Everyone reads them at some stage and many are so influenced by a good story that they adopt life changes to match. True stories are obviously the most inspirational and biographies of people like leaders and do goods are among the best. But there are also fictional stories that can be just as inspiring. Some by renown authors such as Dickens or Mark Twain live on within your psyche forever.
The question is how much of their stories are made up or simply adapted from life? In the case of Samuel Clemens, who adopted the pen name of Twain, he lived the life he wrote about. His two classic novels ‘Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn‘ are ones that live in the heart of those who relate to them.
In my case the novels by John Steinbeck did that for me. One book in particular stands out ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ as his finest piece. Here was a family struggling with life’s worst challenges following the Great Depression and then the horrible drought and wind-storm that swept through the Midwest of the USA. Their journey led to homelessness, starvation, and the death of family members.
Perhaps the attraction for me in this story was the constant struggle that had been so impressed upon me as a child. In order for me and those of my generation to understand what depression, homelessness, riots, and other things mean one needs to read this book.
In my young years we would pass ‘humpies’ or ‘swaggies’ on the road with their bundles slung over their backs while a billy was always fixed to the end of it.
Still marching from place to place looking for hand-outs this was going on years after the depression ended but not so long after the Second World War. It taught me respect for what we termed the down-and-outs and some stories written of the times reinforced it.
Feel good stories are those that teach a lesson as well as warm the heart with something spiritual. As one with memory of reincarnation and a link to the Spirit fiction is something I try to avoid now but when growing up there were many things brought to the fore through such stories that would not be known otherwise.
Twain and Dickens both produced such stories that touched on history while launching you into the mood of the times. The colour, even the smells, come alive as one rides through the pages of their books with excitement and a drive to finish it and leading you to the ultimate conclusion. Sometimes the end is happy but even when it is tragic you know you have been affected by it.