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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Gift of Story

Book Worm

A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.”
Neil Gaiman

Most of us these days are trying to drum-up ideas for Christmas/Hanukah (Hanukah begins on Christmas day this year! Wonder how often that happens?) I'm a great lover of books, so when I know that someone else loves them too, I get very excited. I just learned that my young cousin, Kaidance, who's now about 9 years old, is a non-fiction reader. A girl after my own heart. Now, I'm excited about browsing the kid's shelves at our local bookstore.

Edmond Wilson, whose writing influenced the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, said, “No two persons ever read the same book.” It's dicey business to try and buy books for another person based on whether or not you enjoyed them. I've done that many times, and struck out often. So it's a good idea, if you're a book lover, to ask people what they want—be specific. I asked for Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Series for my last birthday and received them—all four books! Well over a thousand pages. At first, I was daunted by the shear volume, but now, I'm mid-way through the second book and can barely put it down to sleep at night.

One of the problems with belonging to a book club, at least for me, was that about half the time, I didn't like the choice of reading material. I wanted more in the way of non-fiction—essays, history, biographies—and no one else did. I ended up spending money for books I just didn't enjoy reading. Always, there were people in the group who just loved that book! Best read ever! We all come to a book the way we come to a stranger. We are drawn to them, or we are not; immediately interested, or indifferent. We approach from the perspective of our own life experience, and something unspoken, little understood, perhaps intuitive, happens in the way of attraction, just as it happens between people. I think that is because every book written, at least the ones that are not formula driven, has been a soul journey for the author. They have poured their days, usually years, into writing and research, devoted themselves to the words as they would to an intimate relationship. Writing a book is a gift of love; it requires passion that verges on obsession. Reading such a book puts you squarely in the middle of that passion. You feel it, you're involved; you care about the characters as you would good friends.

I think reading is magical. The very best thing we can do for our children is to encourage them to read by feeding that appetite for story that they naturally have. A good book is a great way to engage a curious mind, and that is a gift that lasts a lifetime.

                                                                   In the Spirit,

                                                                       Jane

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