I recently discovered a blogger who is having fun helping other writers. Understanding the importance that a story must start with an idea, Jibber Jabber with Sue is kindly posting a daily word prompt so that other bloggers may feel that spark to launch a story. She’s been sharing these prompts for several weeks now, so I started to read through them to see if an idea would ignite for me.
Support, Challenge, Hill, Wish and Begin were all strong starters, but then I saw one I jumped on. Book.
Like so many other devotees, books have been a part of my life well, forever. In my earliest years, I adored Dr. Seuss classics such as Horton Hears a Who and The King’s Stilts. I also loved the children’s author P.D. Eastman. I loved the illustrations and the trouble-making Gus in Sam & The Firefly and I thought the dogs in Go Dog Go were the coolest:
Dogs in cars; going away, going away fast… and now look where those dogs are going. To the tree! Why? …A dog party! A big dog party! Big dogs, little dogs. Red dogs, blue dogs, yellow dogs, green dogs, black dogs, white dogs are all at a dog party. What a dog party!P.D. Eastman
It was fun and looking at it now, it was wonderfully inclusive. It was written in 1961. It was interesting to learn that P.D. Eastman was a protege of Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel.) In fact, he wrote for Random House under the Dr. Seuss brand.
Books were my constant companions. For me, there was nothing more satisfying as a child and young adult than to ride my bike to our local library and pick out something new. I would then take that book and climb a tree in our backyard and imagine to my heart’s content. From that era, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons (adventures in sailing and pirates) and E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler are two outstanding memories. I thought nothing could be more exciting than playing inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art at night, bathing and collecting spending money in the fountain and hiding from the guards at closing time. It felt brilliant to me and captured my imagination for years.
It’s no surprise that in my 30’s I joined a book club that lasted for years. It was small, maybe 10 of us, informal, and we each took turns picking a title every month. We covered territory that included Yann Martel, Tom Wolfe and Ann Rice. When I turned 50, I celebrated in New Orleans and made sure to visit Ann Rice’s Garden District home – the inspiration for her Mayfair Witch manor.
Books spilled over into my life again when I purchased a replica of the statue “Bird Girl” which had appeared on the cover of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Although she was originally sculpted in 1936 by artist Sylvia Shaw Judson, the book cover made her famous as a symbol of Savannah (the setting for the book) because she stood in the town’s Bonaventure Cemetery. A smaller version of the statue now stands in my backyard garden.
And one time, after reading Erik Larsen’s The Devil in The White City, I signed up for a special class and tour of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry which is an original structure remaining from the 1893 World’s Fair (known as the Palace of Fine Arts). We were allowed to explore grounds that are off limits to the public. As I wandered close to some of Frederick Olmsted’s original landscaping, I tried to imagine the sights and sounds of the Midway and crowds.
And in a humorous twist, what is my funniest memory involving a book? One Christmas, I put on my list that I wanted The Help (written by Kathryn Stockett). So, my husband ventured out to the mall one afternoon and entered the bookstore. He forgot the list, but remembered the name.
“Can you help me?” He asked a sales clerk.
“Of course. What are you looking for?” she kindly replied.
“I’m looking for “The Hand” he shared confidently.
“Hmm, The Hand. I’m not familiar with that one. Let me look it up.”
She entered the name in the computer but there was nothing. Do you know the author’s name?” she inquired.
“No, my wife didn’t tell me, I just know it’s a popular book right now” he responded.
“The Hand, and it’s popular right now. Hmm, I’m having a little trouble finding it” she said thoughtfully as the keyboard clicked away performing different searches. “Let me ask someone.”
She pulled a manager over, who listened politely and finally asked “Do you mean The Help by chance?”
We still laugh about The Hand to this day. If I were ever to write a book, that may be my title.
I just finished reading “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow. It’s an important book that I wanted to read. It’s based on the New Yorker article (also written by Farrow) that helped fuel the Me Too movement, but it was a frustrating read too. The treatment of women by some men in positions of power is deplorable. With summer here, I’m ready for a beach or fantasy book.
My tree-climbing days may be over, but the joy of picking up a book and still being able to climb into a good story and let it take me somewhere will remain with me for the rest of my life. I know I’m preaching to the choir because you’re a reader too, so let’s just say I’m celebrating that charmed bond that exists between a reader and a book. Its world can become a part of yours forever.
I would love to know what books you read as a child or an adult that captured your heart and imagination? Or, do you have a favorite (or two?) Please share your comments below.