Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

iStock_000012029812XSmallWhen I was a kid, I could lose myself in a book in an instant, and I often did. My summers were filled with days spent lying under trees in the front yard, book in hand, sunglasses on, reading. I quickly became friends with Anne of Green Gables, running around Prince Edward Island as if I were a Canada-native. I went coon hunting with two dogs and a little boy named Billy, disappeared into the fog with Greta, cried with a little boy as he searched for his father, an education, and a dog named Sounder. I traveled into space with Issac Asimov as my guide and my Foundation; I visited Dune; I learned what a tesseract was when Meg went looking for her dad. I found a ring and journeyed into Middle Earth, only to be sorely disappointed when, at dinner time, I would discover that my feet were still soundly planted in the Age of Man and my mom still expected me to help with the dishes.

Books have always been places for me to go. In a wonderfully written book I am transported fully into the world woven by its author, be that world fantasy, future or here and now. Once I have suspended my disbelief and entered fully into that new world, I’m lost, and I usually devour the book within a matter of days.

Even now I can still lose myself in a book, but it is a rarer event. As an adult, suspending disbelief is harder—harder to let go of all my cynicism and skepticism and just let myself wander in another world for a little while. A few authors have managed to break through though: “You’re a wizard Harry.” Oh, how I could have used those words when I was in eleven, in fifth grade and having one of the worst school years of my life.

For more adult reading but still in the fantastic realm, I found Elizabeth Kostova’s novel The Historian excellent for the lover of library stacks, books, history and mystery, as was Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore. And, following in the same vein of scholarship and fantasy is the All Soul’s Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, the latest world to capture my imagination. It even has a good dose of genomes and DNA analysis.

For more “real world” reading there is Tinkers by Paul Harding, a short novel about generations and family memories, and for anyone living in this area of Wisconsin coming of age with a little boy and his pet raccoon, Rascal is practically required reading—you will want to go look for Chief Blackhawk’s hideout along Lake Koshkonong in an attempt to transport yourself back in time, to the author’s more perfect world.

Yes, I still love getting lost in a good book. It transports me from reality in a way that no movie or television program has ever done, awakening my muse. I start longing to sit among the trees or alongside the river and write—letting my muse fly free and enjoy herself.

I am a Reader. It’s a wonderful gift that my parents and a couple of really excellent teachers nurtured as I grew up. It’s a gift that grew as I wandered the pink stacks of Pitts Theology Library as a graduate student and the Decatur Public Library as a kid. It’s a gift that grew as I worked as an eighth grader, shelving and cataloging books in the middle school library as a library aide. It’s a gift that grew every time I walked into Lindy’s bookstore, jingling the bells on the door to be greeted by Mrs. Katz and a new recommendation for me.

Summer’s here, and it’s reading time. What world will you be getting lost in?

© 2013 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Summer Reading: Get Lost in a Good Book

  1. I work in a middle school library and try too keep up on the fantasy books my clientele so loves. I am jealous at the way the can suspend belief! I have seen kids totally transfigured by a story that to me was ridiculous . Like I said, I’m jealous.

  2. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    Your memories of childhood reading lit my face with a smile. Many of my favorite childhood adventures involved my siblings and a neighborhood full of endless possibilities, but others still involved the pages of so, so many books. The library was my second home and, though its original building was decrepit, I was saddened when the library moved and became something other than the heart of many fond memories. Still, the good was more in the books than the building, and I’m delighted to think of all the children making the library their second home right now.

    (As for now, I’m not sure yet what I’ll be reading, apart from lots of picture books for my son!)

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