Browsing Barnes and Nobles. . . finding the perfect book (or 5) . . . heading home trying not to get in a wreck as I attempt to begin the book at the red lights. . . Getting home and snuggling on the couch with a blanket and turning to the first page . . . I am immediately immersed in another world, another time, and another place.
Reading has been my passion since I was a little kid. When I was younger, I would start a book and not stop until I reached the end. . . Books have been my avenue to foreign places, my peek into famous lives, and my quest to the history of magical times. Some day I want a library in my house. Dark wood and floor to ceiling bookshelves around the circular room with a ladder on a track like in My Fair Lady.
Books are like old friends. . . when I look at my bookshelf I remember their contents with a smile and I run my fingers over the many spines remembering the places I was when I first read them, the memories they left in me, and the lessons they taught me.
When I was a sophomore in high school, I read Trinity by Leon Uris. "When all of this was done, a republic eventually came to pass but the sorrows and the troubles have never left that tragic, lovely land. For you see, in Ireland there is no future, only the past happening over and over." The best part of historical fiction is that it gives you the history of a certain time or place with romance and action intertwined! Trinity is still one of my favorite books and Leon Uris is by far my favorite author. This book started my obsession with Ireland! I contribute Trinity with pushing me toward a private study of Irish history and eventually to St Thomas University where I will graduate in December with my Masters in Irish Studies. A great book sticks with you and in some cases changes your life.
The Velveteen Rabbit is such a staple in a child's library and every child (or adult) longs to be loved the way the stuffed rabbit was loved. (every child secretly wishes their special stuffed animal would miraculously become Real) Throughout the book, we smile when the Boy and the Rabbit have long days in the garden, we listen intently at the Skin Horse's wise words, we cry with desperation when the Boy gets sick and the Rabbit must be burned and we rejoice when we read, "He was a Real Rabbit at last. . . ". What an incredible lesson and parallel of Christ's love. He loves us so much that when our time comes, He, like the nursery magic Fairy, comes to make us "Real" in heaven!
The book jacket or the back of the book either makes me want to read the book on the way home from the bookstore at the red lights, or makes me immediately dismiss the book. One of the BEST book jackets ever written is The Tale of Despereaux, which is also one of my favorite books!
"This is the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in darkness but covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl with a simple, impossible wish. These characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and ultimately, into each other's lives. And what happens then? Reader, it is your destiny to find out."
How could you possibly resist such a fabulous invitation? I'll admit it, when teaching 5th grade Language Arts, there was many a time that I read a little longer than necessary just because I, along with the kids, could NOT stop at the end of the chapter!
Then there is the DELICIOUS, sometimes slightly risque, but all the more appealing "poolside" reading! My personal favorite of this category is. . . The Devil in the Junior League. "The Junior League of Willow Creek, Texas is tres exclusive, one of the oldest and most elite women's societies in the country. And we work hard to keep it that way. Outsiders need not apply." How wildly entertaining! Again, a book you cannot put down until you turn the last page!
Very few writers can compose a memoir that is truly entertaining and not just self-reflecting! Every dog owner can relate to Marley and Me! "Our rambunctious, wired dog stood with his shoulders between Jenny's knees, his big, blocky head resting quietly in her lap. his tail hung flat between his legs, the first time I could remember it not wagging whenever he was touching one of us. His eyes were turned up at her, and he whimpered softly." How many times have we looked into the wise eyes of our 'rambunctious,' goofy dog and had them quietly reassure us with their silent comfort? Great books allow you to dive into another person's life while discovering the parallels of theirs with your own.
Of course, one must read and study the "classics!" Along with Moby Dick, and far too many others to name, one of my favorites is A Tale of Two Cities. "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." Again, Christ sacrificing his life for another's is magnified in this incredible book. A Tale of Two Cities is one of those books that end and you realize you have been holding your breath for the whole last chapter.
One Day in My Life and A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier are two of the greatest and most graphic autobiographies I have ever read. These books make you outraged at the living conditions of these authors and open your eyes to the reality of cruelty in other countries. Both infuriated me and took me across the world to experiences that I didn't believe existed. Books like these broaden the 'bubble' we live in and educate you about conditions in other countries. "I find it startling to hear myself say that I am prepared to die first rather than succumb to their oppressive torture and I know that I am not on my own, that many of my comrades hold the same."
One great thing about discussing books or being in book clubs is that it introduces you to new authors! Bex recently chose Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult. I totally disagree with a key part to this book but it made me think about my views and helped me to specify my thoughts on certain issues. Although I disagreed with the decision of the main character, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book which led me to read My Sister's Keeper. Again, Picoult makes you think and again nail down your thoughts on controversial issues. She is definitely an author that when you turn the last page, you have to sit and reflect for a while before coming back to the real world!
Being a Texas History teacher, two of my favorite books are Lonesome Dove and Not Between Brothers. My dog and my chickens were named after the main characters in Lonesome Dove, which is based off of the Goodnight/Loving cattle trail drive. Not Between Brothers is the BEST book I have ever read and follows Texas History from the time of the land grants to the beginning of the Civil War. Again, romance, betrayal, violence, and unforgettable friendship brings these historical stories to life!
Slowly, I turn the last page and close the book. It is over! The journey has concluded and I am thrown back into reality. I sit and reflect over what I have just read and it takes me a few minutes to organize my thoughts or fully take in the ending of the book. I let out a massive sigh and in disappointment return the book (alphabetically, of course) to my bookshelf.
After a few minutes of reflection and melancholy thoughts about the fact that the story is over. . . the fun begins again, as I pull a new book off the shelf. . .