Saturday, February 06, 2010

28 Days of L-O-V-E

Day 6

Books. Books. Books. I love books. Love. Them. LOVE them.

Just the other day I started reading These is My Words by Nancy Turner. I have heard such amazing things about his book, and after just about 20 or 30 pages I was convinced that it was the most over-rated book I'd ever heard of. The grammar drove me crazy. A series of horrific events had already happened. Everything from the journal point of view was so stilted. Could it really be that I was expected to get through a nearly 400 pages book without a scrap of dialogue?

But then something--I'm still not sure what--pushed me over the hump and I've been reading off and on all day. It has been a long time since I read a book that I really just wanted to devour whole like this.

There has been discussion here before about the purpose of literature and reasons for reading--escapism, education, self-improvement, being uplifted or entertained, etc.--and I suppose that there are nearly as many reasons as there are people. And probably multiple reasons in the same person. In the movie Shadowlands, CS Lewis says, "We read to know we are not alone." I am not certain if Mr. Lewis actually ever said these words (a quick Internet search wasn't helpful), or if they are a brilliant construction of a very good screenplay writer, but I've always really liked this statement as an accurate description of why I read.

I love finding a gem of a statement in a book that resonates so powerfully with you that you want to jump up and shout Yes! or better yet, YAWP!!!!! so that all the world has a chance to hear your epiphany. That is the thing with epiphany, though, is that it is most powerful when it happens in your head and there is a moment of understanding so profound you think you'll never forget that moment as long as you live. When you try to explain your astounding insight to somebody else, they just look at you like, "huh?" or a patronizing, "that's nice," or "cool."

I had just such a moment reading today. In a single paragraph, Turner summed up what I was trying to get to in this post. It too me 12 paragraphs to rather clumsily construct my thoughts. Turner's amazing heroine writes in her journal after learning she has passed the 1880's equivalent of the SAT by being entirely self taught. And not just passed. She got a 94 1/2 percent. The end of her journal entry follows:

"It seems there is always a road with bends and forks to choose, and taking one path means you can never take another one. There's no starting over nor undoing the steps I've taken. It isn't like I'd want to not have my little ones and Jack and that ranch, it is part of life to have to support yourself. It's just that I want everything, my insides are not just hungry, but greedy. I want to find out all the things in the world, and still have a family and a ranch. Maybe part of passing that test was a marker for where I've been, but it feels more like a pointer for something I'll never reach."

I read to know I'm not alone. Thank you for your gift today, Nancy Turner, even though you wrote those words over ten years ago.


Anonymous said...

A little birdie tells me you are willing to guest blog! I hope so -- please ping me and let's make this happen.

Janssen said...

I am SO glad you liked the book. If my mom hadn't bought me a copy and insisted I read it, I would have given up in the first 30 pages too. But, oh, how glad I am that I didn't.

Desmama said...

Okay, you and Janssen have given me the motivation to try it again, because I started it a while back and didn't get terribly far, probably for the reasons you mentioned. Try, try again.