Why the Book "The Goldfinch" Changed My Life
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Why the Book "The Goldfinch" Changed My Life

An open letter to future readers of "The Goldfinch."

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Flickr / Earl McGehee

Dear potential reader,

There are only a handful of books that I have read and labeled as life-changing. "The Goldfinch" is one of them.

Before you divulge into Donna Tartt's world in "The Goldfinch", be wary that there are just as many beautiful moments as there are nightmarish ones. In one chapter, there are vivid depictions of magnificent works of art as the main characters saunter down marble-lined art galleries; in the next, something could happen that casts the rest of the scene underneath a gloomy, black-stained light. This duality makes the good moments seem just a little bit better while making the bad moments seem just a little bit worse, a subject that is heavily touched upon throughout the course of the story.

I chose this book because a friend who is extremely picky about her books recommended it to me, but I waited to read it until I had a reason to fully analyze it. I didn't have much time to read the 775-page book in between study sessions and homework, afraid I would lose motivation and get caught up in another endeavor if I decided to read it leisurely, so I thought that an upcoming project in my AP Language & Composition would be a perfect opportunity for me to examine each word and sentence fragment, and this has proven to be one of my favorite book-related decisions I have ever made.

I do want to mention, however, that the project's deadline did put a strain on my experience, and if I could read "The Goldfinch" for the first time today I wouldn't do so under the guise of a project. This is a book rich with information that needs some time to be absorbed and fully digested.

I was aware that the main character and narrator moved around and underwent a change as he grew older, so I selected this book for the transcendentalist project in my English class. I had some understanding of the transcendentalist movement because I had complete a presentation for US history just a few weeks before this project that only piqued my interest. It was a quick, in-class assignment that I had completed and presented within thirty minutes, but after school, I was eager to learn more about the philosophy and spent more hours reading about the topic in my free time than I spent actually doing my project due to my sheer fascination. I've always had a keenness for philosophy in general; in fact, the reason that I was even friends with the person I had mentioned earlier was due to our shared fascination for different philosophies (Dadaism, to be precise), but I digress.

Transcendentalism is all about the journey that one takes, and therefore I believe that I myself have gone on such a journey, albeit not one as life-changing as Thoreau's venture to Walden Pond. This book has changed the way I see certain, minuscule things; the way that Donna Tartt utilized imagery makes immersion into the book an easy task.

While doing some research for this book, I couldn't find a time period anywhere I had looked — on the official Pulitzer, New York Times, and Telegraph websites alike — and it is now that I realize why this was done. This book, much like the titular painting, is timeless. The beautiful thing regarding transcendentalism is that the same can be said about its timelessness and application to modern-day society. There is a reason that the 18th-century philosophy studied by men who found peace in nature is still studied and analyzed to this day; the lessons taught by nature and discovered by transcendentalists authors such as Thoreau and Emerson remain imperative and crucial parts of living a completely satisfied lifestyle.

If my side tangents have yet to deter you, dear reader, I urge you to find a time and place to read "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt. Be wary that these life-changing aspects of this novel are extremely apparent, and you may walk away from it feeling more fulfilled and accomplished, not just due to the sheer size of the book itself, but due to the wholly mesmerizing transcendentalist ideologies that Tartt expertly integrates into an equally-mesmerizing story.


Enjoy your adventure!

Sabrina Powell

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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