My Bookish Experience

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Humor, Literature

I love books. It’s ironic that throughout my entire twelve years of public school education, I would have never used “love” and “books” in the same sentence. Well no, that’s not entirely true. I could have easily said “I love to hate books.” My first book I read (and only because I had to) was Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. It was the first time I thought to myself: Well, that’s wasn’t all that bad. After high school and through my first few semesters of college, I read somewhat. Again, because I had to. And then, I found John Dominic Crossan and Walter Brueggemann. These two were the first authors I read because I wanted to, and really, because I could not help but to. They both write in the field of Christian history and biblical studies, my first intellectual love. They served as the spring board for anything and everything I’ve ever read afterward, whether in that field or not. And now, here I am. A person unabashedly in love with books and writing. All books, all writing. I have my favorites, of course (more recently Junot Diaz), but I’ll read anything. I’m a fan of prose above plot. If it is well written, I’ll probably like it. But to quote Kafka: books must be an axe for the frozen sea within us.

The last several years has been a journey in the life of letters. And although I have an amazing amount of catching up to do in terms of the classics, I have nothing but time to do so. And I love that. Recently, I began reading Ransom Rigg’s Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. And I want to relate a bookish experience.

I’m about half into the book. It’s a story about Jacob, a young man from a wealthy family who owns a chain of drugstores. Not particularly excited about his life or his almost inevitable life within the family business, he takes extra special pride in the relationship he has with his grandfather. He delights in the time he shares at his feet and the many stories his grandfather tells him. And the photos. A set of very eerie ones about “special” children he knew growing up on an Island in Wales. Jacob delights in these stories of seemingly magical children; some with levitating abilities, some with ghostly twins only visible in their reflection, etc.

As Jacob, or Yakov, as his grandfather calls him ( he’s Polish) grows older, he’s unsure if the tales his grandfather shares with him are entirely true. But who cares, it’s quality time with his grandpa, and in any case, the uncertainty is part of the charm and mystery. Then his grandfather dies in a horrific “accident” leaving Jacob a series of cryptic clues, the last whispers before he dies. So the book begins, with Jacob on a quest to find what these clues are all about (and these photos).

As I said, I’ve just finished Chapter Five. He’s come to Cairnholm Island in Wales, and as it turns out just before he “meets” the children, and he’s in the old orphanage or “Home” looking around the long abandoned place in search of clues. Nothing. Until he finds a chest under a bed. Not being able to open it, he devises a plan to drop the chest off the second floor, where he’s at, to break it open. Surely this would do the trick. Through much effort he succeeds in the plan, only to find that the chest has broken through the floor and is now in the basement, and quite naturally the darkest place in the house! So he musters the courage to go into the “ink black” darkness of the basement, feeling his way around much like a blind person would; hands stretched out before him.

He has an idea, when he remembers he has his cell phone on him, to use its dim light as a small flashlight (as we’ve all done many times, I’m sure). So he reaches into his back pocket, pulls it out and clicks it on. And as he points the cell/light in front of him, just able to see what’s ahead of him — MY cell phone rings/vibrates! I received a text at that very moment and it sent my heart pounding and I jumped with fear!!

I usually read on my bed, with my current-read books stacked next to me on a bookshelf. And my cell too right next to me as well. My ringer/vibrate was on full volume, which was the reason for my jump – it was loud and unexpected. And of course, the timing was, oh so fortuitous.

That was my bookish experience last night. Needless to say, I’ll be reading more books like Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children more often! Kudos Ransom Riggs!

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