“These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.” – Gilbert Highet, writer (1906-1978)

Books, books, and more books

I love words. I have always loved words. I like talking and I even tolerate fairly well the act of listening. I enjoy learning lyrics to songs as well as memorizing poetry. But mostly, I enjoy writing. I like my own words put there for me to go back and read. This means I have a chance to see if what I’m saying is making sense. Sometimes it does.

My sister was frazzled after years of working on her college degree and then her master’s degree. She had been reading many books full of facts and text books are not known for their scintillating banter. We were on vacation together and I was reading one of my non-fiction books, something I do with wild abandon. And Cheri said, “I don’t read to learn to anything.” We laughed so hard we nearly cried. She does read to learn and she still buys books on how to improve her teaching skills. What she meant was when she was relaxing, she wanted fluff to read.

But even fluff to read isn’t all just nonsense, Twilight series aside (according to others’ assessment as I have not read the books). I am currently reading three different books while not reading any. You see, I have a novel playing on my MP3 player while I walk. I have a book on CD I listen to while I crochet (Lincoln biography) and a book on CD I listen to while I drive (George Carlin autobiography).

I love to hear other words from other people. The novel is a Dismas Hardy book and is one of those detective thriller type things. I enjoy a good mystery where I try to figure out who actually did it. John Lescroart certainly writes in a different style than say Tamar Myers or M.C. Beaton, both writers of lighter mysteries. I like them all. I like the way they pull me through the story.

I’m enjoying the Lincoln biography. This book focuses on Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s married life together. Of course, it also has to tell the story of Lincoln’s political life as it impinges on his marriage. It is very interesting and tells much about the life and times of nineteenth century life in America and in Illinois. (I haven’t gotten them to Washington, D.C. yet except for a short stint in Congress.)

George Carlin’s irreverence in life is depicted throughout his own story of how that life unfolded and it is interesting and entertaining.

So I’m reading a made up story, an author’s perception of someone else’s life and the author discussing his own life. Very different types of writing and yet all enjoyable and even instructive. Even novels can be instructive if they are well written.

I’ve read a series of books taking place in Edwardian England and hope the author was careful in the details of the setting. I learned quite a bit (right or wrong as it may be) about the ways of life in that time and place.

I also read a series of books concerning a Samurai in 1604 Japan. Also very interesting tales and I hope the author (a Japanese American) did enough research to let me have at least a fairly accurate picture of life in that particular time and place.

Words in books are not ever just a combination of letters. Like in face to face speech, the words evoke not just the dictionary meanings, but when placed in a particular order, they elicit an emotional response. We are pulled into the story and can even interact with the background – the setting.

Books are not just dead trees. Books are the living legacy of the author. Even for me, who loves to write and finds it easy, it is not effortless. It is work to find the words to convey the meaning I’m seeking to share. I do it in small essays and still it is time consuming and takes some exertion on my part. To write an entire book and share it with the world is incredible.

Thank you to all those who take the time and make the effort to do so. I am grateful.

 

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