Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Bill Bryson’

Which books have chosen you?

The wand choosing Harry

The wand chooses Harry

I’ve been waiting for this moment for many years.

Both the boys have been disinterested.  I thought for certain one of them would come around to it.  But my youngest daughter has revealed her adventurous side and agreed…

to allow me to read Harry Potter to her!

We have only just begun our semi-nightly ritual of reading, side-by-side, under the covers by the dim light of her lamp. (I must change that bulb!)  Harry has just found out he is a wizard and is on Diagon Alley getting his school supplies to start at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Tonight we read of the pageantry that is involved with choosing a wand.  Or rather, allowing the wand to choose it’s owner.  Fascinating! Of course, Harry’s wand is very unusual, made of holly and containing the feather of a rare phoenix bird.

As I tucked the kids in and came down the stairs to write this, I thought of those wands simultaneously with the books that I wanted to write about.  I wondered, what if there was a connection?  What if books chose the reader?

Of course, there really isn’t any magic involved to it.  But still, it often does seem like books find a way of reaching us where we’re at in life and revealing the truths beyond us.  Or maybe it’s just me.

But, just for arguments sake, let’s suppose that the books on my nightstand have chosen me.  What do they reveal?

Bill Bryson's, The Lost ContinentThe first book  is actually something I’m rereading from about 18 years ago.  It’s The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson.  There’s no denying it, I’m a huge Bill Bryson fan.  I discovered him as an expat living in London and at the time, he was too.  He wrote this book about journeying back to the states and I devoured it in a homesick stupor.

I chose to reread this book now because my family and I are about to go on a road-trip this summer and I wanted to prep for some of things we might come across.  But of course that’s not exactly what I’m getting out of it.

What I’m getting out of it is how he speaks of the memories of traveling in his youth.  He talks of going back to places he used to frequent and finding them changed.  I can relate.  I’ve moved around a bit and am always startled when my memories don’t match what I experience when I return.

He also reflects about his father, and how they would travel.  Funny stories of the frugal hotels they used to roll into and where they would make pit-stops.

It made me remember my own dad and how we’d make the trek from our home in Wisconsin to his home in Kentucky every summer after my parents divorced.  Now that my Dad has passed away I find myself scrutinizing each of my memories with him, and road trips were a big part of our time together.

Who could have guessed that the 40 year old me could have gotten a whole other layer of this book that the 20 year old me couldn’t?

This book chose me!

Ron Suskind's book, Life Animated

My Kindle version of Life Animated (along with T.C. Boyles, Tortilla Curtain- which is next on my reading list!)

Another book I just discovered is Life, Amimated: A story of sidekicks, heroes, and autism by Ron Suskind.  I had caught the tail end of an interview with the Pulizer- Prize winning journalist as he talked about this book on NPR.  I was intrigued and ordered it for my Kindle.

I was intrigued because I have a son with autism who is obsessed with Disney, just like the author’s son.  And, like the author, we have struggled to find ways of helping him to communicate beyond that narrow scope.

What I wasn’t prepared for when I began reading was how Disney permeated all the boy’s thoughts and emotions and yet, gave him another language in which to express himself.  The family used (and is still using) Disney to communicate with their son and allowing him to explore his feelings through it.

It made me wonder if this is an avenue we could further explore with our son.  We are patient in listening to him discuss Disneyworld and all the rides he wants to create for his own Disneyville (a Disney park he is proposing to build in Cleveland someday!), but do we use this language of his to delve deeper into his own psyche?  It’s hard to say.

Again, this book chose me!

I could keep going with the books that have reached inside and tugged at my soul, and maybe in the future I will.  But, for now I’ll leave you with those two recent examples.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  What books have chosen you?

Have a Wonder-filled Week!

%d bloggers like this: