Time to read

I’m reading Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner. The story takes place in 1940s England. I’m enjoying the story. I’ll say no more. No spoilers here.

Meissner’s novel comes on the heels of another worthwhile read:Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The title alone demanded I take the book home.

My brothers and I spent many summer afternoons barefoot—chasing crawdads across slippery rocks in southern West Virginia creeks. The principle players don’t wade for crawdads in this story, but that fact does not hamper the plot.

Before CrawdadsThe Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton was my focus. It’s a true story about an innocent man on death row. Again, I’ll say no more, and there is much I could say.

Seldom have I ever discovered three books—one right after the other—that I would recommend to avid readers. I guess it’s my good fortune, though I kind of wish I’d found them at least a month apart.

After reading a great story, I like to hold onto it for a while. I reflect on the action that took place within those pages. It’s difficult for me to say goodbye to characters who seem like friends.

Given the choice, however, I’ll take three great books back-to-back over a months-long dry stretch filled with nothing worth picking up. I’d suffered through just such a literary dehydration before The Sun Does Shinefell into my lap.

Losing myself in a great book is like travelling to a long hoped-for destination with an open-ended return date. It’s like someone handing me a gift card for repeat visits to a spa.

I realize a novel has taken me prisoner when the laundry basket cries for me to put something—anything—into the washing machine. When I become a part of the book I’m reading, I forget about bills (and paying them).

I get behind on answering emails. I don’t even think about cleaning. I have no awareness of the latest political news or Mountaineer basketball scores—a good thing, maybe.

Back in the day, I occasionally dozed off when feeding my babies in the wee hours of the night. Yet, I have to talk myself out of an enthralling story and into bed for a couple of blinks of sleep.

I know a book owns me when Gary brings my attention to junk mail that has collected in piles on our kitchen counters and desktops.

“Gen, are you saving all this for some kind of craft project?” says my husband who knows that I am not a crafty person.

It could be that the real reason Gary says things like this is to rouse a conversation. It’s his way of reminding me of his presence. I think my husband misses me when he has to compete with a novel.

The Thornbirds (Colleen McCullough) comes to mind when I think try to think of the first book that hypnotized me. I worked as a lifeguard the summer that novel held me captive.

I didn’t try to sneak it into my chair to read while I was on duty—probably because, at 692 pages, the book would have been impossible to hide.

Nothing other than Drogheda, the Cleary family, and Father Ralph existed for me until I finished the last page. We were only dating, but Gary had to know then that he would lead a lonely life when a great read came my way.

I don’t fall into these trances on purpose. Good books just happen. And, when one lures me in, well, I can’t ignore it.

I can—for the sake of my house, my work, my marriage, and my friendships—walk away for brief periods of time. But that period just ended. Time to read.


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