Dear book lovers
What books still hold meaning for you? Or what works do you wish to share with others? Please tell us about them. Send submissions of 400 words or fewer to
Books I have loved
The Sunday Gazette-Mail
1001 Virginia St. E.
Charleston, WV 25301
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the West Virginia Book Festival was canceled because of the Kanawha library's money crisis, a pang of loss was felt among lovers of writing. Then longtime Gazette staffer Susan Williams asked readers to remember special books that affected their lives. All this prodded me to ponder the amazing power of language, the ability of words to touch souls and stir people.
We live in a colossal ocean of verbiage, with about 1 million new books published yearly in America (400,000 of them self-published), plus a bigger deluge of words from newspapers, magazines, the Internet, etc. The whole planet buzzes with gushing language.
Amid this never-stopping avalanche, a few special, exquisite, heart-gripping tales have locked into my psyche over the years, remaining there permanently. While others mull over their personal treasuries of favorite writing, here are my gems, mostly short stories, with some novels:
* "The Last Leaf" by O. Henry -- Before the advent of antibiotics, a little girl in a grimy tenement sinks in the grip of pneumonia. In late autumn, she lies by a window and watches leaves falling from a tree in a courtyard. An old artist from upstairs notices her intent focus on the disappearing leaves. Late at night, he paints a leaf on a stone wall behind the tree. The girl sees it stubbornly in place, after all others are gone. The more it refuses to fall, the more she grows determined to fight to hang onto life.