31 October 2011

Reading Monday - a very old book...

Happy Hallow's Eve, all you ghouls and bhoys! Like my fellow Burrowers, I love this time of the year. Something about exploring the dark side is infinitely appealing to me. I grew up on a steady diet of fairy tales, such so that it is an odd day that one of them doesn't spring to mind. Many of them have stories about what trouble or glory people get into by either offering or denying hospitality to strangers at their door. Woe betide the errant youth who mocks an elderly woman - she is sure to show up later and give him back his karmic due. The message is clear - the elderly, the lame, animals, and strangers are all dependent on the good will of those whose threshold they find themselves. If the householder is churlish, mean, or stingy, then the very fabric of society is imperilled.
For the Potter fans among you - Harry is an orphan - both without parents and without ability to make his own way when he is cast upon his fate - the wickedly mean Dursley family. Their counters - the Weasley family are open to any stranger, sometimes to their detriment but nonetheless, they believe in giving the benefit of the doubt to those who come to their doorway seeking refuge.
The book I'm reading right now is an old one of mine. I found it on the bookshelf for my step-dot, who professes an interest in anthropology. I knew it was there, I've moved it probably 26 times since I got it - it is Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa. The step-dot didn't pick it up fast enough and I was between good reads so I've been devouring it -as I once did when I was my step-dot's age - 16. As it focusses on adolescent girls it is endlessly fascinating to me. And for those of you looking for the thread to what I've been on about - here it is! Samoans believe in ghosts. They believe that there are scary things out there in the  archipelago paradise they call home. And they believe it is of upmost importance to be hospitable to strangers or visitors from other villages. I highly recommend that you read this book if you haven't, or re-read it if, like me, it has been many years since you dipped into it. You will find much of interest - the sexual customs of other cultures are riveting, both in their similarities and their differences - the day to day life of a culture, which I'm sure no longer exists (it was threatened in Mead's time and that was half a century ago) and the fragile nature of all of us on the archipelago we call Earth, makes it a relevant read.
Our libraries aren't open on Mondays, here in Nova Scotia, but tomorrow I'm going to search out the memoir Mead wrote -  Blackberry Winter. What are you all reading?
In the meantime I'm going to get some candy together and get ready to welcome strangers to my hearth.


Jess said...

Whoa you live in Nova Scotia? That's awesome! Right now, I hate to say, I'm not reading ANYTHING. I've been looking for a good YA book to read but within the first 60 pages I stop.

Happy Halloween!

Hart Johnson said...

You know... I KNEW this hospitality think about the Samoans. I have a good friend (oddly, nearly sharing a name with the author) who visited and friends of friends insisted she stay with them. Very interesting.

Jan Morrison said...

Hi Jess - have you read The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson? Not YA but most excellent. We didn't have YA when I was a YA - just had to read A books - not so bad. I liked them.
Tartlette -you'd love this book! specially living with an adolescent girl and nearly being one yourself you're so young and yet an adult. Think I'm getting a Halloween candy rush. I'll go now.