There are two things I don’t remember not knowing how to do. One of them is swimming and the other is reading. The joy and pleasure of falling into a good book is something that I just can’t describe. No matter how much real life stuff I might have to read to keep up with a job, or to keep myself abreast of what’s going on in the world, the act of reading for pleasure is something that never gets old.
When I read a good book, I tend to disappear from the world. It’s as if I have fallen into the pages and I’m walking around Stockholm (the book I’m reading now), or ancient Britain, or Darkover, or the halls of the Overlook Hotel. The best writers make me FEEL the book. I hear the sounds, the rustle of leaves, water over stones in a brook, traffic on a busy city street. I smell the aromas, even if it’s something I’ve never encountered in real life, like the inner workings of a city morgue.
Sometimes, when I’m tired, I’ll lie down but instead of sleeping, I’ll grab a book and read for a while. There are times when I feel more rested after reading then napping. It’s like taking a vacation without having to move.
A while back, there were a series of ads for a certain fast food chain showing people complete engrossed in devouring their burgers. The tag line was, “Don’t bother me, I’m eating.”
For me, it’s, “Don’t bother me, I’m reading.”
And so, we come to the end of the list. It’s fitting to have, if not the best, then at least the most cherished, for last. I had no trouble at all picking this one. It’s been with me my entire life. My mother read to me out of it when I was just a little girl, instilling in me the beginning of a love of words, of the rhythm of language, of poetry. I loved it then and I love it now. I remember gazing at the little cameo pictures of the authors that accompanied each entry, most passed on, some still alive at the time, now surely all gone. I loved the fineness of the pages, the delicacy of the paper that was almost, but not quite, transparent. I don’t know where it came from, don’t know who in my family first got it or why. Was it assigned reading or bought for pleasure? The people who could have told me are gone now and so I’ll never know. I also am pretty sure that no one else in my family would be particularly interested in this book, and I find that terribly sad. Perhaps I should have read more to my daughter out of it. Maybe that would have had some influence on her, who knows? The time for reading aloud to my grandsons is pretty well past and my new granddaughter is too far away and not likely to get any closer. It’s okay. I’ll cherish this book for what it means to me and when the time comes, somone will be the right person to pass it to. And in the meantime, if the house ever catches fire, it’s coming with me.
I love this author’s work. I’ve heard people sneer at it because of the subject matter or style, but I can honestly say that no one has ever been able to suck me immediately into a story the way this writer does. Every. Single. Time. I discovered this particular book shortly after I moved to New Orleans after I graduated from college (at the library!) I remember going there on my day off, picking up the nearly 800-page tome because I had read some of his others, and settling down on my pallet bed in my tiny apartment. Nearly three days later, I surfaced just in time to go back to work. This book had a huge effect on my thinking for a long time…about good and evil, about fear and how we face it, how we live, what we do to survive, what loyalty and friendship mean, how people handle a crisis, you name it. I’ve gone back to a lot of books over the years to read them again, but this one always gets me in new and deeper ways every time I read it. It meant so much to me that when the author released it finally whole and uncut, I immediately went and bought it. In hardback. It’s definitely time for this one to come back to the bedside.
Well, it’s finally stumped me. I honestly can’t remember a book that I bought at my favorite indepent book store, since that store was in Atlanta and has sadly long since gone out of business. That would make it nearly 20 years ago since I bought a book there. I do remember visiting the shop when I was in town for a reunion, and they were having a going out of business sale. I remember being so grateful to be able to visit the store one more time, and I did buy a book then, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was or even if I still have it. We don’t have a lot of independent book stores in Pueblo and I’m more likely to patronize the library rather than a shop, since I’m not buying books as often. I do love to visit The Tattered Cover in Denver when I’m up there, but again, more for the ambiance than the inventory.
I know mega stores and now the Internet have put idependent stores in jeopardy and I’m sad about that. I wish I had a better tale and a better memory to give you.
The truth is, I want to live on Darkover. I’ve wanted to live there for a long time, since I first discovered Marion Zimmer Bradley’s long running, stunningly imagined world light years away from Earth, so far away that Earthlings forgot they ever sent a ship there and over the centuries the inhabitants forgot they ever came from anywhere else and evolved to fit their planet under the bloody sun, colder, where 40 degrees is summer, without much metal, where telepathy became the technlogy of necessity and choice, where human biology was influenced by native botany, and where more than one species lived, if not in harmony, at least together on the same world.
