I saw somewhere recently this idea that a reader doesn’t buy or rent a story; rather, they adopt it.
This is such a glorious concept because of its connotations of family and growth, of permanence and emotional curation.
My favorite books are those with which I have the most memorable relationships. These are the books that are the soundtrack of my mind: they are the comforting white noise in my thoughts; they provide references, memories, and daydreams that comfort and amuse me.
Quite simply, they are a part of my identity. Much as family–adopted or biological–is.
Very few books fulfill this quite the way Jane Eyre does. We have quite the history, this book and I.
I adopted my book in the summer of 2008. That summer I was fifteen and trying to read sophisticated and critically renowned works, whatever that means. (No, really, I still don’t know what that means! Do you? What are your thoughts on the topic?) My 15-year-old self translated that as classics, which brought to mind Jane Austen (quickly deemed “too cliche” for one of my first forays into the educated and sophisticated world of Literature), but it put me in the vicinity of Charlotte Brontë, where Jane Eyre caught my attention.
I got around to reading it the fall of my sophomore year of high school, where I promptly fell in love. When senior year rolled around I had to pick an author to study and write a paper on for the duration of a semester. Lo and behold, Charlotte Brontë was my girl. For three months I submerged myself in all of her individually published works (Jane Eyre, Shirley, Vilette and The Professor) as well as delved into her life’s experiences.
This was when Jane Eyre was cemented as one of my favorite books. I felt such an affinity not only to Jane, but also to Charlotte. Such emotions were only added to in my sophomore year of college, in the midst of my British Victorian Literature class, where many nuances of Brontë’s works and life became that much more significant and impressive.
Ultimately, the above history is why this particular book is one of the first to pop to mind when I think of favorite books, adoption, family. Jane and Charlotte are my compatriots, my friends, my sisters.
I’m not sure how helpful a review this is, or if it’s truly a review at all. But talking of craft and plot and setting and dialogue all seemed rather cold and analytical for something that is a living, breathing facet of my life. Suffice it is to say that all of those qualities are there–they’d have to be to elicit such a reaction.
So GO! Read it now! Or, if you’re so inclined, watch the Masterpiece edition. I whole-heartedly support this video rendition of the book, which is a very rare thing for me to do. But there will probably be a post on that later.
What are your favorite books? Have you had a similar experience?