Last week I finished re-reading Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for the millionth time. I revisit this beautiful piece of literature every couple of years; it is altogether too beautiful to just read once. I find that a good book is like an old friend, one who you can visit at any time, and they always have an uplifting word and a familiar, warm embrace. And even if this dear old friend makes you sob and weep over the beauty and heartbreak of the story every time you visit it, at the exact same passages every single time, the lessons you are left with in the end are well worth the tears you’ve shed.
I love the way that dear Louisa so beautifully creates the story of the four lovely March sisters while managing to weave in invaluable life advice and encouragement. She teaches her readers to face the heartbreaking parts of life head-on, but always points to the beauty and hope in life. Little Women is one of those books where, upon reading it, you’re challenged to work harder, forgive faster, be more graceful, and trust God more deeply. When a book can do that, I can’t help but come back to it over and over!
Being one of my very favorite books, here are a couple of my favorite passages, the ones that inspire and challenge me, and the ones to which I most relate:
“I like good strong words, that mean something.” – Jo
“I suspect that the real attraction was a large library of fine books, which was left to dust and spiders since Uncle March died. The dim, dusty room, with the busts staring down from the tall bookcases, the cosey chairs, the globes, and, best of all, the wilderness of books, in which she could wander where she liked, made the library a region of bliss to her. The moment Aunt March took her nap, or was busy with company, Jo hurried to this quiet place, and, curling herself up in the easy-chair, devoured poetry, romance, history, travels, and pictures, like a regular bookworm.”
“You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long; even if it is, the consciousness of possessing and using it well should satisfy one, and the great charm of all power is modesty.” – Marmee
“Watch and pray, dear; never get tired of trying; and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault…My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength.” – Marmee
“I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle–something heroic or wonderful, that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day.” – Jo
“She did not think herself a genius by any means; but when the writing fit cam on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want, care, or bad weather, while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world, full of friends almost as real and dear to her as any in the flesh.”
“You laugh at me when I say I want to be a lady, but I mean a true gentlewoman in mind and manners, and I try to do it as far as I know how. I can’t explain exactly, but I want to be above the little meannesses and follies and faults that spoil so many women. I’m far from it now, but I do my best, and hope in time to be what mother is.” – Amy
“I want something new; I feel restless, and anxious to e seeing, doing, and learning more than I am. I brood too much over my own small affairs, and need stirring up.” – Jo
“I don’t pretend to be wise, but I am observing, and I see a great deal more than you’d imagine. I”m interested in other people’s experiences and inconsistencies; and, though I can’t explain, I remember and use them for my own benefit.” – Amy
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” – Amy
I’ve always liked to compare myself to my favorite literary characters, to see in what ways we are the same and draw lessons and advice from their struggles. I will never be as good or sweet as little Beth or as calm and tender as Meg, but rather, I find I’m a funny, strange mix of Jo and Amy, the two March sisters who are probably the least alike. But I always was a jumble of contradictions. They both have quite a bit to teach about character, however. Which March sister do you most relate to? Or any other literary character, for that matter? Jane Eyre is another top contender of mine. What are all of you reading these days?