(Monday Musings is an awesome meme over at Should Be Reading—And if you aren’t reading her, I totally recommend checking her out!)
This week’s question from Monday Musings is:
And for all of you naysayers out there, saying, “Nay, this is Tuesday not Monday.” Well, then I would say that we have a lot more pressing matters if you’re using the word “Nay” in conversational speech. Or that I have bronchitis right now and the days of the week are kind of blending. Take your pick.
And back to the question at hand:
YES. I TOTALLY COLLECT AUTHORS.—not that I keep them in little jars to look at, or locked in my basement (‘cause I don’t have a basement), or anything… Really, I find it’s much more practical to collect an author’s books, rather than the actual author—while the author does indeed house the entire knowledge base characters, settings, plots, to their stories, I find the books to be ever so much more portable –you can fit so many more books in suitcases and on shelves than you can authors—And with ereaders, I can have my entire library at my fingertips and not have to travel with loads of luggage. *sigh* Yes, books and ebooks are definitely the way to go—I do not in any way recommend kidnapping or storage of actual authors.
Well, truthfully, I think when it comes to books I might have some addictive and hoarding tendencies. If I find a good author, I want to read EVERYTHING they’ve ever written. I absorb books like a sponge. (A sponge in a really dry climate that will dry out and need to keep absorbing things, because it will never be fully sated.)
And especially if that author has a series (which so many of them do), they’re like Pringles—how can you read just one book in a series???? How can you not want to know what happens next???
In my tweens and teens I had two bookshelves filled with five series of Sweet Valley books (SV Kids, SV Twins, SV High, SV University, and various mini-series SV Senior Year, Jessica and the Unicorns, Elizabeth in England, and all the various Chillers, Thrillers, Super Chillers, Super Thrillers, Sagas, and Holiday editions.) Don’t judge. And last February, when they released Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later, I snapped that one up, too. Don’t judge. (Pringles, remember.)(Pringles laced with crack.)
But while the majority of my Sweet Valley books remained on my shelves for quite a few years, there are other authors that rarely leave my sight, my go-to books that come with me pretty much everywhere I go. Favorites that I can pick up anytime, anywhere, and dive right in. Stories that I’ve read over and over again, and still leave me as breathless and exhilarated every time I read them as they did the first time.
Top of the list: Tamora Pierce. I’ve been reading her books the longest—since middle-school/high-school. Reading. Rereading. And first in-line at the book-store to snap up the next one. Even if I’m living in a remote bookstore-less location (pre-ereader), and have to drive an hour away to get her newest release (at least twice). Her books went with me to college, to Pennsylvania when I spent a year on the east coast, a few months in Montana, on to San Jose, summers in Yosemite, here in So Cal, and thanks to my handy ereader, her books also came in very handy on my last few road trips. And when Mastiff (Beka Cooper Series #3) was released, I downloaded it at midnight from the comfort of my bed. Also, when I got my ereader, she was the first author that I started replenishing my library with.
Harry Potter. Up until my junior year of college, I abstained from the Harry Potter craze, holding myself aloof, I being much too old, of course to be reading children’s books. Then, while home for Thanksgiving, I went to see the first movie. It was magical. I was enchanted. And me, a lover or reading books of movies I love, had picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (adult cover, of course) to read sometime, in case I enjoyed the movie.
Back at school, a few weeks later (the week of finals, in fact) when it came down to studying, and procrastinating, I picked up my copy of Harry Potter and finished it that night. The next day I went out and got myself a copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2). I had to settle for a children’s-style paperback, because the adult covers were coordinated to be released with the movies. And again, I finished it the same night. Realizing that this was not a fad, on my next trip to the bookstore, I purchased both the third and fourth books—Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (children’s paperback, again, adult cover not having been released) and the newly released Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (hardcover). And again, I read them each in one night.
Somehow, I also passed my finals.
