“I shan’t go out after all,” I think, then burst out laughing, suddenly realizing I am talking to myself in the voice of the latest D.E. Stevenson I’m ensconced in. Mrs. Tim Flies Home.
Have you ever done that?
And this little lapse into English tones reminds me of how, often, when I’m around someone I really enjoy… like close buddies from college days laughing and being silly … it’s so easy to fall into their fun mannerisms or phrases… and that maybe that old axiom about imitation and flattery isn’t so far off… (I wonder what others might pick up from me…)
Or…Maybe in this book moment it’s that I can almost feel myself walking with Mrs. Tim through the doorway of a sleepy English village cottage she’s rented for the first time, seeing the drawing room lined with windows as she is, following her eyes over to the cheery chintz curtains and a glass door overlooking the garden… and smiling at her description of it’s welcome…
“You’ll find Old Quinings a terribly boring place,” a coy old woman has just told her on the train in. Though after flying from Kenya (where her war-Colonel husband is stationed) to Cairo to Rome to London…being whirlwinded by family through London rush…Mrs. Tim is oh so ready for boring…it becomes delightfully anything but. And I’m right there with her… on holiday…
I can’t remember when I went somewhere for a real vacation. But how I love stealing an hour for a book that is like stepping hand up into a drawing room with your name on it, finding yourself among so many others who seem pleased to have you join their sojourn across the pages, and often getting to know them so intimately, they step off the page and into your thoughts…handing you a stage pass behind walls not everyone gets to see…
And… when the rain outside your open windows suddenly sets up a soft whiffling sound, transporting you deeper into the story where it is doing the same…just how obliging can it get? 🙂
Taking me back to pillowed days of childhood Sundays, prone with my book…
And I consider again how I don’t understand those who turn up noses at fiction, for – though true stories also entrance — I can’t help echoing Anne with an “e”…
O, Marilla, how much you miss!
Also echoing these musings, Eric Metaxas of Breakpoint (nee Charles Colson’s daily commentary spot) woke me the other morning to his distinctive voice and caught my ear with this penetrating question (to which I later thought, how incredible that these should be the exact words when my radio went off, when it could have come in anywhere on the middle):
Does reading a good book make you a better person?
I whipped over in bed, the better to hear.
“It’s a great question,” Metaxas went on, “one that has sparked a big debate recently among academics…” Citing author Annie Murphy Paul’s response in Time, where she referred to a Canadian psychological study, he says the study asserts “individuals who often read fiction appear to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and view the world from their perspective.”
What else does reading great literature do, he asks? According to a University English professor, Karen Swallow Prior (quoted by Metaxas), reading a good book well makes us more human… it touches the human soul… (If this intrigues you as it does me, go immediately to Read a Good Book and Read It Well to take in the entire Breakpoint message – or see Karen Swallow Prior’s article.)
It is a great question, isn’t it? And I love their answer. Something I’ve long believed myself. I think of characters I’ve wept or commiserated or gotten the inside joke with – in books, in television shows, and movies. How I gained insight into how someone who seems standoffish is most likely shy. And conversely, how someone who never stops the hilarity can be hiding insecurities behind brash persona… Yes, windows into souls.
And into lyrical or fun or clever authors who have an enviable way with words.
I’ve been marking pages in the books I’m reading lately… thinking, oh! I want to share this on my blog. And this. And this…
I wonder… are you bored with me mentioning D.E. so much lately? It’s only because I’m delving into her stories, in wonder at how she could write 50 novels and so far each one of them is completely different from the other. No cookie cutter formulas.
But… if you aren’t… I just may post a few quotes that ring like chapel bells to me, and maybe will to you.
This weekend… as you take moments of Sabbath… a bit of literary fiction might just be jubilee for your soul.
© Pam Depoyan
“Reading is an immense gift, but only if the words are assimilated, taken into the soul — eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight.”
~ Eugene H. Peterson, in Eat this Book
Pen & ink artwork: mine, under my copyright (please do not copy without permission. See my copyright info button on the sidebar. 🙂 )