the time, I never had any interest in reading anything by any of the Brontes. I equated Brontes with stuck-up, old school literature that I had no interest in. And while I loved Homer, Austen, Eliot, Fitzgerald, Woolf, and Faulkner, I just skipped right over the Brontes and moved on.
I don't know why I held that prejudice for so long. When I finally read Wuthering Heights last year, I loved it. And then I loved Villette, but there was something inside of me that stayed far away from this title. Something about Jane Eyre spooked me.
At first, I was worried it wouldn't be any good. But after reading Charlotte's other title, I knew that the writing would be excellent. Then I was worried that I would be the one person who wouldn't like it. I would find some fatal flaw that would ruin it.
I was also worried that I would be too dumb to understand the story. I wouldn't enjoy it because I wouldn't get it.
All silly thoughts.
It also became a game as I resisted. There were many tweets going on about the fact that I needed to just dive in and read the novel. I resisted out of fun, but mainly fear.
Now I realize that was silly.
There is nothing to fear about reading a book, and especially a classic. What I have learned throughout this entire process is that classics are far more accessible than we realize. The story of Jane Eyre IS timeless and something we can all cherish and love. Who doesn't want a gruff Mr. Rochester to love? (I tried to call Matt Rochester. He didn't like it).
The story is beautiful and captured me from the beginning. And when Jane left Thornfield, I found myself freaking out. Would she return? Would Rochester take her back? Will the crazy lady die so they can be happy? I was invested and hooked. I flipped through those last 150-200 pages quickly, sucking in the story as fast as I could. By the end, I held the book closed in my lap and just sighed.
I love the adventure that literature takes us on. I love that it takes our emotions and scrambles them up so we can see all sides to an issue. I love that it can make us change our minds about the way we approach reading and what we truly enjoy. But most of all, I love that no matter how much I read, I am constantly moved in new and deeper ways. I am in love with literature, and my experience of reading Jane Eyre perfectly explains why.
I like to look back at the beginning of this journey here and see myself as a 5 year-old clutching her Laura Ingalls Wilder novels. I was curious, but cautious. I started out slowly and approached each new novel with fear and excitement.
Now, I still approach them with fear and excitement, but I also feel hopeful, that the book I am reaching for will take me on that same journey.
So thank you to those pesky few who continually nagged me to pick up Jane Eyre. I can honestly say that it is now a favorite and I cannot wait to read it over and over again.
"I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give."
"I have little left in myself -- I must have you. The world may laugh -- may call me absurd, selfish -- but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame."
"Good-night, my-" He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left me."
"I have now been married ten years. I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest - blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character - perfect concord is the result."