Wordplay Wednesday : The Joys of Reading
It is no secret that I am an unabashed, unapologetic bookworm. I l love books and bookstores and my breath catches in anticipation when I enter , especially a newly discovered one. It is a treasure hunt for both mind and soul. I wonder, what prize will I unearth this time?
I cannot go too long without going to a bookstore. It makes a great artist’s date, therapy session or reward. (Confession: Each Thursday before I tackle the dreaded weekly food shopping, I stop at the bookstore and wander around as my compensation for having to do the same at the grocery store).
I do love books, but really I love to read all kinds of formats- newspapers, magazines, blogs, e-zines, ebooks, cereal boxes…It is an obsession, a calling, part of my personality and DNA. I always have something to read with me. ( Another confession: My criteria for a purse is that it must be large enough to hold my current read, plus pens and a notebook for writing or drawing).
What makes reading so wonderful? Let me count the ways.
It allows me to get to know fascinating people I would otherwise never get a chance to even meet. It permits me to travel back and forth in time and place to locations that I may not reach. It inspires dreams, encourages wonder, allows me to participate in a myriad of lives and experiences that one lifetime could never encompass. Through books I have survived alone on Mars, been a private detective in post- WW I England, made friends with a creative and gentle spider, been a human “computer” at Langley, homesteaded in early 20th century Alaska, attended a school for wizards and much more. I have been delighted, elated, enlightened, educated, infuriated, and moved to tears while reading. I believe it has made me a more well-rounded person and it inspired me to be a writer.
I keep track of the books I read each year and I attempt to read widely across the genres. So far this year my reading has included mystery, art inspiration, fantasy, historical fiction, magical realism, biography, history and theology.
This past week I read two magnificent books, both quite different from one another. The first was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. This magical realism tale is based on a Russian fairy tale called Snegerochka or The Snow Maiden. It is the story of a childless couple who move to Alaska to homestead. One day they make a snow girl in their yard who then appears to come to life. The descriptions of both the beauty and harshness of Alaska are lush and lovely. The writing, story pacing and mystery are all superbly rendered. It is a fabulous story that I wanted to both read quickly and savor. To me that is always the sign of a great book.
On page 204 in the story, the woman, Mabel is pondering the wonders of nature, science and beauty. I loved this paragraph. “ You did not have to understand miracles to believe in them and in fact Mabel had come to suspect the opposite. To believe, perhaps you had to cease looking for explanations and instead hold the little thing in your hands as long as you were able before it slipped like water between your fingers.”
The other book I read was Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White, by Melissa Sweet. Its intended audience is middle-grade readers, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the author of Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. The book is generously illustrated with photos, quotes, manuscript pages and Melissa Sweet’s own whimsical collages and artwork which I pored over in delight and wonder.
I was fascinated to read about White’s childhood, early writing career and inspiration for his famous stories. I savored White’s quotes. Here are several that charmed my writer’s heart.
“I discovered…that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters, of the heart…was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace.”
“In almost everyone’s life there is one event that changes the whole course of his existence.”
“It has been ambitious and plucky of me to attempt to describe what is indescribable….[But] a writer, like an acrobat, must occasionally try a stunt that is too much for him.”
I recommend Some Writer to anyone who has loved White’s stories as well as anyone who wishes to write. It is a short, but informative and encouraging story for all ages. That is another hallmark of a great book.
What have you been reading lately?