Saturday, July 30, 2016

Hiding in a book

I suspect most of those who follow this blog are readers, so in effect I’m going to be preaching to the choir. But I had two lessons today on the power of books. One was a newspaper article which discussed the growing communication gap between peace officers and citizens, especially black citizens. The article suggested several books to read for better understanding of each culture and how they can relate to each other.

The second was a more personal experience. I have been lost or hiding in a book all day yesterday and today. It’s a manuscript I’m reading for my friend Susan Witting Albert, a fictional exploration of the relationship between General Dwight David Eisenhower, his wife Mamie, and his British driver Kay Summersby. Believe it or not, I was too young during WWII to be aware of much of this history—or the scandal which was apparently kept quiet. But I didn’t even know the battle history, and I find it fascinating.

Getting lost doesn’t happen with every book I read, though I don’t know about you. But in a few books I find myself wrapped up in the world created by the book, so much a part of the characters and what’s happening to them, that I can read all day without stopping. It’s a rare and wonderful treat when that happens.

Oh, sure I read a lot of books that I enjoy but am not driven to read constantly. The plot is good, the characters believable, but that magic is just not there. I think of the things we see on Facebook and TV about teaching a child to read and opening a whole new world for them. Three of my four children were avid readers growing up (not so much now that the world crowds in on them) and some of my grandchildren read, others don’t. Jacob finds it boring, and I’m waiting for the light bulb to go on in his head. Madison, the oldest, crushed me when she said she thought To Kill a Mockingbird was boring—maybe she had the wrong teacher. They read dystopian sci-fi an fantasy things like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Rick Riordan’s books and the Game of Thrones—things I can’t relate to. But I’d rather have them reading those than not reading at all.

I had a professor when working on my masters who said he’s rather have kids reading comic books than not reading. I remembered that my knowledge of the Bible is straight out of the comic book Bibles I had as a child. And my conception of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, the rise of Satan, etc., all stems directly from a class on Milton I took while working on my Ph.D.

Yes, reading opens a magic world for us and enlarges our horizons. I’ve got to get over the lingering guilt that I should be working when I’m reading. A fellow author reminds me that reading is working for us. What a nice thought. I’ve worked hard the last couple of days.

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