In the High Peaks

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On August 8th, I Turn to Reading!

As many of you know already, I'm salivating over the prospect of finally!! integrating reading back into my life once more. I think Sunday, August 8th, should be a day of celebration. I have no plans that day other than a hike with Cindy. The weather is expected to be spectacular. So after a beautiful hike and lively gabfest, it's off to bookland I go.

I'm twenty-five pages into The Island by Elin Hilderbrand and am hooked. But I want more than that! I want to touch the words of the best writers--I want to surround myself with piles of books--the biblio-equivalent of shoving twenty kinds of cookies into my mouth all at once. A gross image, indeed, until I remember that the cookies are books. To be truthful, though, I think I'd prefer cakes to cookies.

For the past few weeks I've been delving into Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by the esteemed American woman of letters, Francine Prose. (Scroll to the far right to read a fascinating interview and a Prose editorial about her book. In her book, Prose underscores what many scholars of Anne Frank's diary have known for years, that the book was a deliberate work of art. That Anne Frank wrote it, edited it endlessly, revision after revision. She self-consiously was creating a work of art that she hoped would be read after World War II was over.

What I found most fascinating about Prose's book is her recounting of how The Diary of Anne Frank has been taught in schools, and the story of what happened when she read it with a class of Bard College students. Young people's responses are fresh, strong, uncomprehending of the world situtation, and full of admiration for Anne's hopefulness about the future of humankind.

An Urgent Recommendation: If you have not read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank as an adult, you have not lived. Not yet. (I realize that's a judgmental, bossy statement, and I apologize.) I strongly encourage you to be sure to read the complete "Definitive Edition." As most people are aware, Anne's father Otto Frank strictly edited the book during the first three or more decades of its publication, striking out passages that involved Anne's awareness of her developing body and sexuality, her relationship with her mother, and much, much more. As an editor, he was too close to the book, which is an understatement.


  1. I read The Diary of Anne Frank in high school. We're talking the 60s! I had no idea that a different version than the one I read is out there. Thank you so much for that information. I really will re-read it...the edition you suggest.

  2. Hi! I'm just stopping by from the hop. I read the Diary of Anne Frank while in high school also, but strangely did not enjoy it as much as I thought that I would. However, I enjoy Francine Prose's work and I think I might have to check out her book based on your recommendation. Happy reading this weekend!

  3. Following from the hop. I read Anne Frank in high school, and reread it again recently after I was lucky enough to see the house in Amsterdam. It is such a heart-tugging book of Anne's coming of age in such horrid circumstances. I would say I enjoyed it better the second time I read it.