I like tracing the route by which I find myself reading a certain novel. In the case of embarking this year on reading all nine Little House books, a couple of years ago: NPY and I were visiting a friend and–true to my form–I read the titles off the spines of the volumes on her bookshelf. She exhibits a similar whole-series compulsion like I have, with not just the first three Anne books, but all 8. She also had all of the Twilight and/or Harry Potter books. And, what caught my eye because of their uniform and charmingly quaint appearance, was the entire Little House series. It seemed fitting to see Anne alongside Laura since the owner of the books is Canadian-born currently indefinitely in the United States. I like the challenge of having nine volumes of the series to get through and made up my mind to eventually read them all.
Growing up, I only owned a Harper Trophy edition of the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, and was vaguely aware that there were more in the series, especially since there was television show based on the novels, Little House on the Prairie, that ran from 1974 to 1983.
Compared with when I originally read the first novel, a lot more information is at my disposal and I find myself doing some background reading on Wikipedia, spoiling the story for myself somewhat.
Reading the series this time around, I am deeply impressed by just how much people used to be able to make on their own and correspondingly how little money needs to be spent. The many descriptions of processes were clearly and lovingly written and honour the self-sufficiency and simplicity of life back then.
Just as when I read the entire Anne of Green Gables series (and re-read all the novels several times), I was most fascinated to learn about life and customs in the 19th century. I was always dreamy about how much simpler social interactions would have been at that time and, of course, the chivalrous courting rituals.
By introducing the reader to her future husband in the second book, Farmer Boy, we get acquainted with his strong and moral character. Once we glimpse him again at the end of By the Shores of Silver Lake and are all in the same town for seven months in The Long Winter, I couldn’t stop my eyes from skimming ahead to see how he courts Laura. I nearly melted on the spot in the early chapters of These Happy Golden Years when Laura suffers alone and away from home while completing her first teaching stint and Almanzo solidly drives the 12 miles each way to bring her home each weekend.
So I’ve spent time reading the Little House series instead of chipping away at my pile of non-fiction… but this sort of counts as non-fiction??