One of the side effects of my Christmas indulgence in books has been recovering my joy in reading. As a writer, I read — a lot. But I read about the business. I read books on craft. I read books written by my writing colleagues. I read in my genre. I read to learn the trends in fiction. But all that reading can sometimes feel like a chore. Taking a “reading break” over the holidays reminded me of how much I love a good story. From my earliest memories of bedtime stories to the latest novel, a good book has transported me to other worlds and other times. It has introduced me to characters who have stayed in my memory forever.
- Rumpelstiltskin. What a name! But whenever I look at a pile of straw, I remember the little man who could weave it into gold.
- Green hair, quite fashionable now, takes me to Prince Edward Island and a red-headed Anne who hated her hair.
- Inspector Gamache is firmly embedded in my heart, rather like a grandfather I’ve heard about but never met.
- Hester Prynne. Just the mere mention of her name puts me in a rage.
- I still ache for Rhett and Scarlet. How could they hurt each other so?
I’ve just turned the last page of The Piano Maker. Part mystery, part romance, this book included some fascinating details on how pianos are made. I don’t need to know those details to enjoy my piano, but the information is another reminder that reading for pleasure is not a waste of time, as some of our more Puritan ancestors might insist. Reading for pleasure broadens the mind, enhances the spirit and lifts the heart. It’s also a great way to make new friends. “What are you reading?” is a great conversation starter.
If you’ve finished this blog, go read something. I hope you’ll read one of my books, but that’s not necessary. If you are blessed to live in a part of the world where books are plentiful and the ability to read is ordinary, take advantage, and count your blessings.