Skip to main content

A Really Good Read

How often do you come across a book that changes the way you see the world?

When was the last time you gasped at a well-written sentence?

Looking back on my reading life, I can see that about every ten years I discover a new writer that I can’t get enough of. Probably the first was Carolyn Keene and the Nancy Drew series. My mother wanted to encourage my reading so she offered to buy me a new Nancy Drew book every month. I remember so well going to a bookstore in Northpark Mall in Dallas in the mid-sixties to get my book. (What store would that have been back then? Walden’s? B.Dalton? Doubleday?)

In the seventies I married, graduated from college and had two babies and it was Madeline L’Engle who kept me company and kept me calm. Not her A Wrinkle in Time series although that was the gateway book that got me into her writing. I was caught up in her other stories (The Arm of the Starfish and Dragons in the Waters) with characters like Poly O’Keefe. How can you not love a girl named Polyhymnia?

In 1982 Susan gave me a copy of The Color Purple which sent me off on an Alice Walker tangent. Most people don’t know it’s the first book of a sort-of trilogy. My favorite of them was Possessing the Secret of Joy where Carl Jung is a character. This is not an easy book to read, but I recommend it to women who have suffered and then struggled to heal.

The books I remember from the 1990s include Alice Hoffman’s Turtle Moon. Hoffman’s books give us magic realism in such a way that we believe a rose bush can grow ten feet overnight and there’s more to this life than we can see or touch in our everyday world.

And then comes the new millenium, and we meet a young boy named Harry Potter. What can I say that hasn’t already been written. I will tell you that I don’t think the HP books are demonic. I believe Harry is a Christ figure who has a job to do that he doesn’t really want but sacrifices himself to save his friends and loved ones. I was reluctant to start the books but when I did, I was relieved to discover that someone else out there named JK Rowling saw the world as I do. One full of mystery, magic and everyday mystics. 

In the new decade I may have found the next author on my list: Tana French. I’m only a few pages into her book In the Woods, but her words take my breath away. I started out listening to the audiobook but quickly downloaded the ebook onto my nook so I can go back and reread the most captivating passages. Here’s one from the Prologue:
"This summer explodes on your tongue tasting of chewed blades of long grass, your own clean sweat, Marie biscuits with butter squirting through the holes and shaken bottles of red lemonade picnicked in tree houses. It tingles on your skin with BMX wind in your face, ladybug feet up your arm; it packs every breath full of mown grass and billowing wash lines; it chimes and fountains with birdcalls, bees, leaves and football-bounces and skipping-chants, One! Two! Three! This summer will never end.”
I recommend this book to all mystery lovers and those who just plain love to read. (However, I don’t recommend it to my book-loving friend Kim or other mothers of young children.)

And I’ll sign off with what I think needs to be said at this point:

Put down Facebook and pick up a real book.


Susan said…
Thanks to the book club, Goodreads, and friends, we have discovered some great authors, haven't we? I loved Nancy Drew books and wonder if at age 8, Grace could get into it. Maybe too simple for her? I remember trying to solve Nancy's mysteries right along with her - probably the unknown start of my love for mystery books. And fiction - almost always fiction for me. "So many books, so little time."
Julie said…
I'm currently reading "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave and I am really liking it. It's told in such a wonderful voice.
Kim said…
This is so weird, Christi. That last line I'm considering as advice from afar, and somehow I picked up on it and started doing it, because I didn't read this until today. Kind of gave me goose bumps!
Kim, the irony is that I was on Facebook when your comment came in reminding me of the last line of the blog. Talk about “advice from afar."

Popular posts from this blog

Joseph Cornell’s Boxes

Boxes by surrealist artist Joseph Cornell
“Shadow boxes become poetic theaters or settings wherein are metamorphosed the element of a childhood pastime.”
Joseph Cornell was not a sculptor, a draftsman, or a painter. This internationally renowned modern artist never had professional training. He was first and foremost a collector. He loved to scour old book shops and secondhand stores of New York looking for souvenirs, theatrical memorabilia, old prints and photographs, music scores, and French literature. 

Cornell was wary of strangers. This led him to isolate himself and become a self-taught artist. Although he expressed attraction to unattainable women like Lauren Bacall, his shyness made romantic relationships almost impossible. In later life his bashfulness verged toward reclusiveness, and he rarely left the state of New York. However, he preferred talking with women, and often made their husbands wait in the next room when he discussed business with them. He also had numerous friend…

How to Clean Copper After Annealing with a Recipe for Non-Toxic Pickling

This is not your grandmother’s pickling recipe. I’m pickling copper bangle bracelets instead. As you can see by the previous post, I’ve been annealing copper bracelets this week (my first time was Sunday evening). To give you a point of reference, these bangles were dark brown, almost black, when I put them in the pickling solution.

Today I used a recipe for a non-toxic pickle to clean the oxidation from the copper. It was simple: 1 cup white vinegar and 1 tablespoon table salt. I heated it in the microwave for 30 seconds in a glass jar and then put it on my husband’s coffee cup warmer. To test it I stuck a piece of annealed 6 gauge wire in it, and it worked beautifully. I only had to brush a little of the black stuff off, and it was bright, shiny copper again. Better yet, the brushing didn’t take a lot of effort.

Feeling very successful I doubled the batch and dropped all six bangles in and left them for about 15 minutes. When I came back the black was flaking off nicely and floating…

Eulogy for a Difficult Mother - what I wish I’d said at my mother’s funeral

I fell in love with my Mother for the first time on the night she died. It was May 20 of this year. Less than two months ago.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t love her before. I believe that all children love their mothers, but all mothers don’t necessarily love their children. My mother was a loving woman, but my sadness is that she loved her husbands more than she loved her children. In spite of that I always loved her. Every day of my life.

Mother had a difficult time living with bipolar disorder in a time when the only treatment was hospitalization and useless counseling, and the medications for it were toxic. It wasn’t until the last decade of her life that everything came together for her, and she was able to live well and with some peace.

On the evening before she died her husband called to say she had not awakened that morning but she was still breathing. Her doctor told us two or three years ago that she would not suffer with renal failure and that she would gradually lose energy,…