I was never one for school, and didn’t take it very seriously until later in life. Truth is, I finally received my bachelors degree in my 30’s. I wish I could do it all over again. Not only would I be an excellent student, but there are so many experiences that I missed out on. Sure, I had fun in the drama club, but only because pretending to be someone else was appealing to me.
One thing I missed out on was a lot of classic books. I missed out on reading many books that people are forced to in school. A while back I promised myself that I would read as many classics that I could. I’m reminded of this by the passing of Salinger this week; I read Catcher in the Rye about five years ago and was blown away by it. Since then I’ve read The Divine Comedy, The Picture of Dorian Gray, tons of Poe, and a smattering of Mark Twain, just to name a few. I’ve always loved to read, and I get a lot out of these books.
A week ago I was catching up on my podcasts and caught an episode of Fresh Air that had one of the last interviews with Frank McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes. It am almost done with it, and I have to say it is one of the most heart wrenching, fascinating, uplifting, horribly sad and terribly hopeful books that I’ve ever read. The book is his memoir about growing up in abject poverty in Ireland and coming to America to make a success of himself. Today, as I was reading the book on the train, I had tears in my eyes. This is easily one of the most moving books I have ever read.
I’m moved by the book because I see parallels in my life. I grew up poor, saw much tragedy in my life, and I grew out of these surroundings to make something of myself. I’m not rich, famous, or have any real talent to speak of. I do, on the other hand, have a stable life, a good job, family, freinds, and a future, things that when I was growing up I thought I’d never have.
Anyway, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If a dirt poor Irish kid with no shoes on his feet can come to America and become successful, than I think any of us can be anything we want to. Are we all lucky to have our blessings, even a few? Aye, ‘tis.