How Writing My Own Words Led Me to Love Books Again (Plus My 5 Favorite Books!)

Posted: September 24, 2014 in Random Thoughts
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In a weird twist of serendipity, writing more has brought reading back into my life. I have always loved reading. I was that kid who read the cereal box because it was there and it had words on it. In my family, we read at the table while we ate. (Some people find that rude? Huh.) In a world that was sometimes scary for me to interact in, I could easily pull out a book and become part of something bigger than me.

For the last several years, reading fell to the wayside, at least compared to the way I used to read. I had several books that I started and never finished, which is unheard of for me. Unfortunately, technology is to blame for getting me reading again. I say “unfortunately” because I am one of those people who loves real, actual books, with hardcovers and pages you can turn down to mark your place (yes, I am one of those people). I have a bookshelf in my living room that is non-negotiable: it has to be there, filled to bursting with books, even if I haven’t even read half of them. It’s comforting, that bookshelf. A reminder that if I wanted to, randomly, I could pick up one of those books and start reading, no questions asked.

My precious...all mine...

My precious…all mine…

That’s why it’s weird that I took a time-out from reading real, actual books for a while. Oh, I still read. Websites, newspaper articles, informational ebooks, research. In fact, I read all the time, every day. Magazines, tons of magazines (Hi, I’m obsessed). But to pick up a good book and be lost for hours, days at a time, in a new world – that was lost to me for a while.

And then one day, Kindle took hold, and suddenly books and I, we’re BFF’s again! It started when I downloaded a novel on Kindle and then realized I could download it to Kindle for iPhone and suddenly that book, it was with me everywhere I went. Just like my camera for my growing selfie – uh, I mean photography obsession, and my Facebook app, which, let’s face it, I can’t explain the lure there other than I’m hooked.

We were on vacation to Pennsylvania in June, and for me, vacation always means “time to read a good book!” So as our 40-foot RV hurled itself down I40, I browsed my little glowing screen and came up with two books that couldn’t be more different: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. I could read when we were traveling! I could read, in the dark, while everyone else was asleep! It was just me, and my little glowing screen, and words. Suddenly, I am 12 again, laying in the middle of the floor, with a stack of books beside me. Nowhere to be and no one to answer to. Because if you’re sitting there playing video games or watching TV it’s Get up, do this, or Go outside, or something. But if I’m reading, it’s okay, I could waste an entire day. Reading, it’s healthy. Reading is good for you. It’s like the Cracklin’ Oats of hobbies. Remember that cereal? Surprisingly good…

A spiffy new Kindle Fire HD...sweeeet!

A spiffy new Kindle Fire HD…sweeeet!

Not to long after that June vacation came September, and with it my birthday. I really joined the ranks of the technology obsessed because I got a Kindle Fire for my birthday. (Thanks, Mom & Dad!) Now, in addition to my new-found ability to write words down (where has this been the past ten or so years when I could have been amassing drawers full of schlock writing?) I have been reading all the time. There’s so many books out there, new books that look fascinating and interesting, and I can read them late at night, under the covers, when everything is dark and quiet because five kids and one significant other are all fast asleep. It’s like I’m holding a flashlight at Sleep-a-way Camp and reading a paperback, except it’s way better.

Thinking about how much I love discovering reading all over again got me thinking about all my favorite books. (Notice I say “books.” People are supposed to be able to pick their favorite book, movie, song, color. I have no such ability. It’s like trying to pick my favorite snack-size Hershey bar out of the bag . . . how in the Hell am I supposed to choose?) So, just because I feel like it, here are 5 of my favorite books, in no particular order, and sometimes I mean series because I can’t just pick one book from a series either. That would just be weird.

Close to Shore

Close to Shore

1. Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo. I’m obsessed with Great White Sharks, and I love really good historical novels, so this book is a shoe-in for Favorite Historical Novel About Great White Sharks. It just makes sense, right? For a while, I re-read this book every year. It begins in 1916, right when people were shifting from the fantastical and unexplained (Sea Monsters!) to the scientifically-based view of the world. Yet, this true story defied explanation. A Great White shark is terrifying, but they have no interest in eating people, everyone said. Oh, wait, a man was attacked and killed by a Great White? And another? And a boy swimming in a creek? What the hell is going on here? It was the world’s first real introduction to the Great White and the attacks set off a hysteria that continues even today with each new reported shark attack.

 

Bag of Bones

Bag of Bones

2. Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Yes, Stephen King is a national treasure (he is from Maine after all!) and I’m sure there are many of his books that are better than this one, but something about this book just struck me when I read it for the first time, and it turned into one of those books I read over and over. From the wife’s sad death in the beginning to the relationship between Mike and Kyra and her mom, Mattie, plus the visions of the past where we get to see the events that started all the horror that unfolds . . . Well, it’s just really good and really scary. I especially loved how Mike was able to communicate with spirits using the magnetic refrigerator alphabet – that’s just funny! (P.S. Was so excited for the Bag of Bones mini-series, not so much after I watched it. It was just . . . meh).

 

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Harry Potter

3. The entire Harry Potter series, but specifically Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Picture this: It’s 1998 and I am in my first crappy off-campus apartment, sprawled across my twin size waterbed –ahem!– reading a new book for two days straight. There were college classes to attend and homework to be finished, but I just . . . couldn’t . . . get up. From the very first line, “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much,” through the owls and the Muggles, and the magic and on through the entire series, I was completely hooked. Of course, now the entire world knows everything there is to know about Harry Potter thanks to the books, movies, theme parks, and everything else, but that was my first introduction to the amazing mind of J.K. Rowling, and as I devoured that first book, I actually found myself wishing I could go back to being a kid, just so I could read the book as a kid instead of an (almost) grown up.

 

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The Witches

4. Roald Dahl, Lots of Them. My favorite books of his, in order of awesomeness: The Witches, Mathilda, James & the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG. I love Roald Dahl. I love him more as an adult than I did as a kid, although I read many of his books over and again when I was young. The Witches is far and away my favorite, but that’s just because it was so weird and cool: witches! With square feet and bald heads, who think kids smell like dog shit! Awesome! I remember reading The BFG to see if it would be a good book to read at story time to my second grade class, and as soon as little Sophie appeared on that first page, I thought to myself, If I have a daughter, I’m naming her Sophie. Yup, did it. I would not want to live in any world that never had Roald Dahl books in it.

 

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Jane Eyre

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Yes, Jane Eyre. When I was maybe 9 or 10, I got this book as a gift. It was hardcover and oversized, with a dark green cover that had a fancy illustration and stamped gold letters on the front. On the inside were illustrations throughout. I would take it off the bookshelf and page through it, feeling like I was holding a book fit for royalty – but I never read the book! No, I would just hold it, look at the illustrations, and then put it back. Finally, one day I read the first line, then kept going, tearing through every page, and found myself wondering, What took so long? I was completely taken with the whole story, and it set me on a kick of reading classics like Rebecca, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Les Miserables. If I hadn’t finally taken the plunge, I may never have known how great all those “dusty old books” would be.

 

I would love to know, what are your favorites? You can give me one, or list your top five like I did! Here’s to loading more titles on that Kindle!

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Comments
  1. theveganmuffinwoman says:

    It’s very true that writing and reading go hand in hand! The same thing has happened to me recently and it’s made me very happy!

    • That’s great! I realize too how much I’ve missed it now, it’s almost like having an old friend come back around. I stayed up way to late last night reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, so I guess I’ll be searching for my next good read. Good luck to you with both your writing and your reading!

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