The last two books I just finished reading both had "wind" in the title: The Shadow of the Wind and The Name of the Wind. So it got me to thinking about other "wind" books I've read.
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell - I read this when I was about 16 years old and really liked it. Parts of it made me cry. It was one of my favorite books for a while. But people cringe when I tell them that my favorite character is Melanie. When I bring up Melanie, most people respond with disdainful epithets like mealy-mouthed and namby-pamby and wet noodle. Scarlett herself calls Melanie a silly little fool.
Because I like Melanie, it doesn't mean I dislike Scarlett. She has her good traits, like courage and cleverness and tenacity. But Melanie also has courage and cleverness and tenacity, although she manifests those traits differently, plus she has a good heart and kindness. One part of the book that I remember crying at was when Melanie asked Belle, who was badmouthing Scarlett, not to talk about her sister-in-law that way. Or is that in the movie? Or both? I don't know, I probably cried during both. Anyway, I don't mind if people prefer Scarlett or Rhett or whomever, but when they call Melanie a fool for letting Scarlett walk all over her, or say that she has no personality, or that she's weak and they wish she had died in childbirth, then I say they're all wrong, all of them, and saying things like that just shows how small their hearts are.
I kept a copy of Gone with the Wind on my shelf for many, many years, thinking I liked it so well that I might want to read it again. But after 20 years or so, I finally got rid of it to make room for other books. My tastes have changed, and I think I was afraid of ruining my memories of reading it before.
By the way, did you know a first printing of Gone with the Wind is valued at over $12,000? And I've seen first printing copies signed by the author listed at $85,000. The one I got rid of to make room on my shelf was a hardcover reprint worth about $1. If I had 85,000 reprint copies and sold them all, I'd be rich!
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame - I think I've mentioned this one before, but I love this book and the sense of nostalgia it gives me, and the descriptions of life along the river, and the adventures of those little animals. I know most people like Toad the best, probably for the same reasons they like Scarlett O'Hara (although I don't think Toad is quite as self-serving as Scarlett, just sillier), but my favorite is Ratty, for some of the same reasons that I like Melanie Wilkes. He's generous, he's kind, but he's not a fool. He appreciates the world he lives in and doesn't take it for granted. In fact, I think I like him more than I like Melanie, because he lives on the river and goes boating nearly every day.
The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk - I don't have much to say about this one, except that, although it seemed kind of contrived at times, it was interesting overall and well-written, and I learned some stuff about World War II that I didn't know at the time. I even enjoyed the miniseries and decided because of it that Ali McGraw was my favorite bad actress.
A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L'Engle - The sequel to A Wrinkle in Time. Not as powerful as A Wrinkle in Time, but enjoyable nonetheless. My problem is, I never read these books till I was in my twenties. (Where was I when they were first published?!) I wish I'd read them as a youngster; I'd really like to know what my reaction to them would have been at that age.
Temple of the Winds, by Terry Goodkind - one of the Sword of Truth tomes. I kept thinking of that poem by A E Housman: "Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff".
I'll talk about The Shadow of the Wind and The Name of the Wind separately. So that's all for now.
Oh, except I once watched a film called Inherit the Wind.