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Their Eyes Were Watching God

A friend of mine is a librarian in the Chicago system.  She’s actually second-in-command at my favorite branch, the Bee branch in Bronzeville

Overton Hygienic Building in the 1920's, hq of the Chicago Bee newspaper, now the Bee branch of the CPL

Overton Hygienic Building in the 1920's, hq of the Chicago Bee newspaper, now the Bee branch of the CPL

Recently, the librarians made a retreat.  In one of their workshops, they were each asked to speak for ten minutes on a book that had changed their lives.  My friend chose Their Eyes Were Watching God.  She can’t remember when she first read it, but she’s read it many many times, and it electrifies her life now as it has for many years before.

Oddly, most of her fellow  librarians chose non-fiction, in fact, most chose “how to” books.  She couldn’t think of one other work of fiction.  I was surprised, because it’s fiction that almost always touches me in that way that makes me feel as though someone were pulling me up by the roots of my hair.  In my teens, Portrait of the Artist affected me with so much intensity that I could hardly sleep for the need to plunge into it over and over. Although I’ve lost some of my adolescent intensity, there are novels like Gilead or A Blessing on the Moon where I reach the end and have to start over again at the beginning at once.

What books have changed your life?

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