And then the Earthlings came back…
I chose this particular book in the series not because it’s better but because it marks the beginning of some of MZB’s best and most detailed writing in the series. The books were not written in chronological order, and it’s interesting to see how her style evolved and grew over time. Some of the books were written to fill in the blanks left by others. Some characters run through several volumes; others show up only in one book and you wish they would come back again.
I’ve loved this series for longer than I can remember, even though I think I was grown before I first found them. They’re so much a part of my own reading history, I can’t imagine being without all of these books on my shelves.
Are you intrigued yet? Better start reading…
The truth is, I have no idea how many copies of this book have been sold. I first discovered it perhaps 15 years ago during my corporate drone days. I can’t remember if I shared it with one of my bosses or if she shared it with me, but both of us were intriged by it, enough for me to go out and get my own copy. I haven’t read it since then and, again, with some of the things that are happening around my job (nothing really bad, just typical corporate behavior), I feel like maybe it’s time to pick it up again. I do think that someone should send a copy of this book to every CEO and other upper management folks at every corporation, large and small, in the country. If corporations want to be seen as people, then perhaps they and the people who run them should act a bit more human.
I had such high hopes for this book. The originals that inspired it were old childhood friends and I definitely wanted to read it. I borrowed it from a friend and figured it would be one of those quick weekend reads and I would enjoy it and get it back to her in good time. I started it and almost immediately bogged. I put it aside. A few weeks later, I thought, maybe I was distracted, maybe I just hadn’t been in the mood, and tried again. Again, the reading stuttered and stopped. Every time I tried to read this book I felt like gravity increased in the room and I could hardly lift my hand to turn the page. After a good half dozen attempts to move past the first couple of chapters, I just gave up and returned the book to my friend. I’m realizing I just don’t have time to spend forcing myself to read things that don’t immediately grab me enough to at least turn the next page. Sadly, this one didn’t, and I’m pretty sure I won’t try it again.
I discovered this book in the seventh grade. I distinctly remember finding it. It was, believe it or not, in our reading book for that year. Yes, a seventh grade reading book back in 1969 had this novel as its final entry. We didn’t read the book as an assignment; we never got that far in the book, but I saw it and something about it…the name, perhaps the illustration on the first page, who knows, something hooked me and after a page or two, I was lost. Later, I soaked up everything I could find by the author, and realized that while her books were labeled as “children’s fiction”, there was nothing childish about her work, not the characters, even though many of them are young, certainly not the subject matter, and not the writing. Brilliant, evocative and haunting, this story has stayed with me for 45 years and every time I read it, I am moved once more. When I came across a compilation of three of this author’s novels in one volume, you can bet everything you have I didn’t let that one pass me by.
All through elementary and high school, I read whatever was assigned without a problem. Never met a book I didn’t scarf up with gusto, even Shakespere. That crazy middle English syntax and old verbiage intriged me…I wanted to hear it out loud, and I often did read it subvocally in my room. English lit was my friend.
Then I got to college and freshman English. And this book. Of course, it was a “classic” but for some reason, either the style, the subject matter, the time of day, the professor, who knows, I was nearly defeated by this book. Every time I opened it to read, I felt like I was trying to run knee deep through molasses. It was just a book! Words on the page, one after the other, like any other book, but I. Could. Not. Get. Into. It. I’m pretty sure I did finish it because I had to take tests or write a paper or whatever you do in college freshman English, but, boy! I just remember this book as a really party pooper when it came to reading.
Later…decades later…I decided to try another book by the same author. I chose “Light in August” and found it more relevant and much easier to read. While I appreciate the exposure to some of the classics throughout my education, I do believe that some of them are just going to be baffling until readers have their own life experience. Maybe it’s time to revisit this one. I’ll let you know if I do…
And now, I’m all caught up on my postings and can go back to daily updates tomorrow. Yay!
I bought this book long ago when I was doing my best to read all the great, classic science fiction authors. I’m sure I either bought it at a convention or my favorite used bookstore in Atlanta (now, sadly, long out of business). I remember being intrigued by the premise, wondering if it were even physically possible, but, not being an engineer, I didn’t worry about it too much. Then, a few years later, I bought the sequel, and in the dedication, the author mentioned that if anyone had the first edition paperback, “…it’s the one with the mistakes in it. It’s worth money.” I flew back to my bookcase to look at that previous purchase. Would you believe…a first edition paperback?? Yes. I’ve never tried to find out if the thing is actually worth any money. I’m sure in some circles it might be, but I’m happy enough to have a piece of writing history, so I wouldn’t part with it, regardless.
And now, yet another book to read again!