Gone With the Wind

1936 Pulitzer Prize winner. Its movie has won 8 Oscars. If you account for inflation, it is to be the record movie sales of all time.

But let's talk about what counts: Gone With the Wind is my favorite book.

One summer when I was on the road a lot because I was performing with a touring musical, I found many moments - in a car, backstage, even on stage - to read a book. This was probably my best summer in high school, I loved getting so much reading in!

This was also the summer that I pulled Gone With the Wind off of my sister-in-law's shelf. She said it was a great book, so I gladly took the 800 plus pages and consumed it fast.

I was pretty shocked how much I loved it. But I remember finding the very first sentence sheer brilliance in describing Scarlet O'Hara:

“Scarlet O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were."

And the description following gets better.

"In her face were too sharply blended the delicate features of her mother, a Coast aristocrat of French descent, and the heavy ones of her florid Irish father. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square of jaw. Her eyes were pale green without a touch of hazel, starred with bristly black lashes and slightly tilted at the ends. Above them, her thick black brows slanted upward, cutting a startling oblique line in her magnolia-white skin-that skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils and mittens against hot Georgia suns.”

I recall my English teacher talking about this as she asked us, "So, what can you infer about Scarlet?" with the response from one of the guys in my class, "Well, she sounds like a babe to me."

I was surprised when I found I loved Scarlet's character. Most of my friends claimed they couldn't stand the movie or the book because of her character. I loved her ridiculous flirtatiousness, her vanity, her feisty spirit, but what stood out to me was how passionate she was. In fact, I envied her passion for life, so much so that I took a look at what I wasn't enjoying in life and decided to show some more spirit.

I soaked up her banter with Rhett, and marveled at their determination to push forward through a country disheveled by Civil War. This book was more than just a good romantic novel, but also an excellent eye opener to the attitudes in the South and an allegory about Southern post-civil war society.

After reading it, I felt a new determination to have more passion in my life and to be more fiery for the things I cared about. And honestly, I'd attribute a happier school year following because of what I took from this classic novel.

-Hillary