How Books Make a Difference

Prod_11358 I can honestly say that the book that made the biggest difference in my life was Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.

I was born and raised (that's how we say it where I'm from) in and around Atlanta Georgia, and Ms. Mitchell's tome was as ubiquitous as the King James Bible in most of the households there. At that time, Atlanta —and most of the Southern states—had never gotten over losing the war.

I think that has changed, for the most part.

At 733 pages, it is an intimidating read for most adults. I picked it up at thirteen, and was immediately enthralled with the story. How could you not be, what with an opening line like:

Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were…

Mitchell's epic novel is a prose tapestry of living breathing  history, entwined with plot threads of love, lust and dysfunctional heroism. (Both Scarlett and Rhett do some right things,
but for all the wrong reasons; and some wrong things, too; but then
again, that is what makes for conflict and drives the story forward…)

I loved it.

I went on to read it another fourteen times between then and the time I was twenty-six.

Unfortunately for Margaret Mitchell, she never published again. Instead, she spent the rest of her life fighting international copyright violations of her book.

What would she have said, had she lived during the Internet and its copyright free-for-all? I'm guessing she would have shouted something along the lines of "Hell's bells!" at Google and its ilk.

In a large way, I think reading Gone with the Wind is how I formed my own writer's "voice" — a term we novelists use to describe our style, in regard to cadence and use of words — is owed to Ms. Mitchell. I love using slang and colloquialisms. I am not afraid of a big, colorful cast of characters.

Above all, I love flawed heroes and heroines.

Because none of us are perfect.

Where we part: I believe in happy endings. Or, at least hopeful ones.

So pick up her book.

Oh yes: and pick up mine. It took me twenty years to write my very first novel (Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives is my third published novel).I guess I was afraid I could never live up to the scope of her masterpiece.

Instead, I've learned to settle for prosaic bon mots: tasty morsels of plot, character and conflict.

By no means do I claim to be Margaret Mitchell, but I think my latest book is a pretty good yarn for the way we live now:

Not in petticoats, but a great pair of designer jeans.


Next Book: Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives

Simon & Schuster/Downtown Press

(ISBN: 9781439173176)

In bookstores June 1, 2010. Order it

"Hollywood's got nothing on the cast of characters living in
bedroom community of Paradise Heights, who have the secrets, sex, money
and scandal of an OK! Magazine cover story. Josie Brown is a skilled
observer whose clever dialogue and feisty style make for truly
entertaining reading."

, bestselling author of Hollywood Wives and Poor Little Bitch Girl

This post is a part of a promotional fundriaser created by BlogHer and BookRenter, a company that rents textbooks to college students, which have joined forces because books makes a difference.

From May 3-28, 2010, they are working to make a difference in
children's lives by generating new books for children who need them
most — via the nonprofit organization First Book.

Want to help? For every answer BlogHer receive in the comments to the following question, one book will be donated:

What book has had the greatest impact on your life?

That's right: All you need to do is leave a comment via this link, and BookRenter will donate a book to a child in need — up to 1,000 books.

Leave your comment today!

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