Books That Inspire 2012

Gone-Away Lake
Elizabeth Enright

First my mother read it to me, then we read it together, and finally I read it by myself. I still turn to it when life has me on the ropes. I press it upon all my friends with children. Elizabeth Enright's 1957 Newbery Honor Book Gone-Away Lake is a wonderful, sweet story that has a swamp set in upstate New York as a central character. Boy and girl cousins who are great friends and love to explore stumble upon the swamp, which had been a 19th century vacation colony arrayed around a lake (the dam burst and the lake drained, leaving a swamp), discovering decayed Victorian houses and an aging brother and sister who have returned to Gone-Away to live out their years. The children become friends with the elders, who teach them all about the swamp, live lives of self-sufficiency, and tell them marvelous stories from their own childhood summers at Gone-Away Lake. For a 55-year-old book, its themes are surprisingly current.

Deborah Dalton
Professor and Director
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment