Books are more than an escape for me; they are part of my soul.
Once, in the early days of our marriage, my husband’s sleep was disturbed by the sound of quiet crying. He rolled over, cracked a bloodshot eye at me and mumbled,
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
“She died,” I said, trying to choke back tears. “I was going along just fine and then this came out of the blue. I never saw it coming and I always see this kind of stuff before it happens.”
He opened both eyes and half sat up in bed and looked around. I was lying beside him in bed with a book open on my chest.
“What are you talking about? Who died?”
“The person in my book”, I answered. “I can’t believe it, this can’t happen now!”
He looked at me in disbelief, laid down, and rolled over to go back to sleep. That was fine with me, I had to leave anyway; my book was only half read and I needed to see what happened next.
Books have always been magic for me. I clarify-GOOD books are magic. Lousy ones are just disappointing tricksters on par with quick change artists and pick pockets. When I open a book, I know very quickly if it’s the real thing. I can feel myself being pulled in and the world around me gets quiet as the world within grows. I can see the characters, or even become them; they don’t have to resemble me at all for this to occur. I no longer feel the paper in my hands, it all melts away to become the story that I am experiencing rather than reading.
It started when I was young. I was short, skinny, and shy; afraid of everyone that I didn’t know (and many that I did). I took books everywhere and read at every opportunity, hiding behind their armor. With my nose in a book, I didn’t have to talk to anyone, or even look people in the eye. Books were safe and when I became a character in a book, I was confident, outgoing, someone other people admired. I could be Jo March, writing novels in an attic, or Anne Shirley, irresistible when in trouble. I could even be Nancy Drew, solving crimes in time for dinner.
As I grew, I overcame my shyness. However, the magic within books has remained for me. As a young adult, I discovered the fun of the home-keeping type books, and found that I could disappear in these as well. Even cookbooks inspired me to imagine a world of wonderful dinner parties full of delicious possibilities. Instead of Jo March, I was Martha Stewart-on a budget. Most of the time, it actually translated to real life and we have had some memorable meals. Cooking and entertaining books offer the same magic that novels do; in my minds eye, I can see the finished dish, the holiday party, the look of a table set for a formal dinner.
Books are more than an escape for me; they are part of my soul. I must read every day for my own well being. During one move, my books were packed up for several months. I made do with the library for a couple of weeks, but was soon ripping into the boxes for my old favorites. I love the serial novels best regardless of genre. From Harry Potter to the Mitford books, I impatiently wait for the newest offering like a child begging for more candy. I can’t get enough. The characters become more real to me with each book, and I am devastated to hear that a series is ending. It’s as though someone I love very much has left me forever.
When I come out of a book, it takes me a minute to adjust back to the every day world. I have to blink and look around, and remind myself of responsibilities and schedules. Still, the magic will wait for me, whenever I can return; and I can go back as many times as I like.