Wednesday, November 18, 2015

If You Had To Choose....

Amber Leigh Williams

My favorite lake-side summer activity,
curling up with a good book!
(a little preggers here in 2012...)
There’s a quote by P.J. O’Rourke: “Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” An interesting thought, to be sure. But how likely? For me, perhaps less depending on what one might define as “good stuff.” For me, the good stuff involves beaucoup romance. Historical romance, especially. Scottish Highlanders. English rakes. Throw in a cowboy or a pirate with a good, character-driven plot, a little smut (maybe a lot of smut) and I’m set!

This opens up an interesting, somewhat morbid perhaps, yet slightly philosophical discussion. What would you like the last book you read to be? Would it be something you’ve read before – an old favorite or a comfort read? Would it be a classic? Something cerebral and thought-provoking? Or would it be something you read purely for pleasure, entertainment, or escape – romance, mystery, horror, fantasy, sci-fi? Would it have notes in the margins? Would it have yellowed, wrinkled pages turned down in the corners marking your favorite bits?

It’s a painful question to answer. Not because I find the possibility of death more unsettling than it would normally be, but because how does one choose? It’s akin to the other dreaded book lover question: what’s your favorite book? It’s impossible to narrow down one answer. I love many different books, each for a different reason. The first book I connected with on an emotional level was The Diary of Anne Frank. Reading it in jr. high was like hearing the voice of a far-off friend inside my head. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont made me roar with laughter and shed more than a few tears because it made me feel so much less alone in all my writerly weirdness.

Gone with the Wind was riveting, written so beautiful and lovingly. Still to this day, however many times I read it, I still feel as if I can reach out and touch the fabric of the words and the colorful world they paint on the canvas of my imagination. Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon feels the same way but deeper because the connection I feel to the small Alabama town where the young hero grows up is identical to what I feel when I think of my own small Alabama hometown.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The Hours After by Gerda Weissman Klein & Kurt Klein. The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons. The In Death series by J.D. Robb. All gorgeous books that have become dog-eared and brittle by use and/or time as all great books should be.

It is indeed an impossible question to answer, partly because there are so many great books I know I’ve yet to read. And all the more reason we should read what we love, yes? Readers, what would you like the last book you read to be? And, of course, feel free to list more than one if you can’t choose….

Heartfelt thoughts go out to the troubled parts of the world – those touched by terrorism and tragedy in particular. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been going through my writer-girl blog to save some of the material before I begin the bittersweet process of closing down the long-time site. I found a book quote posted November 4, 2007 that is more relevant today than I could ever have thought imaginable….

Our children have never known a world without machines: dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, electric beaters, blenders, furnaces electric pumps, saws, computers--there are more machines than we can possibly count; beware, beware, lest they take us over....

We can't absorb it all. We know too much, too quickly, and one of the worst effects of this avalanche of technology is the loss of compassion....
We are lost unless we can recover compassion, without which we will never understand charity. We must find, once more, community, a sense of family, of belonging to each other....

Marshall McLuhan speaks of the earth as being a global village, and it is, but we have lost the sense of family which is an essential part of a village.
- from A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle


Nan Dixon said...

That's a wonderful quote, Amber!

Nan Dixon said...

Ohh - my last book? So so hard to chose. There are so many wonderful writers. Would I go with a fabulous Nora Roberts or JR Ward? Or maybe, if it ever gets published, the last book in the GAME of THRONES series!!

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