Books · Quotes · Reading

Books & Beginnings IV

img_1099Watership Down by Richard Adams both traumatized and delighted me. The story ensured I would never look at rabbits the same again nor would I ever eat rabbit stew again. This masterful tale is an engaging and amazing story of family, strength, courage against impossible circumstance, and vulnerability born nobly. This was the book’s beginning from my post Books & Beginnings III

The next book enraged me, sent me into despair, and informed me on the corrupted nature of my fellow man.  It turned the playground bully into a monster. I had met in some form or another every character in this book.

When I finished it, it was a summer evening. I was nine years old. My parents were on the screen porch having a drink. I ran out, book in hand which I had finished in a single day,  and slung it at them. I wished my mother had never told me of its existence. It haunts me to this day.  It is brilliant. It is true. It is fiction. I wonder if you recognize it.

The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead. All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. He was clambering heavily among the creepers and broken trunks when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witch-like cry; and this cry was echoed by another.

“Hi!” it said. “Wait a minute!”

Books · Quotes · Reading · Writing

Books & Beginnings II

At age eight, books turned from escape to pure magic. I would read them out loud to anyone or anything that cared to listen from the perch in a tree house my friends and I had constructed in the little stretch of woods that ran behind our houses and the neighborhood next to the lake.

img_1095In Books & Beginnings I my mother brought me A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine D’Engle.  At the time, the book had been out for more than ten years but to me it was fresh and new. This was one of my earliest influences apart from the obvious. These great books will continue in the general order I discovered them.

img_1097I read madly. It was late in my 8th year or early in my 9th year, I became enamored of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.  Those I would read every year through my university studies. And then there was C.S. Lewis – it started with The Chronicles of Narnia. These were the obvious influences on the writer I grew into. I found great truths in these volumes that many cast aside as trite fantasy.

I discovered Agatha Christie and her mysteries in the shelves of my mother’s family beach house along with a constant deluge of mysteries and thrillers that my parents called “beach cozies”. I read them all.

As my eighth year ended, my grandmother on my father’s side, began my instruction in two areas I loved, history and theater. We began to attend plays together and she instructed me on European history going back to.before the Romans began their conquest.

It was these stories that influenced the next great beginnings. It was near my ninth birthday when my mother dug deeper into her bookshelves and came out with a thin book of poetry, the most gorgeous verse I had ever imagined, and a thick paperback that encased a story based on that verse.

TreehouseUp to my treehouse I went. The birds, squirrels, snakes, my English Springer, Winston, standing guard below,  and myriad of insects, and the neighbor’s fat orange hunting cat joined me on an adventure that changed the way I thought of story.  I read every word out loud, staying until the light was too dim for me to read another word. It made me often late for dinner.

By the time I received this amazing book, the pages were browned with age, making the story all the more authentic to me. I loved the scent and feel of old books on my fingers. The opening of this volume suggested a routine life familiar to my own. One that sparked into adventure … and great tragedy. I never gave this book back to my mother. It became one of my treasures.  Can you guess the title?

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays it was Court Hand and Summulae Logicales, while the rest of the week it was Organon, Repetition, and Astrology. The governess was always getting muddled with her astrolabe, and when she got specially muddled she would take it out of the Wart by rapping his knuckles.

Books · Quotes · Reading · Writing

Books & Beginnings I

img_1061-1I learned to read at age three. It saved my mother from having me muling for her to read me a story night and day. By eight or nine, I had exhausted my love for children’s literature and started at my parent’s bookshelves where I found such treasures as Plato’s Republic and Dante’s Inferno. My parents both studied literature in college.

My cousin gave me J.R.R. Tolkien at age nine but between eight and nine was a difficult time as reading was a fierce addiction for me.  I no longer enjoyed children’s books and my parents bookshelf had an upper shelf I could not reach. They refused to assist me in acquiring the books on the top shelves. They told me I was too young or some such nonsense. It was a condition I easily outgrew, but not at age eight.

One day my mother brought home a book from the library. She made a game of trying to find something that I would love. I could not fathom Dante and Plato was a bit boring, at least when I was eight.  She held the book up and said this was a book written for children like me. She was right. I wonder if you will recognize it as well.

This book, one of the greats of all time for young readers, starts in a way writers are cautioned never to begin their books. With the weather. Funny, how the best writers always break the rules. Funny, how when they do, it is in such a sublime fashion. Recognize this? Such wondrous magic.

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

It was a dark and stormy night. 

In her attic bedroom, Margaret Murray, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. 

Do you know this? Feel free to comment.

life · Literature · Reading · Writing

My Library – Random Thoughts

One day I would like to live in a library.  Or more correctly, I would like to convert my home into a library. I don’t have room for all my books in my small city apartment. But one day.  And not just some little cozy room with a few built in bookshelves, but something grand. Like the citadel in Game of Thrones. Only no chains on the books. Like below- grand architecture, perfect book preserving climate, that goes on and on.

ancient antique architectural design architecture

 

img_1054For now, I have a few shelves, some over-stuffed with my lovely books. Inside these books are some of the loveliest and nastiest people I have ever met. Some human, some dragons, some of various origins. It is here in these pages where I see possibility, where I find hope when I can’t find any in the “real” world.

img_1059There is a section in the classic, Lord of the Rings, where Frodo Baggins laments that he has thought an attack of dragons would do his fellow hobbits a world of good. Only, when it comes down to it, he only wishes to save them. I suspect we all feel this same conflict at some level about our fellow humans with whom we share this tiny pile of space rubble.

img_1056In Brandon Sanderson’s trilogy, The Stormlight Archives, there is a character, a king by the name of Taravangian. This king appears to all the world as a feeble, old man albeit kindly. And on most days, that is true because Taravangian often wakes up as an idiot. He doesn’t have the strength or intelligence to be duplicitous.  On other days, he is a genius. On those days, he is, well, scary. I won’t give away any spoilers. But I do suspect there have been a few Taravangian type kings to visit their wrathful genius in this world. It’s so much better if the villains can be kept on pages in black and white.

Well, tonight I am an idiot so I am going to do some grammatical edits and read one of my glorious books for a spell before sleep takes me.

 

 

 

Books · Writing

Book Review – The Road To Bittersweet

I was lucky enough to score an ARC of Donna Everhart’s The Road to Bittersweet. I absolutely loved her debut book, The Education of Dixie Dupree so I was very excited to get her latest book.

The Road to Bittersweet follows the Stamper family through trials and tribulations as a flood destroys their home in the foothills of South Carolina. Woven into this tale of tragedy and redemption is a lovely story between two sisters, Wallis and Laci. Younger Wallis is a sturdy sort of girl, very near the opposite of her fey older sister, Laci, lithe and lovely but autistic. Laci is a music savant who does not speak, and Wallis has assisted in Laci’s care her entire life.

When a young man, Clayton, appears on the scene and earns Wallis’s regard, the relationship between the sisters is tested and changed as Clayton pays more attention to Laci over Wallis.

The Road to Bittersweet is a lyrically emotional journey and a beautiful coming of age tale of faith and family. Donna Everhart is off to a wonderful start in her literary career, and I look forward too many more wonderful journeys with her work.