Oprah's Book Club producer Jill reading Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities
Photo: Jennifer Troyer
As we here in Chicago are recovering from the third snowiest blizzard ever on record, I know a very large section of the country was also impacted. So for those of you who were part of this winter storm, I hope you took some time to break out a good book—that is, of course, after you've finished our double dose of Charles Dickens. And if you haven't finished, I hope you're still "plowing" through this latest book club selection.

This week I'd like to discuss the second title of our selection, Great Expectations, which starts with our main character, the young Pip, alone on a marsh during a "raw afternoon." This sets the stage for an exhilarating and terrifying encounter with an escaped convict. What Pip does in these opening chapters tells us everything we need to know about who Pip really is and the kind of adult he will eventually be. The novel is essentially Pip's journey of self-discovery—or should I say, re-discovery—of the caring and thoughtful boy he already was. And I believe it is this powerful and universal story of self-acceptance that makes this work such an endearing classic.

Oprah recently asked some well-known guests what they would say to their younger selves. I've been contemplating this question, and now that I've re-read Great Expectations, I know what I would say to my childhood self: "YOU are already everything you need to be." I'm not sure why, like Pip, I've had to learn this again and again, but for whatever reason, I believe it's our basic human journey to do so.

And this is exactly why I love to read, because books are my instructional manuals, my toolkit of wisdom from the best and brightest, past and present. And, it's the valuable lessons found in their pages that help guide me to the truest vision of myself. I believe we all want to "live our best life," but it is through books that I continually find the courage to try.

So, how did Great Expectations influence you? Did Pip's journey reflect your own in some way? What words of wisdom would you say to your childhood self? Why do you read?

I can't wait to read what you think in the Comments area below!
Oprah's Book Club producer Jill

Read Jill's first post on Charles Dickens
Read Jill's second post on A Tale of Two Cities

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