“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~ Charles W. Eliot
Reading grasped me when I was a senior in high school. We studied British Literature that year. I was enamored with A Tale of Two Cities, Jane Eyre, and Shakespeare. Everything we read opened up my perspective on history, and how the different characters lived. I knew I didn’t want to be like Miss Haversham in Great Expectations. On the other hand I very much liked Jane Eyre’s self-confidence, and A Tale of Two Cities immersed me in the horrors of The French Revolution.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t been a reader before, but we didn’t have access to libraries, except for the school libraries, in the small towns in which I grew up. The Scholastic Book Fair was always a treat and I did buy books that I enjoyed reading. But those were held only once or twice a year, and so it was often months between reading the books I wanted to read, and the ones I had to read for school.
But senior year I became a real reader. What I mean by that is that a real reader is always on the lookout for the next book they are going to read. And now that I’m semi-retired, and have more time for reading, I feel uneasy if I have to wait even a day to find the next book to sink into. That rarely happens, though, because most of the time, I have a list of two or three possibilities waiting in line.
The advent of social media groups like Goodreads has helped me up my reading game with their yearly reading challenge. For the last few years I’ve pledged to read 50 books a year. I know for some people that’s not a lot, but I like to read a book slowly, savoring and living within the lives of the characters.
I’ve tried to understand why I feel this need to sink into other people’s lives. I do it with movies and TV too. Maybe I’m a voyeur, but I think it’s because I’m just one person and I can’t possibly experience every aspect of life. Yet I have this need to understand the world from different perspectives. And when I talk or listen to other readers, they say similar things about why they read.
I secretly wanted to be a writer for many years. When I finally acknowledged that fact, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to write effectively. After all my degrees are not in English. But when I read a quote I believe was by Stephen King, “You can’t be a good writer if you don’t read,” that made me feel better. I am learning how to be a good writer by reading both good and bad books. A poorly written book can sometimes teach me more than great ones because they show me in glaring detail the mistakes I make, or ones I need to avoid.
On the other hand there are great books that I still think about many years after I first read them. And maybe that’s the highest praise I can give an author, to continue to contemplate their work and how it affected me. And then try to write as powerfully as they did, only using my personal experiences and point of view.
I’m grateful to be a reader. It’s hard for me to imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t read. I think it would be lots smaller and maybe even sadder. Reading about characters who experience terrible things, then grow, and even flourish as a result, gives me great hope.
Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Have a fabulous weekend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.