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.
What fun to read this post! I’ve made reading more of a priority while I’m working from home so my time “at work” and time “at home” have distinctive feels. I’ve enjoyed reading novels, some historical fiction, some just plain fiction. I sit on my patio after work and read, or sit in the bay window inside and read. Happy times 🙂
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Hi Jane. 🙂 The bay window sounds like the ideal spot! That’s very interesting too about having to split the same space into “at work” and “at home.” What a great way to mark the difference – with a book! Happy reading.
I always have a book … or two or three… going. Some of my favourites are: Pillars of the Earth, The Book of Negroes (still obviously relevant) and Prince of Tides. Some I really liked on the writing craft are The Artist’s Way and Writing is My Drink.
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Prince of Tides! I loved that book too. Thanks for sharing your choices. And your writing craft list sparked a memory for me. I had completely forgotten about Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; that was a great read because she mixes life stories with writing tips. I’m adding The Artist’s Way and Writing is My Drink (love the title 🙂 ) to my list. Thanks.
Thanks for the shout-out Melanie. Very kind & a very well put-together, thorough post about books.
Where to begin?! I really loved all of the Beverly Cleary series as well as books written by Judy Blume when I was a child. I also remember reading the Hardy boys and I believe they were called, Discover Your Own Adventure books where you would turn to one page and it would tell you to skip ahead to such and such.
I loved any kind of picture book also. When I was a child we used to get book orders delivered to our school from Scholastic. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that or not. Once a month, we would get flyers to look through new books and my parents would allow me to pick out a chapter book of some sort & I absolutely loved it. I loved opening the fresh pages of a book and I still do to this day. Aside from WordPress & the odd social media post or news article, you won’t find me reading a whole lot online.
Unfortunately, by the time I reached university so much of the reading was forced in my courses that I kind of lost a love for reading. I find that a book really has to be captivating to keep my attention all the way through. As an adult, I’ve always liked anything to do with self-help, but like you, in the summer, I tend to enjoy easy reads. One of my favourite authors is Emily Giffin. I’m not sure if you’ve read anything by her but I just recently picked up her latest book called, The Lies that Bind. I highly recommend her!
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Hi Sue! Thanks for checking in and sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it. And boy, I LOVED Scholastic purchases! I had forgotten about that program and the joy associated with it. Thanks for a great memory. I didn’t read Hardy Boys, but I loved Nancy Drew mysteries. Judy Blume was the best!! I’ll admit that I haven’t heard of Emily Giffin, but I’m more than happy to read one of her books next based on your enthusiastic recommendation. Thanks for that…and your kind reply. Happy reading. 🙂
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Thanks! I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been letting the book sit since purchasing it a week ago due to the whole COVID thing. This weekend, I will dig into it finally…. 🙂
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First off let me say I’m very much looking forward to reading your first book. I am quite confident it will be a winner.
Some, but not all of my favorite reads are…
Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Goldman
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
New Earth & Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle
Too many to count
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There are too many to count! I enjoyed The Mists of Avalon too. It was one of my “book club” books. It’s on my list to read again. Thanks for checking in. 🙂