The Sunday Salon: Reading and Rambling Along

The Sunday Nothing stops me from reading.

You all know that.

No matter how many boxes need packing, how much stuff needs sorting, how much laundry needs doing, when my heart feels tugged toward my book my body soon follows it to the comfy chair in the corner of my writing room where I can curl up and escape into a different world.

Throughout my entire life, I’ve found books my most tried and true companions. When I’m happy, I love to celebrate it with reading. When I’m hurting, losing myself in the words and ideas of others soothes my soul for a while.

For the books I’ve loved the most, I’m always curious to know more about their authors. So often, reading a book sends me down a virtual pathway to that writers door. I research biographies, collections of letters, published versions of their journals. If you were to search my shelves, you’d find little villages where an author “lives” in the printed word, surrounded by her own books like she would be children.  Madeleine L’Engle has a large amount of real estate in this neighborhood. So do Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. As does Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Anna Quindlen is there - her novels and her memoirs. Gail Godwin’s novels have been joined recently by her two volumes of memoir.

Over the years, there has been criticism devoted to people who try and place authors too squarely in their work, who try and figure out what it was in the writer’s personal life that led them to write a certain character or develop a certain theme.

It shouldn’t matter, they’ve said. The writer’s personal life does not affect our interpretation of her work.

But how can it not? I think. And why wouldn’t I want it to? For me, it adds that extra bit of seasoning when I realize how an author’s own personality or life experience has shaped their work. It’s a gift, an extra layer in the cake that makes up our shared human experience.

It’s also one of the things that I’ve loved about “book blogging.” It has allowed me to meet so many writers through their blogs and on their Facebook and Twitter. It does not at all detract from the “mystery” of their writing. On the contrary, it adds a deeper dimension to my reading of their books.

Reading is the whole package for me - it’s The Story, but it’s also about the Creator of The Story. I love getting to know both of them.