Books for Depression

March 12, 2009 at 10:42 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 4 Comments

Do you ever find yourself reading for certain things?  For example, you have some dispute going on with your mother-in-law and suddenly everything you read seems to be about in-laws?  Or you perk up when a character works in the same field you do?  Well, lately economic matters have been on my mind – and, I don’t doubt, on yours – and I’ve detected a certain theme in my reading.

The Mill on the Floss is probably read as the story of an intellectual, independent woman.  At least, that’s what I’m guessing, since I never took any lit classes in college and I just read it this week.  What I saw in it, though, was the gripping tale of a family’s mishandled finances.  Suddenly, it seemed like modernizing the story of Maggie Tulliver would be too easy.

Vanity Fair is another one, and more amusing to boot.  You could put it up in a double feature with Shopaholic and the two heroines could be mall buddies.  (I read both books but didn’t see either movie, so you tell me).

I finished the third volume of Booth Tarkington’s Growth trilogy, alternately titled The Midlander and National Avenue.  There, again, you see the little dollar signs hopping about from page to page.

I’ve read several other books this year that dwell on the characters’ pocketbooks and how they manage their livelihood.  I Know This Much Is True had me banging my fist on the table, shouting (inwardly) (I think), “Just go over there and do the darn thing!”  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency likewise had me slapping my forehead, wondering how Precious would meet payroll.  The White Tiger?  Talk about financial issues!  The more I look through the list of books I’ve read this year, the more I notice: it’s very hard to tell someone’s story without also telling the story of the money, or the lack thereof.

The Grapes of Wrath fits so well with this theme that it’s just begging the question.  I confess, though, that I haven’t read it yet.  That book is my albatross, my Moriarty.  This year, though, I promise.


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  1. I think anytime a big issue is heavy on my mind, the theme jumps out at me in books I read (or films I watch).

  2. That happened to me once when my mom and I had been fighting. I came to visit and we rented “How to Make an American Quilt” – neither of us knowing what it was about. My dad thought I did it on purpose!

  3. Since Mr. Bybee and I separated, I have noticed all kinds of discussion about marriages (good, bad) in my reading.

  4. I agree with you in regards to “The Mill on the Floss” as a story of family financial woes. It does fit the times rather well, now that you mention it… “Vanity Fair” in my mind is less about economic difficulties as it is about, “Let’s focus on me, Becky,”. As for “Grapes of Wrath”, I rather found it to be an excellent book and yes, I do think it’ll fit these times rather well…

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