Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reading List for Girls: Lessons in Mate Selection

Six girls and a roll of aluminum foil: the Linford girls(minus Alice) manifest the royal within. I have a question: After becoming a parent of a daughter, how long did it take for you to start worrying about her choice in a mate? What man would ever be good enough? Is she really going to choose her husband herself! All that. I think I might have had a peaceful 30 minutes after Nancy was born before that thought occurred to me, and it's been a downward spiral ever since. When Joanne was born, and I was up to four daughters (8, 6, 2, 0), I decided to take action. What else could I do? I gave my girls a reading list--let them experience the perils of mate selection (good and bad) through literature. Here's the list:
Books I Must Read Before I Can Go on a Date
  • Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), so they can live through Jane's moral strength to run away from what she knew was wrong even when all her happiness (as she supposed) was there. (And, it's the greatest book of all time!)
  • Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Bronte), so they can see how a woman will rationalize away the flaws of a man she loves and how that will poison her future.
  • Any 2 Jane Austens (preferably P&P and S&S): in the words of Marguerite (when she was 4), . . . "Mom, guess what, Mister Wickham LOOKED like he was a good guy, but ACTUALLY, he was a bad guy. And, Mister Darcey LOOKED like he was a bad guy, but ACTUALLY, he was a good guy." Mission accomplished! (This was one of proudest moments of my life!)
  • Anna Karenina (Tolstoy): There are so many reasons to read this book, but most importantly, so they can see how someone, by degrees, can lie herself into doing anything she thinks she wants (the foil to Jane Eyre), and the excuses don't matter.
Anyway, 5 books is all. We've been talking about this list for all these years, and the girls didn't think much of it until last summer when Nancy realized that she was down to 9 months and had roughly 3000 pages to read. She's been in heavy negotiations trying to plead down the Anna K requirement. (At some point, she got this negotiation twisted into her begging to get her ears pierced--oh, the cogitations of the adolescent female brain!--and she claimed that if I let her pierce her ears, she would read ALL the Jane Austens AND write a paper on Anna K. I'm still considering that.) Help! But, now my problem is I need to give Jonathan a list. And, the girls' list just doesn't cover it for Jonathan. So, I'm asking for help here: please give me suggestions for books that show real men--men of valor and integrity, how they do hard things, how they treat women, how they value life. Please no whiny metro-men. I need Captain Moroni in a novel or biography. If anything comes to mind, send me the title. Somehow, I've neglected this genre. Thanks!

9 comments:

Jon and Katrina said...

Sally, I just read a P&P spin-off called "Darcy's Story". That tells the whole thing from Darcy's perspective. It was true in form and style, as well as story line, to the original. It follows his thoughts and feelings and you get to see as his preference for the acidic, snobbish company of Miss Bingley et. all is transformed to prefer Elizabeth and appreciate her better qualities. I don't know if it is the caliber of what you are looking for, but it was fun. You may enjoy it. Katrina

Elna said...

OK - Great Expectations may be too difficult for a kid to read (too many words) but Pip is the kind of boy not to be. He chases after the elusive and flirty Estella, he does not appreciate the constancy of his brother in law or the goodness of a girl who would have loved him - but he was too late.

RayRay said...

am i too old for your reading list?? Thank you for the suggestions. I'm kinda excited about Tolstoy.

Rebekah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebekah said...

sally, i love reading your posts. you have a way of writing that connects with both my brain and my heart. may i borrow your reading list for my girls?

Becca said...

Sadly I am 0-5 in the book list. I have gotten close by reading different books by the same author, etc. I'll have to get going on these, I'll start thinking about books for boys.

Nicole said...

How sad that when we try to come up with a book with a great male protagonist we draw blanks! Maybe you should just write the kind of book you're looking for and add that to Jonathan's list!

Ina & co. said...

Still pondering Captain Moroni in a novel... but check out my blog... readingrodinos.blogspot.com or Lori's blog at camandlori.blogspot.com for cute pixs of her little girl Aliya...

David said...

My mom's comments hit a little close to home. Maybe I shouldn't have obsessed over that story and imitated it in life.