It’s been a few years since I fell in love with a book. It’s my own fault, of course. I allow too much non-literary media in my life. When I went back for my teaching credential, I scoffed at textbooks. When I taught, we used to read delightful children’s novels and targeted short stories and poetry.
There is hardly any bad reason to read. However, really loving reading is a special treat.
I consume news at night, which does little other than helping me understand all the problems I can’t solve.
Then there are books to research. I spent a few winters reading “The New Western Garden Book” – just for fun – and other tomes about dirt. There is much to be learned from turning the pages of the long winter nights and eating crackers.
Sometimes we read books because we think we should. We skip through the recommended readings of others because we want to find common ground. These are not bad reasons, and no one can take away what you have learned. Still, a great book can touch you in those quiet places you hide even from yourself.
Henry Kissinger’s “Diploma” sat by my bedside for the past five years. This was the last book Handsome Woodsman was reading when he died. When time passed, and some of the dull ache subsided, I wanted to share the same words he thought. Kissinger was a wise man, and certainly nothing he wrote has lost relevance. However, once I passed the beautiful Woodsman’s bookmark I realized that Kissinger is too dull and laborious.
I still keep “diplom” by my bed, not by nostalgia, but if I have trouble sleeping.
Most of the time, like most people I know, I succumb to electronic distractions that fade away in my time, then nibble on something else, until I can’t fall asleep due to blue-screen overload.
Recently, my friend Chrissy recommended the book “Where the Crowdads Sing” by Delia Owens. She posted on Facebook that she thought the book was beautiful. It was such a simple statement, something resonated. Plus, Chrissy is pretty darn good.
When I saw the book in my stepmother’s garage, I grabbed it.
After turning the last page, I am in no hurry to read another book. I returned the next night and read the last few pages a second time.
After reading this book it seemed that if I spend time with another book soon, it will be unfaithful. The author connects nature and the pain of loneliness in a way that reminds us that we are never really alone.
I thought about the characters as I lay in bed in the morning. My mind went to the book’s imagery, which helped me unwind during my workday. When it rained this week, I turned off all the noise in the house so that I could hear.
Before the book was finished, I was careful not to rush. I would wait until just before bedtime, just to read a little so the words could stop. I let the words overwhelm me and carry me through my week. I wanted the author’s pictures in my head like a goodnight kiss before I started to fall asleep.
Thanks Chrissy. Next time you say a book is beautiful, I’ll know exactly what you mean.