Now, I think most booklovers will tell you, there’s nothing worse than a mismatched collection. So it wasn’t long before I got Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with the children’s paperback cover to match the others. And then went and got the first three in hardcover to match the fourth book. And of course, I picked up the adult covers as they were released. And a few special editions. And when I was in Ireland, I picked up a set of the British versions. And audio books for those long back-and-forth drives home from school. And the first four in French. Ne judge pas.
And like Tamora Pierce, Harry Potter went with me from the Midwest to the East Coast to the mountains and the West Coast. We spent summers in Yosemite, and then moved down here to So Cal.
And as soon as I get access to Pottermore, I am looking forward to adding a digital collection of HP to my ereader.
On a summer home from college, I stumbled upon L.A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack series. My senior year of college I discovered Helen Gurley Brown and Winifred Wolfe. Out east I started collecting Agatha Christie. And here on the west coast, I found Tera Lynn Childs.
Each author, each series, each book opened up new worlds of fantastically rich words and characters. With Helen Gurley Brown and Winifred Wolfe it is their use of language, turns of phrases, the technicolor images of the past that spring to life with each turn of the page. With Agatha Christie it is the mystery, the who-dun-it, the quirky Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, the headstrong Tommy and Tuppence (my favorites). With Bloody Jack, the innocence, adventure, ingenuity, humor, and adventure (yes, I said adventure twice, because there’s that much adventure). And Tera Lynn Childs—Magic. Humor. Wonder. Fun.
And just within the last month or so… Jon Hassler. I’ve been devouring his books. I can’t get enough of them. Two, in particular, I’ve already read FOUR TIMES. (Did I mention that I only discovered his books a month ago?) To be truthful, I haven’t read Mastiff yet, or the newest Bloody Jack: The Mark of the Golden Dragon: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea, because I can’t tear myself away from Jon Hassler’s little world up in Northern Minnesota.
And I’m still trying to put my finger on it. I mean, obviously, I enjoy the writing and think they’re wonderful stories. But there’s more. A pull. I cannot get enough of these books, these characters, this world, these stories within stories.
As a native Midwesterner, I feel a tug to the familiar landscapes, weather, and even the names that ring of home. Even the characters remind me of people I grew up around. So, perhaps I feel a little bit of homesickness.
But there’s also travel and adventure—To Ireland (A Green Journey) where I’ve been and feel like I’m there again as I’m reading. To Italy (Dear James), where I have yet to go, but dream of seeing—and even more so through the eyes of this author.
There is romance. Epic. Sweeping. Romance.
Lonliness. And sadness. Devastating. Heartwrenching. Sadness.
Sickness. Illness. Old age.—Might there be nothing scarier than reading about old people both on the brink of life and the cusp of death???
Everyday normality. Murder. Wrongs done. Good people. Bad. Well-meaning.
And hope. Faith. Religion.
As a rule, I generally keep my religion and spirituality very personal, and take it in my books with a grain of salt. I generally steer away from faith in books, finding it false, or preachy. The stories are so full of faith and religion, religious people—but do not come off preachy. Instead thoughtful. Insightful? So why do these books, these people, these stories, make me feel so powerfully close to something I am wary to name out loud????
I find myself going back to these characters day and night. I never skip ahead. I never read books out of order (if I can help it).
But here I couldn’t stop myself.—A Green Journey, Hassler’s fourth book was made into a movie, which is how I found the books. I debated, but in the end decided to see if I liked the book as much as the movie, before getting the rest of his books. I usually get books one at a time, as I’m reading them. But I had to get all of his at once—I couldn’t imagine getting to the end of one and not having the next book to start.
And while I couldn’t allow myself to read ahead—I couldn’t help myself from reading the books out of order—knowing what happens to my favorite characters (Agatha and James), before going back to the beginning to meet all the other characters.
Indeed, they are companion books more than a series, and so I didn’t jumble things up too much by reading them out of order.
But just as strong as my compulsion to read Hassler’s books, is my compulsion to SHARE them—To see if others see what I see. Feel what I feel.