Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I will cast away my usual schedule of going to bed early and getting up early for staying up late with my nose in a book and reaping whatever consequences that may bring for the morning (which, during the holidays is usually none). I will fit my usual run into my day (preferably the warmest part) and then will be drawn back into my book, emerging only when necessary (food, husband, bathroom).
I received two books this Christmas, which were on my amazon wish list. My mom-in-law got them for me and when I unwrapped them Jason said, "Great, she'll be gone for a week." I just grin. Yes. Yes, I will.
What can I say? I love the way it feels to read a good book. I love thinking about it while I'm in the shower or on a run and planning my return to it. It feels like returning to the welcome arms of a lover, when I pick up my beloved book with a sigh of contentment, greet the characters I've grown to love or hate, and follow them through their story...I love it. I crave it. I miss it when it has been away too long, that feeling.
My recent love affair is with a book called "I Am the Messenger" by Markus Zusak. I added this to my wish list because Zusak is the author of another book, "The Book Thief," which is an amazing story, so I trusted that I could choose another and be equally as enthralled. I was not mistaken. While completely different from "The Book Thief," Zusak does not disappoint in his second book.
Once I fall in love with an author and his or her works, I will plunge unafraid into their other stories until (if ever) I find a reason to end the relationship. Mostly, when I'm in, I'm in for keeps and eventually these authors cannot keep up with my constant hunger for what they have to say. Ann Patchett. Maeve Binchy. Terry Kay. Marisa De los Santos. Margaret Atwood. Countless others, and now Markus Zusak.
The story of the messenger involves a 19 year old cab driver who is living what I would describe as a dead-end kind of life. He has a view of himself that he lives up to - deadbeat, loser, etc. One day he haphazardly stops a bank robbery and from that point begins receiving playing cards in the mail with instructions on them. Mostly addresses or names of people. He has a message for them, and in the delivering of these messages, he finds some for himself as well. I am not yet to the end, but I have completely loved every word. Zusak has a writing style that can combine humor and poignancy so well together...I really can't describe it with my own limited descriptive powers. Suffice it to say, it is the perfect combination of everything and I have truly enjoyed my time in this story.
It will be hard to finish it. Hard to leave what has been a pleasant part of my own life for a few days. Sure, it's make-believe. Sure, it's just a book. Words on a page. But sometimes I find that these simple words on a page move me in a way to change things a little bit.
Elizebeth Drew has a quote that I have had in my heart since college and she says this:
"The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it."
I love reading stories that inspire this intensity in myself. And I hope to one day be able to write such a book that will inspire the same in others. Whether it is a true story about running adventures, or something fictional, I'd love to do for others what authors like Markus Zusak have done for me.
The messenger delivers messages to strangers and then to his closest friends (which is where I am now in the story). I have been so moved by his experiences and his descriptions of them, that somewhere in all these messages I have received one of my own.
Needless to say (but I'm saying it anyway), this is a good read...or a worthy love affair, however you think of it.