I’m a big fan of reading motivational books. No, not Chicken Soup for the Golfer’s Soul, or Anthony Robbins. No, the motivational books I like are ones where people, faced with hard times, perservere, and come out on the other side victorious. Maybe they didn’t win the lottery or become millionaires by selling widgets door to door, but they faced their problems head on and with a smile (and sometimes a grimace.) My favorite such book is Dicey’s Song, where Dicey Tillerman, who has just finished walking down Route 1 with her three siblings, learns to live with her tough as nails grandmother in Crisfield, Maryland. In college, while studying for first semester finals, I remember reading the last Tillerman cycle book, Seventeen against the dealer. I would read a chapter, study a bit, and read another chapter. I didn’t feel the need to motor through the book, it was not an escape, it was a book in overalls, dressed up ready to work. Dicey, never afraid of hard work, gets slammed, and each time, gets up, and dusts herself off, and moves right along. And, inspired by her gumption, I moved along too.
I just finished A year down yonder, by Richard Peck, which helped me through a car annoyance on the way home from Thanksgiving. Somehow my worries seemed lessened as I read about Grandma trapping foxes at midnight.
So, in these hard times, it’s no surprise that someone would come up with a list of books to share with your kids during a financial downturn. Slate Magazine (article by Erica S. Pearl) has a great slide show with book covers, illustrations, commentary, and even video from the 70s show, Little House on the Prairie.
As we pinch our pennies, tighten our belts, make do with what we have, books are a way to escape. Even if that escape is to a place where people have it harder than we do.
In college, I wrote a paper about women during the depression. One quote I came across was this: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
And my favorite quote about libraries and hard times: “Libraries will get you through times of no money more than money will get you through times of no libraries.”
What are your favorite “hard times” books?