Is it the story, or the characters, or the setting, or the dialogue? What about a book stays with us, shapes us, inspires us to action, or growth, or happiness, or serenity?
My ninety-four-year-old friend is moving into a smaller, perhaps her ultimate, home and is struggling with the prospect of releasing her most precious books. Over the phone recently, she told me, "Shirley (her 60-ish daughter) has been so patient with me, listening as I remember about this or that book—where I was, what I was doing when I read it for the first time." Some of these books take her back to pre-college days before UC Berkeley (Class of '42) and her small town, Walton-like family roots in the Sierra foothills. Her mother taught school before starting their family, and the children all grew up reading, and being read to. She, too, taught and passed on her love of books to her family.
I shared my own traumatic de-booking experience. In a major move, I transported box after box of old college texts, novels, and reference books to anywhere that would take them. I steeled myself for this task, as my books and records had been my first, and maybe still my most important, possessions, carted across country for years so I could gaze on them on the bookshelves in my office, bedroom and den. They waited, expectant for the next trip to where?
But what is it about books, or really, the act of reading favorite books that becomes the catalyst and context for great thoughts yet to be born and plots waiting to be hatched?
My time with books has spanned my whole life from my earliest memories to the wee hours of this morning as I once again read under the covers in bed, not a comic book this time but my Kindle, which has become a constant companion.
In the intervening years, I have work in publishing, done publishing for others, and now, own a publishing business to help independent authors bring their ideas and stories, no doubt germinated in their own wee hours with their own favorite books, to share with others who can be inspired as they were.