My First 50-Year-Old Book for 2012

As I mentioned in a previous ROW80 blog post, one of my goals this year is to read books that were published 50 years ago this year, in other words books published in 1962. I’m doing this because I inadvertently read a 50-year-old book last year, Catch-22, not realizing that it was, in fact, its fiftieth anniversary. Upon reading many articles and blog posts celebrating this fact, I came across a post that mentioned that not only Catch but Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer turned fifty in 2011. Now, I’m a big fan of ol’ Walker and had never gotten around to Moviegoer, so this was the perfect excuse to rectify that oversight.

Then I got to wondering what other books turned 50 in 2011, this list helped me out a great deal, I couldn’t believe that not only Catch, but Thunderball, Borges’ Ficciones, Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and The Stainless Steel Rat, (a book I adored as a teen), were all turning 50 in 2011. Sadly I soon realized that the year was coming to an end rather quickly and that I’d never get to these other books before it did--I am the Deliberate (read: slow) Reader, after all. So, maybe I could read books published in 1962 during 2012 instead. Another list got me going with some old favorites and some I’ve wanted to read, but never got around to like A Clockwork Orange.

And by happenstance, one of the first books I’ve started for this year is turning 50: Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I’m a big fan of Jackson’s. I’ve always loved “The Lottery” and “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts” and The Haunting of Hill House, but because I’m a reading magpie I’ve never gotten around to much more. Then I was having a conversation with a friend about books and she mentioned that she’d just finished Castle and made it sound like vintage Jackson, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m halfway through and it’s as good as I hoped it would be, thanks Diana! I’ll discuss it further once I’m done.

Though Castle is the first 50-year-old I’ve started this year, it’s not the first I’ve finished. That honor would belong to Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day.

I’m not averse to reading children’s books. After all, that’s where I began my path to a lifetime, so far, of reading. (I’ll never forget you Barney Beagle!) I was even tempted to read The Phantom Tollbooth last year because of its fiftieth birthday, but “time is fleeting/madness takes its toll,” etc.

So, when I saw this post on Metafilter, I thought I’d look up Snowy Day and give it a try. (Some reading this may not know that I work in a public library and thereby have access to just about everything). It’s a charming picture book about a little boy experiencing the first snow of the year. I was fascinated at the fact of it being one the first picture books to show a non-caricatured black main character...in 1962. That certainly was ground-breaking for its time. This article will tell you more about Keats and Snowy Day, as well.

The Snowy Day is not only the first 50-year-old book I’ve finished this year, but the first book also. My next post, hopefully, will be about the books I read in 2011 with a few of my scattered and smothered thoughts about them.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I haven't read Jackson since we read "The Lottery" in high school. Or college. I can't remember which one, which means they are both getting too far away! I've read The Snowy Day several times with Eva though. I love how the illustrations have that sort of smeary-snow effect to them at times.