Friday, January 25, 2013

Rediscovering the power in a good book

The last time I spent hours and hours reading was when we rented a house on the Oregon coast in the fall of 2011 and it rained for three days. I started Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series that week and read my way through at least two of the 1000+ word tomes (on Kindle so I didn't boink myself when I fell asleep at night!) during that lovely time away.

Since I'm in full rest and recovery mode, meaning that I need to spend time with my leg elevated, and am fair-to-middling useless when it comes to doing regular chores or running around these days, I have been reading. Yeah, messing around on Facebook and reading blogs and email and so on, but reading honest-to-god books, some of which I found on the free or under $3.99 Kindle list, some of which have been kicking around my nightstand for months.

 I polished off Three Moons Over Sedona by Sherry Hartzler, one I'd gotten as a kindle freebie quite some time ago, in just a day or two, not reading constantly. It was entertaining enough to keep my interest, although fairly predictable and sometimes a little disconnected, but I liked reading about the area and the (again, fairly predictable) growth of the main character .It is not unlike something I have thought about writing, actually....

I've already mentioned Anne Lamott's Help. Thanks. Wow. which was NOT a freebie and indeed is MORE than the hardcover version. It was inspirational and touching and amazing, as I always find her writing.

I'm reading now The Blue Tail by Kim Antieau, in the soft cover version. It was a birthday gift from my lovely and literate friend Melissa, to whom I gave Antieau's Church of the Old Mermaids a few years ago and created a fan of Antieau's work and the mermaids. Antieau lives in Oregon and I've read her blog for several years.

But I've really been wrapped up in two books from the All Souls Trilogy by historian Deborah Harkness, starting with A Discovery of Witches (which was a deal of the day on Kindle several months ago), and then I just HAD to buy the second book, Shadow of Night. She's still writing the third book, blast-and-damn, but I'll snatch it as soon as it's published this year (just like I'm waiting for the eighth in the Outlander series, also to be published this year).

The trilogy is about a witch and a vampire who fall in love.

It is nothing.~~ NOTHING.~~ like Twilight or True Blood, neither of which I've read, but have only seen the movies and the TV series. (I heard such criticism of the Twilight books that I just haven't been interested, and I've found the movies fairly insipid; the Sookie Stackhouse books upon which True Blood is based may be better, but again -- not really interested.)

These two are scholars, educated and interesting, who have these, uh, big character differences. The books are chock-full of historical references (indeed, the second book contains a glossary of sorts that tells you which characters are historical) and detailed descriptions of places, including the Bodleian Library at Oxford University as well as Elizabethan England and Prague and France (in 1590). As a fan and long-time reader of historical fiction, at least some of it, I loved all the description and history.

The world that Harkness creates for her lovers begins in present day and goes back to the 16th century -- yes, there is time travel involved, which I also enjoy. There are four kinds of creatures inhabiting the world: humans, vampires, witches, and daemons, and the author vividly brings them to life with their character differences and flaws and misconceptions.

I had to pull myself out of the books, reluctantly closing my Kindle cover, to come to dinner. The device rode with me on my knee roller and even on my trips to the bathroom, I would pull it out of the little basket and read another few pages. And yet, I forcced myself to leave it alone to watch some television or to do some emails or to read a bit in a magazine or newspaper, simply because I didn't want it to be done, to have to read the last page, especially knowing that the third book isn't out yet! I wanted to savor the story longer, prolong the anticipation of finding out what happens next.

That's a good book, in my humble opinion, when you don't want it to end. (And that's one thing I adored about the Outlander books: there were SEVEN of them to read all in a row, long, long books full of places and history and adventure and great characters, which took me months to do...and then I dragged my feet through the last one, knowing it would be the better part of a year before the eighth book is out!)

So I'm onto the next -- right now The Blue Tail -- but followed soon by The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley (another Kindle bargain!) who has several other books. I've read good things about her writing and am looking forward to another good read.

I am loving all this reading, I'll be honest. While I always have a book or two and a magazine or three waiting for me, I haven't taken time to read during the day for a long time, saving it for bedtime (when I always read). These days I'm whipping through magazines almost as soon as they hit the mailbox, two newspapers, and also books. I will not give this up when I'm again two-legged and mobile -- another lesson I'm learning. I need to read. I have always been a reader. It's time now to indulge that more often and for a longer time.

Kindle owners -- or Kindle app readers -- see Kindle Deal of the Day.
See 100 Kindle books for under $3.99 here
There is also a Kindle blog.
Kindle apps for your iPad, your laptop or martphones are free. More info here.

Disclaimer: Don't get me wrong. I love paper and ink books and own many, but I love the Kindle and being able to take huge books with me in a tiny format, and also being able to read pretty much anything I want to read RIGHT NOW. Many of my paper books are going to be donated to our local Friends of the Library over the course of this year as I continue my quest to downsize and eliminate things I won't re-read or don't need or don't cherish.


BBC said...

A friend of mine just published his first novel, I think it's pretty damn good, you may enjoy it. The title is THE ACCIDENTAL PEACE MAKER.

It's by George Lindamood, Google it, you can download a Kindle copy.

BBC said...
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Beth said...

Thanks, BBC. I 'borrowed' it from Amazon Prime ... even in Kindle it's a little pricier than what I usually spend for a book, but I love that I could borrow it. I'll let you know what I think of it.

BBC said...

I didn't know that you could borrow such. Note that I'm in the Acknowledgement near the back of the book, I had no idea he was going to mention me.

I'm not big on reading books in electronic formats but there is some advantage to that if you can highlight sections and add your own thoughts and such.

I still like what I call the warmth of the pages of a paper book.