In 2009, while browsing through my local Borders (which is now a Home Depot, much to my dismay), I came across a book called Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned from Judy Blume. A collection of essays by esteemed women writers, the book offered wise and witty observations on everything from first periods to unrequited crushes. Naturally, I couldn’t plunk down my MasterCard fast enough.
I’d like to say I read the book from cover to cover, but I didn’t. Instead, it got me thinking about the book’s title. As much as I adore Judy Blume – and I do; she’s one of my greatest influences as a writer – everything I needed to know about being a girl I learned from Harriet the Spy.
If you’re not familiar with Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 classic, you owe it to yourself to grab a copy immediately, if not sooner. Why? Because Harriet the Spy holds the answers to all of life’s tricky questions, whether you’re a girl or not.
Without further ado – and with my apologies to the late great Louise Fitzhugh – here are my top 10Harriet the Spy takeaways:
1. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the dumbwaiter.
2. Spies don’t go to dancing school, unless you’re Mata Hari.
3. All you need in life is a book and a flashlight.
4. Wearing purple socks doesn’t make you interesting.
5. You can bring a kid to the clubhouse, but you can’t make him play bridge.
6. There’s nothing like a chocolate egg cream.
7. An arch expression is useful when quoting Henry James.
8. Homemade cake can buy you friends, at least temporarily.
9. The expression “rat fink” can’t be used often enough.
10. Description cleanses the soul like a laxative.
There are many more lessons to be found in this wondrous book, of course. What are your favorites?