Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Growing Up in the Secret Garden

By April D. Boland


In discussing growth, I would be remiss in not discussing my recent reading of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. The novel, which I was reading for the first time, was all about growth: flowers and blossoms coming to life symbolized the coming to life of various central characters. Growth was the result of springtime, of nature, and of a willingness to change, to learn and to love.

I suppose I am a sucker for the sentimental as this novel won my heart. I loved the idea of growth, not simply as measured by how many inches you gain each year, as when we were children, but in how many spiritual, emotional and intellectual "inches" you add onto yourself each year. Growth encapsulates so much: new ways we learn to treat and appreciate others, new ways we look at the world, new forms of art and knowledge that we expose ourselves to. As people who love literature, this should all sound vaguely familiar. Books full of meaning and promise are tools that can lead us to some of the best growth of our lives.

There are many reading challenges out there, but I think that this spring, it would be a good idea to personally challenge oneself to read books which will help you to grow. These don't have to be self-help books, although they can be. You can read books by philosophers and poets you have never read before. You can try picking up a nonfiction book by an author who holds an opposing viewpoint to your own. You can read a novel about a subject you know nothing about, a place you've never been. Some books resonate with each of us more than others, but you will seldom regret reading one that makes you grow.

1 comment:

ravenousreader said...

Bravo! Books are a wonderful way to expand one's horizons, and in a relatively harmless, inexpensive way too!

As an aside, I love Secret Garden. Have you ever seen the musical version - it's lovely :)