Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Discussion: Filling in the Gaps

We all have books that we somehow missed reading at the appropriate age. Whether the cover art wasn't appealing, the book wasn't at our local library or we just had a misconception about the story, we all have certain gaps in our reading tapestries.

One of the glaring omissions from my reading history was Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. As far as I can remember, I think I had the wrong impression of what kind of story it was. In my mind it was lumped with the Little House books (which I have never wanted to read). Of course, this book is completely different and I was wrong. I'm very happy now to have read this bright and touching story and, as you can guess, I regret not having read it sooner. I think it might have made a difference at a certain point in my life when I had some tough decisions to make.

Do you like to fill in your reading history by reading books you missed as a child or do you feel that ship has sailed? What are the books you've chosen to read late? Do you have others that you still plan to read? I have two books here that I plan to read in the coming year--Treasure Island and The Swiss Family Robinson--and now I'm actually thinking of creating a list of other childhood classics that I don't want to miss! I look forward to filling in the gaps.

Mending the tapestry,


  1. I can always think of books I haven't read and don't want to read, like Johnnie Tremain and The Other Side of the Mountain. But I feel like I had a pretty thorough grounding in good children's fiction. I'm sure as soon as you make a list of important children's classics, I'll realize how many I've missed, though. :p

  2. I've also only read all the books about 3 years about, but back in the 80s the anime version of Anne of Green Gables was very popular in Portugal, so in a way, she was still part of my childhood!

  3. There are so many books I missed out on when I was little, and I do want to visit them, even though it's not quite the same. I do enjoy reading those types of books with my kids.
    I did read a few of the Anne books when I was a teen, which was perfect timing. Total crush on Gilbert.

  4. I LOVE Anne, a love that began in childhood and has stayed with me. :)

    I have a few 'childhood gaps' that I'd like to fill in (I only discovered Diana Wynn Jones this year, for instance). The only book I can think of that I know I'll never read because 'the ship has sailed' is Catcher in the Rye. I love the other Salinger books I've read, but for me that one seems like a teenage read or nothing!

  5. Somehow I missed Anne as a child also -- I think I kept mixing her up with Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Pollyanna, which always sounded so annoyingly sweet (haven't read those either). I finally read Anne a few years ago and loved her, so I do want to read the whole series. I also have one of Montgomery's books for adult readers, The Blue Castle. I've heard good things about it but the cover looks like a cheesy romance, so I keep putting it off.

    I love the Penguin Classic cover! Lauren Child is the perfect illustrator for Anne.

  6. Jenny - I agree that there are ones that I will just never read too. But I think I spent a lot of my childhood with newer fiction or books that my mom wanted me to read that I really wasn't interested in (like too many horse books). I'm going to start working on the list!

    Alexandra - I really want to see that anime version but it doesn't seem to be available. I read that it's very true to the stories!

    Shelley - Luckily we get a chance to visit wonderful books again (and those we've missed) with our children. Z thinks that the cover of Treasure Island looks awesome! (And yay for Gilbert!)

    Eva - I wish I had been able to love Anne when I was young! And I feel the same way about The Catcher in the Rye. I almost read it in high school when it was on a reading list but we had to get parental permission first. So I went to my mom and said "can I read this one?" and she said "sure ... or you can pick one of the many other books on that list that are better".

    Karen - I definitely saw some big parallels between Disney's Pollyanna and Anne. I haven't read the book though so I wonder how different it is. But there were the same sorts of key characters -- stiff but loving adopted mother figure, cratchety but sweet neighbor lady, etc. I will definitely read more Montgomery now! And I love Lauren Child's Anne too. I just saw the next two covers she did and I'm off to order those!

  7. I missed a lot of the classics when I was a kid. Most of what I read were fairly recent books at the time (the 1970s, which I think some people see as classic now, alas). But I caught up with Anne of Green Gables, the Narnia books, Susan Cooper's books, and several others when I was in college and shortly thereafter, and I loved them. And there are others I'm sure I'll get to someday. When it comes to kids' books, though, I kind of like to hear the perspectives of adult readers before giving them a try.

  8. somehow I missed out on the Narnia books..

  9. I just read this last year and wished I'd read it when I was younger too. As wonderful as I found it now, I know I would have loved it even more when I was younger. I have to say ... I've never seen that cover for it ... quite a different take on Anne!

  10. Teresa - Same for me. I read a lot of 70s and early 80s books but not many that were earlier than those besides the Oz books. And I like hearing adult opinions too -- both on whether the story works for adults and how the language/ideas have come through to modern times.

    Cindy - It's strange to think that could happen but it does for all of us with some book or series!

    Jenners - Exactly! And I chose the cover because we've fallen in love with Lauren Child over the years (Z loves Charlie and Lola) and it makes the book seem more perky and appealing. I would bet that boring covers were a big part of why I never picked it up before!

  11. As we discussed on Twitter, this one one book that I missed out on in childhood too! I totally want to read the sequels, too. I am totally for feeling in the gaps . . . but sometimes I think I have a different reaction than I would have had when I was younger. I'm a different person than I was then. Does that even make sense?

  12. Tif - I definitely see things differently now (in my old age, haha) but this one seems like one that might have actually changed me if I had read it at the right time!