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"Ms. Perkins is at her best when interpreting and praising the books she loves, and her personal anecdotes are a delight ... her defense of classic novels ... is sincere and brave, for Ms. Perkins doesn’t merely describe the 'heart-shaping' effect that the books have had on her but also extols their value in fostering Christian virtues." ~ Wall Street Journal
"This is the book I recommend most often when I’m asked about troublesome content in classics. This gorgeous memoir of author Mitali Perkins’s reading life made me glad to be a reader, and eager to read even more ... a 2022 Mama Book Club selection." ~ Sarah Mackenzie, Read Aloud Revival
"Perkins embodies her seven virtues—love, faith, hope, courage, temperance, justice, and prudence—in her approach to reading. She simultaneously invites readers of all ages to do the same. 'Come,' she says, 'steep your soul in a good book. Look into it, as a mirror or window. And above all, forgive. See the good and the bad, and forgive.'" ~ Englewood Review of Books
"Mitali Perkins argues that although classics like Heidi and The Hobbit aren’t perfect by today’s literary standards, they enrich our lives and help us 'resist demoralizing patterns' of our day ... Although Perkins, an immigrant from India, doesn’t fit neatly into U.S. political boxes, [readers] of any political stripe will find her voice winsome and her ideas worth debating. ... a brief book with unexpected depths." ~ World Magazine
"Perkins takes seven classic novels as guides: Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Emily of Deep Valley, The Hobbit, Little Women, A Little Princess, and The Silver Chair. She walks us through the dominant vice and virtue examined by each story. She also delves into how each book treats the outsider. She shows us familiar novels with fresh eyes through a lens that is critical, yet full of love and respect for these mentor authors ... I’m thankful that Perkins calls us back to the truth in the middle, Aristotle-style, neither throwing out the old books nor turning a blind eye to their faults. May we all grow in discernment and love as we read both the old and the new." ~ Story Warren
✮ "Mitali’s warmth and humility were so hospitable, I felt like I would be welcome to join her for a cup of tea and finish a conversation about books that has only just begun. And if she invited others who I strongly disagree with, I would feel comfortable engaging them in conversation." ~ Redeemed Reader, starred review
Read an excerpt of the introduction, "Remember your Favorite Childhood Books? Read them Again," in America Magazine.
Read an excerpt of chapter 2, "Finding Goodness in Person," in The Horn Book.
Read an excerpt of chapter 6, "Pusillanimity and Courage: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien."
The stories we read as children shape us for the rest of our lives. But it is never too late to discover that transformative spark of hope that children's classics can ignite within us, especially during uncertain times.
Award-winning children's author Mitali Perkins grew up steeped in stories--escaping into her books on the fire escape of a Flushing apartment building and, later, finding solace in them as she navigated between the cultures of her suburban California school and her Bengali heritage at home. Now Perkins invites us to explore the promise of seven timeless children's novels for adults living in uncertain times: stories that provide mirrors to our innermost selves and open windows to other worlds.
Blending personal narrative, accessible literary criticism, and spiritual and moral formation, Perkins delves into novels by Louisa May Alcott, C. S. Lewis, L. M. Montgomery, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and other literary "uncles" and "aunts" that illuminate the virtuous, abundant life we still desire. These novels are not perfect—and Perkins honestly assesses their frailties and flaws—but reading or rereading these books as adults can help us build virtue, unmask our vices, and restore our hope.
Reconnecting with these stories from childhood isn't merely nostalgia. In an era of uncertainty and despair, they lighten our load and bring us much-needed hope.
About author Mitali Perkins